Author Topic: R Strauss's place in musical history  (Read 12415 times)

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Offline johnshade

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R Strauss's place in musical history
« on: June 11, 2007, 05:43:49 AM »
Richard Strauss was born June 11, 1864.

"Certainly Richard Strauss had very little to do with the twentieth century as we know it....By all the aesthetic and philosophic yardsticks that we must apply, he was not a man of our time....The great thing about the music of Richard Strauss is that it presents and substantiates an argument which transcends all the dogmatisms of art -- all questions of style and taste and idiom -- all the frivolous, effete preoccupations of the chronologist. It presents to us an example of the man who makes richer his own time by not being of it, who speaks for all generations by being of none. It is an ultimate argument of individuality -- the argument that a man can create his own synthesis of time without being bound by the conformities that time imposes....

Richard Strauss seems to me to be more than the the greatest man of music of our time. He is in my opinion a central figure in today's most crucial dilemma of aesthetic morality -- the hopeless confusion that arises when we attempt to contain the inscrutible pressures of self-guiding artistic destiny within the neat, historical summation of collective chronology....In him we have one of those rare, intense figures in whom the whole process of historical evolution is defied."

Glenn Gould
The sun's a thief, and with her great attraction robs the vast sea, the moon's an arrant thief, and her pale fire she snatches from the sun  (Shakespeare)

Offline quintett op.57

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Re: R Strauss's place in musical history
« Reply #1 on: June 11, 2007, 01:14:44 PM »
Richard Strauss was born June 11, 1864.

"Certainly Richard Strauss had very little to do with the twentieth century as we know it...."
Glenn Gould

I'd say his XIXth century music has a lot to do with the XXth.

Strauss is a very strong personality, very free.
« Last Edit: June 11, 2007, 01:16:43 PM by quintett op.57 »

Offline BachQ

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Re: R Strauss's place in musical history
« Reply #2 on: June 11, 2007, 01:26:18 PM »
Richard Strauss has always been near and dear to me, and I appreciate this thread.

....By all the aesthetic and philosophic yardsticks that we must apply, he was not a man of our time.... It presents to us an example of the man who makes richer his own time by not being of it, who speaks for all generations by being of none. It is an ultimate argument of individuality -- the argument that a man can create his own synthesis of time without being bound by the conformities that time imposes....


Glenn Gould

Much of this is true, but the same can be said, inter alia, of Berlioz, Brahms, Liszt, Schoenberg, Debussy, and Wagner.  These composers were able to reach far back into time as appropriate, yet punch a hole in the space-time fabric by creating their own soundworld which is itself a separate island of chronological existence .........

Offline Israfel the Black

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Re: R Strauss's place in musical history
« Reply #3 on: June 11, 2007, 01:29:28 PM »
I don't really get the excerpt. From music based on Nietzsche, to strongly dissonant, progressive music, I would say Strauss was very 20th Century.

Offline johnshade

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Re: R Strauss's place in musical history
« Reply #4 on: June 11, 2007, 01:49:52 PM »
Much of this is true, but the same can be said, inter alia, of Berlioz, Brahms, Liszt, Schoenberg, Debussy, and Wagner.  These composers were able to reach far back into time as appropriate, yet punch a hole in the space-time fabric by creating their own soundworld which is itself a separate island of chronological existence .........
.
Excellent comment and I agree with your selection of composers who have created their own soundworld irrespective of chronology. May I add Bartok to the list?
The sun's a thief, and with her great attraction robs the vast sea, the moon's an arrant thief, and her pale fire she snatches from the sun  (Shakespeare)

Offline BachQ

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Re: R Strauss's place in musical history
« Reply #5 on: June 11, 2007, 02:04:07 PM »
May I add Bartok to the list?

Permission granted ..........  :D

Offline quintett op.57

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Re: R Strauss's place in musical history
« Reply #6 on: June 12, 2007, 03:06:10 AM »
Richard Strauss has always been near and dear to me, and I appreciate this thread.

Much of this is true, but the same can be said, inter alia, of Berlioz, Brahms, Liszt, Schoenberg, Debussy, and Wagner.  These composers were able to reach far back into time as appropriate, yet punch a hole in the space-time fabric by creating their own soundworld which is itself a separate island of chronological existence .........
Schubert & Beethoven created their own soundworld but it did not create a hole in the space-time fabric because they were followed. I think the same of Liszt or Schonberg because they had followers.
Strauss and Schonberg are heirs of Liszt, they continuated his oeuvre in different ways.

Strauss wrote in different styles, he followed both lisztian ans brahmsian philosophies with great results. Let's enjoy.

A good example of a guy having made such a hole would be Lee Scratch Perry.  ;)

 

Offline johnshade

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Re: R Strauss's place in musical history
« Reply #7 on: June 12, 2007, 03:58:36 AM »
Strauss wrote in different styles, he followed both lisztian ans brahmsian philosophies with great results.

Strauss was also influenced by Wagner but mainly rejected Wagner's philosophy when he became strongly attracted to the philosophy of Nietzsche. This rejection occured as Strauss was composing his first operas.

The sun's a thief, and with her great attraction robs the vast sea, the moon's an arrant thief, and her pale fire she snatches from the sun  (Shakespeare)

Symphonien

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Re: R Strauss's place in musical history
« Reply #8 on: June 13, 2007, 09:56:30 PM »
I don't really get the excerpt. From music based on Nietzsche, to strongly dissonant, progressive music, I would say Strauss was very 20th Century.

Could you give me some examples of "strongly dissonant, progressive music" that Richard Strauss wrote? So far I have yet to really understand Strauss and I wasn't aware that he wrote any music in this style; maybe I will be able to find something I like.

Offline val

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Re: R Strauss's place in musical history
« Reply #9 on: June 13, 2007, 10:23:04 PM »
Well, some parts of Salome and almost all Elektra are very dissonants.

But, dissonances or not, his vocal music is beautiful: he was one of the last great experts in composing for human voice, in special female voices. The Lieder, Arabella, Daphne, Ariana auf Naxos, Capriccio are delightful.

Offline quintett op.57

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Re: R Strauss's place in musical history
« Reply #10 on: June 13, 2007, 11:25:51 PM »
Could you give me some examples of "strongly dissonant, progressive music" that Richard Strauss wrote? So far I have yet to really understand Strauss and I wasn't aware that he wrote any music in this style; maybe I will be able to find something I like.
Haven't you heard the tone poems?

Symphonien

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Re: R Strauss's place in musical history
« Reply #11 on: June 14, 2007, 12:22:09 AM »
Haven't you heard the tone poems?

That's the set of compositions I'm in the process of listening through at the moment and I don't find them very dissonant so far. The harmonies used all seem quite Romantic to me and most of them were written in the late 19th century anyway weren't they? So I don't think Israfel can really justify Strauss being a man of the 20th century based on his dissonance since he's certainly not comparable to people like Schoenberg. His dissonance may have been progressive for the late 19th century, but then he continued to write in a similar style through to 1949 where other composers were way more progressive.
« Last Edit: June 14, 2007, 12:24:31 AM by Symphonien »

Offline Lethevich

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Re: R Strauss's place in musical history
« Reply #12 on: June 14, 2007, 01:38:48 AM »
That's the set of compositions I'm in the process of listening through at the moment and I don't find them very dissonant so far. The harmonies used all seem quite Romantic to me and most of them were written in the late 19th century anyway weren't they? So I don't think Israfel can really justify Strauss being a man of the 20th century based on his dissonance since he's certainly not comparable to people like Schoenberg. His dissonance may have been progressive for the late 19th century, but then he continued to write in a similar style through to 1949 where other composers were way more progressive.

I agree it doesn't get reflected in his tone poems - he is considered modernist almost exclusively from Salome and Elektra, and if you listen to those (especially Elektra) after only being familiar with the tone poems, it could be quite a shock. They are not atonal of course, but highly dissonant, and check the date of their premieres - very early in the development of the 20th centuries reaction to romanticism.

Edit: After those he turned back somewhat - his style remained very individual, but was less extreme. IMO it would've been a bad idea to pursue modernism for the sake of modernism if he did not feel comfortable with it.
« Last Edit: June 14, 2007, 01:40:25 AM by Lethe »
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Offline quintett op.57

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Re: R Strauss's place in musical history
« Reply #13 on: June 14, 2007, 09:30:14 AM »
Some tone poems sound modern and often dissonant to me, especially compared to many of the composers of the beginning of the XXth like Elgar, Sibelius, Atterberg or even Nielsen.

Of course it depends on what you call progressive : He was not as modern as Stravinsky or Schönberg, but his tone poems, unlike many of his concertos, are quite different from typical XIXth music. It does not mean he's invented new ways of composing, but he's followed Berlioz, Liszt and Wagner, who were more modern than many XXth composers themselves.

You can be romanticist and progressive : They're is a huge gap between Rachmaninov and Strauss' romanticisms.

I was not really surprised by Salomé, I found many similarities in style with his poems.

Ein Heldenleben or Zarathoustra contain many dissonances.

« Last Edit: June 14, 2007, 12:33:55 PM by quintett op.57 »

Haffner

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Re: R Strauss's place in musical history
« Reply #14 on: June 14, 2007, 09:48:29 AM »
Maybe I'm totally off, but Elektra in particular seems to often showcase chromaticisms that push what Mahler and Wagner did a bit further. Not entirely unlike Schoenberg's "early" (first string quartet) style.

Philoctetes

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Re: R Strauss's place in musical history
« Reply #15 on: June 14, 2007, 10:31:45 AM »
Well placed.

I find his piano music to be what I come back to the most. His piano sonata is easily in my top ten for that genre.

His orchestral and vocal works never cease to impress.

I'm not really a big fan of concertos or operas. Though I find his always to be interesting to listen to and quite blanced in their approach.

Symphonien

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Re: R Strauss's place in musical history
« Reply #16 on: June 14, 2007, 10:54:46 PM »
Thanks for the responses guys. So I'll take it that he was progressive for a Romantic composer. With the comparison between Rachmaninov and Strauss I can see what you mean.

As for dissonance, I guess my whole perception of dissonance has been thrown off! After I've been listening to a lot of modern and contemporary music lately I don't really tend to think in terms of consonance/dissonance anymore since it all depends on each individual piece.

Harry

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Re: R Strauss's place in musical history
« Reply #17 on: June 14, 2007, 11:10:38 PM »
Hmmmm, I listen to the music, that gives me much pleasure, and that's what the composer meant right.
So enjoy.

M forever

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Re: R Strauss's place in musical history
« Reply #18 on: June 23, 2007, 12:29:58 AM »
Richard Strauss was born June 11, 1864.

"Certainly Richard Strauss had very little to do with the twentieth century as we know it....By all the aesthetic and philosophic yardsticks that we must apply, he was not a man of our time....The great thing about the music of Richard Strauss is that it presents and substantiates an argument which transcends all the dogmatisms of art -- all questions of style and taste and idiom -- all the frivolous, effete preoccupations of the chronologist. It presents to us an example of the man who makes richer his own time by not being of it, who speaks for all generations by being of none. It is an ultimate argument of individuality -- the argument that a man can create his own synthesis of time without being bound by the conformities that time imposes....

Richard Strauss seems to me to be more than the the greatest man of music of our time. He is in my opinion a central figure in today's most crucial dilemma of aesthetic morality -- the hopeless confusion that arises when we attempt to contain the inscrutible pressures of self-guiding artistic destiny within the neat, historical summation of collective chronology....In him we have one of those rare, intense figures in whom the whole process of historical evolution is defied."

Glenn Gould

It appears to me that few if any of the above posters got what Mr Gould in his admittedly strained and convoluted prose (in itself, very mid-20th century, but not in a good sense) actually wanted to say. Namely that Strauss was not "of the 20th century" as in "from a past era", but as in "timeless", in "a dimension and time layer" of his own.
What Gould points out is exactly what a lot of posts then confirm, namely that it doesn't make much sense to define "progressiveness" along a time line, in the sense of "adding to" or "generally being different", in this case somehow more "dissonant" (whatever that means) and therefore more "progressive". That doesn't make sense and that kind of view is totally outdated. After all, Strauss knew that and he was right. Linear "progression" into total atonality didn't work out.

In other words, Strauss was just totally awesome, a truly timeless phenomen who, while reflecting elements of his times, just happened in a dimension of his own, in a region we vaguely circumscribe with words such as "genius", a man who could handle musical structures more eloquently and tellingly than most people can handle words. Somebody to whom "speaking" in music came so naturally that he was able to express himself as well in delicate miniatures of vocal and chamber music as in operas and orchestral works of unparalleled epic proportions.

Haffner

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Re: R Strauss's place in musical history
« Reply #19 on: June 23, 2007, 06:14:54 AM »
It appears to me that few if any of the above posters got what Mr Gould in his admittedly strained and convoluted prose (in itself, very mid-20th century, but not in a good sense) actually wanted to say. Namely that Strauss was not "of the 20th century" as in "from a past era", but as in "timeless", in "a dimension and time layer" of his own.
What Gould points out is exactly what a lot of posts then confirm, namely that it doesn't make much sense to define "progressiveness" along a time line, in the sense of "adding to" or "generally being different", in this case somehow more "dissonant" (whatever that means) and therefore more "progressive". That doesn't make sense and that kind of view is totally outdated. After all, Strauss knew that and he was right. Linear "progression" into total atonality didn't work out.

In other words, Strauss was just totally awesome, a truly timeless phenomen who, while reflecting elements of his times, just happened in a dimension of his own, in a region we vaguely circumscribe with words such as "genius", a man who could handle musical structures more eloquently and tellingly than most people can handle words. Somebody to whom "speaking" in music came so naturally that he was able to express himself as well in delicate miniatures of vocal and chamber music as in operas and orchestral works of unparalleled epic proportions.



This is excellently expressed, including some modern vernacular which makes it seem more personal in a way. Great post, M, and I agree with it in general. After Wagner and Mahler's reign, Strauss really left some extraordinary work...often taking him off their shoulders and insinuating himself individually as their most precious successor. I think for vocal works only Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire (and perhaps Shostakovich's Lady MacBeth) pushed the tiniest bit further.

Again, an admirable post, M thank you!