Richard Strauss was at once a celebrated composer and conductor in the concert hall and at the opera house. This week of programmes marking the 150th anniversary of his birth includes some of Strauss's tone poems and concertos, as well as music by two of the other composers he loved and performed the most, Mozart and Wagner. Presented by John Shea.

Strauss: Festmusik der Stadt Wien

Locke Brass consortJames Stobart (conductor)


Strauss (arr. Franz Hasenöhrl): Till Eulenspiegel einmal anders!

Players of the BBC Symphony Orchestra

Wagner: Lohengrin (Prelude to Act I)

BBC Philharmonic

Sir Edward Downes (conductor)

2.35 pm

Mozart: Così fan tutte (Overture)

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra

Stefan Solyom (conductor)

Strauss: Duett-Concertino

Sabine Meyer (clarinet)

Dag Jensen (bassoon)

Gianandrea Noseda (conductor)

3.00 pm

Mozart: Symphony No. 39 in E flat, K. 543

NDR Symphony Orchestra

Thomas Hengelbrock (conductor)

Strauss: Wind Serenade in E flat major, Op.7

Players of the BBC Philharmonic

John Storgårds (conductor)

3.45 pm

Strauss: Don Quixote

Timothy Hugh (cello)

Lawrence Power (viola)

BBC National Orchestra of Wales

François-Xavier Roth (conductor).


Equally celebrated as composer and conductor, Richard Strauss was famous for his interpretations of Wagner and Mozart. Today's programme includes Mozart's Sympnony No. 40, the Prelude and Liebestod from Wagner's Tristan und Isolde, and Strauss's own First Horn Concerto and the most successful of his early tone poems, Tod und Verklärung, recorded last week by Riccardo Chailly and the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra.

Presented by Verity Sharp

Wagner: Prelude and Liebestod (Tristan and Isolde)

BBC Philharmonic

Sir Edward Downes (conductor)

2.20 pm

Richard Strauss: Prelude to Act 1 of Guntram

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra

Jun Markl (conductor)

Richard Strauss: Winterlied; Spielmannsweise; Pfingsten; Kaferlied (7 Lieder for Chorus)

BBC Singers

David Hill (conductor)


Mozart: Symphony No. 40 in G minor, K. 550

NDR Symphony Orchestra

Thomas Hengelbrock (conductor)

Humperdinck: Hänsel und Gretel (Overture)

BBC National Orchestra of Wales

Grant Llewellyn (conductor)


Richard Strauss Horn Concerto No. 1 in E flat major, Op.11

Richard Watkins (horn)

Andrew Grams (conductor)

Richard Strauss: Tod und Verklärung

Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra

Riccardo Chailly (conductor).


John Toal introduces the Ulster Orchestra conducted by Michael Seal, live from Belfast's Ulster Hall. Barry Douglas is the soloist in Richard Strauss's playful Burleske, a piano concerto in all but name, and Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme is a reinvention of French Baroque keyboard pieces made into a ballet by Strauss. Plus, Verity Sharpe presents Strauss's tone poem Macbeth recorded last month in Amsterdam by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, conducted by Andris Nelsons.

Richard Strauss: Burleske

Barry Douglas (piano)


Richard Strauss: Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme

Ulster Orchestra

Michael Seal (conductor)

Richard Strauss: Macbeth

Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra

Andris Nelsons (conductor).

04 LAST20140613

Verity Sharp presents the Oboe Concerto - late, post-War Strauss - and a work from the end of the previous century. In the tone poem Ein Heldenleben (A Hero's Life) Strauss outraged his critics by making himself its hero. Ein Heldenleben was dedicated to the Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam and its conductor Willem Mengelberg. Strauss had been impressed by what was then, and still very much is, one of the world's great orchestras. Today's performance of this orchestral tour de force is played by them and their current Chief Conductor Mariss Jansons, recorded at a special concert celebrating their 125-year anniversary

Plus music from Strauss's conducting repertoire: Mozart's 'Jupiter' Symphony and the Prelude to Act 1 from Wagner's Parsifal.

Wagner: Parsifal (Prelude to Act 1)

BBC Philharmonic

Sir Edward Downes (conductor)

2.15 pm

Strauss: Six songs

Liebeshymnus Op 32 No 3

Die Heiligen drei Konige aus Morgenland Op 56 No 6

Fruhlingsfeier Op 56 No 5

Winterliebe Op 48 No 5

Gesang der Apollopriesterin Op 33 No 2

Zueignung Op 10 No 1

Hillevi Martinpelto (soprano)

John Storgards (conductor)

Mozart: Symphony No. 41 in C, K. 551 (Jupiter)

NDR Symphony Orchestra

Thomas Hengelbrock (conductor)

3.15 pm

Strauss: Oboe Concerto

François Leleux (oboe)

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra

Christoph Koenig (conductor)

3.45 pm

Strauss: Ein Heldenleben

Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra

Mariss Jansons (conductor).

01Early Influences20140609Donald Macleod focuses on figures who played a key role in Richard Strauss's early career.

Donald Macleod introduces important figures who each played a key role in Strauss's burgeoning career as both conductor and composer.

Strauss's father, Franz, exerted a powerful influence over his education and early career. Conductor Hans von Bülow gave Strauss his first conducting post, and the violinist Alexander Ritter was responsible for igniting Strauss's passion for Wagner. However, the most significant figure of all was Strauss's wife, the distinguished soprano Pauline de Ahna, for whom Strauss wrote more than 200 songs over the course of his career.

02Married Bliss?20140610

With songs Strauss wrote for his wife, the first operatic success and Till Eugenspiegel.

Strauss had a rather unconventional relationship with his wife Pauline but theirs was an enduring partnership, sealed right at the start by what would become some of Strauss's best loved songs. Donald Macleod introduces a set of songs Strauss wrote for her as a wedding present, and two works which transformed his career - the ever-popular tone poem about a legendary prankster, and his first operatic success.

03The Perfect Librettist20140611Donald Macleod introduces music from the most important collaboration of Strauss's career.

In the years leading up to the First World War, Strauss was increasingly in demand across Europe, both in and out of the orchestra pit. He now embarked on the most fruitful collaboration of his operatic career with the Austrian poet and dramatist Hugo von Hofmannsthal. Donald Macleod introduces music from two of the operas to come out of that unlikely partnership.

04Inter-war Years20140612Donald Macleod with music from three important Strauss operas written between the wars.

As the Nazi party began to interest itself in the political influence of art and music, Strauss, as Germany's most high profile composer, found himself drawn inexorably into the party's propaganda machine. Donald Macleod introduces music from the inter-war years including six songs written for the soprano Elisabeth Schumann and music from three more important operas, including one which provides a revealing fly-on-the-wall view behind the scenes of the Strausses' marriage.

05 LASTFinal Years20140613Donald Macleod introduces works from Strauss's final years.

After the Second World War, Strauss was under suspicion as a collaborator. During the Allies' investigation, he was persuaded to go into exile in Switzerland and, once there, he and his wife underwent a gruelling, nomadic existence for more than three years. Finally cleared in June 1948, Strauss returned home in the spring of the following year, just months before he died.

Donald Macleod introduces two of Strauss's finest works from those final years - one an overwhelming expression of grief, the other his crowning achievement to a life devoted to the human voice.