Author Topic: Richard Strauss's house  (Read 104756 times)

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Offline JBS

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Re: Richard Strauss's house
« Reply #680 on: April 01, 2020, 10:54:29 AM »
Cool, thanks, everyone. I have been looking at that Kempe/Dresden box and it probably is the way to go. But I'll check out some of the other recordings suggested too. I have heard and really loved the Solti Elektra and should probably get it on CD so I can listen while reading along with the libretto. I've been looking at the Karajan Rosenkavalier too.

Another "modern" alternative set


Looking at Amazon MP, the used route is the one to go for price reasons.

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Offline SonicMan46

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Re: Richard Strauss's house
« Reply #681 on: May 25, 2020, 07:14:10 AM »
The truth is so many of the classic Strauss recordings are now available in box sets where in effect you get all the major works for the equivalent price you paid for a single LP back in the day.  So



represent tremendous value without any artistic compromise (but sometimes with not much in terms of liner notes).  Of the older recordings I think anything with Szell in Cleveland on CBS/Sony is pretty stunning................

Opera-wise again many of the great recordings can now be bought for the equivalent of pence..................

Hi All!  Just starting in on my R. Strauss collection, about a dozen discs, split evenly between the first 5 shown below and the others being recordings of chamber, horn, and wind pieces.  As quoted above (a recent post in this thread), a number of 'boxes' have appeared - I added another one w/ Mehta - one of these collections could easily replace a number of the ones below, so will greatly appreciate any comments?

Also, wondering if there are other 'instrumental works' that might pique my interest (sorry, but not interested in lieder, whole operas, or choral works - I know many of these are masterpieces, but would not listen to them vs. what I already own) - looking over his list of compositions, Franz Trenner created a new chronological catalogue in 1985, revised by his son in 1999; this catalogue lists 298 works and its numbers are shown in the column "TrV" below - WOW!  I see a lot of piano music and other chamber/orchestral works - any recommendations in these genres?  Thanks!  Dave :)



       
« Last Edit: May 25, 2020, 07:26:46 AM by SonicMan46 »

Offline SonicMan46

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Re: Richard Strauss's house
« Reply #682 on: May 25, 2020, 07:33:28 AM »
Just to be complete and avoid duplicate recommendations, below are the other half dozen R. Strauss recordings owned. - Dave :)

   

   

Offline Roasted Swan

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Re: Richard Strauss's house
« Reply #683 on: May 25, 2020, 10:02:15 AM »
Just to be complete and avoid duplicate recommendations, below are the other half dozen R. Strauss recordings owned. - Dave :)

   

   

So much good music and great recordings there.  I know you say vocal music is off limits but you must have a 4 Last Songs somewhere!  The Netherlands Wind Ensemble version of the wind serenades etc were always well regarded but I find the too smoothed over and neat.  Immaculately played but too sanitised for me - I'd go for another version of those.  None of the chamber music is amazing - perfectly nice but not revolutionary in the way much of his other music was......  You've got most of the main bases covered here - is there a good oboe concerto in that lot?

Offline Jo498

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Re: Richard Strauss's house
« Reply #684 on: May 25, 2020, 10:31:59 AM »
It is probably Holliger on the Philips twofer?
My other favorite concertante piece is the "Burleske" for Piano, Timpani and orchestra, a rather early piece with echoes of Brahms d minor concerto. My favorite chamber work I am not seeing on your discs is the violin sonata (many recordings with famous fiddlers). If you like neoclassical/neobaroque there is also Le bourgeois gentilhomme suite.
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Offline SonicMan46

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Re: Richard Strauss's house
« Reply #685 on: May 25, 2020, 12:24:41 PM »
So much good music and great recordings there.  I know you say vocal music is off limits but you must have a 4 Last Songs somewhere!  The Netherlands Wind Ensemble version of the wind serenades etc were always well regarded but I find the too smoothed over and neat.  Immaculately played but too sanitised for me - I'd go for another version of those.  None of the chamber music is amazing - perfectly nice but not revolutionary in the way much of his other music was......  You've got most of the main bases covered here - is there a good oboe concerto in that lot?

It is probably Holliger on the Philips twofer?
My other favorite concertante piece is the "Burleske" for Piano, Timpani and orchestra, a rather early piece with echoes of Brahms d minor concerto. My favorite chamber work I am not seeing on your discs is the violin sonata (many recordings with famous fiddlers). If you like neoclassical/neobaroque there is also Le bourgeois gentilhomme suite.

Thanks Guys for the comments - correct on the Oboe Concerto, i.e. Holliger in the double-Philips wind music set.  I spent a half hour or so on Amazon today looking at those 'boxes' shown before and already own much of that music, and there just isn't much of the early or chamber compositions available.  I know that the last 4 songs are famous and I had several versions years back but culled the discs out due to my neglect; I do have a LOT of medieval/renaissance secular & religious vocal music, but when the 19th century comes around and the words are in German, my interest fades, sorry Schubert, Schumann, Wolf, et al - just me.  Dave :)

Offline TheGSMoeller

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Re: Richard Strauss's house
« Reply #686 on: May 26, 2020, 04:51:58 AM »
Hi, Dave. You already have some really good Strauss records there, Alpine Symphony with Blomstedt/SF is flawless; and the Rosenkavalier/Salome/Capriccio disc with Jarvi/Scottish, and the Nash Ensemble's Meta/Piano Quartet/Capriccio both offer a great variety of his compositions.

If you find yourself a fan of the Wind Sonatinas, and the Oboe Concerto, you should definitely give his Duet concertino for clarinet and bassoon a listen. It's pure magic. Here's my recommendation that I truly love...


Offline SonicMan46

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Re: Richard Strauss's house
« Reply #687 on: May 26, 2020, 07:12:19 AM »
Hi, Dave. You already have some really good Strauss records there, Alpine Symphony with Blomstedt/SF is flawless; and the Rosenkavalier/Salome/Capriccio disc with Jarvi/Scottish, and the Nash Ensemble's Meta/Piano Quartet/Capriccio both offer a great variety of his compositions.

If you find yourself a fan of the Wind Sonatinas, and the Oboe Concerto, you should definitely give his Duet concertino for clarinet and bassoon a listen. It's pure magic. Here's my recommendation that I truly love...



Thanks Greg - only work that I already own is the Cappriccio Suite which starts w/ the Sextet - others not in my collection - read several excellent reviews - in a short search, have found only MP3 DLs (Amazon USA and PrestoMusic) but have not checked other sites.  Dave :)

ADDENDUM: Pentatone website states the physical CD is no longer available and not listed on BRO; the cheapest MP3 DL is on Presto for $7 - however, I'm currently streaming on Spotify to my Apple TV and den speakers -  8)
« Last Edit: May 26, 2020, 07:22:38 AM by SonicMan46 »

Offline Roasted Swan

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Re: Richard Strauss's house
« Reply #688 on: May 26, 2020, 11:46:19 AM »
Thanks Greg - only work that I already own is the Cappriccio Suite which starts w/ the Sextet - others not in my collection - read several excellent reviews - in a short search, have found only MP3 DLs (Amazon USA and PrestoMusic) but have not checked other sites.  Dave :)

ADDENDUM: Pentatone website states the physical CD is no longer available and not listed on BRO; the cheapest MP3 DL is on Presto for $7 - however, I'm currently streaming on Spotify to my Apple TV and den speakers -  8)

If you like Strauss in heroic mode then you must check out the Festmusik der Stadt Wien





Not necessarily the greatest performances technically but they have real character

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Richard Strauss's house
« Reply #689 on: December 12, 2020, 10:33:34 AM »
If you like Strauss in heroic mode then you must check out the Festmusik der Stadt Wien





Not necessarily the greatest performances technically but they have real character

An old post I know, but, yes, I’m finding this particular Strauss chamber series rather good. As you mentioned, not the most assured technically, but they do have a unique quality to them or, at least, of the performances I’ve heard so far. Brilliant Classics boxed this set up a few years ago and I jumped on it because it was just so cheap:



I was a bit hesitant to buy this set because of Brilliant’s quality control issues that has permeated several of their other sets most notably their Rachmaninov set. But, so far, there haven’t been any defects.
"I believe that Strauss will remain one of the characteristic and outstanding figures in musical history. Works like Salome, Elektra and Intermezzo, and others will not perish.” - Arnold Schoenberg on Richard Strauss

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Richard Strauss's house
« Reply #690 on: December 12, 2020, 10:57:52 AM »
Well, I've hardly heard any of Richard Strauss's works, but all those I have heard I've loved. I'd like to expand my Strauss collection beyond the three CDs I have: Reiner conducting Zarathustra & Heldenleben, Karajan conducting Metamorphosen & Tod und Verklärung w/ Gundula Janowitz singing the Four Last Songs, and another Four Last Songs w/ Jessye Norman. My favorite of the three would have to be the Karajan, though the Reiner is damn good too (and GREAT sound for the time).

Are there any Strauss recordings that you, good people of GMG, deem essential listening? I'm thinking of getting into the operas, too, as it seems Strauss' major mark on music was in the world of opera. The ones I'm most interested in are Salome, Elektra, & Rosenkavalier (which I guess are the "big" ones). But I'm curious to hear more of the tone poems, concertos, and anything else.

Thanks in advance for any help!

In the tone poems, the more glitzier and glamorous the performances are, the more I tend to like them. You can’t go wrong with Karajan in any Strauss. He’s my top pick in terms of the tone poems, but I’ve got to say that Kempe is truly impressive here as well. I think of Kempe’s Strauss as ‘meat and potatoes’ and I mean this as a compliment. These performances are consistent, reliably performed and straight-forward, but they do have a bit of special spice in them that give them a distinctive flavor of their own. You’d do well with Karajan or Kempe. For the operas, this is more of a mixed bag for me (and I can only speak of the operas that I’ve heard), but Solti is the man here, although Böhm has some fine Strauss under his belt as well. Solti’s Elektra and Salome are essential acquisitions, IMHO. He brings out those darker Second Viennese School musical underpinnings to superb effect. It really felt at times I was listening to something as violent as Berg’s Wozzeck. Outside of the operas, tone poems and a few chamber pieces, I don’t know much else from him, but I’m now starting to get reacquainted with his oeuvre, but I know it’s going to take some time to be able to fully assimilate these ares of his oeuvre that I don’t know as well as I should.
"I believe that Strauss will remain one of the characteristic and outstanding figures in musical history. Works like Salome, Elektra and Intermezzo, and others will not perish.” - Arnold Schoenberg on Richard Strauss

Offline amw

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Re: Richard Strauss's house
« Reply #691 on: January 07, 2021, 03:50:18 AM »
What is the best recording of the Violin Sonata? My reference at the moment is Vilde Frang & Michail Lifits. I also appreciate Augustin Dumay & Louis Lortie for the depth of its interpretation, even though Dumay's playing is not really up to scratch technically, and Thomas Irnberger & Michael Korstick for an alternative view (marred by bad piano sound). I assume there are probably better recordings out there, though.

Offline Todd

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Re: Richard Strauss's house
« Reply #692 on: January 07, 2021, 05:54:07 AM »
I assume there are probably better recordings out there, though.


Better than Frang/Lifits?  I have doubts.  Chung/Zimerman is also nice.  Of course, I've never made it a point to hunt down a lot of recordings of this piece, but now that I see there is a Rosand/Lipkin recording and a Suwanai/Pace (!) set, I may be tempted to try some more.
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Offline amw

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Re: Richard Strauss's house
« Reply #693 on: January 08, 2021, 03:21:10 AM »
I sampled Chung & Zimerman, Suwanai & Pace, and Ehnes & Armstrong. Chung is good, but a bit too harsh. Suwanai is very strong, likely better than Frang, but I still prefer Frang for interpretive reasons. Ehnes is even better, capturing the same breathless fin-de-siecle nostalgia as Frang, and may well become a new reference recording, even though I don't like his violin playing as much as Frang's or Suwanai's. There are also recordings by Vadim Repin, Arabella Steinbacher, Gidon Kremer & David Grimal that I will endeavour to listen to at some point, and I'll probably also have to try out some of the violinists & pianists new to me, to see how well they can cope with what is after all a very technically difficult sonata (more so for the piano than the violin, actually).

I guess I'm becoming de facto Op. 18 expert here.

Offline Todd

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Re: Richard Strauss's house
« Reply #694 on: January 08, 2021, 06:45:21 AM »
Looks like I need to hear Suwanai/Pace.
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Offline amw

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Re: Richard Strauss's house
« Reply #695 on: January 09, 2021, 05:19:48 AM »


This has ended up being a surprisingly strong contender as well (surprising for me at least, since I have never heard of the violinist). The same interpreters have also recorded the Prokofievs, which I should listen to someday. Some insecure high playing is the only major limitation, but it's otherwise a good interpretive and qualitative match for Dumay. Repin & Steinbacher were not for me. Kremer & Grimal pretty good, but not sure how competitive they are with Ehnes, Suwanai or Frang.

Tobias Feldmann & Boris Kusnezow, Itzhak Perlman & Emanuel Ax, and Lisa Schatzman & Benjamin Engeli also seem pretty good, but with various limitations in terms of phrasing, rhythmic snap, or violin sound. In retrospect, it's not really a surprise that virtually every major violinist has recorded the piece, since despite its technical difficulties it's a lot more fun and engaging than its usual discmate (the Franck) with about two great tunes per movement.

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Richard Strauss's house
« Reply #696 on: April 14, 2021, 06:32:09 PM »
For the Violin Sonata, this is my currently my reference:

"I believe that Strauss will remain one of the characteristic and outstanding figures in musical history. Works like Salome, Elektra and Intermezzo, and others will not perish.” - Arnold Schoenberg on Richard Strauss

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Richard Strauss's house
« Reply #697 on: April 14, 2021, 06:48:24 PM »
An interesting mini-bio on Strauss’ life:

Richard Georg Strauss was born in Munich on June 11, 1864. He was the first child of the Musician Franz Joseph Strauss and his wife Josepha (who is descended from the Brewery Dynasty Pschorr). As early as the age of six, Strauss was already composing his first pieces. By his 18th Birthday, he had composed 140 works. His “Opus 1” “Festive March for Large Orchestra” was released in 1881.

Richard Strauss' father Franz Joseph Strauss (1822-1905), managed to work his way out of poverty through his musical talent. A member of the Munich Court Opera from 1847, he was considered one of the best French horn players of his time. In 1863 he married Josepha Pschorr (1838-1910) who was a member of the affluent Pschorr brewery family.

The couple moved to the Pschorr residence in Munich where their son Richard Georg Strauss was born on June 11, 1864. In 1867, their daughter Berta Johanna was born.

The mother was musical with a sensitive nature while the father had the dominant and self-confident personality of a musician. He would raise his son with ethics of hard work as well as frugality, precise musical expertise and a love of the classics. “His musical creed was the trinity of Mozart (above all) Haydn, and Beethoven.” However, Franz Joseph Strauss detested the works of Richard Wagner. Nonetheless he continued to play and completed the complicated horn notes in the premieres of “Tristan”, “Meistersinger” and “Siegfried” among others.

In the Strauss family home, music was a way of life for the entire family. At the age four, Richard Strauss started piano lessons. By the age of six, he was already composing his first works “Schneider-polka” and “Weihnachtslied”. His mother wrote the lyrics for these pieces, as Richard only knew how to write musical notes.

“My mother told me that from a very young age, I used to laugh and smile when hearing the sound of a French horn. When I heard the sound of a violin, I cried intensely.”

Composition Lessons during the High School Years

He entered the Cathedral School at the age of six and his middle school years were completed at the Ludwigs-Gymnasium. A teacher once recalled about the twelve year old: “He was a student of wonderful complexity, respectable attitude and good behaviour; active, keen, considerate, sometimes too quick and volatile.”

By the age of 18, he had composed some 140 Pieces, of which about 60 were Lieder and 40 were piano works. Thus originated a Choir “Electra” (1880), based on the tragedy of Sophocles, and a Violin Concerto (Op. 8) in 1882, that was jotted down in a school notebook.

At their first joint visit in Vienna in 1883, the violin teacher Benno Walter (and distant uncle twice removed) performed the Concerto with Strauss, with Walter on the violin and Strauss at the piano.

During his high school years, Richard also received his first and only lesson in composition and played in the “Wilde Gung’l” orchestra association which was headed by his father. This orchestra premiered several of his compositions.

In 1881, his “official career” began. His "Festive March for Large Orchestra" was released, and at the same time, Strauss discovered a new world: that of Richard Wagner.

The Adolescent Discovers Wagner

"... I still remember very well how at around 17 years of age, I almost feverishly swallowed the score of “Tristan” and fell into a frenzy of enthusiasm”.

While he was under the influence of his father, the young Richard Strauss loathed Wagner’s music (“even rocks would have turned into scrambled eggs, after hearing these hideous discords”).

However, the young Strauss recognized and studied the genius within Wagner and attended the Bayreuth Festival for the first time in 1882.

He would have his debut there as a conductor in 1894; his Opera “Guntram” which premiered in the same year was very much under the influence of the Bayreuth Maestro. Nevertheless, he would soon free himself from the influence of Wagner.

Career as Court Music Director

Upon recommendation of his Mentor at the time, the renowned Wagner Conductor Hans von Bülow, Richard Strauss became the Music director in Meiningen at the young age of 21.
One year later in 1886, the musician moved on to become the third Musical Director (Kapellmeister) at the Munich Court Opera (Münchner Hofoper).

Inspired by literature and his travels to Italy, as well as by the composer Franz Liszt, Strauss dedicated himself at this time to the study of the symphonic composition and reached the peak in his art of orchestration.

In 1883, which marked the year of Wagner’s death, Hans von Bülow, one of the most significant Wagner conductors of the time, took Strauss under his wing. Under his direction, Strauss wrote not only the “Bläsersuite” op. 4, but also directed it in his public debut as conductor in Munich in 1884.

In the following year, and at the recommendation of Bülow, Strauss became the music director in Meiningen. This is where he intensified his understanding of Wagner (and also of Liszt and Bruckner). Strauss’ friendship with the composer and violinist Alexander Ritter (who was the husband of Wagner’s niece Franziska), led to “the key reason for my future development”.

21 year old Richard Strauss’ works were already well known at the time that he accepted his appointment as court music director in Meiningen in October 1885.

While Bülow had already shaped the Meiningen Orchestra into a superior sound body, Strauss had other responsibilities. It was up to him to conduct rehearsals and concerts for the orchestra, to manage the choir association, to give music lessons to Princess Marie von Sachsen-Meiningen, and also to perform as a pianist. (Bülow to Strauss “If you were not better than you are, then you could also just be a pianist”).

Strauss possessed not only invaluable practical knowledge as a musician: he also excelled at the card game Skat.

Role Model Franz Liszt: First Tone Poems

Strauss left Meiningen in April 1886 to return to his hometown of Munich. It is here that he deepened his repertoire and becomes the third chapel master at the court opera. However, he mentioned his dislike of Munich stating that “it is not the place in which an enjoyable life of music can prosper”.

Between the years of 1885 and 1889, Strauss composed several Lieder and Choral Works as well as “Burlesque” for Piano (premiered by Eugene D’Albert in 1880). After his travels to Italy, where he found inspiration, Strauss created the first symphonic poems such as the symphonic fantasy “Out of Italy”, as well as “Macbeth” and “Don Juan”.

Thanks to his mentor Alexander Ritter, Strauss was able to transform the basic principle of Franz Liszt’s works in his own way “in which the poetic idea also becomes the main musical element”. However, music should not in any way become subordinate to the lyrics. Because “if music does not develop intuitively from within itself, it simply becomes “literary music” …”

The Peak of the Art of Instrumentation

In the year of Liszt’s death in 1886, Strauss composed “Out of Italy”. This “symphonic fantasy” featured a four movement structure. The tone painting effects in the composition as well as the titles of the movements (e.g. “Neapolitan Folk Life”) became known as Strauss’ first symphonic poetry.

Shortly before his first operatic success, in 1903, Strauss completed eight more one movement compositions of tone poems: “Macbeth” (1886) inspired by the Shakespearian drama, “Don Juan” (1888) after Nicolaus Lenau, “Death and Transfiguration” (1889) Strauss’ own programmatic sketch, “Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks” (1895), “Thus spoke Zarathustra” (1896) after Friedrich Nietzsche, “Don Quixote” (1897) after Cervantes, “A Hero’s Life” (1898) and “Sinfonia Domestica” (1903) – the latter two refer strongly to autobiographical references. In 1915, after a longer break, Strauss composed the last work in this genre: “An Alpine Symphony”. With this piece, Strauss reached the peak in his art of instrumentation.

Growing Fame and Marriage to Pauline

Strauss moves to Weimar in 1889. He was appointed 2nd Kappellmeister until 1894 and met a great challenge as a conductor. With the premieres of “Don Juan”, “Death and Transfiguration” and “Macbeth”, Strauss’ fame as a composer grew. His first opera “Guntram” raised only moderate success, but he nonetheless managed to compose several more songs (Lieder) during this time – last but not least for his bride.

In 1894, there was a turning point in his private life: Strauss married Soprano Pauline de Ahna.
From October 1889 until 1894, Strauss was appointed as 2nd Kapellmeister in the Goethe city of Weimar. It is here that he was faced with great responsibilities as a conductor. (He managed to direct “Tannhäuser”, “Lohengrin” and “Tristan” despite recurring weaknesses in the orchestra). Shortly after taking office he succeeded in premiering “Don Juan”. His fame as a composer grew with the premiere of “Death and Transfiguration” (Eduard Hanslick: “the nature of his talent actually pointed in the direction of musical drama”) and “Macbeth”. However Strauss’ reputation as a composer grew with his first musical assistance in Bayreuth and his debut with the Berlin Philharmonic in 1890.

Strauss recovered from pneumonia at the end of 1892 during his extended travels to Greece and Egypt. It was also during these travels that he created the concept behind his first Opera. “My time in Weimar was actually not extremely productive from a composition point of view, with the exception of “Guntram” and a few good Lieder (“Cäcilie”, “Heiliche Aufforderung” (The Lovers’ Pledge). What kept me completely occupied (other than my wife) was the theatre and card games.”

The composition of the First Opera and Marriage to Pauline

The two key events of his Weimar period, are linked quite closely together: Strauss’ first opera, and his marriage to Pauline de Ahna. In 1887, Richard Strauss met the daughter of a Bavarian General and accepted her as his pupil. She was talented and pleasant, yet at times quite moody. In 1889 she followed her Maestro to Weimar where she succeeded in having a remarkable career as a soprano. She performed roles from Mozart and Wagner, as well as doing a guest performance as Isolde in Bayreuth. She went on to embody the character of Hänsel in the Weimar premiere from Engelbert Humperdinck’s Fairy Tale Opera “Hänsel und Gretel”. She also created the main female character of Freihild in Strauss’ first opera “Guntram”.

The rehearsals unfortunately did little good to the opera. The orchestra and the tenors felt overwhelmed by the monumental score. Pauline who always performed her part perfectly, also cracked under the tense atmosphere and hurled herself into her piano score while the composer conducted. Despite these challenges, the work led to a love affair which was already flourishing and shortly before the premiere of “Guntram” in Weimar (May 12, 1894) the engagement was announced. On September 10, 1894 the couple married. Although “Guntram” only had modest short term success, the marriage lasted a lifetime.

Acclaimed Song Composer and Piano Accompanist

In 1894, Richard Strauss dedicated the “Four Songs” op.27 (Lovers’ Pledge”, “Tomorrow!” among others) to his bride. This further established his fame as a song composer. After first childlike attempts, Strauss managed to summarize the op.10 “8 Lieder” (1885); (“Dedication” is included among these). Strauss would distinguish himself through this genre well into his old age.

With the exception of his big opera successes, the born vocal composer developed Lieder on a regular basis as a way to have some artistic diversification from his symphonic poems and other instrumental pieces. These Lieder became op. 29 (among others “Dream in the Twilight”), op 32. (Among others “I carry my Love”= or op. 37 (among others “Abundant Happiness”).

The song composer took a break between “Salome” (1905) and “The Woman without a Shadow” (1917). Strauss was commissioned to write the “Krämerspiegel” (The Shopkeepers mirror) (op.66) by using texts provided by Alfred Kerr. This set of vocal compositions were written in 1918 in a piqued response to the publishing house that had commissioned the works. The last climax of this genre were the “Four Last Songs” (1947). The last completed work by Strauss “Malven” (“Mallows”) was classified until after the death of the dedicatee Maria Jeritza. It was only premiered in 1985.

Throughout his life, Strauss was also an acclaimed piano accompanist for his songs; with singers such as Pauline Strauss-de-Ahna, Franz Steiner, Elisabeth Schumann and Hans Hotter.

His friend Hans von Bülow died in February 1894. Strauss took over the concerts of the Berlin Philharmonic which would lead to great results in the years to come.

World Success with Symphonic Poems

Strauss l left for Munich in 1894 to assume the role of first Chapel Master. In 1897 his son Franz was born. Up until 1898, his success lay primarily in tone poems (such as “Thus spoke Zarathurstra”). It was through these that Strauss succeeded in becoming internationally renowned. Despite this success, he still did not get the position as the Munich General Music Director. He reacted to this in his own way – by going to Berlin and composing a Symphony based upon his own life: the “Sinfonica Domestica”.

In Weimar, Strauss “did not win over the sympathy of people due to his youthful recklessness and exaggerated behaviour”. In the same year, he bade farewell to the city and moved to Munich to assume the role of 1st Kapellmeister. His opera “Guntram” was cancelled after one single performance. Strauss suffered in his daily responsibilities due to the narrow minded, bureaucratic and unreliable nature of his director Ernst von Possart.

Nonetheless, the success of the Munich years (until 1898) lay in his compositions– which in fact were responsible for his international fame. These included “Till Eulenspiegel”, “Thus Spoke Zarathustra” and “Don Quixote”. Strauss’ fame as a conductor and composer increased largely also due to the multiple tours that he undertook. Luck was also on his side in his private life. On the 12th of April 1897, his son Franz was born.

Out of Disappointment to Berlin

When the Munich General Music Director Hermann Levi retired in 1896, Possart did not select Strauss as his successor. Instead he tried to convince Felix von Weingartner to assume the role. With great disappointment, Strauss turned away yet again from his hometown and the capital. “…Since Weingartner retreated from Berlin, I realised the opportunity (…) and never had a reason to regret this relationship with Berlin”.

“I fail to see why I cannot make a symphony about myself. I find myself just as interesting as Napoleon or Alexander.” These types of expressions were characteristic of the confidence of this genius paired with a dry and direct Bavarian humour. A not so easily digestible blend of personalities – but yet so unique to Strauss.

1904 Tour of the United States with Pauline

The piece that is being mentioned here is the “Sinfonica Domestica” - dedicated to “my dear wife and our son”- which in 1904 took Strauss on an extended tour to New York City for the premiere. Pauline shone in the spotlight again with her interpretation of the songs by Richard Strauss. She would soon pull back from the arts and dedicate herself primarily to the household and to raising her son Franz.

Pauline often gave rise to criticism or even ridicule through her feisty, moody, cleanliness obsessive and compulsive personality. Strauss on the other hand saw her as his beloved indispensable life partner who made his creations possible.

Berlin Period, The days of “Salome” and “Elektra”

With the premiere of “Salome” in Dresden in 1905, Strauss defined the term modern opera music for his supporters as well as his critics.

The polar reactions of enthusiasm mixed with acute rejection continued with the opera “Elektra” – which was Strauss’ first work with “his” poet Hugo von Hoffmansthal. However the opera proved to be a success. With the proceeds from “Elektra”, Strauss was able to construct his villa in Garmisch which later became the family residence.

Until the end of his days, Strauss’ father remained a rational and often sceptical advisor to him. Whether “domestica” was also as monumental as the choir ballade that he conducted in 1903 (text written by Uhland), Strauss’ father wanted to know: “do you orchestrate this also as loudly as “Taillefer? There should be silence in the home (domus) !”

Franz Strauss died in May 1905 never having experienced the opera revolution that his son had triggered in that same year.

Fascinated by Oscar Wilde’s Text “Salome”

“…now, after the dance and especially all the finale scenes are all drowned in music, it is not in any way daring to explain that this piece ‘screamed of music’. Yes indeed. But it must be seen! ”

Strauss immediately recognised how well suited Oscar Wilde’s “Salome” was for opera. He composed the German translation, without even bothering to use a librettist.

On December 9th, 1905, Salome was premiered on the stage in Dresden (Strauss’ favourite location for premieres). It immediately became the epitome of modern opera music – both for the supporters as well as for the critics, to which the censors and the clergy belonged.

The ground-breaking work came to Vienna only in 1918 where it became part of the Court Opera program.

The Start of Work with Hugo von Hofmannsthal

Strauss found his “poet” in 1906: the Viennese Hugo von Hofmannsthal. After this, Strauss’ “Elektra” was adapted for musical theatre. His “wish to oppose the demonic ecstatic Hellenism of the sixth century from Winkelmann’s Roman imitations and Goethe’s humanity” resulted in a more radical opera than the last one. “Elektra” premieres in Dresden on January 25, 1909, more rapturous than blazing enthusiasm and rejection combined.

The composer would never again venture so far over the boundaries of tonality anymore.
And when he would go back to the classic opera material of the past, then he would do so in the spirit of Winkelmann and Goethe.

Salome: a Profitable “Loss“

Kaiser Wilhelm II, who was known for his lack of musical talent, stated that Strauss had injured his reputation with his opera „Salome“. A dry reply to this might be that this “injury” helped finance Strauss’ villa in Garmisch.

Although it was originally planned as a summer residence, the villa which was built by the architect Emanuel von Seidl in 1908, soon became the principle residence of the Strauss family.

“Der Rosenkavalier” (The Night of the Rose) – a Great Popular Success

Strauss was now a settled “Family man” as one likes to call it nowadays. This could be seen in his works: with “Rosenkavalier” in 1911, Strauss competed with the legacy of his namesake (Johann) Strauss. He shortened “Ariadne” in 1912 to a more publicly accepted version. Strauss and Hofmannsthal soon gained the reputation of a “wonder team”. They were then joined by director Max Reinhardt who was made responsible for creating effective staging and production.

In 1910, Strauss’ mother Johanna died. She was a highly sensitive woman who spent the last years of her life under constant medical care.

Card Games Night after Night as an Equilibrium to Music

Although Richard Strauss had composed most of “Salome” at the home of his in-laws in Marquartstein, he would now become the master of his own home – which strictly speaking was to be controlled by the “lady of the house”, his wife, Pauline.

Her husband devoted himself to his composition and his Berlin obligations (in 1908 Strauss took over the Berlin Philharmonic Concerts from Weingartner). His free time was devoted to the game of skat.

This “quirk” that the genius had, of spending nights at the card table, was often ridiculed. However Strauss would explain this as a necessary recreation: he could hear music everywhere. Only the cards remained silent…

Perhaps the solid social and family relationships contributed to the “experimental” genius and the revolutionist of “Salome” and “Elektra” suddenly making a turnaround. His friend Hofmannsthal, started working on “our Figaro”…

Great Success with the “Rosenkavalier”

In 1899, Johann Strauss, the “waltz king” passed away. With the “Rosenkavalier”, the unrelated Bavarian Richard Strauss carried on his legacy.

Accused by some critics of being an “unholy alliance”, the operetta - which was staged in Vienna under the rule of Maria Theresia – received immense popular success.

On January 26, 2011 at the premiere in Dresden, the author duo and “wonder-team” Strauss-Hofmannsthal was complemented by set designer Alfred Roller and Director Max Reinhardt (who saved the production, without once appearing in the program credits).

Extra Long “Ariadne” gets rebuffed by the Public

The next opera was dedicated to him: “To play the part of Ariadne on Naxos after “The Bourgeois Gentleman” by Moliere, is a charming attempt to reduce acting and opera to a common denominator.”

The extra-long premiere that was staged on October 25, 1912 in Stuttgart under Reinhardt’s direction, did not hold up, as it was impossible to “muster up a cultural understanding of the pretty hermaphrodite”

The revised version of “Ariadne” with a composed prelude was presented in Vienna on October 4, 1916 in front of an enthusiastic audience. The eponymous heroine was Maria Jeritza (as in 1912), who was also one of the composer’s favourite interpreters.

The 1914 Ballet “Joseph’s Legend” was the last of the Strauss premieres during peaceful times. The rising world conflagration would also not protect Richard Strauss…

Everything is lost in the First World War

When Strauss’ considerable fortune was confiscated during World War I (as “enemy assets”), it was then that the real value of his music emerged: he finished “Woman without a Shadow” in 1916 and in the last year of the war he began to compose Lieder again with his “Krämerspiegel” (“The Shopkeeper’s Mirror”).

When he was appointed Vienna State Opera Music Director in 1919, Strauss fought against its image as an “opera museum” and brought new productions to the opera house.

In June 1914, on his 50th Birthday, Richard Strauss received an honorary doctorate from the University of Oxford, as well as an honorary citizenship of the city of Munich.

At the end of the War, Strauss would resign as general music director of the Berlin Opera House – a position he was appointed to for a short period of time.

During the last year of the war, Strauss focused his attention back to the composition of his songs “Lieder”: He composed “Krämerspiegel” (“Shopkeeper’s Mirror”), with lyrics by Alfred Kerr, despite sharp tongued differences with the music publishers.

Fairy Tale Opera “The Woman without a Shadow” – the “problem child”

At the end of 1910, even before the premiere of “Rosenkavalier”, Hofmannsthal wanted to develop the idea of a fairy tale opera. Strauss finished the composition of “The Woman without a Shadow” in 1916, but the premiere only took place three years later. “The problem child was completed during the time of heartache and worries brought about by the war. These gave the score (…) its certain nervous irritable nature…”

The heartache in Strauss’ case was justifiable: he had deposited his entire fortune in the Bank of England – which unfortunately ended up confiscated these funds as they were so called “enemy assets”. “The Woman without a Shadow” – which Strauss had referred to as “the last romantic opera”- proved to be a sustainable source of income.

The premiere of the opera becomes the prelude to the five years that Strauss spent as the artistic director of the Vienna State Opera.

Artistic Director of the Vienna Opera House from 1919

There is a saying: “fake people are everywhere, but the Viennese are so pleasantly fake”. Strauss was able to witness this first-hand from December 1919. Although Strauss was quite familiar with the city already – 1895 as concert conductor and from 1910 often as opera conductor, it would now be the first time that he had real responsibility alongside director Franz Schalk. Although he was an avid supporter of Strauss’ operas, Schalk’s unconditional devotion to Strauss’ works began to adopt a critical distance after only a few years.

Although there were several crises between the directors of the opera house (that were made worse by the general economic crisis), the years between 1919 and 1924 still proved to be an artistically affluent time for the Vienna State Opera.

Strauss did not favour his own works, (“Joseph’s Legend” 1922 and “The Bourgeois Gentilhomme” 1924 were both premiered in the newly acquired Redoutenhall) but in particular those of Wagner (“Lohengrin” was Strauss’ first new production) and Mozart (he had put “Cosi fan tutte” back into the repertoire)

Salzburg Festival and a new feeling of Self Confidence

Strauss and Hofmannsthal wished to confront the sadness of the post war era with the beauty of culture. As a result, they founded the Salzburg Festival in 1920 with Reinhardt and the set designer Alfred Rolle.

While his family was settled in Vienna, Strauss brought music to the world by touring the USA and South America. His son was married in 1924 to the daughter of a Jewish industrialist, a new villa was built, and Strauss became honorary citizen of the city of Vienna. However, in that same year, Strauss resigned from his position as Vienna State Opera Director, and left the city – not without resentment.

In the middle of the war, an “artistic dream” began to take shape and captured the creative partners Strauss and Hofmannsthal: they become the artistic directors of the Salzburg Festival along with Max Reinhardt and Alfred Roller. Their goal with this high profile international event was to regenerate the feeling of self-confidence to a post war run-down Europe and painfully weakened Austria. The festival was founded in 1920 when only Hugo von Hofmannsthal’s “Jedermann” was put on the program.

After Mozart, Strauss becomes the most played Composer

It was the Vienna State Opera Director Richard Strauss who directed the first opera premiere of Mozart’s Don Juan on August 14, 1922. Between 1922 and 1943, Strauss appeared sixteen times as conductor at the Salzburg Festival (nine operas and seven orchestral concerts).

In the over 80 year history of the Salzburg Festival, the operas of Richard Strass (after Mozart and Verdi) were among those that were the most performed (with “Ariadne of Naxos” taking the lead). 50 years after the Salzburg premiere, “The Love of Danae” was still listed in the program. The public dress rehearsal in 1944 was attended by Strauss just before the wartime theatre ban took effect.

On Tour in the New World

One of the main criticisms of Strauss’ term in office in Vienna were his frequent absences and not fulfilling the duties of his position. However, his role was secured contractually and helped him to re-generate the fortune he had previously lost. Moreover it was at the same time good publicity for the Vienna State Opera. In 1923 Strauss travelled to South America for the first time (in 1923 he would return again with the Vienna Philharmonic). In the fall of 1921, Strauss travelled to the USA for the second time.

However Vienna increasingly became the principle residence for his family: His son Franz married Alice in 1924 - the daughter of a Jewish industrialist Emanuel von Grab. Strauss dedicated his “Wedding Prelude” to the young couple. A further residence was built: His son and daughter in law moved to the new Strauss Villa in the Jaquingasse after it was completed in 1925.

Scores vs. Property

The Strauss Villa in Vienna (contrary to recurring rumours that the State had given the Villa as a gift to the family) was one of the most expensive in the history of real estate.

Strauss financed the construction costs himself. He settled the annual leasehold of the property by coming to an agreement with the republic of Austria and the City of Vienna. He would leave the handwritten score of “Rosenkavalier” to the former, and the Ballet „Whipped Cream“ (that premiered at the Vienna State Opera on his 60th Birthday) to the latter.

The 60th birthday of the Director of the Vienna State Opera house in the first half of May 1924 was celebrated not only by his theatre, (among others, with the premiere of “Whipped Cream” but also by the numerous festivals, concerts and presentation of honorary citizen that Strauss was given by the city of Vienna. Numerous honorary awards and mentions however could not hide the crises that were beginning.

After the Resignation – Success with “Intermezzo”

Strauss resigned a little more than half a year later. Franz Schalk’s contract had been renewed and he thus received extended responsibilities. Not without resentment, Strauss entrusted the State Opera to him. At the time of his resignation, Strauss stayed in Dresden where his opera “Intermezzo” was premiered in October 1924. Hermann Bar refused to write the libretto for this autobiographical comedy: “but it is your piece”. Strauss composed the libretto himself. After the success of the opera, Strauss decided to write a series containing several parts titled: “My Wife” because “…10 pieces can be written only about my wife”.

Lighter Tones during the Interwar Period

During the 20s, the Strauss-Hofmannsthal “Wonderteam” worked on lighter pieces and musical comedies; “The Egyptian Helen” and “Arabella” were produced. When Hofmannsthal died in 1929, Strauss saw a congenial poet in Stefan Zweig. Strauss created “Silent Woman” with his new partner. However, at that time, Strauss could not anticipate how this new relationship with Strauss would put him and his family in danger.

Strauss returned to the Vienna State opera in 1926/1927 for the premiere of “Intermezzo” for which he was the musical director. In exchange for the ownership rights of the property on the Jaquingasse, Strauss agreed to conduct 100 times without pay and also to hand over the handwritten manuscript of his newest opera “The Egyptian Helen”.

Two Last Operas with Hofmannsthal

In 1923, two new opera projects emerged: the one is a “graceful, late antique and somewhat colourful comedy” (Hofmannsthal) the other is a “second Rosenkavalier, […] something refined, funny, and sentimental” (Strauss). “The Egyptian Helen” and “Arabella” would become the last two operas that the artistic duo created.

Strauss had distanced himself from the disturbing modern language that characterised his opera “Elektra“. “The music (of Helen) aspires to have more of a noble Greek personality”.

The piece premiered on June 6, 1928 in Dresden under Fritz Busch. A few days later it premiered once again at the Vienna State Opera under the musical direction of Strauss himself.

The First Effects of Nazi Rule

The Viennese Comedy “Arabella” followed on July 1, 1933 (the authors had spoken of an Operetta”). Busch had left his position as Dresden General Music Director and had alienated himself from the new regime that had usurped the power of Germany.

Hugo von Hofmannsthal died in 1929 and was therefore never able to witness the completion of “Arabella“. Strauss found Stefan Zweig to be a congenial poet, although this did not prove to be the case later. The 70 year old Strauss refused to accept that this partnership with Zweig (through which “Silent Woman” developed) would soon lead him and his family (his grandchildren Richard and Christian were born in 1927 and 1932) into danger…

Nazi-Period: Between Discrimination and Ingratiation

In 1993 Strauss was made President of the German State Music Bureau “Reichsmusikkammer”. The following years would come with mixed feelings. Strauss was unable to convince others in his fight against the Aryan policies of Hitler and thus incurred Goebbels’ wrath. Nonetheless, he composed the “Olympic Hymns” for the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. He and his “Jewish related” family remained under the protection of Gauleiter Baldur von Schirach. Strauss composed his last two operas “The Love of Danae” and “Capriccio” and escaped to Switzerland in 1945 where he experienced great financial hardship.
At the end of 1993, the best known German composer took on the presidency of the
State Music Bureau “Reichsmusikkammer” in order to “do good and prevent further catastrophe” – naturally a small portion of political short-sightedness and selfishness played a part as well. Either way, Strauss fought against the Aryan policies and for a targeted art funding, which made him totally rebuffed by Hitler.

First Conflicts with the Nazis

Joseph Goebbels, the National Socialist Reichsminister of Propaganga and Director of the State Cultural Bureau, did not trust Strauss. The Gestapo began to control Strauss’ letters – one of them being the letter he had written to Stefan Zweig, where he expressed his anger with the Nazi-regime.

Strauss had insisted on including the name of Jewish poet Stefan Zweig in the programme at the premiere of “Silent Woman” on June 24, 1935 in Dresden. This made him lose his “honorary position” and of course ruined any chances that the opera had of succeeding.

An ambiguous period began: on one hand the attempt to oppose the regime, and on the other hand a feeling of ingratiation (Strauss was appointed to write the Berlin “Olympic Hymns” by the Olympic committee and directed the premiere himself). However the most troubling of all was his (as the Nazis put it “) Jewish “versippte” (intermarried) family.

Zweig recommended Joseph Gregor as poet, who would then re-work the former’s libretto of “Peace Day” (“Friedenstag”). The premiere would take place in Munich on July 24, 1938. On October 15, the bucolic tragedy “Daphne” was performed in Dresden, where the libretto was also written by Gregor.

Strauss in Vienna under the Protection of Gauleiter Baldur von Schirach

Strauss spent most of the war years in Vienna where he could remain closer to his family (who were under the protection of Gauleiter Baldur von Schirach). He also celebrated his 75th (1939) and 80th Birthdays there, as Berlin had already issued the order that the “personal travel of our leading men” in the case of the aging composer, had to be stopped.

Goebbels and Strauss could not hide the contempt they had for one another. However the “minister’s toy boy” as Strauss referred to him, was sitting on the sunnier side.

The Last Operas: “The Love of Danae” and “Capriccio”

Alongside occasional compositions such as “Japanese Festival Music” 1941, the last operas “the Love of Danae” and “Capriccio” were also created. These were composed in a close working relationship with Clemens Krauss who wrote the lyrics and directed the premigere on October 26, 1942. Strauss writes that “My life’s work comes to an end with “Capriccio”. In Garmisch he transcribed old scores, with the aim of accumulating objects of value for his grandchildren.

Escape to Switzerland – Financial Ruin

The sadness for his destroyed homeland created the desire in Strauss to compose more works. “Metamorphasis” commissioned by Paul Sacher, was a profound statement of mourning. Another challenge came from the American occupation soldiers and oboist John de Lancie. An oboe concert took place in October 1945 in Switzerland, to which Strauss and Pauline had finally escaped.

Strauss found himself financially ruined after the Second World War, as he did after the first. The royalties abroad were blocked, the musical life in Germany and Austria ruined. Strauss was given a friendly reception from friends and acquaintances in Switzerland.

1949 – Death of 85 years old Strauss in Garmisch

Shortly before his death in 1949, Strauss relived some of his old fame and recognition. A Strauss festival took place in London in 1948 and Munich began preparations for several honours that would be awarded to him for his 85th birthday in 1949.

The aged artist continued to compose a few more lieder but he focused on his „artistic legacy“. Strauss’ estate is managed by his family, and the Richard Strauss institute in Garmisch-Partenkirchen as well as the yearly Strauss days hold the memory of Strauss and his music alive.

"Artistic Legacy”:

In April 1948, Richard Strauss wrote an elaborate letter which became known by this name, to his close friend Karl Böhm. The letter included the “program for an opera museum to which the cultured world was entitled just as much as to the Pinakothek, the Prado or the Louvre." The octogenarian no longer believed in the renewal of the opera but felt that it’s most important works deserved to be preserved.

For the most part, the maestro’s estate was kept at the house in Garmisch. Strauss’ daughter in law became an indispensable employee. She continued to maintain the archives until her death in 1991. Since then, the grandchildren of Strauss have taken over this duty (in particular Richard’s wife Gabriele Strauss-Hotter – the daughter of the great Strauss-interpreter Hans Hotter who had worked on the premieres of “Freedom Day” and “Capriccio”.). In Garmisch-Partenkirchen, there is also the Richard Strauss Institute as well as Richard Strauss days which are held on an annual basis.

Without Strauss’ works, it would be impossible to imagine the repertoires of musical institutes throughout the world. More than 50 years after his death, and given the popularity of his many operas, orchestral pieces and lieder, Strauss remained the most performed classical composer of the 20th century.

[Article taken from Richard Strauss’ website]
« Last Edit: April 14, 2021, 06:52:58 PM by Mirror Image »
"I believe that Strauss will remain one of the characteristic and outstanding figures in musical history. Works like Salome, Elektra and Intermezzo, and others will not perish.” - Arnold Schoenberg on Richard Strauss