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 Search Beat > Arts > Music > Styles > Classical Music > Featured Composer > Richard Strauss


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biography

At the start of his long and brilliant career, Strauss (1864-1949) was at the forefront of the musical avant-garde with his thrillingly orchestrated tone poems and operatic portrayals of psychopathology. As the postromantic style he epitomized yielded to new developments, Strauss was later perceived as a conservative throwback, but is now firmly established as one of the century's most significant composers.

Conductor Lorin Maazel on Strauss
On the 50th anniversary of Richard Strauss's death, Lorin Maazel commemorates the composer's achievements

Lorin Maazel is the epitome of the conductor as cultured polymath. In addition to his fluency in several languages and easy familiarity with the world's leading orchestras, Maazel is a published novelist, art collector, and environmental advocate. Just in time for the music world's commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the death of Richard Strauss, Maazel's traversal of the great tone poems has been released in a four-CD box set. And this week you can catch him in a taped telecast of opening night at Carnegie Hall as the first of this season's Great Performances on PBS. Maazel, who will turn 70 in the millennium year, has been touring with the Vienna Philharmonic--both have a long-abiding relationship--to give a series of concerts. Their repertory will feature not only Strauss but a number of orchestral wizards, including one with whom Maazel has closely identified throughout his career, i.e., Gustav Mahler. On the day before those concerts began, Maazel spoke with Amazon.com's Thomas May about the greatness of Strauss and his significance for our century. [read more...]

recommended recordings
R. Strauss: Also Sprach Zarathustra, Don Juan, etc / Karajan
Composer: Richard Strauss
Conductor: Herbert von Karajan
Performer: Michel Schwalbé
Ensemble: Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Uni/Deutsche Grammophon - #47441 / April 9, 1996

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Herbert von Karajan was a Strauss specialist, and if ever composer and conductor were united in musical philosophy, then these two were. Both favored making a beautiful, creamy, homogenized sound over just about all else, and von Karajan clearly relished the opportunities this music offered for playing that combined both tonal opulence and virtuosity. His Zarathustra (a.k.a. 2001: A Space Odyssey) is, along with Fritz Reiner's, probably among the two or three best performances preserved on disc,...Read more


  Strauss: Four last Songs, Arabella, etc / Della Casa, et al
Composer: Richard Strauss
Conductor: Karl Böhm, Rudolf Moralt, et al.
Performer: Lisa Della Casa, Hilde Gueden, et al.
Ensemble: Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Uni/Decca - #467118 / October 10, 2000

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Della Casa's 1953 recording of the Four Last Songs is one of the finest ever made. Her limpid, tranquil tone is beautifully supported by Karl Böhm, who prevents the music from descending into sentimentality. A dry-eyed and dignified account, this recording is a wonderful testament to all those involved. - The Rough Guide

Strauss: Don Quixote; Schumann: Cello Concerto / Rostropovich, Karajan, et al
Composer: Richard Strauss, Robert Schumann
Conductor: Herbert von Karajan, Leonard Bernstein
Performer: Mstislav Rostropovich
Ensemble: Berlin Philharmonic
Emd/Emi Classics - #66965 / March 9, 1999

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Whenever Karajan and Rostropovich teamed up, great things happened. In 1975, they recorded what many still consider the consummate Don Quixote, a richly characterized, brilliantly played account of what is probably Strauss's best tone poem. Rostropovich's command of the solo part is overwhelming, but even more impressive is the imagination he brings to the reading, in particular his identification with the poignant, crazed side of the old knight's character. The Berliners produce a veritable...Read more


Strauss: Salome / Solti, Nilsson, Vienna Philharmonic
Composer: Richard Strauss
Conductor: Sir Georg Solti
Performer: Nigel Douglas, Kurt Equiluz, et al.
Ensemble: Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Uni/London Classics - #14414 / July 7, 1987

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Soprano Birgit Nilsson would not look right in the role of the kittenish, erotically obsessed teenage princess who does her Dance of the Seven Veils for King Herod and demands the head of John the Baptist in payment. For that, you want to see Catherine Malfitano in the video edition issued by Telarc. But no other soprano on record matches Nilsson's vocal power and control in Salome's cruelly demanding music. The role calls for strong characterization as well as glittering high notes, and in...Read more


Strauss: Der Rosenkavalier / Karajan, Schwarzkopf, Edelmann [ORIGINAL RECORDING REMASTERED]
Composer: Richard Strauss
Conductor: Herbert von Karajan
Performer: Otto Edelmann, Christa Ludwig, et al.
Ensemble: Philharmonia Chorus, Philharmonia Orchestra
Emd/Emi Classics - #56242 / September 16, 1997

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An opera that seems to bring the best out of performers, Rosenkavalier inspired these perf ormers to make a recording for the ages. With a superb Ochs and glorious singing from its three leading l adies, and with Herbert von Karajan keeping the Philharmonia on the edge of its seat, this enticing portr ait of love from three angles emerges in all its bittersweet perfection. EMI recorded the opera with sepa rate engineering teams in stereo and mono; this remastering of the stereo version is...Read more


more recommended recordings
·     Opera
·     Orchestral
works & recordings

  • Chamber Music
    Trios, Quartets, Quintets

  • Choral
    Secular and sacred choral music. Oratorios, Masses, Partsongs, Hymns, Carols

  • Instrumental
    Sonatas, Suites, Overtures, Minuets, Variations, Transcriptions, Dance Music

  • Orchestra
    Concertos, Symphonies

  • Theatrical Works
    Ballet, Stage, Incidental Music, Film Scores

  • Vocal and Opera
    Opera, Operetta, Song, Lieder, Musical Theater

Complete List of Works and Recordings

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