Richard Strauss


Born: Jun 11, 1864; Germany   Died: Sep 8, 1949; Germany   Period: 20th Century
Though the long career of Richard Strauss spanned one of the most chaotic periods in political, social, and cultural history of the world, the composer retained his essentially Romantic aesthetic even into the age of television, jet engines, and atom bombs. Born in Munich in 1864, Strauss was the son of Franz Joseph Strauss, the principal hornist in the Munich Court Orchestra. Strauss demonstrated musical aptitude at an early age, and extensive Read more training in piano, violin, theory, harmony, and orchestration equipped him to produce music of extraordinary polish and maturity by the time he reached adulthood. His primary teachers had been his father, who was a musical conservative, and Ludwig Thuille, a Munich School composer and family friend. Strauss' Serenade for 13 Winds, Op. 7 (1881), written when he was 17, led conductor Hans von Bülow to pronounce him "by far the most striking personality since Brahms." Bülow was able to give Strauss his first commission and an assistant conductor position. Through new friendships, Strauss learned to admire the writings of Schopenhauer and Nietzsche and the music of Wagner and Liszt. He embarked on a long career of conducting and composing, which take him all over Europe and the U.S.

From the beginning of Strauss' career as a composer, it was evident that the orchestra was his natural medium. With the composition of the "symphonic fantasy" Aus Italien in 1886, Strauss embarked on a series of works that represents both one of the pivotal phases of his career and a body of music of central importance in the late German Romantic repertoire. Though he did not invent the tone poem per se, he brought it to its pinnacle. In such works as Don Juan (1888-1889), Ein Heldenleben (1897-1898), and Also sprach Zarathustra (1895-1896) -- whose first minute or so, thanks to its use in the film 2001: A Space Odyssey, is the composer's most readily recognizable music -- Strauss displayed his abundant gift for exploiting the coloristic possibilities of the orchestra as a dramatic device like few composers ever had (or have since).

With the arrival of the twentieth century, after becoming conductor at Berlin's Hofoper, Strauss' interest turned more fully to opera, resulting in a body of unforgettable works that have long been fixtures of the repertoire: Salome (1903-1905), Elektra (1906-1908), and Der Rosenkavalier (1909-1910) are just a few of his best-known efforts for the stage. In 1919, Strauss became co-director of the Vienna Staatsoper, but was forced to resign five years later by his partner, Franz Schalk, who resented being left with many of the operational duties while Strauss was frequently away guest conducting or being feted as a great composer. When the political situation in Europe became malignant in the 1930s, profound political naïveté led to Strauss' confused involvement with the Nazi propaganda machine, and the composer eventually alienated both the Nazis and their opponents. With the end of World War II, however, he was permitted to resume his professional life, although it would be a mere echo of his previous fame. He began to have serious health problems, his financial situation had been compromised, and the monuments that embodied great German art for him -- Goethe's Weimar house; the Dresden, Munich, and Vienna opera houses -- had been destroyed. Throughout his last years, works such as the Oboe Concerto (1945) and the gorgeously expressive Four Last Songs (1948) attest to Strauss' unwavering confidence in his singular musical voice.
Read less
Strauss: Salome / Orozco-Estrada, Frankfurt Radio Symphony
Release Date: 11/17/2017   Label: Pentatone  
Catalog: 5186602   Number of Discs: 2
On sale! $33.99
SuperAudio CD: $25.99
In Stock
On sale!   $33.99   SuperAudio CD:  $25.99 Add to Cart

Strauss: Alpine Symphony, Macbeth / Janowski, Pittsburgh SO
Release Date: 07/28/2009   Label: Pentatone  
Catalog: 5186339   Number of Discs: 1
On sale! $19.99
SuperAudio CD: $14.99
In Stock
On sale!   $19.99   SuperAudio CD:  $14.99 Add to Cart

Strauss: Symphonica Domestica & The Times of Day / Janowski
Release Date: 06/09/2015   Label: Pentatone  
Catalog: 5186507   Number of Discs: 1
On sale! $19.99
SuperAudio CD: $14.99
In Stock
On sale!   $19.99   SuperAudio CD:  $14.99 Add to Cart

Strauss: Also sprach Zarathustra - Mahler: Totenfeier / Jurowski, Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin
Release Date: 09/15/2017   Label: Pentatone  
Catalog: 5186597   Number of Discs: 1
On sale! $19.99
SuperAudio CD: $14.99
In Stock
On sale!   $19.99   SuperAudio CD:  $14.99 Add to Cart

R. Strauss: Music For Symphonic Brass / Locke Brass Consort
Release Date: 10/28/1992   Label: Chandos  
Catalog: 8419   Number of Discs: 1
On sale! $18.99
CD: $13.99
In Stock
On sale!   $18.99   CD:  $13.99 Add CD to Cart

Work: Dance of the Seven Veils


About This Work
Richard Strauss' opera Salome stirred wide controversy when it was premiered in 1905, both for the advanced nature of its music and for its decadent story line. Salome's seductive dance was certainly one of the more notorious scenes from this Read more convention-shattering work. In the opera it comes after Salome, stepdaughter of King Herod, is rebuffed by John the Baptist, who is held in the King's dungeons. Angered by the rejection, Salome agrees to dance for Herod on the condition that he grant her wish, which turns out to be the presentation to her of John the Baptist's head on a silver platter. After her dance she is granted her wish, but is later sentenced to death by Herod.

The dance opens in a frenzied mood, the music propelled by anxious drums and tambourine, but the tempo slows quickly and a sinister waltz rhythm is presented. The mood is exotic, the oboe singing Eastern-flavored music, with the strings and tambourine soon joining in to impart a dreamy, yet seductive character. Gradually, the music becomes more animated, more sensual, and more sinister, the whole writhing in a colorful decadence, in a deliciously twisted sense of festivity. The music turns frenzied and utterly fanatical in its driving rhythms as it reaches its powerful climax, after which it relaxes for a brief moment, before rushing toward an ambivalent though colorful ending.

-- Robert Cummings
Read less

Select a specific Conductor, Ensemble or Label or browse recordings by Formats & Featured below

ArkivMusic Recommendation

Formats & Featured

Sign up now for two weeks of free access to the world's best classical music collection. Keep listening for only $0.0/month - thousands of classical albums for the price of one! Learn more about ArkivMusic Streaming
Already a subscriber? Sign In