Richard Strauss


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Strauss, Richard

(rĭkh`ärt shtrous), 1864–1949, German composer. Strauss brought to a culmination the development of the 19th-century symphonic poem, and was a leading composer of romantic opera in the early 20th cent. Son of a celebrated horn player, he had extensive musical instruction and began composing as a child of six. His first major work, the symphony in D minor, was first performed in 1880. Strauss's early works, in classical forms, brought him instant acclaim. He succeeded Hans von BülowBülow, Hans Guido, Freiherr von
, 1830–94, German pianist and conductor. After hearing Wagner's Lohengrin in 1850 at Weimar under Liszt's direction, he studied piano with Liszt and later conducted the premieres of several of Wagner's operas.
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 as conductor at Meiningen (1885–86) and later as conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic concerts (1894–95). His friendship with the poet Alexander Ritter influenced him to adopt the romantic aesthetic philosophy and style of LisztLiszt, Franz
, 1811–86, Hungarian composer and pianist. Liszt was a revolutionary figure of romantic music and was acknowledged as the greatest pianist of his time. He made his debut at nine, going thereafter to Vienna to study with Czerny and Salieri.
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 and WagnerWagner, Richard
, 1813–83, German composer, b. Leipzig. Life and Work

Wagner was reared in a theatrical family, had a classical education, and began composing at 17.
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. A group of songs, the symphonic fantasy Aus Italien (1886), and the symphonic poems Don Juan (1888) and Death and Transfiguration (1889) were the first works composed in his new romantic manner. These and the works that followed established him as a master of highly evocative, original, and richly orchestrated program music. These works—including Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche (1895); Thus Spake Zarathustra (1895), after Nietszche; Don Quixote (1898), a tone poem in the form of variations with a cello solo; and A Hero's Life (1898)—were violently both lauded and damned as the very essence of musical modernism.

Strauss also gained wide renown for his operas, including Salomé (1905), after Oscar Wilde's play; the brilliantly dramatic Electra (1909); the delightful comedy Der Rosenkavalier (1911); Ariadne auf Naxos (1912); and Die Frau ohne Schatten (1919). He wrote all but the first of these, as well as Die aegyptische Helena (1928) and Arabella (1933), in collaboration with the poet Hugo von HofmannsthalHofmannsthal, Hugo von
, 1874–1929, Austrian dramatist and poet. His first verses were published when he was 16 years old, and his play The Death of Titian (1892, tr. 1913) when he was 18.
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. After Hofmannsthal died (1929) Strauss's librettists were Stefan ZweigZweig, Stefan
, 1881–1942, Austrian biographer, poet, and novelist. Born in Vienna of a well-to-do Jewish family, he was part of the humanitarian, pan-European, pacifist, and populist cultural circle that included Hugo von Hofmannsthal and Richard Strauss.
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 for Die schweigsame Frau (1935) and Josef Gregor for Friedenstag (1938), Daphne (1938), and Die Liebe der Danaë (1938–40). Strauss's operas, carrying the Wagnerian leitmotif concept to its fullest development, went beyond Wagner in their intensity of drama and psychological treatment of character motivation. The operas display his music at its most sensuous and passionate. From 1919 until 1924 Strauss was codirector of the Vienna State Opera. During this period he made extended tours abroad, including a second trip to the United States (1922). Strauss served briefly as head of musical affairs (Reichsmusikkammer president) under the Nazis; he was officially exonerated of collaboration in 1948. Among Strauss's last major works are the sorrowful Metamorphosen (1946), for string instruments, and two pieces for voice and orchestra, 3 Gesänge and Im Abendrot (both 1948), considered the final musical expression of dying German romanticism.

Bibliography

See his correspondence ed. by R. Myers (1968); biographies by N. Del Mar (1962), W. S. Mann (1964), A. Jefferson (1963 and 1971), K. and R. Bailey (1985), and M. Boyden (1999); study by D. Puffett (1989).

Strauss, Richard

 

Born June 11, 1864, in Munich; died Sept. 8, 1949, in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. German composer and conductor.

The son of a horn player, Strauss studied piano and violin as a child. He studied music theory and orchestration under F. W. Meyer. Strauss achieved an international reputation as a conductor, above all for performances of his own works. He regularly toured various countries, traveling to Russia for the first time in 1896. He was the principal conductor of the Royal Opera in Berlin from 1898 to 1918 and of the Vienna State Opera from 1919 to 1924. After the fascists came to power, Strauss was appointed president of the Reichsmusikkammer (State Music Council), but he was removed from the post in 1935.

Strauss’ most important compositions are his program symphonies, symphonic poems, and operas. His symphonic poems, which continue the traditions of the program symphony established by H. Berlioz and F. Liszt and of the orchestral style of R. Wagner, often take their plots and subject matter from classical literature, as in Macbeth (1886), Don Juan (1888), Till Eulen-Spiegel’s Merry Pranks (1895), and Don Quixote (1897), and from ancient legends. Several of Strauss’ works were influenced by F. Nietzsche’s philosophy, notably the tone poems Death and Transfiguration (1889) and Thus Spake Zarathustra (1896).

In his first works for the stage, the operas Guntram (1894; years here and below refer to production) and Feuersnot (1901), Strauss was influenced by Wagner; he subsequently developed his own style, which reflected elements of expressionism and neo-classicism. In his operas he drew on a variety of traditions: Salome (1905), Elektra (1908), and Ariadne aufNaxos (1912) are in the tradition of the mythologically oriented opera seria; Der Rosenkavalier (1911) recalls the old comic opera; and Die ägyptische Helena (1928) and Die Lieb der Danae (1952) are based on subject matter from ancient history and mythology.

At their finest, Strauss’ scores are characterized by deep psychological insight, a heightened expressiveness, dramatic tension, and the subtle transmission of states of mind ranging from a profound sense of tragedy and philosophic concentration to joyful humor. Strauss’ music is noted for its elegance, its beautiful melodies, its bold and rich harmonies, and its magnificent and colorful orchestration; at the same time, elements of naturalism appear in such works as Sinfonía domestica (1903), and certain works exhibit an exaggerated expressiveness and an attempt to create musical “pictures.”

In his final period Strauss turned away from large orchestras and strove for a transparent orchestration, a more subtle and simple musical idiom, and a laconic means of expression in such works as the opera Capriccio (1941); Metamorphosen (1946), for 23 solo strings; and Three Songs for Voice and Orchestra (1948).

Strauss, who greatly influenced 20th-century European music, contributed to the development of program music and of the opera and enriched the expressive possibilities of the orchestra. His finest works are marked by a humanist spirit, a love of life, and an affirmation of the ideals of beauty. Strauss was awarded honorary doctorates by the universities of Heidelberg and Munich in 1902 and was elected a member of the Academy of Arts in Berlin in 1909.

REFERENCES

Sollertinskii, I. Simfonicheskiepoemy Rikharda Shtrausa. Leningrad, 1934.
Rolland, R. “Rikhard Shtrauss.” Sobr. soch., vol. 16. Leningrad, 1935. (Translated from French.)
Krause, E. Rikhard Shtraus: Obraz i tvorchestvo. Moscow, 1961. (Translated from German.)
Ordzhonikidze, G. “R. Shtraus.” In Muzyka XX veka, part 1 (1890–1917), book 2. Moscow, 1977.
Trenner, F. Richard Strauss: Dokumente seines Lebens und Schaffens. Munich, 1954.

M. M. IAKOVLEV

References in periodicals archive ?
In addition, the archive holds thousands of volumes of printed music--the results of decades of collecting activity by the Wittgenstein family in general--including antiquarian items and first editions that contain music ranging from Beethoven, Czerny, Spohr and Thalberg to Richard Strauss, Pfitzner, Korngold and Ravel Of particular interest are a considerable number of scores that disclose Wittgenstein's two-handed pianistic development, detailing the pianist's arduous path towards his initial debut as a two-handed pianist in December 1913, and the methodological and pedagogical subtleties of his teachers Leschetizky and Bree.
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This is the orchestra Bach played in and that Liszt and Richard Strauss himself once lead.
Strange--all throughout 1999, the fiftieth anniversary year of the death of Richard Strauss, there has been a fulsome celebration of his life and work with the publication in English of no less than four full length studies,(1) not to mention the recent reissue of Kurt Wilhelm's richly illustrated study, Richard Strauss: An Intimate Portrait (Thames & Hudson).
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Meanwhile, the German Richard Strauss also backfilled the earlier variations in his fantasy tone poem based on Cervantes' ' adventures of deluded Spanish knight Don Quixote and his servant Sancho Panza.
Most surprising in these pages is Holden's failure to note Strauss's letter of 15 January 1890 to Billow, in which the composer laid out a series of precise tempos and tempo changes for his mentor, who was to conduct the Berlin premiere of Don Juan on 31 January 1890 (Hans von Billow and Richard Strauss, "Briefwechsel," Richard Strauss Jahrbuch 1954, 77-78).
While the music of Richard Strauss (1864-1949), some of which was composed and performed in Germany in the Nazi era, is deserving of continued listening to, as music in the great classical tradition, the composer himself was not apparently an overt supporter of that hated regime.
RICHARD STRAUSS SONGS Lott / Johnson (Champs Hill Records CHRCD037) Felicity Lott has been one of the world's finest interpreters of Strauss for more than thirty years and this new disc is a valuable addition to her body of work.
She also sang Giacomo Puccini s Tosca and Richard Strauss s Salome.