Strauss , who described himself as "phlegmatic," was on the surface an unlikely match for the high-strung soprano de Ahna, whose temper was well known in late nineteenth-century German musical circles. The music of the first text strophe offers an adventuresome major-mode context for the passionate images of the text: ardent kisses, caresses, whispers. Strauss avoids congruity between poetic lines and musical phrases, a free approach to the text that yields an outpouring of emotional expression. The shift to minor mode at the beginning of the second text strophe and the harmonic volatility throughout reflect a change in the poetic imagery to the darker side of love: worry, lonely nights, isolation, despair.
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He wrote his first composition at the age of six, and continued to write music almost until his death. The Strauss family was frequently joined in their home for music making, meals, and other activities by the orphaned composer and music theorist Ludwig Thuille who was viewed as an adopted member of the family. Many of his early symphonic compositions were written for this ensemble.
His Horn Concerto No. Indeed, in the Strauss household, the music of Richard Wagner was viewed with deep suspicion, and it was not until the age of 16 that Strauss was able to obtain a score of Tristan und Isolde. The same year he entered Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich , where he studied philosophy and art history, but not music.
He also conducted his Symphony No. This piling up of many themes based on a triad, which differ from one another only in rhythm, has no value. Ritter convinced Strauss to abandon his more conservative style of composing and embrace the "music of the future" by modeling his compositional style off of Wagner and Liszt.
All of this together gave a new aesthetic anchor to Strauss which first became evident in his embrace of the tone poem genre. While traveling he wrote down descriptions of the various sites he was seeing along with tonal impressions that went with those descriptions. These he communicated in a letter to his mother, and they ultimately were used as the beginning of his first tone poem , Aus Italien For the next three years the two men would meet regularly, often joined by Thuille and Anton Seidl , in order to discuss music, particularly Wagner and Liszt, and discuss poetry, literature, and philosophy.
The opera assignments he was given, works by Boieldieu, Auber and Donizetti, bored him, and to make matters worse Hermann Levi, the senior conductor at the house, was often ill and Strauss was required to step in at the last minute to conduct performance for operas which he had never rehearsed.
This caused problems for him, the singers, and the orchestra. During this time, Strauss did find much more enjoyable conducting work outside Munich in Berlin, Dresden, and Leipzig. In the latter city he met and befriended the composer Gustav Mahler in the autumn of Also happily, Strauss met his future wife, soprano Pauline de Ahna , in De Ahna was then a voice student at the Munich Musikschule , but soon switched to private lessons with Strauss who became her principal teacher.
During the Summer of he served as the assistant conductor of the Bayreuth Festival during which time he befriended Cosima Wagner who became a longterm close friend. She was famous for being irascible, garrulous, eccentric and outspoken, but to all appearances the marriage was essentially happy, and she was a great source of inspiration to him.
Throughout his life, from his earliest songs to the final Four Last Songs of , he preferred the soprano voice to all others, and all his operas contain important soprano roles. Built Architect: Emanuel Seidl. His tone poem Don Juan premiered in Weimar on 11 November to tremendous critical response, and the work quickly brought him international fame and success.
This was followed by another lauded achievement, the premiere of his tone poem Death and Transfiguration in Both of these works, along with the earlier Burleske, became internationally known and established him as a leading modernist composer. Just prior to their marriage the following September, Strauss left his post in Weimar when he was appointed Kapellmeister, or first conductor, of the Bavarian State Opera where he became responsible for the operas of Wagner.
By this time in his career, he was in constant demand as a guest conductor internationally and enjoyed celebrity status as a conductor; particularly in the works of Wagner, Mozart, and Liszt in addition to his own compositions. He used all of these posts to champion contemporary German composers like Mahler.
His own compositions were becoming increasingly popular, and the first major orchestra to perform an entire concert of only his music was the Vienna Philharmonic in At the latter festival his cantata Taillefer was given its world premiere.
Strauss never joined the Nazi party, and studiously avoided Nazi forms of greeting. In , Strauss wrote in his private notebook: I consider the Streicher -Goebbels Jew-baiting as a disgrace to German honour, as evidence of incompetence—the basest weapon of untalented, lazy mediocrity against a higher intelligence and greater talent. Goebbels wrote in his diary: Unfortunately we still need him, but one day we shall have our own music and then we shall have no further need of this decadent neurotic.
Strauss, who had lived through numerous political regimes and had no interest in politics, decided to accept the position but to remain apolitical, a decision which would eventually become untenable. He wrote to his family, "I made music under the Kaiser , and under Ebert. I was not consulted. I accepted this honorary office because I hoped that I would be able to do some good and prevent worse misfortunes, if from now onwards German musical life were going to be, as it was said, "reorganized" by amateurs and ignorant place-seekers.
He also continued to work on a comic opera, Die schweigsame Frau, with his Jewish friend and librettist Stefan Zweig. Hitler and Goebbels avoided attending the opera, and it was halted after three performances and subsequently banned by the Third Reich. I recognise only two types of people: those who have talent and those who have none.
Strauss was subsequently dismissed from his post as Reichsmusikkammer president in Both of his grandsons were bullied at school, but Strauss used his considerable influence to prevent the boys or their mother being sent to concentration camps.
The first opera they worked on together was Daphne , but it ultimately became the second of their operas to be premiered. The work is essentially a hymn to peace and a thinly veiled criticism of the Third Reich. Productions of the opera ceased shortly after the outbreak of war in In the end, Neumann and 25 other relatives were murdered in the camps.
However, Strauss was unable to protect his Jewish relatives completely; in early , while Strauss was away, Alice and his son Franz were abducted by the Gestapo and imprisoned for two nights.
The title and inspiration for the work comes from a profoundly self-examining poem by Goethe , which Strauss had considered setting as a choral work. As he descended the staircase he announced to Lieutenant Milton Weiss of the U.
Weiss, who was also a musician, nodded in recognition. An "Off Limits" sign was subsequently placed on the lawn to protect Strauss.
Initially dismissive of the idea, Strauss completed this late work, his Oboe Concerto , before the end of the year. The events of World War II seemed to bring the composer—who had grown old, tired, and a little jaded—into focus.
Strapped for cash, in Strauss embarked on his last international tour, a three-week trip to London, in which he conducted several of his tone poems and excerpts of his operas, and was present during a complete staging of Elektra by the BBC. The trip was a critical success and provided him and his wife with some much needed money. In June , he was cleared of any wrong-doing by a denazification tribunal in Munich. On August 15 he suffered from a heart attack and he died of kidney failure quietly, in his sleep, shortly after 2 p.
Strauss himself declared in with characteristic self-deprecation: "I may not be a first-rate composer, but I am a first-class second-rate composer. These pieces include early compositions for piano solo in a conservative harmonic style, many of which are lost: two piano trios and , a string quartet , a piano sonata , a cello sonata , a piano quartet , a violin sonata , as well as a serenade and a longer suite , both scored for double wind quintet plus two additional horns and contrabassoon.
After , Strauss composed very infrequently for chamber groups, his energies being almost completely absorbed with large-scale orchestral works and operas. Four of his chamber pieces are actually arrangements of portions of his operas, including the Daphne-Etude for solo violin and the String Sextet, which is the overture to his final opera Capriccio.
His last independent chamber work, an Allegretto in E major for violin and piano, dates from He also composed two large-scale works for wind ensemble during this period: Sonatina No. Tone poems and other orchestral works[ edit ] Main article: Tone poems Strauss Strauss wrote two early symphonies: Symphony No.
It was Ritter who persuaded Strauss to abandon the conservative style of his youth and begin writing tone poems. He also introduced Strauss to the essays of Wagner and the writings of Arthur Schopenhauer. See media help. One commentator has observed of these works that "no orchestra could exist without his tone poems, written to celebrate the glories of the post-Wagnerian symphony orchestra.
It was after this point that Strauss rejected the philosophy of Schopenhauer and began more forcefully critiquing the institution of the symphony and the symphonic poem, thereby differentiating the second cycle of tone poems from the first.
The most famous include two concertos for horn, which are still part of the standard repertoire of most horn soloists— Horn Concerto No. See also: List of operas by Richard Strauss Around the end of the 19th century, Strauss turned his attention to opera.
The premiere was a major success, with the artists taking more than 38 curtain calls. As with the later Elektra, Salome features an extremely taxing lead soprano role. Elektra was also the first opera in which Strauss collaborated with the poet Hugo von Hofmannsthal as his librettist. The two subsequently worked together on numerous occasions. For his later works with Hofmannsthal, Strauss moderated his harmonic language: he used a more lush, melodic late-Romantic style based on Wagnerian chromatic harmonies that he had used in his tone poems, with much less dissonance, and exhibiting immense virtuosity in orchestral writing and tone color.
This resulted in operas such as Der Rosenkavalier having great public success. Strauss continued to produce operas at regular intervals until For Intermezzo Strauss provided his own libretto.
He often composed them with the voice of his wife in mind. His lieder were written for voice and piano, and he orchestrated several of them after the fact. In —, around the age of 30, he published several well-known songs including " Ruhe, meine Seele! In , after a long hiatus devoted to opera, he wrote Sechs Lieder, Op. He completed his works in the genre in with Four Last Songs for soprano and orchestra.
He reportedly composed these with Kirsten Flagstad in mind and she gave the first performance, which was recorded. Legacy[ edit ] Richard Strauss Until the s, Strauss was regarded by some post-modern musicologists as a conservative, backward-looking composer, but re-examination of and new research on the composer has re-evaluated his place as that of a modernist,  albeit one who still utilized and sometimes revered tonality and lush orchestration.
I had no idea music could do the things he was doing with harmony and melody.
4 Lieder, Op.27 (Strauss, Richard)