The Elektra Sketches
The Richard-Strauss-Archiv in Garmisch houses the largest single collection of Strauss's sketches, some 144 sketchbooks in all. These sketches span approximately from the time of Till Eulenspiegel up until the last year of his life, and they offer the scholar a fascinating cross-section of Strauss's compositional methods. Moreover, they provide an important frame of reference for the Elektra sketches. Regrettably, it is impossible to determine what part of the entire corpus of Strauss sketches the Garmisch collection represents. There might well be just as many, if not more, sketchbooks in private hands, for once a work was completed the sketchbooks were usually of little value to the composer, and he gave them to friends and acquaintances throughout his life. Fortunately some of the sketchbooks that had been in private hands are now in various libraries and archives throughout the world.
Over a decade ago the Garmisch sketchbooks were catalogued, in a rough chronological order, by Franz Trenner.1 Since Strauss dated few of his sketches, Trenner occasionally had to make some arbitrary decisions concerning dating, for many sketchbooks contain material relating to more than one work. Space permitting, Strauss would sometimes fill empty pages of an older sketchbook. One such sketchbook (Tr. 19), for example, contains material as early as Elektra and as late as Die ägyptische Helena. Thus Trenner determined the catalogue order by the date of the earliest musical material. Besides giving a physical description of each sketchbook, he also attempted to compile an inventory____________________