Richard Georg Strauss was a German composer and conductor best known for his tone poems and operas.
85 Facts About Richard Strauss
Richard Strauss's first opera to achieve international fame was Salome which used a libretto by Hedwig Lachmann that was a German translation of the French play Salome by Oscar Wilde.
Richard Strauss was chiefly admired for his interpretations of the works of Liszt, Mozart, and Wagner in addition to his own works.
Richard Strauss then served as principal conductor of the Deutsches Nationaltheater und Staatskapelle Weimar from 1889 to 1894.
Richard Strauss then returned to the Bavarian State Opera, this time as principal conductor, from 1894 to 1898, after which he was principal conductor of the Berlin State Opera from 1898 to 1913.
In 1933 Richard Strauss was appointed to two important positions in the musical life of Nazi Germany: head of the Reichsmusikkammer and principal conductor of the Bayreuth Festival.
Richard Strauss was apolitical, and took the Reichsmusikkammer post to advance copyright protections for composers, attempting as well to preserve performances of works by banned composers such as Mahler and Felix Mendelssohn.
Further, Richard Strauss insisted on using a Jewish librettist, Stefan Zweig, for his opera Die schweigsame Frau which ultimately led to his firing from the Reichsmusikkammer and Bayreuth.
Richard Strauss's opera Friedenstag, which premiered just before the outbreak of World War II, was a thinly veiled criticism of the Nazi Party that attempted to persuade Germans to abandon violence for peace.
Richard Strauss was born on 11 June 1864 in Munich, the son of Josephine and Franz Richard Strauss, who was the principal horn player at the Court Opera in Munich and a professor at the Konigliche Musikschule.
Richard Strauss's mother was the daughter of Georg Pschorr, a financially prosperous brewer from Munich.
Richard Strauss wrote his first composition at the age of six, and continued to write music almost until his death.
The Richard 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.
Richard Strauss's father taught his son the music of Beethoven, Haydn, Mozart, and Schubert.
Richard Strauss's Horn Concerto No 1, is representative of this period and is a staple of the modern horn repertoire.
In 1874, Richard Strauss heard his first Wagner operas, Lohengrin and Tannhauser.
The influence of Wagner's music on Richard Strauss's style was to be profound, but at first his musically conservative father forbade him to study it.
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.
In later life, Richard Strauss said that he deeply regretted the conservative hostility to Wagner's progressive works.
In early 1882, in Vienna, Richard Strauss gave the first performance of his Violin Concerto in D minor, playing a piano reduction of the orchestral part himself, with his teacher Benno Walter as soloist.
Richard Strauss learned the art of conducting by observing Bulow in rehearsal.
Bulow was very fond of the young man, and Richard Strauss considered him as his greatest conducting mentor, often crediting him as teaching him "the art of interpretation".
In December 1885, Bulow unexpectedly resigned from his post, and Richard Strauss was left to lead the Meiningen Court Orchestra as interim principal conductor for the remainder of the artistic season through April 1886.
Richard Strauss notably helped prepare the orchestra for the world premiere performance of Johannes Brahms's Symphony No 4, which Brahms himself conducted.
Richard Strauss further influenced Strauss by engaging him in studies and conversations on the writings of Arthur Schopenhauer, Wagner, and Friedrich von Hausegger.
Shortly after Richard Strauss assumed his opera conducting duties in Munich, Ritter himself moved to the city in September 1886.
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 Richard Strauss was required to step in at the last minute to conduct performance for operas which he had never rehearsed.
Also happily, Richard Strauss met his future wife, soprano Pauline de Ahna, in 1887.
De Ahna was then a voice student at the Munich Musikschule, but soon switched to private lessons with Richard Strauss who became her principal teacher.
In May 1889 Richard Strauss left his post with the Bavarian State Opera after being appointed Kapellmeister to Charles Alexander, Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach in Weimar, beginning in the autumn of 1889.
Richard Strauss 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.
Richard Strauss had much success as a conductor in Weimar, particularly with the symphonic poems of Liszt and an uncut production of Tristan und Isolde in 1892.
In 1906, Richard Strauss purchased a block of land at Garmisch-Partenkirchen and had a villa built there with the down payments from the publisher Adolph Furstner for his opera Salome, residing there until his death.
Richard Strauss left the Bavarian State Opera in 1898 when he became principal conductor of the Staatskapelle Berlin at the Berlin State Opera in the fall of 1898; a position he remained in for 15 years.
Richard Strauss became president of the Allgemeiner Deutscher Musikverein in 1901, and that same year became leader of the Berliner Tonkunstlerverein.
Richard Strauss served as editor of the book series Die Musik.
Richard Strauss used all of these posts to champion contemporary German composers like Mahler.
In 1903 Richard Strauss Festivals dedicated to his music were established in London and Heidelberg.
In 1904 Richard Strauss embarked on his first North American tour, with stops in Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Cincinnati, New York City, and Pittsburgh.
Richard Strauss conducted several other works in collaboration with composer Hermann Hans Wetzler and his orchestra that year at Carnegie Hall, and performed a concert of lieder with his wife.
At the outbreak of World War I Richard Strauss was invited to sign the Manifesto of German artists and intellectuals supporting the German role in the conflict.
In March 1933, when Richard Strauss was 68, Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party rose to power.
Richard Strauss never joined the Nazi Party, and studiously avoided Nazi forms of greeting.
Richard 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.
Richard Strauss attempted to ignore Nazi bans on performances of works by Debussy, Mahler, and Mendelssohn.
Richard Strauss continued to work on a comic opera, Die schweigsame Frau, with his Jewish friend and librettist Stefan Zweig.
On 17 June 1935, Richard Strauss wrote a letter to Stefan Zweig, in which he stated:.
Richard Strauss was dismissed from his post as Reichsmusikkammer president in 1935.
Frustrated that he could no longer work with Zweig as his librettist, Richard Strauss turned to Joseph Gregor, a Viennese theatre historian, at Gregor's request.
When his Jewish daughter-in-law Alice was placed under house arrest in Garmisch-Partenkirchen in 1938, Richard Strauss used his connections in Berlin, including opera-house General Intendant Heinz Tietjen, to secure her safety.
Richard Strauss drove to the Theresienstadt concentration camp to argue, albeit unsuccessfully, for the release of Alice's grandmother, Paula Neumann.
In 1942, Richard Strauss moved with his family back to Vienna, where Alice and her children could be protected by Baldur von Schirach, the Gauleiter of Vienna.
However, Richard Strauss was unable to protect his Jewish relatives completely; in early 1944, while Richard Strauss was away, Alice and her son Franz were abducted by the Gestapo and imprisoned for two nights.
Richard Strauss completed the composition of Metamorphosen, a work for 23 solo strings, in 1945.
The title and inspiration for the work comes from a profoundly self-examining poem by Goethe, which Richard Strauss had considered setting as a choral work.
The American oboist John de Lancie, who knew Richard Strauss's orchestral writing for oboe thoroughly, was in the army unit, and asked Richard Strauss to compose an oboe concerto.
The major works of the last years of Richard Strauss's life, written in his late 70s and 80s, include, among others, his Horn Concerto No 2, Metamorphosen, his Oboe Concerto, his Duet Concertino for clarinet and bassoon, and his Four Last Songs.
Short of money, in 1947 Richard 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.
From May to September 1948, just before his death, Richard Strauss composed the Four Last Songs which deal with the subject of dying.
In December 1948, Richard Strauss was hospitalized for several weeks after undergoing bladder surgery.
Richard Strauss wrote two early symphonies: Symphony No 1 and Symphony No 2.
Richard Strauss introduced Strauss to the essays of Wagner and the writings of Arthur Schopenhauer.
Richard Strauss went on to write a series of increasingly ambitious tone poems: Death and Transfiguration, Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks, Also sprach Zarathustra, Don Quixote, Ein Heldenleben, Symphonia Domestica and An Alpine Symphony.
Around the end of the 19th century, Richard Strauss turned his attention to opera.
In 1905, Richard Strauss produced Salome, a somewhat dissonant modernist opera based on the play by Oscar Wilde, which produced a passionate reaction from audiences.
Richard Strauss reputedly financed his house in Garmisch-Partenkirchen completely from the revenues generated by the opera.
Elektra was the first opera in which Richard Strauss collaborated with the poet Hugo von Hofmannsthal as his librettist.
Richard Strauss continued to produce operas at regular intervals until 1942.
Richard Strauss often composed them with the voice of his wife in mind.
Richard Strauss's lieder were written for voice and piano, and he orchestrated several of them after the fact.
Richard Strauss completed his works in the genre in 1948 with Four Last Songs for soprano and orchestra.
Richard Strauss reportedly composed these with Kirsten Flagstad in mind and she gave the first performance, which was recorded.
Until the 1980s, Richard 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.
Richard Strauss's music had a considerable influence on composers at the start of the 20th century.
Karol Szymanowski was greatly influenced by Richard Strauss, reflected in such pieces as his Concert Overture and his first and second symphonies, and his opera Hagith which was modeled after Salome.
Many contemporary composers recognise a debt to Richard Strauss, including John Adams and John Corigliano.
Max Steiner and Erich Korngold came from the same musical world as Richard Strauss and were quite naturally drawn to write in his style.
Richard Strauss has always been popular with audiences in the concert hall and continues to be so.
The preference for German and Austrian composers in Germany in the 1920s through the 1940s was typical of the German nationalism that existed after World War I Strauss clearly capitalized on national pride for the great German-speaking composers.
In 1944, Richard Strauss celebrated his 80th birthday and conducted the Vienna Philharmonic in recordings of his own major orchestral works, as well as his seldom-heard Schlagobers ballet music.
The last recording made by Richard Strauss was on 19 October 1947 live at the Royal Albert Hall in London, where he conducted the Philharmonia Orchestra in his Burleske for piano and orchestra, Don Juan and Sinfonia Domestica.
Richard Strauss made live-recording player piano music rolls for the Hupfeld system and in 1906 ten recordings for the reproducing piano Welte-Mignon all of which survive today.
Richard Strauss was the composer of the music on the first CD to be commercially released: Deutsche Grammophon's 1983 release of their 1980 recording of Herbert von Karajan conducting the Alpine Symphony.
Pierre Boulez has said that Richard Strauss the conductor was "a complete master of his trade".
Music critic Harold C Schonberg writes that, while Strauss was a very fine conductor, he often put scant effort into his recordings.