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Home : Biography : Historical Figures
BIOGRAPHY : Historical Figures

 

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This paper was written by a graduate student for a music appreciation class. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Richard Strauss
(1864-1949)

Strauss (no relation to the Viennese Waltz family) shone in two major areas: tone poem and opera. Almost single-handedly, he carried the Wagnerian opera tradition and the Romantic Lisztian tone poem into the twentieth century. He is also one of the great composers of Lieder.

 


       Richard Strauss was born in Munich in June, 1864. His father, Franz, was an artist himself and the most highly ranked horn player in Germany.  Richard received a proper music education, based around his father's prejudices. He began his career, with the composition and performance of several symphonic pieces and a few seasons of piano recitals in Berlin.    At the time that his Suite for Winds in B Flat  won the approval of the famous conductor, von Bulow, Strauss made his debut as a conductor with the Munich Symphony Orchestra.
 


               Strauss soon became von Bulow's assistant and ultimately became a skilfull conductor. In 1885, upon von Bulow's resignation, Strauss took charge of the Munich orchestra.  He also continued composing  and in 1889, the performance of the composer's first tone poem, Don Juan , brought him a standing ovation from his audience.  Having found a niche for himself, Strauss continued in the same musical vein with more and more sensational efforts at the symphonic poem: Till Eulenspeigel , Don Quixote , Ein Heldenleben, Sinfonia Domestica, and Eine Alpensinfonia among them.  In 1905, with Salome , Strauss found operatic immortality as the composer of the most scandalously sensational stage production of his era.  Capitalizing on this notariety, Strauss continued new productions of Salome before curious patrons around the globe.

                In 1933, when the Third Reich came to power, authorities found it essential to name Strauss "Reichsmusikkammer," in acknowledgment of his rank as the most important composer in the nation. Completely apolitical, Strauss continued composing to his own purposes, unwittingly offending authorities on regular occasions. His uneasy and apparently useless relationship with the Nazi regime continued for several years. His family eventually lived under house arrest until they managed to emigrate to Switzerland to wait out the last years of the war. Yet, once more, Strauss attracted strong criticism from some who felt he should have utilized his position as "court composer" to protest the Hitler dictatorship.
 

By the time of his death in 1949, Richard Strauss had achieved the strange distinction of living a quiet, remarkably scandal-free life, without the slightest indication of eccentricity; a practical businesslike artist, and a conductor with a nearly emotionless technique.
 

  If you want to read more about his life, check out one of the Biographies below.

 Biographies
 

  • From the Classical Net Web site: A detailed Biography w/recommended recordings (discusses musical influences).
  • From the Arizona Opera Web site: an extensive Biography, including quotes and more background information.
  • From the New York City Opera Web site: another Biography, with more emphasis on opera.
  • From David E. Coy's Web site: a Biography which discusses Nazism and Strauss.
  • From the Phillips Classical Web site: another Biography with a partial Works List.
  • From The Classical Music Pages by Matt Boynick: a Biography -- excerpted from Grove's. (The Topic links are currently empty.)
  • From The Diva Page: another Biography.
  • From The Timid Soul's Guide to Classical Music: an Overview with recommended recordings.
  • From the Grace Notes Web site: a brief item about Strauss' interactions with Allied Soldiers at the end of World War II

 



 

 

 



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