Strauss, Richard (Georg)

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Strauss, Richard (Georg)

Strauss, Richard (Georg), great German composer and distinguished conductor, one of the most inventive music masters of his era, son of Franz (Joseph) Strauss; b. Munich, June 11, 1864; d. Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Sept. 8, 1949. Growing up in a musical environment, he studied piano as a child with August Tombo, harpist in the Court Orch.; then took violin lessons from Benno Walter, its concertmaster, and later received instruction from the court conductor, Friedrich Wilhelm Meyer. According to his own account, he began to improvise songs and piano pieces at a very early age; among such incunabula was the song Weihnachtslied, followed by a piano dance, Schneiderpolka. On March 30, 1881, his first orch. work, the Sym. in D minor, was premiered in Munich under Hermann Levi. This was followed by the Sym. in F minor, premiered on Dec. 13, 1884, by the N.Y. Phil, under Theodore Thomas. Strauss also made progress as a performing musician; when he was 20 years old, Hans von Biilow engaged him as asst. conductor of his Meiningen Orch. About that time, Strauss became associated with the poet and musician Alexander Ritter, who introduced him to the “music of the future,” as it was commonly called, represented by orch. works of Liszt and operas by Wagner.

In 1886 Strauss received an appointment as the third conductor of the Court Opera in Munich. On March 2, 1887, he conducted in Munich the first performance of his symphonic fantasy, Aus Italien. This was followed by the composition of his first true masterpiece, the symphonic poem Don Juan, in which he applied the thematic ideas of Liszt; he conducted its premiere in Weimar on Nov. 11, 1889; it became the first of a series of his tone poems, all of them based on literary subjects. His next tone poem of great significance in music history was Tod und Verklärung; Strauss conducted it for the first time in Eisenach on June 21, 1890, on the same program with the premiere of his brilliant Burleske for Piano and Orch., featuring Eugen d’Albert as soloist. There followed the first performance of the symphonic poem Macbeth, which Strauss conducted in Weimar on Oct. 13, 1890. In these works, Strauss established himself as a master of program music and the most important representative of the nascent era of musical modernism; as such, he was praised extravagantly by earnest believers in musical progress and damned savagely by entrenched traditionalists in the press. He effectively adapted Wagner’s system of leading motifs (leitmotifs) to the domain of symphonic music. His tone poems were interwoven with motifs, each representing a relevant programmatic element. Explanatory brochures listing these leading motifs were publ. like musical Baedekers to guide the listeners. Bülow, ever a phrasemaker, dubbed Strauss “Richard the third,” Richard the first being Wagner but no one worthy of direct lineage as Richard the second in deference to the genius of the master of Bayreuth.

Turning to stage music, Strauss wrote his first opera, Guntram, for which he also composed the text; he conducted its premiere in Weimar on May 10, 1894, with the leading soprano role performed by Pauline de Ahna; she was married to Strauss on Sept. 10, 1894, and remained with him all his life; she died on May 13, 1950, a few months after Strauss himself. While engaged in active work as a composer, Strauss did not neglect his conducting career. In 1894 he succeeded Bülow as conductor of the Berlin Phil., leading it for a season. Also in 1894 he became asst. conductor of the Munich Court Opera; he became chief conductor in 1896. In 1896–97 he filled engagements as a guest conductor in European music centers. His works of the period included the sparkling Till Eugenspiegels lustige Streiche (Cologne, Nov. 5, 1895), Also sprach Zarathustra, a philosophical tone poem after Nietzsche (Frankfurt am Main, Nov. 27, 1896, Strauss conducting), and Don Quixote, variations with a cello solo, after Cervantes (Cologne, March 8, 1898). In 1898 Strauss became a conductor at the Berlin Royal Opera; in 1908 he was made its Generalmusikdirektor, a position he held until 1918. He conducted the first performance of his extraordinary autobiographical tone poem Ein Heldenleben in Frankfurt am Main on March 3, 1899; the hero of the title was Strauss himself, while his critics were represented in the score by a cacophonous charivari; for this exhibition of musical self-aggrandizement, he was severely chastised in the press. There followed his first successful opera, Feuersnot (Dresden, Nov. 21, 1901).

In June 1903 Strauss was the guest of honor of the Strauss Festival in London. It was also in 1903 that the Univ. of Heidelberg made him Dr.Phil., honoris causa. For his first visit to the U.S., he presented to the public the premiere performance of his Symphonia domestica at Carnegie Hall in N.Y. on March 21, 1904. The score represented a day in the Strauss household, containing an interlude describing, quite literally, the feeding of the newly born baby. The reviews in the press reflected aversion to such a musical self-exposure. There followed his opera Salome, to the German tr. of Oscar Wilde’s play. Schuch led its premiere in Dresden on Dec. 9, 1905. Salome had its American premiere at the Metropolitan Opera in N.Y. on Jan. 22, 1907; the ghastly subject, involving intended incest, 7-fold nudity, and decapitation followed by a labial necrophilia, administered such a shock to the public and the press that the Metropolitan Opera took it off the repertoire after only 2 performances. Scarcely less forceful was Strauss’s next opera, Elektra, to a libretto by the Austrian poet and dramatist Hugo von Hofmannsthal, in which the horrors of matricide were depicted with extraordinary force in unabashedly dissonant harmonies. Schuch conducted its premiere in Dresden on Jan. 25, 1909.

Strauss then decided to prove to his admirers that he was quite able to write melodious operas to charm the musical ear; this he accomplished in his next production, also to a text of Hofmannsthal, Der Rosenkavalier, a delightful opera-bouffe in an endearing popular manner; Schuch conducted its premiere in Dresden on Jan. 26, 1911. Turning once more to Greek mythology, Strauss wrote, with Hofmannsthal again as librettist, a short opera, Ariadne aufNaxos, which he conducted for the first time in Stuttgart on Oct. 25, 1912. In June 1914 Strauss was awarded an honorary D.Mus. degree from the Univ. of Oxford. His next work was the formidable, and quite realistic, score Eine Alpensinfonie, depicting an ascent of the Alps, and employing a wind machine and a thunder machine in the orch. to illustrate an Alpine storm. Strauss conducted its first performance with the Dresden Court Orch. in Berlin on Oct. 28, 1915. Then, again with Hofmannsthal as librettist, he wrote the opera Die Frau ohne Schatten (Vienna, Oct. 10, 1919), using a complex plot, heavily endowed with symbolsst.

In 1917 Strauss helped to organize the Salzburg Festival and appeared there in subsequent years as conductor. In 1919 he assumed the post of co-director with Franz Schalk of the Vienna State Opera, a position he held until 1924. In 1920 he took the Vienna Phil, on a tour of South America; in 1921 he appeared as a guest conductor in the U.S. For his next opera, Intermezzo (Dresden, Nov. 4, 1924), Strauss wrote his own libretto; then, with Hofmannsthal once more, he wrote Die ägyptische Helena (Dresden, June 6, 1928). Their last collaboration was Arabella (Dresden, July 1, 1933).

When Hitler came to power in 1933, the Nazis were eager to persuade Strauss to embrace the official policies of the Third Reich. Hitler even sent him a signed picture of himself with a flattering inscription, “To the great composer Richard Strauss, with sincere admiration.” Strauss kept clear of formal association with the Führer and his cohorts, however. He agreed to serve as president of the newly organized Reichsmusikkammer on Nov. 15, 1933, but resigned from it on July 13, 1935, ostensibly for reasons of poor health. He entered into open conflict with the Nazis by asking Stefan Zweig, an Austrian Jew, to provide the libretto for his opera Die schweigsame Frau; it was duly premiered in Dresden on June 24, 1935, but then taken off the boards after a few performances. His political difficulties grew even more disturbing when the Nazis found out that his daughter-in-law was Jewish. Zweig himself managed to escape Nazi horrors, and emigrated to Brazil, but was so afflicted by the inhumanity of the world that he and his wife together committed suicide.

Strauss valiantly went through his tasks; he agreed to write the Olympische Hymne for the Berlin Olympic Games in 1936. On Nov. 5, 1936, he was honored with the Gold Medal of the Royal Phil. Soc. in London; the next day he conducted the visiting Dresden State Opera in a performance of his Ariadne auf Naxos at Covent Garden. For his next opera, he chose Joseph Gregor as his librettist; with him Strauss wrote Daphne (Dresden, Oct. 15, 1938), which was once more a revival of his debt to Greek mythology. For their last collaboration, Strauss and Gregor wrote the opera Die Liebe der Danae, also on a Greek theme. Its public dress rehearsal was given in Salzburg on Aug. 16, 1944, but by that time World War II was rapidly encroaching on devastated Germany, so that the opera did not receive its official premiere until after Strauss’s death. The last opera by Strauss performed during his lifetime was Capriccio. Its libretto was prepared by the conductor Clemens Krauss, who conducted its premiere in Munich on Oct. 28, 1942. Another interesting work of this period was Strauss’s Horn Concerto No. 2, first performed in Salzburg on Aug. 11, 1943.

During the last weeks of the war, Strauss devoted himself to the composition of Metamorphosen, a symphonic work mourning the disintegration of Germany; it contained a symbolic quotation from the funeral march from Beethoven’s Eroica Sym. He then completed another fine score, the Oboe Concerto. In Oct. 1945 he went to Switzerland.

In Oct. 1947 Strauss visited London for the Strauss Festival and also appeared as a conductor of his own works. Although official suspicion continued to linger regarding his relationship with the Nazi regime, he was officially exonerated of all taint on June 8, 1948. A last flame of creative inspiration brought forth the deeply moving Vier letzte Lieder (1948), for Soprano and Orch., inspired by poems of Herman Hesse and Eichendorff. With this farewell, Strauss left Switzerland in 1949 and returned to his home in Germany, where he died at the age of 85. Undeniably one of the finest master composers of his era, Strauss never espoused extreme chromatic techniques, remaining a Romanticist at heart. His genius is unquestioned as regards his tone poems from Don Juan to Ein Heldenleben and his operas from Salome to Das Rosenkavalier, all of which have attained a permanent place in the repertoire, while his Vier letzte Lieder stand as a noble achievement of his Romantic inspiration. In 1976 the Richard-Strauss-Gesellschaft was organized in Munich.


DRAMATIC: opera: Guntmm, op.25 (1892–93; Hoftheater, Weimar, May 10, 1894, composer conducting; rev. version, with score cut by one third, 1934–39; Deutsches Nationaltheater, Weimar, Oct. 29, 1940); Feuersnot, op.50 (1900–01; Hofoper, Dresden, Nov. 21, 1901, Ernst von Schuch conducting); Salome, op.54 (1903–05; Hofoper, Dresden, Dec. 9, 1905, Schuch conducting); Elektra, op.58 (1906–08; Hofoper, Dresden, Jan. 25, 1909, Schuch conducting); Der Rosenkavalier, op.59 (1909–10; Hofoper, Dresden, Jan. 26, 1911, Schuch conducting); Ariadne auf Naxos “zu spielen nach dem Bürger als Edelmann des Moliere,” op.60 (1911–12; Hoftheater, Stutt gart, Oct. 25, 1912, composer conducting; rev. version, with prologue, 1916; Hofoper, Vienna, Oct. 4, 1916, Franz Schalk conducting); Die Frau ohne Schatten, op.65 (1914–18; Staatsoper, Vienna, Oct. 10, 1919, Schalk conducting); Intermezzo, op.72 (1918–23; Staatsoper, Dresden, Nov. 4, 1924, Fritz Busch conducting); Die ägyptische Helena, op.75 (1923–27; Staatsoper, Dresden, June 6, 1928, Fritz Busch conducting; rev. version, 1932–33; Festspielhaus, Salzburg, Aug. 14, 1933); Arabella, op.79 (1929–32; Staatsoper, Dresden, July 1, 1933, Clemens Krauss conducting; rev. version, Munich, July 16, 1939); Die schweigsame Frau, op.80 (1933–34; Staatsoper, Dresden, June 24, 1935, Karl Böhm conducting); Friedenstag, op.81 (1935–36; Nationaltheater, Munich, July 24, 1938, Krauss conducting); Daphne, op.82 (1936–37; Staatsoper, Dresden, Oct. 15, 1938, Böhm conducting); Die Liebe der Danai, op.83 (1938–40; public dress rehearsal, Festspielhaus, Salzburg, Aug. 16, 1944, Krauss conducting; official premiere, Festspielhaus, Salzburg, Aug. 16, 1944, Krauss conducting; Capriccio, op.85 (1940–41; Bayerische Staatsoper, Munich, Oct. 28, 1942, Krauss conducting). ballet and other dramatic works: Romeo und Julia, incidental music to Shakespeare’s drama (Nationaltheater, Munich, Oct. 23, 1887); Josephslegende, op.63 (1912–14; Opéra, Paris, May 14, 1914, composer conducting); Der Bärger als Edelmann, incidental music to Hofmannsthal’s version of Molière’s drama, op.60 (1917; Deutsches Theater, Berlin, April 9, 1918); Schlagobers, op.70 (1921–22; Staatsoper, Vienna, May 9, 1924, composer conducting); Verklungene Feste, after Couperin (1940; Nationaltheater, Munich, April 5, 1941, Krauss conducting); Des Esels Schatten, comedy for music (1949; Hellbrunn Castle, near Salzburg, July 31, 1982, Ernst Märzendorfer conducting). ORCH.: Overture for the Singspiel Hochlands Treue (1872–73); Festmarsch in E-flat major, op.1 (1876; Munich, March 26, 1881, Franz Strauss conducting); Concert Overture in B minor (1876); Serenade in G major (1877); Overture in E major (1878); Romanze in E-flat major for Clarinet and Orch. (1879); Overture in A minor (1879); Sym. in D minor (1880; Munich, March 30, 1881, Hermann Levi conducting); Violin Concerto in D minor, op.8 (1880–82; Vienna, Dec. 5, 1882, Benno Walter violinist, composer pianist; official premiere, Leipzig, Feb. 17, 1896, Alfred Krasselt violinist, composer conducting); Serenade in E-flat major for 13 Wind Instruments, op.7 (1881; Dresden, Nov. 27, 1882, Franz Wiillner conducting); Horn Concerto No. 1 in E-flat major, op.11 (1882–83; Meiningen, March 4, 1885, Gustav Leinhos soloist, Hans von Bülow conducting); Overture in C minor (Munich, Nov. 28, 1883, Levi conducting); Romanze in F major for Cello and Orch. (1883); Lied ohne Worte in E-flat major (1883); Sym. in F minor, op.12 (1883–84; N.Y., Dec. 13, 1884, Theodore Thomas conducting); Suite in B-flat major for 13 Wind Instruments, op.4 (Munich, Nov. 18, 1884, composer conducting); Der Zweikampf—Polonaise in B-flat major for Flute, Bassoon, and Orch. (1884); Festmarsch in D major (1884; Munich, Jan. 8, 1885, Franz Strauss conducting; rev. 1888); Burleske in D minor for Piano and Orch. (1885–86; Eisenach, June 21, 1890, Eugen d’Albert soloist, composer conducting); Aus Italien, symphonic fantasy, op.16 (1886; Munich, March 2, 1887, composer conducting); Macbeth, tone poem after Shakespeare’s drama, op.23 (1886–88; rev. 1889–90; Weimar, Oct. 13, 1890, composer conducting; rev. 1891); Don Juan, tone poem after Lenau, op.20 (1888–89; Weimar, Nov. 11, 1889, composer conducting); Tod und Verklärung, tone poem, op.24 (1888–89; Eisenach, June 21, 1890, composer conducting); Festmarsch in C major (Munich, Feb. 1, 1889, Franz Strauss conducting); Fanfare for A.W. Iffland’s drama Der Jäger (1891); Festmusik “Lebende Bilder” for the golden wedding anniversary of the Grand Duke and Duchess of Weimar (Weimar, Oct. 8, 1892, composer conducting); Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche, nach alter schelmenweise—in Rondeauform, op.28 (1894–95; Cologne, Nov. 5, 1895, Wüllner conducting); Also sprach Zarathustra, tone poem after Nietzsche, op.30 (1895–96; Frankfurt am Main, Nov. 27, 1896, composer conducting); Don Quixote, fantastische Variationen über ein Thema ritterlichen Charakters for Cello and Orch., op.35 (1896–97; Cologne, March 8, 1898, Wüllner conducting); Ein Heldenleben, tone poem, op.40 (1897–98; Frankfurt am Main, March 3, 1899, composer conducting); Symphonia domestica, op.53 (1902–03; N.Y, March 21, 1904, composer conducting); Zwei Militärmärsche, op.57 (1906; Berlin, March 6, 1907, composer conducting); Feierlicher Einzug der Ritter des Johanniter-Ordens for Brass and Timpani (1909); Festliches Präludium for Orch. and Organ, op.61 (for the dedication of the Konzerthaus, Vienna, Oct. 19, 1913, Ferdinand Löwe conducting); Eine Alpensinfonie, op.64 (1911–15; Berlin, Oct. 28, 1915, composer conducting); Der Bürger als Edelmann, suite, op.60 (1918; Vienna, Jan. 31, 1920, composer conducting); Tanzsuite aus Klavierstücken von François Couperin for Small Orch. (Vienna, Feb. 17, 1923, Krauss conducting); Wiener Philharmoniker Fanfare for Brass and Timpani (Vienna, March 4, 1924); Fanfare zur Eröffnung der Musikwoche der Stadt Wien im September 1924 for Brass and Timpani (Vienna, Sept. 14, 1924); Parergon zur Symphonia domestica for Piano, Left-hand, and Orch., op.73 (1924; Dresden, Oct. 16, 1925, Paul Wittgenstein soloist, Fritz Busch conducting); Militärmarsch in F major for the film Der Rosenkavalier (1925; Dresden, Jan. 10, 1926, composer conducting); Panathenäenzug, symphonische Etüden in Form einer Passacaglia for Piano, Left-hand, and Orch., op.74 (1927; Vienna, March 11, 1928, Wittgenstein soloist, Schalk conducting); Vier sinfonische Zwischenspiele aus Intermezzo (BBC, London, May 24, 1931); München, “ein Gelegenheitswalzer” (for the film München, 1939; Munich, May 24, 1939; rev. 1945 as München, “ein Gedächtniswalzer”; Vienna, March 31, 1951); Festmusik zur Feier des 2600jährigen Bestehens des Kaiserreichs Japan, op.84 (Tokyo, Dec. 7, 1940); Divertimento, Klavierstücke von Couperin for Small Orch., op.86 (1940–41; Vienna, Jan. 31, 1943, Krauss conducting); Horn Concerto No. 2 in E-flat major (1942; Salzburg, Aug. 11, 1943, Gottfried Freiberg soloist, Böhm conducting); Festmusik der Stadt Wien for Brass and Timpani (1943; second version as Fanfare der Stadt Wien, Vienna, April 9, 1943, composer conducting); Sonatina No. 1 in F major, “Aus der Werkstatt eines Invaliden,” for 16 Wind Instruments (1943; Dresden, June 18, 1944, Karl Elmendorff conducting); Erste Walzerfolge aus Der Rosenkavalier (1944; London, Aug. 4, 1946, Erich Leinsdorf conducting); Metamorphosen for 23 Solo Strings (1945; Zürich, Jan. 25, 1946, Paul Sacher conducting); Sonatina No. 2 in E-flat major, “Fröhlische Werkstatt,” for 16 Wind Instruments (1944–45; Winterthur, March 25, 1946, Hermann Scherchen conducting); Oboe Concerto in D major (1945–46; Zürich, Feb. 26, 1946, Marcel Saillet soloist, Volkmar Andreae conducting); Symphonische Fantasie aus Die Frau ohne Schatten (1946; Vienna, June 26, 1947, Böhm conducting); Duett-Concertino for Clarinet, Bassoon, Strings, and Harp (1947; Radio Svizzera Italiana, Lugano, April 4, 1948); Symphonisches Fragment aus Josephslegende (1948; San Antonio, Feb. 26, 1949, Max Reiter conducting). CHAMBER : String Quartet in A major, op.2 (1880; Munich, March 14, 1881); Cello Sonata in F major, op.6 (1880–83; Nuremberg, Dec. 8, 1883); Piano Quartet in C minor, op.13 (1883–84; Weimar, Dec. 8, 1885); Violin Sonata in E-flat major, op.18 (1887; Munich, Oct. 3, 1888); Allegretto in E major for Violin and Piano (1948). piano : 5 Klavierstücke, op.3 (1880–81); Sonata in B minor, op.5 (1880–81); 5 Stimmungsbilder, op.9 (1882–84). VOCAL: choral: Chorus for Elektra of Sophocles (1881); Wanderers Sturmlied for Chorus and Orch., op.14 (1884; Cologne, March 8, 1887, composer conducting); Taillefer for Soprano, Tenor, Baritone, Chorus, and Orch., op.52 (Heidelberg, Oct. 26, 1903, composer conducting); Bardengesang for Men’s Chorus and Orch., op.55 (1905; Dresden, Feb. 6, 1906); Deutsche Motette for Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass, and Chorus, op.62 (Berlin, Dec. 2, 1913); Die Tageszeiten for Men’s Chorus and Orch., op.76 (Vienna, July 21, 1928); Olympische Hymne for Chorus and Orch. (1934; Berlin, Aug. 1, 1936, composer conducting); Die Göttin im Putzzimmer for Chorus (1935; Vienna, March 2, 1952, Krauss conducting); An dem Baum Daphne, epilogue to Daphne, for Chorus (1943; Vienna, Jan. 5, 1947, Felix Prohaska conducting). songs (source of text precedes date of composition): Weihnachtslied (C. Schubart; 1870); Einkehr (Uhland; 1871); Winterreise (Uhland; 1871); Waldkonzert (J. Vogel; 1871?); Der böhmische Musikant (O. Pletzsch; 1871?); Herz, mein Herz (E. Geibel; 1871); Der müde Wanderer (A. Hoffman von Fallersleben; 1873?); Husarenlied (von Fallersleben; 1873?); Der Fischer (Goethe; 1877); Die Drossel (Uhland; 1877); Lass ruhn die Toten (A. von Chamisso; 1877); Lust und Qual (Goethe; 1877); Spielmann und Zither (T. Körner; 1878); Wiegenlied (von Fallersleben; 1878); Abend- und Morgenrot (von Fallersleben; 1878); Im Walde (Geibel; 1878); Der Spielmann und sein Kind (von Fallersleben; 1878; orchestrated); Nebel (Lenau; 1878?); Soldatenlied (von Fallersleben; 1878?); Ein Röslein zog ich mir im Garten (von Fallersleben; 1878?); Waidegesang (Geibel; 1879); In Vaters Garten heimlich steht ein Blümchen (Heine; 1879); Die erwachte Rose (F. von Sallet; 1880); Begegnung (O. Gruppe; 1880); John Anderson, mein Lieb (Burns; F. Freiligrath, tr.; 1880); Rote Rosen (K. Stieler; 1883); Acht Lieder aus Letzte Blätter, op.10 (H. von Gilm; 1885): Zueignung (orchestrated, 1940), Nichts, Die Nacht, Die Georgine, Geduld, Die Verschwiegenen, Die Zeitlose, and Allerseelen; Wer hat’s gethan? (Gilm; 1885); Fünf Lieder, op.15 (1884–86): Madrigal (Michelangelo), Winternacht (Schack), Lob des Leidens (Schack), Aus den Liedern der Trauer (Dem Herzen ähnlich) (Schack), and Heimkehr (Schack); Sechs Lieder, op.17 (Schack; 1885–87): Seitdem dein Aug’ in meines schaute, Ständchen, Das Geheimnis, Aus den Liedern der Trauer (Von dunklem Schleier umsponnen), Nur Muthl, and Barkarole; Sechs Lieder aus Lotusblättern, op.19 (Schack; 1885–88): Wozu noch, Mädchen, soll es frommen, Breit über mein Haupt dein schwarzes Haar, Schön sind, doch kalt die Himmelssterne, Wie sollten wir geheim sie halten, Hoffen und wieder versagen, and Mein Herz ist stumm, mein Herz ist kalt; Schlichte Weisen, op.21 (F. Dahn; 1887–88): All’ mein Gedanken, mein Herz und mein Sinn, Du meines Herzens Krönelein, Ach Lieb, ich muss nun scheiden, Ach weh, mir unglückhaften Mann, and Die Frauen sind oft fromm und still; Mädchen-blumen, op.22 (Dahn): Kornblumen (1888), Mohnblumen (1888), Efeu (1886–88), and Wasserrose (1886–88); Zwei Lieder, op.26 (Lenau; 1891): Frühlingsgedränge and O wärst du mein; Vier Lieder, op.27 (1894): Ruhe, meine Seele (K. Henckell; orchestrated, 1948), Cäcilie (Hart; orchestrated, 1897), Heimliche Aufforderung (J. Mackay), and Morgen (Mackay; orchestrated, 1897); Drei Lieder, op.29 (Bierbaum; 1895): Traum durch die Dämmerung, Schlagende Herzen, and Nachtgang; Wir beide wollen springen (Bierbaum; 1896); Drei Lieder, op.31: Blauer Sommer (Busse; 1896), Wenn (Busse; 1895), and Weisser Jasmin (Busse; 1895); added song, Stiller Gang (Dehmel; 1895); Fünf Lieder, op.32 (1896): Ich trage meine Minne (Henckell), Sehnsucht (Lilien-cron), Liebeshymnus (Henckell; orchestrated, 1897), O süsser Mai (Henckell), and Himmelsboten (Des Knaben Wunderhorn); Vier Gesänge, op.33, for Voice and Orch.: Verfuhrung (Mackay; 1896), Gesang der Apollopriesterin (E. von und zu Bodman; 1896), Hymnus (1896), and Pilgers Morgenlied (Goethe; 1897); Vier Lieder, op.36: Das Rosenband (Klopstock; orchestrated, 1897), Für fünfzehn Pfennige (Des Knaben Wunderhorn; 1897), Hat gesagtbleibt’s nicht dabei (Des Knaben Wunderhorn; 1898), and Anbetung (Rückert; 1898); Sechs Lieder, op.37: Glückes genug (Liliencron; 1898), Ich liebe dich (Liliencron; 1898; orchestrated, 1943), Meinem Kinde (Falke; 1897; orchestrated, 1897), Mein Auge (Dehmel; 1898; orchestrated, 1933), Herr Lenz (Bodman; 1896), and Hochzeitlich Lied (A. Lindner; 1898); Fünf Lieder, op.39 (1898): Leises Lied (Dehmel), Junghexenlied (Bierbaum), Der Arbeitsmann (Dehmel), Befreit (Dehmel; orchestrated, 1933), and Lied an meinen Sohn (Dehmel); Fünf Lieder, op.41 (1899): Wiegenlied (Dehmel; orchestrated, 1916), In der Campagna (Mackay), Am Ufer (Dehmel), Bruder Liederlich (Liliencron), and Leise Lieder (Morgenstern); Drei Lieder, op.43 (1899): An Sie (Klopstock), Muttertändelei (G. Bürger; orchestrated, 1900), and Die Ulme zu Hirsau (Uhland); Zwei grössere Gesänge, op.44, for Voice and Orch. (1899): Notturno (Dehmel) and Nächtlicher Gang (Rückert); Weihnachtsgefühl (Greif; 1899); Fünf Lieder, op.46 (Rückert): Ein Obdach gegen Sturm und Regen (1900), Gestern war ich Atlas (1899), Die sieben Siegel (1899), Morgenrot (1900), and Ich sehe wie in einem Spiegel (1900); Fünf Lieder, op.47 (Uhland; 1900): Auf ein Kind, Des Dichters Abendgang (orchestrated, 1918), Rückleben, Einkehr, and Von den sieben Zechbrüdern; Fünf Lieder, op.48 (1900): Freundliche Vision (Bierbaum; orchestrated, 1918), Ich schwebe (Henckell), Kling! (Henckell), Winterweihe (Henckell; orchestrated, 1918), and Winterliebe (Henckell; orchestrated, 1918); Acht Lieder, op.49: Waldseligkeit (Dehmel; 1901; orchestrated, 1918), In goldener Fülle (P. Remer; 1901), Wiegenliedchen (Dehmel; 1901), Das Lied des Steinklopfers (Henckell; 1901), Sie wissen’s nicht (O. Panizza; 1901), Junggesellenschwur (Des Knaben Wunderhorn; 1900), Wer lieben will (C. Mündel; 1901), and Ach, was Kummer, Qual und Schmerzen (Mündel; 1901); Zwei Gesänge, op.51, for Voice and Orch.: Das Thal (Uhland; 1902) and Der Einsame (Heine; 1906); Sechs Lieder, op.56: Gefunden (Goethe; 1903), Blindenklage (Henckell; 1903–06), Im Spätboot (Meyer; 1903–06), Mit deinen blauen Augen (Heine; 1903–06), Frühlingsfeier (Heine; 1903–06; orchestrated, 1933), and Die heiligen drei Könige aus Morgenland (Heine; 1903–06; orchestrated, 1906); Der Graf von Rom (no text; 1906); Krümerspiegel, op.66 (A. Kerr; 1918): Es war einmal ein Bock, Einst kam der Bock als Bote, Es liebte einst ein Hase, Drei Masken sah ich am Himmel stehn, Hast due ein Tongedicht vollbracht, O lieber Künstler sei ermahnt, Unser Feind ist, grosser Gott, Von Händlern wird die Kunst bedroht, Es war mal eine Wanze, Die Künstler sind die Schöpfer, Die Händler und die Macher, and O Schöpferschwarm, o Händlerkreis; Sechs Lieder, op.67 (1918): 1, Lieder der Ophelia (Shakespeare; K. Simrock, tr.): Wie erkenn ich mein Treulieb vor andern nun?, Guten Morgen, ’s ist Sankt Valentinstag, and Sie trugen ihn auf der Bahre bloss; 2, Aus den Büchern des Unmuts der Rendsch Nameh (Goethe): Wer wird von der Welt verlangen, Hab’ ich euch denn je geraten, and Wanderers Gemütsruhe; Sechs Lieder, op.68 (Brentano; 1918): An die Nacht, Ich wollt’ ein Strausskin binden, Säusle, liebe Myrthe, Als mir dein Lied erklang, and Amor (all 5 orchestrated, 1940); Lied der Frauen (orchestrated, 1933); Fünf kleine Lieder, op.69 (1918): Der Stern (A. von Arnim), Der Pokal (Arnim), Einerlei (Arnim), Waldesfahrt (Heine), and Schlechtes Wetter (Heine); Sinnspruch (Goethe; 1919); Drei Hymnen von Friedrich Hölderlin, op.71, for Voice and Orch. (1921): Hymne an die Liebe, Rückkehr in der Heimat, and Die Liebe; Durch allen Schall und Klang (Goethe; 1925); Gesänge des Orients, op.77 (Bethge, tr.; 1928): Ihre Augen (Hafiz), Schwung (Hafiz), Liebesgeschenke (Die chinesische Flöte), Die Allmächtige (Hafiz), Huldigung (Hafiz); and Wie etwas sei leicht (Goethe; 1930); Vom künftigen Alter, op.87 (Rückert; 1929); Erschaffen und Beleben (Goethe; 1922); Und dann nicht mehr (Rückert; 1929); Im Sonnenschein (Rückert; 1935); Zugemessne Rhythmen (Goethe; 1935); Das Bachlein, op.88 (1933; orchestrated, 1935); Blick vom oberen Belvedere (J. Weinheber; 1942); Sankt Michael (Weinheber; 1942); Xenion (Goethe; 1942); Vier letzte Lieder for Voice and Orch. (1948): Frühling (Hesse), September (Hesse), Beim Schlafengehen (Hesse), and Im Abendrot (Eichendorff) (London, May 22, 1950, Kirsten Flagstad soloist, Wilhelm Furtwängler conducting); Malven (B. Knobel; 1948; N.Y., Jan. 10, 1985). SPEAKER AND PIANO: Enoch Ar den, after Tennyson, op.38 (Munich, March 24, 1897); Das Schloss am Meer, after Uhland (Berlin, March 23, 1899). ARRANGEMENTS, ETC.: Strauss prepared a cadenza for Mozart’s C- minor Piano Concerto, K.491 (1885); arranged Gluck’s Iphigénie en Tauride (1899; Hoftheater, Weimar, June 9, 1900); made a new version of Beethoven’s Die Ruinen von Athen with Hugo von Hofmannsthal (Staatsoper, Vienna, Sept. 20, 1924, composer conducting); made a new version of Mozart’s Idomeneo with Lothar Wallerstein (1930; Staatsoper, Vienna, April 16, 1931, composer conducting).


works, source material: There is no complete ed. of Strauss’s works. A critical edition of his stage works was publ. in 18 vols, in 1996 and of his orchestral works in 12 vols. in 1999 by the Verlag Dr. Richard Strauss of Vienna and C.F. Peters Musikverlag of Frankfurt am Main. The standard thematic catalog was prepared by E.H. Mueller von Asow, R. S.: Thematisches Verzeichnis (3 vols., Vienna, 1954–74). See also F. Trenner, S. R.: Werkverzeichnis (Munich, 1993). Many of his writings may be found in W. Schuh, ed., R. S.: Betrachtungen und Erinnerungen (Zürich, 1949; Eng. tr., N.Y., 1953; second Ger. ed., rev., 1957). The major bibliographical source is R.-S.- Bibliographie (2 vols., Vienna; Vol. 1, 1882–1944, ed. by O. Ortner, 1964; Vol. II, 1944–1964, ed. by G. Brosche, 1973). Other sources include the following: R. Specht, R. S.: Vollständiges Verzeichnis der im Druck erschienen Werke (Vienna, 1910); J. Kapp, R. S. und die Berliner Oper (Berlin, 1934–39); E. Wachten, R. S., geboren 1864: Sein Leben in Bildern (Leipzig, 1940); R. Tenschert, Anekdoten um R. S. (Vienna, 1945); idem, R. S. und Wien: Eine Wahlverwandtschaft (Vienna, 1949); E. Roth, ed., R. S.: Bühnenwerk (Ger., Eng., and French; London, 1954); W. Schuh, Das Bühnenwerke von R. S. in den unter Mitwirkung des Komponisten geschaffenen letzten Münchner Inszenierungen (Zürich, 1954); F. Trenner, R. S.: Dokumente seines Lebens und Schaffens (Munich, 1954); R. Petzoldt, R. S.: Sein Leben in Bildern (Leipzig, 1962); F. Dostal, ed., Karl Böhm: Begegnung mit R. S. (Vienna, 1964); F. Grasberger and F. Hadamowsky, eds., R.-S.-Ausstellung zum 100. Geburtstag (Vienna, 1964); F. Hadamowsky, R. S. und Salzburg (Salzburg, 1964); W. Schuh, Ein paar Erinnerungen an R. S. (Zürich, 1964); W. Schuh and E. Roth, eds., R. S.: Complete Catalogue (London, 1964); W. Thomas, R. S. und seine Zeitgenössen (Munich, 1964); F. Grasberger, R. S.: Höhe Kunst, erfülltes Leben (Vienna, 1965); W. Deppisch, R. S. in Selbstzeugnissen und Bilddokumenten (Reinbek, 1968); F. Grasberger, R. S. und die Wiener Oper (Vienna, 1969); A. Jefferson, R. S. (London, 1975); F. Trenner, Die Skizzenbücher von R. S. aus dem R.-S.-Archiv in Garmisch (Tutzing, 1977); idem, R. S. Werkverzeichnis (Vienna, 1985). CORRESPONDENCE: F. Strauss, ed., R. S.: Briefwechsel mit Hugo von Hofmannsthal (Berlin, 1925; Eng. tr., N.Y., 1927); R. S. et Romain Rolland: Correspondance, fragments de Journal (Paris, 1951; Eng. tr., 1968); F. von Schuch, R. S., Ernst von Schuch und Dresdens Oper (Leipzig, 1952; second ed., 1953); W. Schuh, ed., R. S. und Hugo von Hofmannsthal: Briefwechsel: Gesamtausgabe (Zürich, 1952; second ed., rev., 1955; Eng. tr., 1961, as A Working Friendship: The Correspondence between R. S. and Hugo von Hofinannsthal); idem, ed., R. S.: Briefe an die Eltern 1882–1906 (Zurich, 1954); R. Tenschert, ed., R. S. und Joseph Gregor: Briefwechsel 1934–1949 (Salzburg, 1955); W. Schuh, ed., R. S., Stefan Zweig: Briefwechsel (Frankfurt am Main, 1957; Eng. tr., 1977, as A Confidential Matter: The Letters of R. S. and Stefan Zweig 1931–1935); D. Kämper, ed., R. S. und Franz Wüllner im Briefwechsel (Cologne, 1963); G. Kende and W. Schuh, eds., R. S., Clemens Krauss: Briefwechsel (Munich, 1963; second ed., 1964); A. Ott, ed., R. S. und Ludwig Thuille: Briefe der Freundschaft 1877–1907 (Munich, 1969); W. Schuh, ed., R. S.: Briefwechsel mit Willi Schuh (Zürich, 1969); G. Brosche, ed., R. S., Clemens Krauss Briefwechsel: Gesamtausgabe (Tutsing, 1997). biographical: A. Seidl and W. Klatte, R. S.: Eine Charakterskizze (Prague, 1896); G. Brecher, R. S.: Eine monographische Skizze (Leipzig, 1900); E. Urban, R. S. (Berlin, 1901); R. Batka, R. S. (Charlottenburg, 1908); E. Newman, R. S. (London, 1908); M. Steinitzer, R. S. (Berlin, 1911; final ed., enl., 1927); H. Finck, R. S.: The Man and His Works (Boston, 1917); R. Specht, R. S. und sein Werk (2 vols., Leipzig, 1921); R. Muschler, R. S. (Hildesheim, 1924); S. Kallen-berg, R. S.: Leben und Werk (Leipzig, 1926); J. Cooke, R. S.: A Short Biography (Philadelphia, 1929); W. Hutschenruyter, R. S. (The Hague, 1929); E. Gehring, ed., R. S. und seine Vaterstadt: Zum 70. Geburtstag am 11. Juni 1934 (Munich, 1934); F. Gysi, R. S. (Potsdam, 1934); W. Brandi, R. S.: Leben und Werk (Wiesbaden, 1949); E. Bücken, R. S. (Kevelaer, 1949); K. Pfister, R. S.: Weg, Gestalt, Denkmal (Vienna, 1949); C. Rostand, R. S. (Paris, 1949; second ed., 1965); O. Erhardt, R. S.: Leben, Wirken, Schaffen (Olten, 1953); E. Krause, R. S.: Gestalt und Werk (Leipzig, 1955; third ed., rev., 1963; Eng. tr., 1964); I. Fabian, R. S. (Budapest, 1962); H. Kralik, R. S.: Weltbürger der Musik (Vienna, 1963); W. Panofsky, R. S.: Partitur eines Lebens (Munich, 1965); G. Marek, R. S.: The Life of a Non-Hero (N.Y., 1967); A. Jefferson, The Life of R. S. (Newton Abbot, 1973); M. Kennedy, R. S. (London, 1976; second ed., rev., 1983; rev. and aug., 1995); W. Schuh, R. S.: Jugend und Meisterjahre: Lebenschronik 1864–98 (Zürich, 1976; Eng. tr. as R. S.: A Chronicle of the Early Years 1864–98, Cambridge, 1982); K. Wilhelm, R. S. persönlich: Eine Bildbiographie (Munich, 1984; new ed., 1999); T. Ashley, R. S. (London, 1999); M. Kennedy, R. S.: Man, Musician, Enigma (Cambridge, 1999). CRITICAL, ANALYTICAL: G. Jourissenne, R. S.: Essai critique et biographique (Brussels, 1899); E. Urban, S. contra Wagner (Berlin, 1902); O. Bie, Die moderne Musik und R. S. (Berlin, 1906); L. Gilman, S.’ Salome: A Guide to the Opera (N.Y, 1906); J. Manifarges, R. S. als Dirigent (Amsterdam, 1907); E. Schmitz, R. S. als Musikdramatiker: Eine aesthetisch-kritische Studie (Munich, 1907); E. von Ziegler, R. S. und seine dramatischen Dichtungen (Munich, 1907); P. Bekker, Das Musikdrama der Gegenwart (Stuttgart, 1909); E. Fischer-Plasser, Einführung in die Musik von R. S. und Elektra (Leipzig, 1909); G. Gräner, R. S.: Musikdramen (Berlin, 1909); F. Santoliquido, II dopo-Wagner: Claude Debussy e R. S. (Rome, 1909); O. Hübner, R. S. und das Musikdrama: Betrachtungen über den Wert oder Unwert gewisser Opernmusiken (Leipzig, 1910); E. Hutcheson, Elektra by R. S.: A Guide to the Opera with Musical Examples from the Score (N.Y., 1910); M. Steinitzer, S.iana und Anderes (Stuttgart, 1910); H. Daffner, Salome: Ihre Gestalt in Geschichte und Kunst (Munich, 1912); A. Seidl, S.iana: Aufsätze zur R.S.—Frage auf drei Jahrzehnten (Regensburg, 1913); O. Bie, Die neuere Musik bis R. S. (Leipzig, 1916); H. von Waltershausen, R. S.: Ein Versuch (Munich, 1921); R. Rosenzweig, Zur Entwicklungsgeschichte des S:’sehen Musikdramas (diss., Univ. of Vienna, 1923); W. Schrenk, R. S. und die neue Musik (Berlin, 1924); E. Blom, The Rose Cavalier (London, 1930); T. Armstrong, S.’Tone Poems (London, 1931); G. Röttger, Die Harmonik in R. S. ’ Der Rosenkavalier: Ein Beitrag zur Entwicklung der romantische Harmonik nach Richard Wagner (diss., Univ. of Munich, 1931); E. Wachten, Das psychotechnische Formproblem in den Sinfonischen Dichtungen von R.S. (mit besonderer Berücksichtigung seiner Bühnenwerk) diss., Univ. of Berlin, 1932; publ. in an abr. ed., Berlin, 1933); K.-J. Krüger, Hugo von Hofmannsthal und R. S.: Versuch einer Deutung des künstlerisschen Weges Hugo von Hofmannsthals, mit einem Anhang; erstmalige Veröffentlichung der bischer ungedruckten einzigen Vertonung eines Hofmannsthalschen Gedichtes durch R. S. (Berlin, 1935); H. Röttger, Das Formproblem bei R. S. gezeigt an der Oper Die Frau ohne Schatten, mit Einschluss von Guntram und Intermezzo (diss., Univ. of Munich, 1935; publ. in an abr. ed., Berlin, 1937); J. Gregor, R. S.: Der Meister der Oper (Munich, 1939; second ed., 1942); G. Becker, Das Problem der Oper an Hand von R. S.’ Capriccio (diss., Univ. of Jena, 1944); R. Tenschert, Dreimal sieben Variationen über das Thema R. S. (Vienna, 1944; second ed., 1945); O. Gatscha, Librettist und Komponist: Dargestellt an den Opern R. S.’ (diss., Univ. of Vienna, 1947); A. Pryce-Jones, R. S.: Der Rosenkavalier (London, 1947); W. Schuh, Über Opern von R. S. (Zürich, 1947); F. Trenner, Die Zusammenarbeit von Hugo von Hofmannsthal und R. S. (diss., Univ. of Munich, 1949); D. Lindner, R. S./Joseph Gregor: Die Liebe der Danae: Herkunft, Inhalt und Gestaltung eines Opernwerkes (Vienna, 1952); R. Schopenhauer, Die antiken Frauengestalten bei R. S. (diss., Univ. of Vienna, 1952); G. Hausswald, R. S.: Ein Betrag zur Dresdener Operngeschichte seit 1945 (Dresden, 1953); W Wendhausen, Das stilistische Verhältnis von Dichtung und Musik in der Entwicklung der musikdramatischen Werke R. S.’ (diss., Univ. of Hamburg, 1954); G. Kende, R. S. und Clemens Krauss: Eine Künstlerfreundschaft und ihre Zusammenarbeit an Capriccio (op.85): Konversationsstück für Musik (Munich, 1960); N. Del Mar, R. S.; A Critical Commentary on His Life and Works (3 vols., London, 1962, 1969, and 1972; reprint with corrections, 1978); A. Jefferson, The Operas of R. S. in Britain, 1910–1963 (London, 1963); A. Natan, R. S.: Die Opern (Basel, 1963); A. Berger, R. S. als geistige Macht: Versuch eines philosophischen Verständnisses (Gisch, 1964); L. Lehmann, Five Operas and R. S. (N.Y., 1964; publ. in London, 1964, as Singing with R. S.); W Mann, R. S.: A Critical Study of the Operas (London, 1964); K. Pörnbacher, Hugo von Hofmannsthal/R. S.: Der Rosenkavalier (Munich, 1964); W. Schuh, Hugo von Hofinannsthal und R. S.: Legende und Wirklichkeit (Munich, 1964); A. Goléa, R. S. (Paris, 1965); R. Gerlach, Tonalität und tonale Konfiguration im Oeuvre von R. S.: Analysen und Interpretationen als Beiträge zum Verständnis von tonalen Problemen und Formen in sinfonischen Werken und in der “Einleitung” und ersten Szene des Rosenkavalier (diss., Univ. of Zürich, 1966; publ. as Don Juan und Rosenkavalier, Bern, 1966); R. Schäfer, Hugo von Hofmannsthals Arabella (Bern, 1967); W. Gruhn, Die Instrumentation in den Orchesterwerken von R. S. (diss., Univ. of Mainz, 1968); W. Schuh, Der Rosenkavalier: 4 Studien (Olten, 1968); J. Knaus, Hugo von Hofinannsthal und sein Weg zur Oper Die Frau ohne Schatten (Berlin, 1971); W. Schuh, ed., Hugo von Hofinannsthal, R. S.: Der Rosenkavalier: Fassungen, Filmszenarium, Briefe (Frankfurt am Main, 1971); A. Abert, R. S.: Die Opern: Einführung und Analyse (Hannover, 1972); A. Jefferson, The Lieder of R. S. (London, 1972); W. Colson, Four Last Songs by R. S. (diss., Univ. of 111., 1974); D. Daviau and G. Buelow, The “Ariadne auf Naxos” of Hugo von Hofinannsthal and R. S. (Chapel Hill, 1975); B. Peterson, Ton und Wort: The Lieder of R. S. (Ann Arbor, 1979); K. Forsyth, Ariadne auf Naxos by Hugo von Hofinannsthal and R. S.: Its Genesis and Meaning (Oxford, 1982); R. Hartmann, R. S.: The Staging of His Operas and Ballets (Oxford, 1982); R. Schlötter, Musik und Theater im “Rosenkavalier” vom R. S. (Vienna, 1985); H. Wajemann, Die Chorkomposition von R. S. (Tutzing, 1986); G. Splitt, R. S. 1933–1935: Ästhetik und Musikpolitik zu Beginn der nationalsozialistischen Herrschft (Pfaffenweiler, 1987); C. Osborne, The Complete Operas of R. S. (London, 1988); E.-M. Axt, Musikalische Form als Dramaturgie: Prinzipien eines Spätstils in der Oper “Friedenstag” von R. S. und Joseph Gregor (Munich, 1989); B. Gilliam, R. S.’s Elektra (Oxford, 1991); D. Greene, Listening to S. Operas: The Audience’s Multiple Standpoints (N.Y., 1991); W. Krebs, Der Wille zum Rausch: Aspekte der musikalischen Dramaturgie von R. S.’ “Salome” (Munich, 1991); B. Gilliam, ed., R. S. and His World (Princeton, 1992); idem, ed., R. S.: New Perspectives on the Composer and His Work (Durham, N.C., 1992); B. Meier, Geschichtliche Signalmen der Musik bei Mahler, S. und Schönberg (Hamburg, 1992); A. Unger, Welt, heben und Kunst als Themen der “Zarathustra-Kompositionen” von R. S. und Gustav Mahler (Frankfurt am Main, 1992); J. Williamson, S.: Also sprach Zarathustra (Cambridge, 1993); J. Liebscher, R. S.: Also sprach Zarathustra: Tondichtung (frei nach Friedr. Nietzsche) für grosses Orchester op.30 (Munich, 1994); J. Schaarwächter, R. S. und die Sinfonie (Cologne, 1994); S. Bayerlein, Musikalische Psychologie der drei Frauengestalten in der Oper Elektra von R. S. (Tutzing, 1996); R. Bayreuther, R. S.’ Alpensinfonie: Entstehung, Analyse und Interpretation (Hildesheim, 1997); V. Beci, Der ewig Moderne: R. S. 1864–1949 (Düsseldorf, 1998).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

Strauss, Richard

views updated May 21 2018

Richard Strauss

Composer, conductor

For the Record

Selected discography


Considered one of the greatest in Germanys long line of musical giants, Richard Strauss was an innovator early in his career. His work was influenced by both Franz Liszt and Richard Wagner, and in mid-career he became famous for operas that at the time were considered quite daring. In his elder years, Strauss fell into disgrace for his somewhat inadvertent associations with the Nazi Party.

Strauss was born into a wealthy and accomplished Munich family in 1864. His mother was an heiress of the Pschorr brewing dynasty, a famous name in German beer, and his father Franz was a well-regarded horn player in the Munich Symphony Orchestra. The elder Strauss, however, had also become famous for his tirades against the music of Richard Wagner, a revered name in Germany music during the era; he even forbid his son to listen to Wagners operas or compositions. Strauss began learning piano by the age of four, taking lessons from colleagues of his fathers, and began to compose around the age of six. He gave piano recitals as a teen, and attended the University of Munich for a time to study philosophy and esthetics. When he was just 18, Strauss premiered his first symphony in Dresden, Germany. The conductor of the Munich Symphony Orchestra, Hans von Buelow, allowed him to make his conducting debutwithout rehearsalin Munich in 1884 leading the orchestra through his Suite for Winds in B Flat.

In 1885 Strauss became conductor of the Meiningen Court Orchestra, and one of its violinists, Alexander Ritter, became a great influence. Ritter was a composer and poet, married to Wagners niece, and introduced Strauss to the music of both Liszt and Wagner.

In 1886 Strauss became assistant conductor of the Munich Court Opera, and traveled to Italy that same summer. The following year, he broke from the traditional form and began working in what he called the tone poem. Other composers, such as Liszt, generally used the term symphonic poem, but both phrases describe a piece of program music based on an extramusical idea. The work, Aus Italien, used discord and ignited a controversyhalf the premiere audience cheered, while the other half booed. Another tone poem, Don Juan, premiered in Weimar, Germany, in 1889 to a more favorable reception. Music scholars consider Don Juan Strausss first mature work, and its success made an important figure in German music seemingly overnight. Another tone poem, Tod und Verklärung (Death and Transfiguration), also met with critical approval when it debuted in 1889.

Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche (Till Eulenspiegels Merry Pranks), a 1894 comic tale of arogue, and Also

For the Record

Born Richard Georg Strauss, June 11, 1864, in Munich, Bavaria (now Germany); died of uremia in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Bavaria, September 8, 1949; son of Franz (a professional musician) and Josephine Pschorr Strauss; married Pauline de Ahna (an opera singer), September 10, 1894; children: Franz. Education: Attended University of Munch, 1882-83.

Began composing at the age of six; Symphony in D Minor premiered, March, 1881; made conducting debut with Meiningen Court Orchestra in Munich, November, 1884; became assistant conductor, Meiningen Court Orchestra, October, 1885, and principal music director, 1886; served as assistant conductor, Munich Court Opera, 1886-89; musical assistant for the 1889 and 1891 Bayreuth Festivals; first conductor, Weimar Court Orchestra, 1889-94; first opera, Guntram, premiered at Weimar Hofttheater, 1894; conductor with the Berlin Philharmonic, 1894-95; music director, Berlin Royal Opera, 1898-1910; co-founder, Salzburg Festival, 1917; co-director, Vienna Opera, 1919-24; Third Reich Music Chamber, president, and president of the Federation of German Composers, c. 1933-35.

Awards: Gold medal, Royal Philharmonic Society, London, 1936.

SprachZarathustra (Zarathustra Spoke)based on a book by German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche and debuted in 1896would become Strausss most enduring works for the orchestra. The Zarathustra melody gained even greater recognition when film director Stanley Kubrick used them in his classic film 2001: A Space Odyssey. Another tone poem from this era, Ein Heldenleben (A Heros Life) in 1898 featured the composer himself as hero, the music critics as foes. All were well received and consolidated his position as the outstanding composer of his day, regarded as the arch-fiend of modernism and cacophony because of the huge instrumental forces, the innovatory design and the natu ralistic effects employed in these masterpieces, noted an essay on Strauss in the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians.

Strauss fell ill for a time, and wintered in Egypt in 1892. He was busy writing his first opera, Guntram, during this period. It premiered at the Weimar Hofttheater in May of 1894. Its Munich debut was a spectacular failure. The Munich Orchestra actually the petitioned the local authorities to censor it, and it closed after one performance. The composer felt the sting of this treatment in his native city keenly, and would later extract his own creative revenge.

Strauss met soprano Pauline de Ahna in 1887, a famously tempestuous performer, and they married in September of 1894. During this time, his career as both a composer and conductor was progressing splendidly. He found favor with Wagners widow Cosima, who oversaw the annual Bayreuth Festival of Wagners operas, and directed some of its productions. In 1896 he was hired as chief conductor of the Munich Opera, and composed his second opera, Feuersnot, in the final years of the century. It premiered in Dresden in November of 1901, a medieval tale set in Munich that mocked the citys conservative strain. By this time he was serving as music director for the Berlin Royal Opera, a post he held until around 1910.

Strauss was a enigmatic persona in his day. Many disliked him, though some appreciated his genius. At times he was condemned as vulgar and preoccupied with money and fame. Not many people would have written an enormous and deafening symphonic poem about his own home life, including an embarrassingly boastful five minutes depicting his sexual prowess; and fewer would have been happy to conduct it in a department store and brag about the enormous fee afterwards, remarked Philip Hensher in the Spectator. The work that Hensher referred to was the Symphonia domestica, which premiered in America in 1904. But Strauss also campaigned determinedly to revise German copyright law, and after a seven-year fight, music royalty laws were amended to be more favorable to composers, rather than the publishing firms.

Strauss ignited even more controversy with his 1905 opera Salome, based on Oscar Wildes titillating play. It premiered in December of 1905 at the Dresden Royal Opera, and was vilified in the press as erotic, vulgar, and altogether repulsive, but audiences still flocked to see it. Its title character was a minor figure from the biblical account of the death of John the Baptist. Salome is the teenage stepdaughter of Herodes, the tetrarch who has imprisoned the apostlehere called Jochanaanfor his belief in Christ. Bewitching but spoiled, Salome is fascinated by the prisoner, and angers when he spurns her advances. She performs the Dance of the Seven Veils for her stepfather, then demands the head of Jochanaan as her reward for this erotic moment. In the operas final scene, she rapturously kisses Jochanaans bloody severed head.

For years to come, productions of Salome had to include a ballerina performing the Seven Veils dance, since the female opera singers steadfastly refused. Strausss own father proclaimed the opera perverted music, and even Kaiser Wilhelm II had words of caution for him. But Strausss Salome was staged 50 times around the world over the next two years, and the success provided Strauss with funds to build a villa in the mountainous area of Bavaria called Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Despite its worldwide success, the production of Salome at the New York Metropolitan Opera in 1907 was plagued by internal strife at the organization, and the production was canceled after opening night.

Strauss followed this success with another violencedriven opera that featured an unbalanced woman, Elektra, which made its debut in January of 1909 at the Dresden Royal Opera. It was Strausss first work with a new librettist, the Austrian poet Hugo von Hof mannsthal. Their collaboration would prove a prolific and successful one over the next two decades.

Strausss work suddenly became more conservative with the period comic opera Der Rosenkavalier. Debuting in Dresden in 1911, it greatly pleased audiences; it used the waltz as a recurring musical theme and was quite Mozart in spirit. It remains Strausss most enduringly popular work. Other operas written with Hofmannsthal included Ariadne auf Naxos (Ariadne on Naxos), 1912; Die Frau ohne Schatten (The Woman without Shadows), 1919; Die agyptische Helena (The Egyptian Helena), 1928; and Arabella, 1933.

By World War I, Straussthen in his fiftieswas a preeminent figure in German music. He co-founded the Salzburg Festival in 1917 with Hofmannsthal and Max Reinhardt, and from 1919 onward served as joint director at the famed Vienna Staatsoper. But the rise of Germanys National Socialist Party and Adolf Hitler would irrevocably affect Strauss and his musical legacy. Upon coming to power in 1933, the Nazis created a state music bureau, the Reichsmusikkammer, and made him president without asking; it was largely a ceremonial office bestowed on him as the leading German composer, but Strauss also remained silent about new Nazi laws that excluded composers and musicians of Jewish heritage from this and other organizations, including all the leading orchestras. In 1933, Arturo Toscanini resigned in protest from the Bayreuth Festival over the Nazis tactics, and Strauss was invited to take over as conductor. Though Nazi propaganda trumpeted Strausss works as exemplarily German, the composer opposed the Party when he attempted to premier another opera, Der Schweigsame Frau, with a libretto written by Stefan Zweig, a Jewish writer. Strauss objected when Zweigs name was omitted from the bill, and it enjoyed a brief run in Dresden before the Nazis shut it down. Strauss and his family were then placed under house arrest in Vienna, his music banned for a time, and all access to their assets blocked. But Strauss complied with these terms in order to protect his sons wife, who was Jewish, and their child. After the war, he and his family were allowed to emigrate to Switzerland.

After the war, Strauss was cleared of any collaborationist charges for holding Nazi office, and premiered a lament for 23 strings, Metamorphosen, in Zurich in early 1946. An elegiac piece, the 81-year-old composer wrote it after learning that all of Germanys great opera houses had been destroyed by Allied bombs. A 1947 London festival organized by Sir Thomas Beecham in his honor marked his final absolution, and his final work, Four Last Songs, premiered posthumously in 1950. He died in Garmisch-Partenkirchen on September 8, 1949. While gravely ill, he famously uttered the words, Dying is just as I composed it in Tod and Verklärung, according to Grove.

Selected discography

Also Sprach Zarathustra, Telarc, 1988.

Der Rosenkavalier, PGD/Deutsche Grammophon, 1988.

Die Schweigsame Frau, PGD/Deutsche Grammophon, 1994.

Salome, PGD/Deutsche Grammophon, 1994.

Don Juan, Prestige/Applausi, 1996.

Ariadne auf Naxos, Gala, 1997.

Elektra, Gala, 1997.

Strauss: The Complete Music for Winds, Hyperion, 1997.

Symphonia Domestica, BMG/RCA Victor, 1998.

Four Last Songs/15 Lieder, PGD/London Classics, 1999.



Plotkin, Fred, Opera 101: A Complete Guide to Learning and Loving Opera, Hyperion, 1994.

Sadie, Stanley, ed., The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, Macmillan, 1980.


American Record Guide, September 1995.

Opera News, March 30, 1996.

Spectator, January 30, 1999; February 13, 1999.

Carol Brennan

Strauss, Richard (Georg)

views updated May 11 2018

Strauss, Richard (Georg) (b Munich, 1864; d Garmisch-Partenkirchen, 1949). Ger.-born composer, conductor, and pianist (Austrian cit. 1947). Son of Franz Strauss, hn.-player in Munich court orch. Had pf. lessons at 4 and began composing at 6. Vn. lessons at 8. Studied theory with F. Meyer 1875, but went to no mus. acad., having normal education, ending at Munich Univ. At 16 wrote first sym. and str. qt., both being perf. in Munich, 1881. In 1882 Serenade for wind perf. in Dresden, leading to commission from Bülow for Meiningen Orch. 2nd Sym. perf. NY 1884. Ass. cond. to Bülow at Meiningen 1885, succeeding him after a month. Left Meiningen 1886, visited It., and became 3rd cond. at Munich Opera. His Aus Italien perf. Munich 1887. Mus. ass. to Levi at Bayreuth 1889. 3rd cond. Weimar Opera 1889. Success of symphonic poem Don Juan est. him as most important young composer in Ger. and natural successor to Wagner, whose widow took great interest in his career. Bayreuth Fest. début as cond. 1894 (Tannhäuser). Married sop. Pauline de Ahna 1894 and wrote many songs for her, appearing as her accompanist. First opera Guntram failure at Weimar 1894. Ass. cond., Munich Opera 1894, chief cond. 1896–8. Cond. Berlin PO 1894–5. Series of tone-poems—Till Eulenspiegel, Also sprach Zarathustra, Don Quixote, and Ein Heldenleben—between 1895 and 1899 confirmed his stature as master of the orch. 2nd opera Feuersnot success in Dresden and Vienna, 1901 and 1902. Visited Eng. 1903, USA 1904. F.p. of Symphonia Domestica in NY. Operas Salome (1905) and Elektra (1909) caused sensations through their supposedly ‘obscene’ treatment of biblical and classical subjects. In latter Strauss first collab. with Austrian poet Hugo von Hofmannsthal, who was to be librettist of 5 more of his operas, beginning in 1911 with the 18th-cent. comedy Der Rosenkavalier. This work was a triumph at its Dresden première, went straight into the repertory of world's leading opera houses, and has stayed there. Since 1898 Strauss had been cond. of Berlin Royal Opera, living in the capital, but after 1908 lived in villa at Garmisch and was in constant demand as cond. of his own works. Completed his last full-scale orch. work, Eine Alpensinfonie, in 1915. Resigned Berlin post 1918 and became joint dir., Vienna Opera, 1919–24. With Max Reinhardt, Hofmannsthal and others, founded Salzburg Fest. 1920 and cond. Don Giovanni and Così fan tutte there 1922. His opera Die Frau ohne Schatten and ballet Schlagobers were prod. in Vienna 1919 and 1924. Opera Intermezzo, to his own lib. representing incident in his own marriage, prod. Dresden 1924. During comp. of Arabella, Hofmannsthal died, 1929. In 1933 new Nazi régime in Ger. appointed Strauss pres. of Reichsmusikkammer, but removed him in 1935 because of disapproval of his collab. with Jewish librettist Stefan Zweig on opera Die schweigsame Frau, which was banned after 4 perfs. Thereafter Strauss was tolerated by régime but kept under surveillance because of Jewish daughter-in-law. Visited London 1936, receiving Gold Medal of Royal Phil. Soc. and conducting at CG. 1-act operas Friedenstag and Daphne prod. 1938. During World War II lived mostly in Vienna and comp. operas Die Liebe der Danae and Capriccio. In 1943 reverted to instr. comps., writing 2nd hn. conc., wind sonatinas, ob. conc., and ‘study for 23 strings’ Metamorphosen, partly inspired by destruction of Ger. opera houses in bombing raids. Moved to Switzerland 1945–9, where in 1947–8 he wrote his last masterpiece, the Vier letzte Lieder (Four Last Songs) for sop. and orch. Officially cleared in 1948 of complicity in Nazi régime. Visited London 1947, conducting own works and attending perfs. cond. by Beecham. His last work, completed 23 Nov. 1948, was a song Malven ( Knobel), ded. to Maria Jeritza. After operation in Lausanne in Dec. 1948, returned to Garmisch May 1949, dying there on 8 Sept.

Strauss, like his friend and contemporary Mahler, had immense dual reputation as composer and cond. He was a master of several mus. forms. No sym. orch. can reasonably exist without having in its repertory his series of magnificent tone-poems, in which brilliance of scoring and vividness of representational detail are matched by satisfying mus. construction. Of his 15 operas at least half are regularly in the repertories of the major opera houses. They provide superb singing roles, particularly for women's vv., of which, through his marriage to a sop., he had a profound understanding. In Der Rosenkavalier alone, he wrote parts for 3 sop. in which many a 20th-cent. reputation has been made and which have contributed to making it the most popular opera written in the 20th cent., with the probable exception of Madama Butterfly. In Elektra he approached the atonal and neuro-psychological world of Schoenberg and Berg, but turned aside to what Stravinsky called the ‘time-travelling’ of Der Rosenkavalier and Ariadne auf Naxos, the latter being one of several operas in which Strauss treated subjects from classical mythology, investing them with 20th-cent. traits e.g. Die ägyptische Helena, Daphne, and Die Liebe der Danae. His last opera, a ‘conversation piece’, Capriccio, has become more frequently perf. in recent years. Strauss's mus. is in the Ger. 19th-cent. tradition deriving from Mendelssohn, Liszt, and especially Wagner. However, his love for Mozart, of whose mus. he was a fine cond., is also reflected in many works, leading to a curious but satisfying blend of 18th-cent. elegance and Wagnerian richness as in Rosenkavalier, Ariadne, and Capriccio, and particularly in the superb instr. works of his last years. His natural gift for counterpoint leads to complex and interweaving textures in all his works, which has led his critics to complain of ‘note-spinning’ for its own sake (a charge that has some justification), but the former tendency to ‘write off’ Strauss operas comp. between 1919 and 1940 is gradually being reversed as their virtues become apparent. Though he wrote some concs., his big display pieces are for full orch. and for vv. His unacc. choral works are in a class of their own, and he wrote many first-rate Lieder, some with orch. A song such as Morgen!, for example, is a perfect blend of melody and expression of the text, while its style epitomizes the highly-developed melodic conversational-recit. which was Strauss's lifelong preoccupation in his operas and which even forms part of the subject-matter of Capriccio. The Vier letzte Lieder is a remarkable and moving summing-up of his life's work as well as a testament to all that the late-romantic style had meant to the art of mus. Prin. works:OPERAS (with dates of comp., f.p., and cond.): Guntram, Op.25, comp. 1887–93, rev. 1934–9 (Weimar 1894, Strauss; rev. vers. Weimar 1940, Heger); Feuersnot, Op.50, comp. 1900–1 (Dresden 1901, Schuch); Salome, Op.54, comp. 1903–5 (Dresden 1905, Schuch); Elektra, Op.58, comp. 1906–8 (Dresden 1909, Schuch); Der Rosenkavalier, Op.59, comp. 1909–10 (Dresden 1911, Schuch); Ariadne auf Naxos, Op.60, comp. 1911–12 (Stuttgart 1912, Strauss), rev. version, Prologue comp 1916 (Vienna 1916, Schalk); Die Frau ohne Schatten, Op.65, comp. 1914–17 (Vienna 1919, Schalk); Intermezzo, Op.72, comp. 1917–23 (Dresden 1924, Busch); Die ägyptische Helena, Op.75, comp. 1923–7 (Dresden 1928, Busch), rev. vers. 1933 (Salzburg, Krauss); Arabella, Op.79, comp. 1930–2 (Dresden 1933, Krauss); Die schweigsame Frau, Op.80, comp. 1933–4 (Dresden 1935, Böhm); Friedenstag, Op.81, comp. 1935–6 (Munich 1938, Krauss); Daphne, Op.82, comp. 1936–7 (Dresden 1938, Böhm); Die Liebe der Danae, Op.83, comp. 1938–40 (dress rehearsal only, Salzburg 1944, Krauss; Salzburg 1952, Krauss); Capriccio, Op.85, comp. 1940–1 (Munich 1942, Krauss).BALLETS & OTHER STAGE WORKS: Josephslegende, Op.63 (1913–14); Der Bürger als Edelmann (Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme), incidental mus. for Molière-Hofmannsthal play, Op.60 (1912–17); Schlagobers, Op.70 (1921–2); Des Esels Schatten, children's mus. play (1947–8, completed from sketches by K. Haussner), Ettal 1964, London 1970.ORCH.: Serenade in E♭, for 13 wind instr., Op.7 (1881–2); Suite in B♭, for 13 wind instr., Op.4 (1883–4); syms.: No.1 in D minor (1880, unpubd.), No.2 in F minor, Op.12 (1883–4), Symphonia Domestica, Op.53 (1902–3), Eine Alpensinfonie, Op.64 (1911–15); Aus Italien, symphonic fantasy, Op.16 (1886); sym.-poems: Macbeth, Op.23 (1887–8, rev. 1889–90), Don Juan, Op.20 (1888), Tod und Verklärung, Op.24 (1888–9), Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche, Op.28, (1894–5), Also sprach Zarathustra, Op.30 (1895–6), Don Quixote, Op.35 (1896–7), Ein Heldenleben, Op.40 (1897–8); Festliches Präludium, orch., org., Op.61 (1913); Suite, Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, Op.60, (1918); Dance Suite (after Couperin) (1922); Waltz, München, 1st vers. (1930), 2nd vers. (1945); Sonatina No.1 in F, 16 wind instr. (1943), No.2 in E♭, 16 wind instr. (1944–5); Metamorphosen, 23 solo str. (1944–5).CONCERTOS etc: hn. conc. No.1 in E♭, Op.11 (1882–3), No.2 in E♭ (1942); vn. conc. in D minor, Op.8 (1881–2); Burleske in D minor, pf., orch. (1885–6, rev. 1890); Parergon zur Symphonia Domestica, pf. (left hand), orch., Op.73 (1925); Panathenäenzug, pf. (left hand), orch., Op.74 (1927); oboe conc. (1945–6); Duett-Concertino, cl., bn., str., hp. (1947).CHORAL: Wandrers Sturmlied, Op.14, ch., orch. (1884); Der Abend and Hymne, Op.34, unacc. ch. (1897); Taillefer, Op.52, sop., ten., bar., ch., orch. (1903); Deutsche Motette, Op.62, sop., cont., ten., bass, unacc. ch. (1913, rev. 1943); Die Tageszeiten, Op.76, 4 songs, male ch., orch. (1928); Die Göttin im Putzzimmer, unacc. ch. (1935); An den Baum Daphne, unacc. ch. (1943).PIANO: Sonata in B minor, Op.5 (1881); 5 Stimmungsbilder, Op.9 (1883–4).SONG-CYCLES: Krämerspiegel, Op.66, v., pf. (1918); Vier letzte Lieder (4 Last Songs), high v., orch. (1948).SONGS (with pf. and/or orch.): Strauss wrote over 200 songs, publishing them in groups. Listed below alphabetically is a selective group of the best-known, with opus numbers where applicable. The sign † means that an orch. acc. (not necessarily by Strauss) exists: Allerseelen, Op.10 No.9 (1885), All’ mein Gedanken, Op.21 No.1 (1888), †Das Bächlein (1933), †Befreit, Op.39 No.4 (1898), †Cäcilie, Op.27 No.2 (1894), Du meines Herzens Krönelein, Op.21 No.2 (1888), Einerlei, Op.69 No.3 (1918), Einkehr, Op.47 No.4 (1900), †Freundliche Vision, Op.48 No.1 (1900), Gefunden, Op.56 No.1 (1903–6), Hat gesagt, Op.36 No.3 (1897), †Die Heiligen drei Königen, Op.56 No.6 (1906), †Heimkehr, Op.15 No.5 (1886), †Heimliche Aufforderung, Op.27 No.3 (1894), †Ich wollt’ ein Sträusslein binden, Op.68 No.2 (1918), †Liebeshymnus, Op.32 No.3 (1896), †Mein Auge, Op.37 No.4 (1897), †Meinem Kinde, Op.37 No.3 (1897), †Morgen!, Op.27 No.4 (1894), †Muttertanderlei, Op.43 No.2 (1899), Die Nacht, Op.10 No.3 (1885), Nachtgang, Op.29 No.3 (1895), Nichts, Op.10 No.2 (1885), †Das Rosenband, Op.36 No.1 (1897), †Ruhe, meine Seele, Op.27 No.1 (1894), †Säusle, Liebe Myrthe, Op.68 No.3 (1918), Schlechtes Wetter, Op.69 No.5 (1918), †Ständchen, Op.17 No.2 (1887), Der Stern, Op.69 No.1 (1918), †Traum durch die Dämmerung, Op.29 No.1 (1895), †Waldseligkeit, Op.49 No.1 (1901), †Wiegenlied, Op.41 No.1 (1899), Wozu noch, Mädchen, Op.19 No.1 (1887–8), †Zueignung, Op.10 No.1 (1885).

Richard Strauss

views updated Jun 11 2018

Richard Strauss

Richard Strauss (1864-1949), the German composer and conductor, is known especially for his operas and symphonic poems linked to his phenomenal mastery of the orchestra. He was the chief exemplar of post-Wagnerian tastes and techniques.

Richard Strauss was born in Munich to a mother who was a talented amateur musician and a father who was the principal horn player in the Court Opera. Piano lessons with his mother began at the age of 4; at 8 he started violin study. In his own words, however, he was a bad pupil because he did not enjoy practicing. His pleasure even then was in composing, which he tried first when he was only 6. Thereafter he composed steadily while receiving regular instruction in music theory from various local musicians. Meanwhile his general education was furthered at the Royal Gymnasium and for a year at the University of Munich.

Strauss was obviously headed toward a career in composition, for by the age of 20 he had turned out a large and quite respectable collection of piano pieces, songs, chamber music, choruses, and orchestral works, including two symphonies and two concertos. He also got into print very early with the Festival March, written in 1876. This music, as far as one can judge from the available examples, was extremely conservative in tone, modeled after Felix Mendelssohn, Robert Schumann, and Johannes Brahms. It clearly carried the mark of his father's tutelage, which Strauss said kept him from hearing anything but classical music until he was 16.

The progressive movements of the 19th century touched Strauss only after he took up conducting and settled in 1885 into his first post as director of the Meiningen orchestra. There he became acquainted with a violinist named Alexander Ritter, who opened Strauss's mind to the "advanced" music and ideas of Hector Berlioz, Franz Liszt, and Richard Wagner—men whose names were anathema in his father's house.

The effect of this awakening was first apparent in a symphonic fantasy, Aus Italien, written in 1886 while Strauss was on a visit to Italy. Full alignment with the newer currents was signaled by his entry into the field of program music cultivated years before by Liszt. The result was a series of nine single-movement, orchestral tone poems beginning with Macbeth (1890), ending with EineAlpensinfonie (1915), and covering a range of subject matter from medieval legend in Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche (1895) to Strauss's own domestic life in Symphonia Domestica (1903). Don Juan (1888), Till, and Don Quixote, (1897) are generally the most favored of these works. In principle, however, Strauss's method remained constant. The shaping of each piece was guided by a poetic idea to which his music was linked in a more intimate and detailed way than in earlier programmatic scores. Yet he avoided becoming a mere illustrator by insisting that the composition must also develop "logically from within" to produce a satisfying musical form. And at every point he demonstrated his unsurpassed virtuosity in orchestration.

With the tone poems Strauss came into his own as a composer. He also became increasingly successful as a conductor, performing throughout Europe, especially Germany, where he held positions in Munich, Weimar, and Berlin, and in New York City. By the time he was 30, he was a celebrity on two counts. But there was much more to come after he turned to opera composition.

Strauss, as he said, may have put off composing for the theater from awe of Wagner. Once started, however, he gave it his main attention for almost 40 years, producing 15 operas in that period. The first two, Guntram (1893) and Feuersnot (1901), were failures. Then came Salome (1905), Elektra (1908), Der Rosenkavalier (1910), and Ariadne auf Naxos (1912), which are possibly his best and certainly the most frequently played of all. Salome, with its shocking, perverse sensuality, and Elektra, which goes beyond that in violence and unremitting tension, are prime examples of German expressionism in its most lurid phase. They also show Strauss at the peak of his modernity in respect to musical vocabulary and technique. In Der Rosenkavalier he reverted to a sweetly diatonic strain cast much of the time in waltz rhythm; in Ariadne he looked still farther back as he applied classical methods to the ingenious idea of presenting an antique myth simultaneously with a sketch out of the commedia dell'arte. Of his remaining operas, Die Frau ohne Schatten (1917), Arabella (1932), and Capriccio (1941) are the most interesting, although none has won repertory status.

After Capriccio Strauss returned to earlier interests in concerto composition, chamber music, and songs, the peak of this final effort being the Metamorphosen for 23 solo strings (1945). Grave and Wagnerian in tone, it recalls Strauss's ties to the Germany of his youth and sounds an affecting though belated finale to an era that had long since been closed out by composers such as Igor Stravinsky, Arnold Schoenberg, and Béla Bartók.

Further Reading

Strauss's Recollections and Reflections were edited by Will Schuh (1953). Two biographical studies are George R. Marek, Richard Strauss: Life of a Non-hero (1967), and Ernst Krause, Richard Strauss: The Man and His Work (trans. 1969). Joseph Kerman, Opera as Drama (1956), offers a biting censure of the Straussian dramaturgy, while William Mann, Richard Strauss: A Critical Study of the Operas (1964), is generally sympathetic. Strauss's historical position is outlined in Gerald Abraham, A Hundred Years of Music (1938; 3d ed. 1964), and Adolfo Salazar, Music in Our Time (trans. 1946).

Additional Sources

Kennedy, Michael, Richard Strauss, Oxford, England: Clarendon Press, 1995. □

Strauss, Richard

views updated May 18 2018

Strauss, Richard (1864–1949) German composer and conductor. Strauss' symphonic poems, such as Don Juan (1888), Till Eulenspiegel (1895), and Also sprach Zarathustra (1896), use brilliantly coloured orchestration for characterization. His early operas, Salome (1905) and Elektra (1909), deal with female obsession. Der Rosenkavalier (1911) also used the dramatic range of the female voice, but in a comic setting.

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