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Biography of Richard Strauss

May 21st, 2008

 

 

 

A  young Richard Strauss – www.foto-face.com

 

* June 11th 1864 Munich – † September 8th 1949, Garmish-Partenkirchen

 

Richard Strauss, noted for his tone poems and operas, was one of the last Romantic composers of the 19th and 20th centuries. He was during his own lifetime considered both ahead and behind his time! While he fervently despised Hitler and the Nazis in private – Strauss was taken to task at the end of the war for his opportunistic stance in not opposing them publicly – defence of his Jewish daughter-in-law and her family and his Jewish librettist Hugo von Hofmannsthal not withstanding.

In 1905 he produced Salome, and the reaction was passionate and extreme. Strauss’s next opera was Elektra, which took his use of dissonance even further. It was also the first opera in which Strauss collaborated with the poet Hugo von Hofmannsthal. Strauss moderated his harmonic language later in his career, with the result that works such as Der Rosenkavalier (1910) were great public successes. Strauss continued to produce operas at regular intervals until 1940. These included Ariadne auf Naxos (1912), Die Frau ohne Schatten (1918 – probably his greatest musical achievement), Die ägyptische Helena (1927), and Arabella (1932), all in collaboration with Hofmannsthal; and Intermezzo (1923), for which Strauss provided his own libretto, Die schweigsame Frau (1934), with Stefan Zweig as librettist; Friedenstag (1936) and Daphne (1937) (libretto by Joseph Gregor and Zweig); Die Liebe der Danae (1940) (with Gregor) and Capriccio (1941).

In the end Strauss’ music stands on its own – wonderful, heavenly and graceful like his favourite composer Mozart – a glorious summation of late-romanticism.

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