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Richard Strauss – one of the greatest melodists of the last century

Richard Strauss in 1923. Source www.richardstrauss.at
Richard Strauss in 1923. Source www.richardstrauss.at

Richard Georg Strauss is a German composer of the late 19th and first half of the 20th century, celebrated for his orchestral program music (which he himself called “Tondichtung”, e.g. “tone poems”) and songs (“Lieder”). His mother was the grand-daughter of Joseph Pschorr, the founder of the famous Hacker-Pschorr brewery, which is still in business today.

Born in 1864 to a musicians’ family, Richard Strauss started composing his first pieces at age 6. Early on, he is influenced by Richard Wagner, whose musical heir critics nowadays consider him to be. Further influences include Schumann, Brahms and Liszt: he adopted the latter’s concept for symphonic works, “in which the poetic idea also becomes the main musical element”.

With his operas Salome and Elektra, and with his tone poem Alpensinfonie, Richard Strauss enjoyed tremendous success throughout the world as an opera composer and melodist. Lovers just as much as haters consider his composing to be the epitome of modern opera music. To this day, almost all of his pieces have been successful – among the most well-known are the tone poem Thus spoke Zarathustra and the opera The Knight Of The Rose.

Strauss was also an outstanding director and theater manager, from Munich to Weimar, Berlin, Vienna and Salzburg. In 1920, he co-founded the nowadays world-famous Salzburg Festival. He composed until a very old age and died in 1949, 85 years old, in his villa in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, where the Richard-Strauss-Institut still honours him.

Source & more info: www.richardstrauss.at