Composers Datebook®

with host John Birge

Saturday, March 30

Symphonies by Strauss

Synopsis

By the time of his death in 1949, the German composer Richard Strauss was famous worldwide as the composer of operas like “Der Rosenkavalier” and tone-poems like Don Juan and “Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks.” These operas and tone-poems are so famous, we tend to forget that Strauss also composed symphonies—two of them, both written when the young composer was just starting out.

Strauss’s Symphony No. 1 in d-minor, for example, was premiered in his home town of Munich on today’s date in 1881, when the composer was just 16. That performance was given by an amateur orchestra, but was conducted by one of the leading German conductors of that day, Hermann Levi, who would lead the premiere of Wagner’s “Parsifal” the following year. Another eminent Wagnerian conductor, Hans von Bulow, subsequently took up the teenager’s symphony, and also commissioned him to write a Suite for Winds. In short order, the young composer also dashed off a violin concerto, a cello sonata, and a horn concerto for his father, Franz Strauss, a famous virtuoso on that instrument.

The American conductor Theodore Thomas was an old friend of Franz Strauss, and while in Europe during the summer of 1884, Thomas looked over the score for the younger Strauss’s Second Symphony, and immediately arranged for its premiere in New York City the following winter.

Music Played in Today's Program

Richard Strauss (1864 - 1949) Symphony in d Bavarian Radio Symphony; Karl Anton Rickenbacker, cond. Koch/Schwann 365 322

Additional Information

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