Richard Strauss (1864-1949)

Episodes

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01A Star In The Ascendant20180226

In 1894, aged 30, German composer and conductor Richard Strauss embarked on his most important conducting job to date, at the Munich Opera House. That year he reinforced his standing in the concert hall with another brilliantly colourful tone poem and married his soulmate and muse, Pauline de Ahna. But he was keen to establish himself on the operatic stage, too, and after the poor reception of his first two operas came Salome. It nearly caused a riot amongst the performers and Strauss was accused of sensationalism by his critics, but it was an instant success and immediately in demand from opera houses all over Europe.
Presented by Donald Macleod.

Morgen!, Op 27 No 4
Kiera Duffy (soprano)
Roger Vignoles (piano)

Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche
Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra
Conductor, Manfred Honeck

Wiegenlied, Op 41 No 1
Christine Brewer (soprano)
Roger Vignoles (piano)

Salome (excerpts)
Salome....Christine Brewer (soprano)
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
Conductor, Donald Runnicles.

0220180227

As General Director of the Berlin Court Opera and conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic, Strauss was, by 1908, Germany's most powerful musician. With his next opera began one of the greatest partnerships between composer and librettist in operatic history, but also one of the most problematic. His second collaboration with the writer Hugo von Hofmannsthal produced Der Rosenkavalier which was a tremendous success when it was premiered in 1911. The next, with Molière's play Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme as its inspiration, was fraught with difficulty and required several reinventions before it gained the popularity it would eventually achieve. Presented by Donald Macleod.

Mit deinem blauen Augen, Op 56 No 4
Christopher Maltman (baritone)
Roger Vignoles (piano)

Der Rosenkavalier (excerpt)
Marschallin....Kiri Te Kanawa (soprano)
Octavian....Anne Sofie von Otter (mezzo)
Sophie....Barbara Hendricks (soprano)
Staatskappelle Dresden
Conductor, Bernard Haitink

Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme (excerpt)
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Conductor, Simon Rattle

Ariadne auf Naxos (excerpt)
Composer....Anne Sofie von Otter (mezzo)
Zerbinetta....Natalie Dessay (soprano)
Prima Donna....Deborah Voigt (soprano)
Music Master....Albert Dohmen (baritone)
Dancing Master....Michael Howard (tenor)
Staatskapelle Dresden
Conductor, Giuseppe Sinopoli.

03World War One And Its Aftermath20180228

Life carried on pretty much as normal for Strauss during the war. His strenuous conducting schedule continued at the Berlin Court Opera and he undertook punishing conducting tours. He met the soprano Elisabeth Schumann during his travels. Her voice inspired Strauss to write his first songs in 12 years, including three which trace Ophelia's descent into madness. After the war, life at the Berlin Opera House became untenable and he took on the co-directorship of the Vienna Opera, a move not without its own challenges. There, Strauss's opera Die Frau ohne Schatten received a lukewarm reception at its premiere. A few years later came his next opera, which featured the composer and his wife as the main characters and a farcical case of mistaken identity in his personal life.
Presented by Donald Macleod.

Amor (Brentano Lieder, Op 68)
Kiera Duffy (soprano)
Roger Vignoles (piano)

Die Frau ohne Schatten (excerpt)
Empress....Julia Varady (soprano)
Nurse....Reinhild Runkel (contralto)
Dyer's Wife....Hildegard Behrens (soprano)
Barak....José van Dam (baritone)
Vienna State Opera Chorus and Children's Choir
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Conductor, Sir Georg Solti

Ophelia Lieder, Op 67
Christiane Karg (soprano)
Malcolm Martineau (piano)

Four Symphonic Interludes from 'Intermezzo'
Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra
Conductor, Franz Welser-Möst.

04The Third Reich20180301

Soon after Hitler became Chancellor of Germany, he wasted no time in setting up the Reich's Culture Chamber, of which Strauss was invited to take on the role of president of the music section. Strauss believed he could improve the country's musical affairs through his official position but his close association with the Nazi regime would ultimately prove to be both a blessing and a curse. When Strauss wrote an ill-advised letter to his new librettist, the Jewish writer Stefan Zweig, criticising the regime, it was intercepted by the Gestapo and Strauss was ordered to resign from his official position less than two years after taking on the role. Presented by Donald Macleod.

Das Bächlein, Op 88 No 1
Diana Damrau
Munich Philharmonic
Conductor, Christian Thielemann

Schlagobers Waltz (excerpt)
Detroit Symphony Orchestra
Conductor, Neeme Järvi

Arabella (excerpt)
Arabella....Jane Eaglen (soprano)
Israel Philharmonic Orchestra
Conductor, Zubin Mehta

Die Göttin im Putzzimmer
Danish National Radio Chamber Choir
Conductor, Stefan Parkman

Daphne (excerpt)
Daphne....Renée Fleming (soprano)
Apollo....Johan Botha (tenor)
Cologne Radio Symphony Orchestra
Conductor, Semyon Bychkov.

05Final Decade20180302

Richard Strauss was 75 when war was declared in September 1939. The years leading up to his death, a decade later, would be some of the most challenging of his life.
Strauss's son had married into a Jewish family and when persecution of the Jews began in earnest, Strauss and his family were ostracized. Ironically his association with a senior Nazi official helped keep his immediate family safe.
After his last completed opera, Capriccio, Strauss turned away from the stage to write a series of orchestral pieces. During his final years he produced some of his most intensely felt music. Metamorphosen is a profound lament prompted by the destruction of Munich and Dresden, and his Four Last Songs are as much a tribute to his relationship with his wife as they are a farewell to life itself.
Presented by Donald Macleod.

Capriccio - final aria, 'Kein andres, das mir so im Herzen loht'
Countess....Elizabeth Schwarzkopf (soprano)
Major-domo....Karl Schmitt-Walter (baritone)
Philharmonia Orchestra
Conductor Raphael Sawallisch

Horn Concerto No 2 (final mvt)
David Pyatt (horn)
Britten Sinfonia
Conductor, Nicholas Cleobury

Metamorphosen
Leipzig String Quartet
Hartmut Rohde (viola)
Michael Sanderling (cello)
Christian Ockert (bass)

Beim Schlafengehen (Four Last Songs)
Soile Isokoski (soprano)
Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra
Conductor, Marek Janowski.