Richard Strauss 150


Richard Strauss

Richard Strauss, in a portrait by Max Lieberman (via Wikimedia Commons)

June 11th marked the sesquicentennial of composer Richard Strauss. Born in Munich in 1864, he lived through some of the most tumultuous and transformative times the world has ever seen before dying at the age of 85 in 1949.

His music was a driving force in challenging the aesthetic status quo. He expanded the narrative possibilities of orchestral music through tone poems, explored the darkest corners of the human condition through operas, and pushed to an extreme the limits of virtuosity among instrumentalists and singers alike.

Strauss's music continues to be a powerful force on concert stages, as you'll hear in the exclusive performances below from WCRB. Presented in chronological order by date of premiere, they represent a trajectory from precocious teenager to provocative and daring voice of a epoch.



David Deveau(credit: Paul Carey Goldberg/RCMF)

1885: Piano Quartet in C minor, Op. 13


Download one of Strauss's earliest published works, performed by  pianist David Deveau, violinist Irina Muresanu, violist Yinzi Kong, and cellist Emmanuel Feldman.

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Hugh Wolff(credit: Frank Hülsbröhmer)

1889: Don Juan


Hear the groundbreaking first pure tone poem by Strauss in a concert performance by the New England Conservatory Philharmonia and conductor Hugh Wolff, presented alongside Mahler's Symphony No. 1, which premiered the same year as Don Juan, in concert at Jordan Hall in Boston.

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Tanglewood(credit: John Ferrillo/BSO)

1890: Death and Transfiguration


As Strauss's language and impulses began to take a mature form, he tapped a transcendental, spiritual vein within himself to produce a work that went far beyond the story-telling of Don Juan two years earlier, producing a mysticism expressed by the Boston Symphony Orchestra and conductor Stéphane Denève at Tanglewood in 2013.

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Stephane Deneve(credit: Drew Farrell/RSNO)

1897-98: Ein Heldenleben


Stéphane Denève conducts the Boston Symphony Orchestra, with Concertmaster Malcolm Lowe, in the pinnacle of Strauss's tone poem composition, A Hero's Life, in concert at Symphony Hall in Boston.

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Andris Nelsons
(credit: Marco Borggreve/BSO)
1903-05: Salome


Boston Symphony Music Director Designate Andris Nelsons leads the BSO in a concert performance of the disturbing and brilliant opera Salome, with soprano Gun-Brit Barkman in the title role, mezzo-soprano Jane Henschel as Herodias, tenor Gerhard Siegel as Herod, and baritone Evgeny Nikitin as Jochanaan, in concert at Symphony Hall in Boston.

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