Richard Strauss

Richard Strauss

Richard Strauss

Richard Strauss

Synopsis

Celebrating its 100th anniversary, this extraordinary series continues to amaze and captivate its readers with detailed insight into the lives and work of music's geniuses. Unlike other composer biographies that focus narrowly on the music, this series explores the personal history of each composer and the social context surrounding the music. In a precise, engaging, and authoritative manner, each volume combines a vivid portrait of the master musicians' inspirations, influences, life experiences, even their weaknesses, with an accessible discussion of their work-all in roughly 300 pages. Further, each volume offers superb reference material, including a detailed life and times chronology, a complete list of works, a personalia glossary highlighting the important people in the composer's life, and a select bibliography. Under the supervision of music expert and series general editor Stanley Sadie, Master Musicians will certainly proceed to delight music scholars, serious musicians, and all music lovers for another hundred years. Extensively revised, this well-received account of Richard Strauss's life and music enters its second edition. The life was rich in controversy, from the `outrage' caused by operas Salome and Elektra to the years under the Nazi regime. In his survey of the music, rejecting the generally accepted view that Strauss's genius declined in his middle years, Michael Kennedy traces refinements of style from the early 1920s to Strauss's late works.

Excerpt

Richard Strauss's music is more popular with the public than it has ever been, but it still divides critical opinion into friendly and hostile camps. It always will; it is that kind of music. You can take it or leave it, but if you leave it you will miss a great deal of pleasure. Strauss himself summed it up in his reply to a young man who confessed that, try as he might, he could not bring himself to like Der Rosenkavalier. 'What a shame for you', said Strauss. Now that Elgar and Mahler have been rehabilitated, Richard Strauss remains the most misunderstood and misrepresented great composer of the last hundred years, Schoenberg included.

Nobody writing about Strauss in English can fail to acknowledge the debt owed to Norman Del Mar's masterly three-volume survey of the works and to William Mann's critical study of the operas. They were able to go into detail inappropriate to this series, and I unreservedly recommend readers who seek more information on the works to consult these fine books. Certain of Strauss's works which Norman Del Mar and William Mann felt unsure about I happen to admire, so I have allowed my enthusiasm to rise above the 'received opinions'.

Strauss the man is equally controversial. He was the subject, or object, of a grossly distorted television film by Ken Russell, and he has been pilloried in a book by George R. Marek because he did not involve himself in the realms of higher statesmanship during two world wars. The facts speak for themselves, and I have tried to present these facts without bias so that Strauss's position may be judged fairly.

In assembling illustrations for the first edition I was aided by Boosey & Hawkes, the Mansell Collection, the Radio Times Hulton Picture Library, the late Dr Franz Strauss and the Richard Strauss Archive at Garmisch.

I gratefully acknowledge permission to reprint extracts from Strauss's correspondence with Hofmannsthal, thanks to the courtesy of William Collins . . .

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