Of all the works of Richard Strauss, the one that premiered in Dresden on today’s date in 1925 ranks amount the least-known.
For starters, it has an odd title, “Parergon to the Symphonia Domestica.” “Parergon” means “an ornamental accessory or embellishment,” and Strauss meant his new work, written for piano left-hand and orchestra, as a follow-up to his “Symphonia Domestica” tone-poem of 1903 , which depicted one day in the Strauss family household, complete with baby’s bath.
The baby in question was Strauss’s son Franz, who by 1925 was a young man setting up his own household, and recently recovered from a near-fatal case of typhus contracted while on his honeymoon in Egypt. For Strauss, this “Parergon” was a private celebration of his son’s survival.
For Paul Wittgenstein, the wealthy one-handed concert pianist who commissioned the new work, this was one of several he had requested from leading composers of his day, all designed as to showcase his talent. Wittgenstein’s contract with Strauss stipulated that Wittgenstein alone would have exclusive rights to the “Parergon” as long as he wished, and so it wasn’t until 1950 that any other pianist could perform it.
Music Played in Today's Program
Richard Strauss (1864 - 1949)Parergon to the Symphonia Domestica, Op. 73
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