A Resu­mé of the 20th Century – 2000 Back to the Future

Richard Stauss

Born: June 11, 1864, in Munich, Germany Died: September 8, 1949, in Garmisch-Patenkirchen, Germany

For approximately 60 years Richard Strauss was one of the most important figures of European music. His musical education started very early and was supported by his parents. As the first hornist of the Munich Hoforchestra, his father, Franz Strauss, had excellent connections with the music scene. At the age of four he had already learned how to play the piano, with eight he learned how to play the violin, and from 1875 to 1880 he studied composition under Wilhelm Meyer. As second conductor and as conductor of the Meiningen Hofkapelle, Strauss learned the art of orchestra conduction. When Strauss was 20, his compositions were performed by the most famous conductors at that time, Hermann Levi and Hans von Bülow. In 1889 Richard Strauss met Cosima Wagner and worked as a musical assistant for the first time at the Bayreuth Festspiele.

In 1894 in Weimar Strauss celebrated the premier performance of his first opera, Guntram.

Shortly thereafter he returned to the Munich Hoftheater. In 1898 Strauss traveled to Berlin where served as first court conductor. During his stay in Berlin he concentrated on the composition of symphonic poems for opera. Over the following 40 years he composed such famous works as Salome, Elektra, Der Rosenkavalier, Adriadne auf Naxos, Die Frau ohne Schatten and Arabella (all with libretti by the Austrian poet Hugo von Hofmannsthal) as well as Intermezzo and Capriccio. In 1919 Strauss became the head of the Vienna State Opera and, as one of the initiators, conducted at the Salzburg Festspiele in 1922for the first time. Due to his many different other obligations, Strauss resigned as the head of the Vienna State Opera in 1924 to concentrate on composing and appearances as a guest conductor. In 1933 the National Socialist leadership named him president of the newly created Reichsmusikkamer (State Music Chamber). However, he was soon forced to resign his post for collaborating with the Jewish author St. Zweig.

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