GMG Classical Music Forum

The Music Room => Composer Discussion => Topic started by: johnshade on June 11, 2007, 05:43:49 AM

Title: R Strauss's place in musical history
Post by: johnshade 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
Title: Re: R Strauss's place in musical history
Post by: quintett op.57 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.
Title: Re: R Strauss's place in musical history
Post by: BachQ 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 .........
Title: Re: R Strauss's place in musical history
Post by: Israfel the Black 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.
Title: Re: R Strauss's place in musical history
Post by: johnshade 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?
Title: Re: R Strauss's place in musical history
Post by: BachQ on June 11, 2007, 02:04:07 PM
May I add Bartok to the list?

Permission granted ..........  :D
Title: Re: R Strauss's place in musical history
Post by: quintett op.57 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.  ;)

 
Title: Re: R Strauss's place in musical history
Post by: johnshade 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.

Title: Re: R Strauss's place in musical history
Post by: Symphonien 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.
Title: Re: R Strauss's place in musical history
Post by: val 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.
Title: Re: R Strauss's place in musical history
Post by: quintett op.57 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?
Title: Re: R Strauss's place in musical history
Post by: Symphonien 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.
Title: Re: R Strauss's place in musical history
Post by: Lethevich 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.
Title: Re: R Strauss's place in musical history
Post by: quintett op.57 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.

Title: Re: R Strauss's place in musical history
Post by: Haffner 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.
Title: Re: R Strauss's place in musical history
Post by: Philoctetes 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.
Title: Re: R Strauss's place in musical history
Post by: Symphonien 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.
Title: Re: R Strauss's place in musical history
Post by: Harry 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.
Title: Re: R Strauss's place in musical history
Post by: M forever 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.
Title: Re: R Strauss's place in musical history
Post by: Haffner 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!
Title: Re: R Strauss's place in musical history
Post by: Brian on June 23, 2007, 04:40:11 PM
Seems to me he invented the Hollywood style of music.
Unfortunately, most of its subsequent practitioners had nowhere near the level of talent or genius or good ideas required to bring it off.

I'd really have found it fun if the composer of Eine Alpensinfonie had written film scores. (IMDB lists him as a composer for a single 30-minute German documentary in the '30s.) After all, with his lush orchestrations, talented use of motifs and brief little theme-melodies, and terrific scene-setting, he'd be a natural.
Title: Re: R Strauss's place in musical history
Post by: quintett op.57 on June 24, 2007, 08:07:27 AM
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.
Strauss was absolutely not interested in the way music had to evolve. He composed what he wanted to. He was not influenced by the passing years.
But his music is not coming out of nothing.
A part of it, as we've said, he's absolutely not new in style.
But, as a fan of symphonic music, I assume most of his tone poems are a logical continuation of Berlioz and Liszt styles, including a fabulous mastery and a systematic use of some of their most modern processes.
Title: Re: R Strauss's place in musical history
Post by: quintett op.57 on June 24, 2007, 08:27:09 AM
The harmonies used all seem quite Romantic to me and most of them were written in the late 19th century anyway weren't they?
I agree with this.
I don't think he's invented many harmonical tricks. But he uses them in a way that is completely new.
Surprising and dissonant technics he uses where in fact invented before him (I mentioned Liszt & Berlioz. I think it's obvious but I would had guys like Haydn, for the way he sometimes cut into a melody to insert another one which has apparently nothing to do with the rest, and Biber, for his use of polytonality).
But I find modern (at least new) the way he uses them in tone poems : It comes very often and he uses them together, the result being highly complex compositions.
Title: Re: R Strauss's place in musical history
Post by: Sean on June 24, 2007, 12:48:18 PM
His eighth opera Intermezzo with its radical recitative-melody is one of the most little appreciated innovative works of the entire century, certainly as interesting a piece as Pierrot for instance...
Title: Re: R Strauss's place in musical history
Post by: knight66 on July 13, 2007, 12:50:35 AM
I was digging through my collection and came up with a disc I had not listened to in a long time. Richard Strauss, Macbeth, Rosenkavalier waltzes and, the item I want to ask about....Notturno.

As I listened I was struck by how the musical language reminded me of Schoenberg's Gurrelieder and of some of Berg. I assumed it was a later work. It is not at all like his other 'songs'. This is a full blown 19 minute somber orchestral song. When I had a look through the booklet I discover it is one of his Op44 songs written in 1899, so not late at all.

It often sounds like a missing movement from Gurrelieder. That was written in 1899/1901, but not performed until at least 10 years later, as the full orchestration was not complete until then.

To my untutored ears, I cannot recall any piece from Strauss in quite this style. It is a long way from say Elektra, but it has that fluidity of harmonic structure and sound that I associate with the other two composers. As Berg was only born in 1885, Strauss was clearly not influenced in this piece by either composer, yet their music sounds to have continued along the ideas in the music. However none of the reading I have done, or the googling has brought me close to an explanation of whether Strauss influenced the second Viennese school, or whether they and Strauss were drinking at some common well.

The Mahler that most resembles these pieces is his 9th symphony and that post dates the material I have mentioned. They are all post Wagner and I have it clear that were developing some of his ideas. However, can anyone explain to me how Strauss seems to be coming up with music resembling Schoenberg when they would not be aware of one another's pieces; as they were being written at more or less the same time?

Mike
Title: Re: R Strauss's place in musical history
Post by: Sean on July 13, 2007, 02:23:34 AM
Strauss is at the twilight of Western art, his long life encompassing all the Second Viennese School's notoriety and misguidedness.

His position is summed up by Capriccio the final opera in his cycle of 15, ending with its question of the primacy of words or music unanswered- instead there's just a call to dinner: live life not art. The subject matter, being about art itself, is hermetic, not relating to anything useful in the world outside itself; the work represents the end of art and any usefulness it ever had, with the music's character itself very faded, autumnal and valedictory- it angelically neutralizes and negates his own work, and all art...

This is from my hapless thread http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,2056.0.html
Title: Re: R Strauss's place in musical history
Post by: M forever on July 13, 2007, 02:30:28 AM
I think you already answered the question yourself. I would say a lot of that was "in the air" and "in the water", at least for those who were artistically sensitive enough to filter it out. Which Strauss did just like Mahler, Schönberg, or Berg or other contemporary composers, all through their very own and very personal filters. The results are sometimes wildly different, sometimes surprisingly similar or at least parallel. I think an important source for that well was definitely Tristan und Isolde, not necessarily only in the sense of compositional techniques that can be analyzed and pointed out, but also "athmospherically" and "esthetically".
 
Title: Re: R Strauss's place in musical history
Post by: Sean on July 13, 2007, 02:33:01 AM
Tristan and Cosi were the most important works for Strauss.
Title: Re: R Strauss's place in musical history
Post by: M forever on July 13, 2007, 02:33:54 AM
Did he tell you that?
Title: Re: R Strauss's place in musical history
Post by: BachQ on July 13, 2007, 02:34:59 AM
Did he tell you that?

He sent out a memo .........
Title: Re: R Strauss's place in musical history
Post by: knight66 on July 13, 2007, 05:43:30 AM
OK, thanks. I had wondered if there was some guru sitting in the background about whom I knew nothing. Am I right in remembering that the academic circles in Vienna were hostile to the development of the music of the Second Viennese School?

Schoenberg started up The Viennese Society for Private Musical Performances in 1918 and Berg, his pupil, published the aims of the society...Part of aim number 3 was to withdraw the concerts from the corruption of official musical life.

Did they start up this salon/school in rejection of the Establishment, or because they were excluded from it? Another aim was to repeatedly perform the same works and Schoenberg, and others, produced a number of arrangements of major pieces, scaled down for study and for ease of performance by a smaller number of musicians. I was also wondering whether he concentrated on recent works only, such as Das Lied von der Erde, or whether he was mining further back to carry out what I think of as analysis by transcription.

I have not read of any connection with either Strauss or his music to the Society.

Mike


Title: Re: R Strauss's place in musical history
Post by: Haffner on July 20, 2007, 04:07:12 AM
OK, thanks. I had wondered if there was some guru sitting in the background about whom I knew nothing
Mike







Always a great idea, keeping up with the otherwise invisible gurus, right :D?

Title: Re: R Strauss's place in musical history
Post by: karlhenning on July 20, 2007, 04:17:31 AM
Good morning, Andy!
Title: Re: R Strauss's place in musical history
Post by: Haffner on July 20, 2007, 04:47:25 AM



Always a great idea, keeping up with the otherwise invisible gurus, right :D?






Best morning blessings, Karl.


Title: Re: R Strauss's place in musical history
Post by: johnshade on August 25, 2007, 06:56:47 AM
(http://ec1.images-amazon.com/images/I/51NaAi5L3BL._AA240_.jpg)

Even if you are not a fan of ballet, this is a newly released and very entertaining DVD with a simplified version of the original chorography. This visualization of the Joseph story gives one a greater appreciation of Strauss's music.