Richard Strauss: Autographen, Porträts, Bühnenbilder. Ausstellung Zum 50. Todestag

By McClatchie, Stephen | Notes, December 2004 | Go to article overview

Richard Strauss: Autographen, Porträts, Bühnenbilder. Ausstellung Zum 50. Todestag


McClatchie, Stephen, Notes


Richard Strauss: Autographen, Porträts, Bühnenbilder. Ausstellung zum 50. Todestag. Edited by Hartmut Schaefer. In Zusammenarbeit mit: Richard-Strauss-Archiv, Garmisch; Theaterwissenschaftliche Sammlung, Universität zu Köln; Deutsches Theatermuseum, München. Munich: Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, 1999. [336 p. ISBN 3-9802700-4-1. euro34.] Illustrations, color plates, bibliography, index.

In the five years that it has taken for this marvelous catalog prepared for the fiftieth anniversary of Richard Strauss's death to reach North American shores, we have arrived at the 140th anniversary of his birth. The exhibition of Strauss holographs (manuscripts, letters), portraits, production materials, and other primary sources documented in this catalog opened at the Bayerisches Staatsbibliothek on 8 September 1999, fifty years to the day after his death. The Bayerisches Staatsbibliothek has long been a collector of Straussiana and currently holds sixty-four music autographs, around two thousand autograph letters and other documents, and many first-edition prints of Strauss's works. For this exhibition, its own collection was augmented by materials loaned by the Richard-Strauss-Archiv in Garmisch. Understandably, there is a certain Munich-centeredness to the catalog, with an essay on the premieres and first performances of Strauss's operas in Munich and documentation of Strauss's concerts in the city between 1894 and 1932, not to mention that section of the exhibition itself devoted to his two periods as a conductor at the Munich Court Opera (1886-89 and 1894-98).

The catalog is in two parts: the catalog proper and an introduction consisting of six scholarly essays on aspects of the exhibition. Color facsimiles and halftones are lavishly spread throughout the entire work. In general, the former are reseived for sketch or other autograph material, portraits, and stage or costume designs, with photographs of people and productions reproduced in halftone. Two appendices (a discography of Strauss as a conductor of his own works and a list of Munich premieres and performances during Strauss's lifetime), a bibliography, and an index of proper names conclude the work.

There were 642 items in the exhibition. In the catalog, each item is given a detailed description (physical description, library sigla, provenance, etc.), written by Schaefer with the assistance of Sigrid von Moisy, Monika Holl, Roswitha Schlötterer-Traimer, and Reinhold Schlötterer (the latter two also helped choose the items to be displayed). The catalog, and one assumes the exhibition itself, is divided into ten principal sections: biography; original portraits; operas; early works; apprentice works; choral works and melodramas; lieder; tone poems; late works; and Strauss's activity as a conductor at the Munich Court Opera. Each is prefaced by a longer introduction to the general topic. The largest sections, logically, are those devoted to the operas, Strauss's biography, and the tone poems. The biographical section is particularly interesting, as it includes some excurses on areas such as Strauss's relationship with Bayreuth and the Wagner family, his service to the profession through his work to ensure copyright protections for composers, and his leadership in the Allgemeine Deutsche Musikverein. Each of Strauss's operas is discussed, but those works for which the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek owns considerable material (e.g., Guntram, Elektra, Der Rosenhavalier, Arabella, Daphne, and Die liebe der Danae) are treated more exhaustively than those for which it does not (e.g. Feuersnot). In fact, the only noticeable gap in the exhibition's coverage of Strauss's works in general is a lack of discussion of the Alpensinjonie. and the Sinfonia domestica.

Throughout the catalog, the annotation is exemplary. Many of the item descriptions are supplemented by excerpts from primary source material such as letters or memoirs, often published for the first lime. …

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