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Introduction To The Composer | Richard Strauss

Richard Strauss was born on June 11th, 1864 in Munich, Germany to a principle horn player in the Munich court Orchestra.  

As a child, he studied violin and piano and composed his first piece at the age of 6.

His career began to blossom after his composition “Serenade” was performed by members of the Meiningen Orchestra in 1882. Its conductor Hans von Bulow took notice and appointed Strauss as his assistant in 1885. Strauss went on to replace him as conductor a month later. From then on, his career would be divided between conducting and composing until his death.  

Strauss composed several tone poems after being made chief conductor of the Royal Opera in Berlin including “Macbeth”, “Don Juan”, and “Don Quixote”.

After marrying opera soprano Pauline de Ahna, Strauss began composing operas. “Salome”, based on a play by Oscar Wilde, and “Elektra”, based on the drama by Sophocles, were among his most famous.  

The political climate was tumultuous during Strauss’s rise to fame, and his naivety led to his exploitation by the Nazi regime. He was appointed president of the Nazi Reichsmusikkammer, a position which he held for two years until it was discovered that his daughter-in-law was jewish.

He moved to Vienna during the war, and later to Switzerland, where he was investigated by the denazification tribunal and cleared of all Nazi affiliations.

His last work, “Four Last Songs”, was written for voice and orchestra in 1948.

Richard Strauss died in 1949 in Garmisch, Germany at the age of 85.

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