Editor's Preface

This series provides a number of monographs, each dealing with a single work by an important composer. The main focus of each book is on the compositional process by which the work developed from antecedent stages, so far as these can be determined from the sources. In each case the genesis of the work is connected to an analytical overview of the final version. Each monograph is written by a specialist, and, apart from the general theme of the series, no artificial uniformity is imposed. The individual character of both work and evidence, as well as the author's special critical viewpoint, dictates differences in emphasis and treatment. Thus some studies may stress a combination of sketch evidence and analysis, while others may shift the emphasis to the position of the work within its genre and context. Although no such series could possibly aim at being comprehensive, it will deal with a representative body of important works by composers of stature across the centuries.

By common consent Elektra ( 1909) is the most powerful and original Of Richard Strauss stage works, not excluding Salome ( 1905) and Der Rosenkavalier ( 1911) nor any of his later operas. Quite apart from its extravagance of subject and treatment, Elektra is one of the seminal works of twentieth-century opera. For years anyone interested in its background could turn to general works on Strauss; to his marvellous correspondence with Hugo von Hofmannsthal (on whose play of 1903 the opera was based); and to broadbased studies of German opera after Wagner. Now for the first time Bryan Gilliam carefully documents the essential context and development of the work. He establishes its place in the post-Wagnerian mainstream; its focus on demonic themes of domestic violence and psychological

-vii-

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