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26 things you may not know about Richard Strauss

Our A-Z of Strauss series takes a closer look at the composer; from the debate over his Nazi sympathies, to his fondness for yodelling.

By Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media)

11 August 2014 at 12.54pm | 2 Comments

To celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of Richard Strauss, last year we published a post a week offering a closer look at the composer and his work.

Our A-Z of Richard Strauss has examined - among other subjects - the debate over his Nazi sympathies, why he relished writing for sopranos but was less than generous to tenors, and the sneaky inclusion of yodelling in his operas. It was written by author and musicologist Gavin Plumley, formerly the blogger behind Entartete Musik.

In case you missed them, here's the series in full:

A is for Pauline de Ahna
Strauss's wife inspired some of the greatest roles he wrote.

B is for Johannes Brahms
The elder composer hugely influenced Strauss, but was critical of his fan's musical style.

C is for Copyright
Strauss was a fierce defender of composers' rights, and wrote a song cycle lampooning the publishing industry.

D is for Dresden
The bombing of his favourite city in World War II left Strauss distraught and inspired one of his greatest final works.

E is for Esel
A donkey ('Esel' in German) was the left-field subject of Strauss's comic final opera, Des Esels Schatten.

F is for Franz Strauss
Richard Strauss's father was a famed horn player who had a tempestuous relationship with Richard Wagner.

G is for Garmisch
The composer created a sanctuary from the outside world high in the Alps.

H is for Hugo von Hofmannsthal
Richard Strauss's long-standing librettist often clashed with the composer, but Strauss revered him nevertheless.

I is for Intermezzo
Strauss's eighth opera explores similar themes to Die Frau ohne Schatten, albeit in a lighter tone.

J is for Ben Jonson
One of the Jacobean playwright's works inspired Strauss's sole collaboration with Stefan Zweig.

K is for Kaiser
Kaiser Wilhelm II nearly banned Strauss's opera Salome, so shocking was its content.

L is for Lieder
Song works book-ended Strauss's career, with his first written aged 6 and his last aged 84.

M is for Munich
The Bavarian capital was Strauss's hometown, and where his grandfather's brewery is still based.

N is for Nazi
Strauss was president of the Nazi's music bureau but to what extent did he support Hitler?

O is for Ovid
The Roman poet's work inspired a number of Strauss's works, including Ariadne auf Naxos.

P is for Lorenzo Da Ponte
The 18th century librettist-turned-New York grocer da Ponte wrote some of Strauss's favourite libretti, and in part inspired Elektra and Die Frau ohne Schatten.

Q is for Querschnitt
With an ever-watching eye on his bank account, Strauss created and released a series of orchestral highlights ('Querschnitt' in German) from his operas.

R is for Alexander Ritter
Without Ritter's radicalizing influence, Strauss would have never written revolutionary works like Salome and Elektra.

S is for Salzburg
Mozart might be the city's most famous son, but Strauss and the Salzburg Festival ensure it remains relevant in today's musical world.

T is for Tenor
The composer was less than generous to opera's traditional heroes in his writing, and couldn't resist mocking Puccini's tenorific tropes.

U is for Unheimlich
So uncanny ('Unheimlich' in German) were Strauss's expressive skills, that he boasted he could even describe a knife and fork in music.

V is for Vienna
Wearied by war, the once glorious imperial hub became home to a broken society during Strauss’s time there.

W is for Waltz
Richard Strauss shared Johann Strauss II's fondness for triple time.

X is for Xylophone
Strauss is often the favourite composer of percussionists, offering plenty of things to hit, chime and ring.

Y is for Yodel
The composer's Alpine home influenced the inclusion of yodelling in two of his works.

Z is for Stefan Zweig
The Austrian author's operatic collaboration with Strauss was one of his final works created in Germany, before fleeing from the Nazis to Brazil.

Ariadne auf Naxos runs 10-16 October 2015. Tickets are still available.

The production is staged with generous philanthropic support from Mrs Aline Foriel-Destezet.

This article has 2 comments

  1. Jonathan Wilson responded on 12 October 2015 at 6:18pm Reply

    The photograph captioned Dresden Bombing , February 1945 shows a USAF B29 Superfortress. These were not used over Europe during WWII, being confined to the Pacific Theatre of war and more likely shows the bombing of a city in Japan.

  2. John D Clough MD responded on 24 April 2018 at 7:06pm Reply

    Although the photograph at the beginning of this article is not attributed, it could have been taken by Berta Himmler, a Munich photographer who visited and photographed Strauss in 1949 around his 85th birthday. It is documented in a letter from Himmler to Irvine H Page MD of Cleveland, OH, dated June 14, 1949.

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