Who Was Richard Strauss?


2014101220150103 (R3)

Richard Strauss's works are staples of both concert hall and opera house, and yet relatively little is known - or discussed - of the man himself. What we do know about Strauss - that he was incredibly astute financially, that his relationship with the Nazis was "complicated", and that his wife Pauline was as assertive and domineering as his mother was not - is a roughly-drawn portrait of the man which was propagated by almost all his contemporaries, and indeed by Strauss himself. A man who strove to control almost obsessively what was known about him, what clichés there are have largely succeeded in deterring scholars from taking more than a passing interest in this most complex of characters.

Drawing extensively on brand new research, Tom Service travels to Switzerland - where Strauss lived from October 1945 for almost four years - in search of the real Richard Strauss, and in the process sheds fascinating new light on some of the composer's later music in particular.

With contributions from leading Strauss authority Michael Kennedy, Professor Chris Walton of Basel University of Music in Switzerland, Jurgen May of the Richard Strauss Institute in Garmisch Partenkirchen, and Gundula Kreuzer of Yale University.

First broadcast 12/10/2014.