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All right* reserved 
Published October, 1917 

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Set up and elcctrotyped by J. S. Gushing Co., Norwood, M*., X7.5.A. 
Presswork by S. J. Parkhili & Co., Boston, M*w. t U.S.A. 











By Percy Grainger xvii 
































XH WANTED: A SONG ...... 69 





































































GEBMAN ..,..,. S17 

ENGLISH ,*...*. 820 



VICTOE HUGO was characterized by Matthew Arnold 
as "half genius, half charlatan/' Other writers have 
bluntly maintained that no genius, however great, 
can get along in this world unless he has in his make-up 
a trace of the charlatan. 

More than a trace may undoubtedly be found in 
Richard Strauss, who, for more than a quarter of a 
century, has been the most prominent composer in the 
world. While thousands have lauded him to the skies 
as a towering genius and a reformer who has created a 
new era in music, other thousands have allowed him 
little more than technical cleverness and denounced 
him as one who is leading music into miasmatic quag- 
mires of cacophony and perplexing contrapuntal com- 
plications. Nay, he himself is sinking in this quag- 
mire, we are told. "His phenomenal technic is his 
worst enemy/' 

Professor Hugo Riemann, the eminent historian and 
lexicographer, declares that Strauss's "last works have 
more and more estranged his friends* Only too clearly 
these works reveal his determination hostile to all 
serious art to make a sensation at all costs* More 
and more does his fame appear as a Colossus with feet 
of clay/' 

On the other hand, tjie eminent French author, 
Romain Rolland, maintains that "with all his faults, 
which are enormous, Strauss is unique, because of his 
great verve, his unceasing spontaneity, his privilege 


of remaining young in the midst of German art w iich 
is aging ; and his science and art increase every da, ." 

Strauss is "one of those without whom we <tam no 
longer imagine our spiritual life/' says Richard Specht, 
the eminent German critic. His "versatility is so 
great that each of his successive works shows him in a 
new light"; and "his technic is steadily becoming 
more complicated yet at the same time clearer, freer, 
more transparent." In his songs as in his orchestral 
works he voices the spirit of the time. Concerning his 
grandiose, revolutionary songs of the laboring man and 
stone breaker (Arbeitsmann and Steinkhpfer), this 
critic declares that "one fancies, on hearing these 
grim,, defiant sounds of wretchedness and want, that a 
horde of laboring men comes marching along singing a 
Marseillaise of to-morrow." 

"With regard to Strauss, I have not yet heard any- 
thing of his which seems to be the utterance of a great 
genius/' writes one eminent English critics E. A* 
Baughan, although he calls him " the Turner of com- 
posers/' and declares he "has the heart and mind of 
a poet a sort of musical Shelley " ; while according to 
another, Ernest Newman, he is "an epoch-making man 
not only in virtue of his expression and his technique, 
but in virtue of the range and the quality of his sub- 
jects. He is the first realist in music/* "He has 
done for programme music what Wagner did for the 

A third English writer, R, A. Streatfoikl, finds that 
"Strauss has something of Mozart's wise sad humanity, 
something of that half-playful yet infinitely tender 
sympathy for the joys and sorrows of mankind which 
touches at the same moment the springs of laughter 
and of tears." Quot homines tot sentential 


George Bernard Shaw, who was a musical critic be- 
fore he became the Richard Strauss of the theater, 
hurls his anathemas at those who do not share his 
views. When Elektra was produced in London, he 
called it "a historic moment in the history of art in 
England, such as may not occur again in our life-time" ; 
and he went on to say that journalism which refers to 
such a great work of art as this Strauss opera as 
"abominable ugliness and noise" is "an intolerable 
thing, an exploded thing, a foolish thing, a parochial 
boorish thing, a thing that should be dropped by all 
good critics and discouraged by all good editors as bad 
form, bad manners, bad sense, bad journalism, bad 
politics, bad religion." 

James Huneker, the Richard Strauss among musical 
journalists, has written many glowing eulogies of his 
Doppelganger, many brilliantly orchestrated rhapsodies. 
He also remarked, in 1912 : "He is easily the foremost 
of living composers, and after he is dead, the whirl- 
igig of fortune which has hitherto favored him may 
pronounce him dead forever." 

What does Strauss himself think of his chances for 
immortality ? 

He has written on this subject with becoming 
modesty and seeming indifference in an introduction 
contributed by him to a collection of musical criticisms 
by Doctor Leopold Schmidt entitled " Aus dem Musik- 
leben der Gegenwart." 

When asked to write this introduction, it seemed to 
him as funny as if he had invited Doctor Schmidt to 
write an overture for EleJctra; but he consented. An 
extract from this document, relating to the value of 
hostile criticism, will be printed later in this volume* 
Pertinent to the present subject is the final paragraph, 


in which he remarks that if his compositions are good, 
or mark a new phase in musical progress, they will be 
honorably mentioned in histories of music which 
nobody will read! "But if they are of no value the 
most enthusiastic eulogists will not be able to keep 
them alive. The paper mills may grind them into 
pulp, as they have done many other publications (and 
will do so whether or no I agree to it), ftnd I I shall 
not shed tears over them. My son will in filial affection 
take out my personal copies once in u while and play 
them over in a version for the pianoforte. Then that 
too will stop and the world will go on revolving on its 


Whatever one may think about Strauss as being more 
genius or more charlatan, it cannot be denied that he 
is an extremely interesting character, fascinating to 
read and write about, I have had no end of fun writing 
this book, and I have tried to make it readable from 
cover to cover as well as useful for reference. The 
story of Strauss's life is more interesting than that of 
most musicians, and his works call for comment from 
so many different points of view that it is difficult to 
be dull in writing about them (what an excellent chance 
I am giving a hostile reviewer to say that I have 
succeeded nevertheless!). Technical terms have been 
avoided as far as possible, and where they could not be 
avoided I have tried to explain them sufficiently for 
the general reader. 

In view of the great prominence of Strauss, it is 
singular that so few books have been written about 
him. While the number of articles about him and his 
works that have been printed in newspapers and period- 
icals is legion, there are only three or four volumes 
about him in German (only one of which is of great 


value : see the Bibliography at the end of this volume) ; 
in French there is none; in English only one, Ernest 
Newman's little book of one hundred and forty-four 
pages, excellent as far as it goes but bringing the subject 
no farther than Salome; nor does it describe the tone 
poems, but simply comments on them briefly. 

Under these circumstances no apology is needed for 
this volume. It contains, besides the story of Strauss's 
life and a number of reliable anecdotes, an attempt to 
determine his place in the history of music, besides a 
full description, with comments, of his more important 
compositions including all the tone poems and operas 
which were launched with such sensational success. 

The best thing in this volume is, no doubt, the 
following, "Appreciation", written for it by Percy 
Grainger, who has not only done for English folk- 
music what Grieg did for Norwegian, but who, like 
Grieg, is also doing "futuristic" work in the best sense 
of that debatable word. 

NEW YORK, April SO, 1917. 


AMONG the great composers of our era, Richard 
Strauss seems to me to stand forth as a type of the 
gemiltlich family man in music ; normal, kindly, well- 
balanced ; a genius by reason of attributes of the soul 
and heart rather than of the head ; a seer rather than 
a pure artist, an emotionalist rather than a crafts- 
man; above all an inveterate idealist, seeking always 
heroic nobility and spiritual exaltation, and able to 
find them in what may seem unexpected places and 

The generous magnitude of his soul leads him to 
desire to inclose and depict, as far as possible, all 
phases of existence, not only those universally con- 
sidered worthy of artistic presentation, but also many 
that appear merely gruesome, sordid, and "unpleasant" 
to a less cosmic vision than his own. 

I see permeating his music (the songs no less than 
the tone poems and operas) a humane! soul over- 
flowing with the milk of human kindness, a lacka- 
daisically robust personality replete with tender affec- 
tionateness and fatherly insight 

Wondrously Bavarian, is he not perhaps the most 
supremely gemiltlick of all composers, past and present ? 

Brusque and roughshod on the surface at times ; care- 
less, uncritical, and unfastidious at all times; not, 
perhaps, a craftsman of the highest degree: but a 
man, a human being of the great order, supremely 


possessed of the ability to soar above the petty affairs 
of everyday existence into the eternal realms of cosmic 
contemplation and religions ee.stasy. 

No doubt he has an almost childish weakness for 
tinsel and tricks, and is no esehewer of Montis, turmoils, 
and the vagaries of passion. 

But it seems to me that it is essentially a,s a portrayer 
of "the calm that follows the storm", a> u prophet of 
eternal values, that Strauss reigns Mtpreme among 
contemporaneous composers* He loves to render the 
human soul ensconced in the serenity of philosophic 
calm> looking hack over the struggles of life or across 
the strokes of fate in a mood of benign forgiveness and 

Battles and the myriad manifestations of energy 
merely serve to usher in this final state of lofty repose, 
out of which Strauss himself seems to speak in the 
telling accents of the first person singular* 

This Nirvana* Hherally tinged* it is true, with the 
aforesaid typical South German griHtitluitkrit, is the 
very essence of the composer's own lovable tempera- 
ment, and it is to this gold, therefore, that he loves to 
lead his heroes toilsomely, precariously, outrageously, 
but inevitably* 

It is hard to conceive of any other composer possess- 
ing to a greater degree the peculiar qualities that go 
to make for a perfect exposition of this particular soul- 

Constraining considerations of ** style** (xuch an in- 
close a Debussy, a Ravel, a Cyril Scott , within the 
narrow bonds of exquisite choice) exist no more for 
Strauss than for Frederick Delius. Uncritical and un~ 
selfconscious in the extreme, and chastened by no 
strict standards of artistic morality, Strauss is sin- 


gularly able to give Ids inner nature free rein in an 
ingenious musical language of sweeping breadth. 
Somewhat commonplace, somewhat sentimental phrases 
flow forth with a ring of perfect truth and conviction 
(for they are really typical of the man), and are handled 
with a sense of bigness that always seems inspirational 
rather than premeditated. The greater the moment, 
the more truly does Strauss appear to be himself, 
and himself only. 

His inherent propensity for rising above all worldly 
deterrents to final glory is shown no less strikingly in 
the last act of Salome than it is in the trio in Rosen- 
Jcavalier, or in the great spiritual climaxes of Tod und 
Verklarung, Ein Heldenleben, Also Sprach Zarathustra, 
Don Quixote, and The Legend of Joseph, though it is 
shown in a different way. Here, again, we note 
Strauss's idealism. Salome might have been many 
things in many men's hands. Through Strauss's 
vision, we see the purifying white heat of self-effacing 
passion resulting in a rapt trance of world-forgetting 
ecstasy, in which are drowned all puny personal con- 
siderations of life. 

This sublime tragedy of the senses seems to have 
awakened in Strauss's philosophic intuitions the same 
universally religious note that it equally would in the 
mind of an Oriental mystic, and were Salome's swan 
song put before us as religious music, I feel sure it 
would not seem to us incongruous in that character, 
so noble, so cosmically devout is its whole tenor. 

No less perfect than Strauss's exponence of the 
calmly sublime appears to me his ability to voice a 
certain warm and gentle phase of modern affection: 
a comradely emotionalism well watered with senti- 
ment but deliciously free from mawkishness. We 


find lovely instances of what I mean in his song Mit 
deinen blauen Augen, in the ingratiating ariette Du, 
Venus 9 Sohn, gibst siissen Lokn, in Der Burger als 
EdelmanUy in the breakfast scene in the first act of 
Rosenkavalier, and in the entrancing final duet of the 
same opera. 

It is us if the whole world melts in a motherly mood 
of gentle lovingkindness and graceful generosity. 

It seems to me that in estimating Strauss, too little 
is usually said of the balmy, sentimental, affectionate, 
and idealistic side of his nature, while an altogether 
disproportionate emphasis is laid upon his "diabolical 
cleverness" as a technician, the daring of his originality, 
his skill as an orchestrator, and his wizardry as a de- 
scriptive programist. 

In all modesty I must confess that it is not where 
technical deftness or abstract musical mastery is con- 
cerned that I find Strauss preeminent. 

Strauss is not an intrinsically exquisite composer 
like Delius, the complex beauties of whose scores 
baffle full realization at first acquaintance, but which 
yield up new and ever new secrets of delicate intimacy 
at each fresh hearing. 

Nor is Strauss a born innovator like Debussy, chang- 
ing the face of contemporaneous music with one sweep, 
nor a prolific iconoclast like Cyril Scott, Scriabin or 
Stravinsky, bringing new impulses and interests to 
the brotherhood of fellow composers by a thousand 
versatile experiments. 

Strauss is no dream-inspired colorist like Debussy 
or Ravel, weaving round his musical ideas veil upon 
veil of subtle tonal enchantment. Though capable of 
wonderful momentary inspirations as a colorist, I cannot 
deny that his average orchestration seems to me afflicted 


with a certain dull, flat, stodgy quality that for want 
of a better term, I venture to call "middle class/* 
Practical it is, and safe ; it never sounds thin ; but it is 
often "muddy" in the extreme, and though it covers 
large surfaces with a magnificent stride, it does so at 
the expense of charm of detail, and evinces but little 
sensitiveness with regard to the harmonious balance 
of sound proportions. 

Nevertheless Strauss's every score is lit up by occa- 
sional flashes of orchestral imaginativeness of a tran- 
scendingly original quality, and the more daring these 
moments are the more they emerge from the pure 
flame of Strauss's own whimsical imagination rather 
than from the nucleus of previous orchestral experiences 
the more bewitchingly lovely they are. 

Is this not yet another proof of the inborn effortless 
greatness of the man: a token that his genuis is, at 
its best, at least, of the purely inspirational order; 
not a built-up laborious product, sullied with "clever- 
ness" and trickery, but a spirit utterance, welling forth 
in native and inconsidered purity from the soul within ? 

The imitations of sheep-bleatings in Don Quixote, 
appeal to most people's sense of the comical for non- 
musical reasons, no doubt. But let us set these con- 
siderations aside for a moment and listen to the orches- 
tral bleatings as pure sound ; and I ask : Is not this 
one of the most soothing, mesmeric, opalescent acous- 
tical achievements in musical history ? 

Here again we see the soaring idealist, the inveterate 
beautifier in Strauss revealed. 

As a mere programist, his purpose would have been 
amply fulfilled by making the sheep in Don Quixote 
merely sheeplike and comic, by making the chorus of 
carping critics (high chromatic polyphonic woodwind 


passage) in Heldenleben merely ludicrous and cacoph- 

But in both these cases, as in a myriad others I 
might name, the instinctive (though possibly uncon- 
scious) aesthete in Strauss was not to be denied, in 
the place of what might have been two emotionally 
barren descriptive passages we have a precious pair of 
tonal creations of the most sensitive abstract beauty. 

I am myself too little in sympathy with the artistic 
viewpoint that leads a musician to write program 
music I see too little connection between literary 
plots and music, between everyday events and music 
to be in a position to fairly judge of Strauss's "descrip- 
tive" powers. Certainly it is not on account of these 
that I consider him a great genius. 

Strauss grew up in a would-be "brainy" age; an 
irreligious and emotionally impoverished age, curiously 
susceptible to the cheapest fripperies of intellectualism ; 
and it is just possible that what seem to some of us 
the somewhat shallow descriptive tendencies of some 
of his tone poems are the toll he had to pay to that 
environment. In the later Strauss, however, I seem 
to note an ever-increasing development of the pure 
musician at the expense of all side issues, and for that 
reason the Rosenkavalier and Ariadne (particularly the 
latter) kindle, in my case, a still warmer glow of sym- 
pathy, strike a still deeper note of reverence than even 
the most splendid and brilliant of his earlier composi- 
tions. Strauss appears to me to become more mellow, 
more genuine, more effortlessly himself with each 
successive work; another sign, for me, of the depth 
and truth of his genius, and of the abiding value of 
his muse. 

With the exception of certain exquisite but very 


rare moments, Ms resources as a harmonist strike me 
as lagging sadly behind those of most other great 
living composers. 

Whether as regards harmonic originality or a refined 
sense for the euphonious and expressive distribution 
of the component parts in chords, one could not for 
one moment dream of comparing him with such har- 
monic giants as Debussy, Ravel, Delius, or Cyril 

But here, again, the later Strauss by far outstrips 
the younger, and the harmonic beauties of the Ariadne 
overture denote, to my mind, a, for him, quite new 
sensitiveness in respect of harmonic possibilities, 
possibly derived from contact with the remarkable 
life-giving innovations of French and English composers 
in this field, or, equally likely, evolved by himself 
independently straight out of his own evergreen im- 
agination now, for the first time, focused upon a more 
purely "chordy" style. Perhaps, however, his su- 
preme harmonic achievement is the cascade of won- 
drously unrelated triads associated with the silver 
rose in Rosenkavalier, constituting one of the most 
ravishing chord passages in modern music and certainly 
something entirely unprecedented in Strauss's own 
compositional career. 

It is interesting to compare with this the no less 
lovely and epoch-making chord progressions in the 
middle of Ravel's incomparable "Le gibet", published 
in 1909. Whether or not both of these emanations of 
the highest harmonic originality came into being 
without influence on either side, of one thing we can 
be certain : that Strauss in his "silver rose'* music no 
less than Ravel in "Le gibet" has given the world of 
harmony a new inspiration and impetus from which 


discerning composers can if they will, drink a prof- 
itable draught of freshness. 

To my mind, however, the greatest purely musical 
quality of Strauss's genius is manifested in the pith 
and pregnance of his musical ideas, which, though 
frankly and bravely commonplace at times, burst forth 
with an almost Beethoven-like explosive inevitability 
and naturalness that disarm criticism, and bear upon 
the face of them the stamp of the great personality 
from which they spring. 

His themes and motives make their appeal chiefly 
through their sharply chiselled intervallic and rhyth- 
mic physiognomy, and not by reason of their adapt- 
ability to sophisticated color treatment. They create 
almost the same vital impression when played on a 
piano, a harmonium, or a penny whistle that they 
do in their original orchestration, and this seems to 
me a conclusive proof of the initial inventive vigor 
that gave them birth. 

On the whole, Strauss does not seem to appeal to 
the younger generation of composers as much as he, 
perhaps, deserves to do, and this, I imagine, is largely 
due to the somewhat coarse, careless, and uncritical 
methods of his compositional workmanship. 

The general public seems capable of continuing to 
love a genius chiefly because of his emotional type, 
but fellow composers have to be able to admire qualities 
of craftsmanship as well, if they are not to weary of 
an art product. 

Strauss is not a musician's musician like Bach, 
Mozart, Schubert, Grieg, or Debussy, capable of turn- 
ing out flawless gems of artistic subtlety and perfection, 
but rather is he a great cosmic soul of the Goethe, 
Milton, Nietzsche, Walt Whitman, Edgar Lee Masters 


caliber: full of dross, but equally full of godhead; 
lacking refinement, but not the supremer attributes; 
and uniquely able to roll forth some great uplifting 
message after gigantic preliminaries of boredom and 
inconsequentialness . 

And is not the general public fundamentally right 
(as usual) in its instinctive response to Strauss ? For 
is not, at least from the non-musician's standpoint, 
grandeur and purity of soul of more account than the 
most exquisite gifts of musical sensitiveness, originality 
and culture ? Is not, therefore, Strauss's hold upon the 
general public a good omen ? For does not his personal 
message, like that of George Moore's indescribably 
significant "The Brook Kerith", contain the exact 
reaction most needed from the present world-wide 
immersion in strife and commercial enslavement and 
competition; the message that the seer, however, at 
all times has to proclaim to the empirical world ; that 
the real gold dwells in the heart within, and is not to 
be captured in any other place, and that the real hero 
is he, who, turning dissatisfied away from the outer 
world's illusionary shows of victory and defeat, finds 
contentment finally within himself in viewing in the 
mirror of his own contemplative soul the whole universe 
suffused in a glory of love and understanding ? 

April 26, 1917. 


Bichard Strauss 

Franz Strauss ....... 

Strauss in his Study 

Strauss Villa at Garmisch .... 
Richard Strauss and Family .... 
Caricature by Hans Lindloff .... 
Caricature by Enrico Caruso .... 

The Hero and His Adversaries. Caricature by 
Jack Vrieslander 

Caricature of Strauss by Edward Grtttzner 

Scene from Salome 

Scene from EleJctra 

Scene from Rosenkavalier, Act H 
Facsimile of Letter to Theodore Thomas 

Mary Garden as Salome 

Margarethe Ober as the Rosenkavalier 











THE most important date in the musical history of 
Munich is 1864, because in that year Richard Strauss 
often called " Richard II" was born; and in the 
same year "Richard I", alias Wagner, was summoned 
to that city by the new Bavarian Bang, Ludwig II, 
for the purpose of staging his operas and music dramas 
in accordance with his own ideals. A year later 
Tristan and Isolde had its first performance, under 
Hans von Billow's direction, and the world premiere 
of Die Meistersinger followed in 1868. Plans had 
been made for erecting a special opera house on the 
banks of the river Isar for the adequate performance 
of Wagner's works, including the four dramas of the 
Nibelung's Ring; but Munich was at that time such 
a hotbed of conservatism and of jealousies and cabals 
of so many kinds that even the King could not stop 
the rising tide of insane folly which resulted in the 
removing of Wagner Jfrom the city and in making 
Bayreuth the Headquarters of his art. 

The two festivals given in Bayreuth while Wagner 
was still living (in 1876 and 1882), and those which, 
with ever-increasing financial success, followed under 
the guidance of the widowed Cosima Wagner, having 
opened the eyes of the Munich folks as to their exem- 
plary stupidity in banishing Wagner, they hastened to 


make amends by building the Prinz-Regenten Theater, 
as a second home for his music dramas. Annual fes- 
tivals were then held, at which these works, as well as 
Mozart's operas (in a smaller theater), were sung in an 
attractive manner. Thus Munich gradually became a 
serious rival of Bayreuth a center for musical pil- 
grims and tourists in general. 

Music was not, however, the only thing that made 
Munich famous. Its art galleries, its picturesque sur- 
roundings, and its gay life helped to allure visitors. 
Food was surprisingly cheap as well as savory, and 
it was washed down with the best beer in the world. 
The time came, to be sure, when Munich beer was in 
danger of losing its prestige. The brewers discovered 
that it could be made more cheaply with chemicals 
than in the old-fashioned way. The Government 
tried to put a stop to their practices by imposing a 
fine for the use of anything but malt ancf hops ; but 
the brewers cheerfully paid the fine and still prospered. 
The law was then changed. Instead of paying a ,fine, 
the head of the brewing firm had to go to prison. 
That promptly put an end to the use of chemicals; 
and thanks to this salutary law, Munich beer soon 
conquered the whole world, whole trainloads of it 
being sent daily in all directions. 

What has all this to do with the life of Richard 
Strauss? A good deal, gentle reader. He was born 
in a Muniqh brewer's building. His mother was the 
daughter of the Grossbrauer Georg Pschorr, senior, 
whose name and whose products, further improved 
by his son Georg, are known throughout the world 
much better and, on the whole, rather more favorably 
than those of his musical nephew. Not a few of those 
who visit Munich go to see the house at Altheimereck 


Number 2, on which there is a sign with these words : 
Am 11. Juni 1864 wurde hier Richard Strauss geboren. 

In this house Richard's father lived to the end of 
his life, in one of the upper floors, to which the noise 
of the restaurant below did not reach. It was a good 
restaurant, in which, in 1876, I often supped on soup, 
chicken, salad, and dessert for the very moderate sum 
of a mark, or a quarter of a dollar. Little did I dream 
then that up-stairs was living a boy of twelve whose 
life I would be asked to write forty years later ! 

The Pschorrs were a musical family. There were 
four daughters besides Josephine (Richard's mother), 
and nearly a dozen cousins of Richard, some of whom 
assisted on occasion at the homemade music in the 
third story over the brewery restaurant. The mother 
knew enough of piano playing to give her boy a start 
when he was in his fifth year, and subsequently, these 
lessons were continued by August Tombo, who played 
the harp in the royal orchestra of Munich. To this 
orchestra also belonged Richard's father, Franz Strauss, 
who was at the same time a professor at the Royal 
Academy of Music. 


There is a story of a musician who boasted he was 
the best horn player in the world. When asked how 
he proved it, he replied, "I don't prove it, I admit 
it/' Franz Strauss, whom Billow called "the Joachim 
of the horn", would have had no difficulty in actually 
proving that he was the best horn jplayer^ not only 
in Munich but in Germany. "Kichard Wagner, who 
did more than any other master in developing the 


resources of the French horn or what the Germans 
call the Waldhorn (forest horn) would not have 
hesitated to give him a certificate to that effect, al- 
though he knew that this remarkable musician violently 
disliked his music. 

Franz Strauss, in truth, was one of the leaders of the 
cliques and cabals which drove Wagner, the ^revolu- 
tionary reformer, from the Bavarian" capital, and made 
life a nightmare to his apostle, Hans von Billow. So 
very conservative, indeed, was he that he ventured, 
at rehearsals, to differ in matters of pace and phrasing 
with even so old-fashioned a conductor as Lachner. 
He seems to have had a good deal of the "independ- 
ence" of Brahms's father, who played the double-bass 
in the Hamburg Opera, and who one day, when the 
conductor suggested his doing a passage differently, 
declared, "Herr Kapellmeister, I want you to under- 
stand that this is my double-bass and I shall play on 
it as I please!" 

Max Steinitzer relates that Wagner actually was 
afraid of Franz Strauss. When Die Meistersinger was 
being staged, he got Hans Richter to play for him at 
home the horn solo in the Beckmesser pantomime, for 
fear that Strauss might declare at the rehearsal that 
it was unplayable! 

It must not be inferred that Richard Strauss's 
father did not do his best with Wagner's music because 
he disliked it. On the contrary, he played the glorious 
horn parts in Tristan and Meistersinger as lusciously 
as he did the solos in the works of Beethoven, Weber, 
Mendelssohn, and Brahms. He even consented to 
accompany Levi to Bayreuth and help perform Parsifal 
one summer. But personally he never got along with 
Wagner. At a rehearsal in Munich there was such a 



violent altercation between these two men that Wagner 
became "speechless" with indignation which meant 
a good deal, and when, as Steinitzer further informs 
us, Wagner's death was announced by Levi to his 
orchestra, Strauss was the only one who did not show 
his respect by rising. 

His implacable hatred for purely musical reasons 
illustrates the difficulties Wagner had to contend 
with in Munich and after him as if in revenge 
Franz Strauss's own son, Richard. 



It is well known that Schubert was only eighteen 
years old when he composed his greatest song, The 
Erlking. Mendelssohn performed an even more re- 
markable feat when, as a youth of only seventeen, he 
composed and scored for orchestra the overture to 
A Midsummer Nighfs Dream, a work remarkable for 
its melodic originality, its clever structure, and its 
realistic as well as beautiful coloring. 

While Richard Strauss neither as a youth nor an 
adult penned a work equal in melodic inspiration to 
that overture or The Erlking 9 he was nevertheless one 
of the most remarkable prodigies known to musical 
history. Indeed there is something almost uncanny 
about his achievements before his twentieth year 
achievements far more remarkable than those of 
Mozart, Beethoven, and most other masters at the 
same age. 

As a mere boy of &i& he began to compose. "He 
wrote notes before he did the letters of the alphabet," 


says Max Steinitzer, who devotes no fewer than twenty- 
six pages of his book on Strauss to brief descriptions 
of the early pieces and songs of this amazing boy. 
There are nearly a hundred of these preceding his 
Opus 1; for he had sufficient judgment to discard 
them as hardly worth printing. Among them are 
orchestral overtures and other pieces, sonatas, songs 
with piano or orchestral choral pieces, chamber works, 
in great variety. Some of them were composed 
specially for the musical gatherings in the Pschorr 
building, when he himself sat at the piano, or sang, or 
played the violin. Not a few of them he scribbled 
during school hours instead of attending to his lessons. 
The songs, including twenty-five dedicated to his aunt 
Johanna, already show a characteristic disregard for 
vocal idiom and facile execution. 

In a letter dated 1910, he expressed his regret at 
having given so much time to all these juvenile works 
"at the direct cost of much freshness and vigor." 
But they surely helped him to develop the technical 
virtuosity which subsequently became his chief asset. 

One looks in vain through these early productions 
in the hope of discovering striking indications of the 
future revolutionist who created such a panic in the 
conservative camp. On the contrary, the future lion 
cooes here as gently as any sucking dove. Nor does 
he, in fact, show himself in his true colors in the earliest 
of his compositions that appeared in print with opus 
numbers. Up to his Opus 16, the orchestral fantasia 
From Italy, we find little that suggests the Richard 
Strauss we now know in the concert halls. Opus 1 
is a Festmarsch; Opus 2, a string quartet ; 3, five piano 
pieces ; 4, a concert overture (MS) ; 5, piano sonata ; 
6, violoncello sonata; 7, serenade for wind instru- 


ments ; 8, violin concerto ; 9, piano pieces ; 10, songs ; 
11, horn concerto ; 12, symphony in F minor. 

These pieces for the most part breathe the calm, 
orthodox chaste spirit of Haydn,! Mozart, and the 
other classical masters whom Richard's father as well 
as his teacher, F. W. Meyer, had taught him to revere 
as models. Gradually, he came also under the in- 
fluence of Mendelssohn and Schumann, and, through 
the latter, of Brahms, who is distinctly suggested by 
certain traits of the F Minor symphony as well as 
by Opus 13, a quartet with piano ; Opus 14, Wanderers 
Sturmlied; and the Burleske, which has no opus num- 
ber, but belongs in this period, ending with the com- 
poser's twenty-first year. 

Strauss not only wrote many of his early pieces 
while he was still in school, but he had the satisfaction 
of listening to public performances of some of them 
before he was graduated. Particularly big did he 
loom in the eyes of his classmates after Generalmusik- 
direktor Levi had conducted his D Minor symphony at 
a concert of the Musikalische Akademie before a large 
audience, which vigorously applauded the talented 
young composer, then in his seventeenth year. 


Young Strauss inherited from his father not only 
his love of the classical style and forms, but a violent 
hatred of Richard Wagner's music, of which he sub- 
sequently became one of the most passionate champions. 
Probably some of the readers of these pages have 
chanced to peruse Count Tolstoy's fierce denunciation 


of the most poetic and inspired of Wagner's music 
dramas: Siegfried. In it the ludicrous arrogance of 
pitiful ignorance seems to have reached high tide ; but 
Richard Strauss, at the age of fifteen, belabored the 
same masterwork in a letter to his friend Thuille after 
a fashion that makes it one of the most humorous 
documents in the history of music, though it was 
written very much in earnest 'and by one who was 
musical to the finger tips. 

He was horribly bored by this work, he declares: 
"It was abominable. The introduction is a long roll 
for the dnim with bombardon and bassoons roaring 
in the deepest tones, which sounds so stupid that I 
laughed outright. Of coherent melodies not a trace. 
I tell you the thing is so disorderly you cannot have 
the faintest conception of it." One of the things sung 
by Mime, he continued, "would have killed a cat, and 
horror of the hideous dissonances would melt rocks 
into omelettes. The violins exhaust themselves in 
eternal tremolos and the brass in violin passages; 
even the muted trumpet is used by Wagner in order 
to make everything as hideous and infamous as possible. 
My ears buzzed from these abortions of harmonies, if 
the word harmony is not out of place altogether ; and 
the last act is a deadly bore. . . . The only thing 
that seemed at least in tune was the song of the Forest 
Bird." . . . And so it goes on for a dozen more lines 
which to-day must amuse Strauss as much as the 
language of one of the critics who referred to his own 
tone poem Till Eulenspiegel as "a vast and coruscating 
jumble of instrumental cackles about things unfit to be 

Even Lohengrin did not please young Strauss. He 
liked it as a drama but the music seemed to him "fear- 


fully sweet and morbid." Steinitzer relates that when 
in November, 1880, Wagner received an ovation at a 
Tristan performance, Strauss paid no attention to him. 
To Ludwig Thuille he repeatedly made the prediction 
that "ten years hence nobody will know who Wagner 


Less than a year later, however, he discovered 
Wagner, and, oddly enough, this came about through 
his studying of the full scores of Tristan and Die 
Walkiire, which made a much deeper impression on 
him than the actual performances, with their many 
imperfections. A few years later, when he heard 
Tristan in an Italian version at Bologna, he was amazed 
at its wonderful singableness, and wrote enthusiastically 
to one of his uncles that it was the "most delightful 
lei canto opera, such as Messrs. Hanslick and colleagues 
were always sighing for." 

His conversion was now complete. In 1891 he 
attended the Bayreuth Festival. Widow Cosima 
Wagner invited him to spend the following Christmas 
holiday with her and persuaded him to contribute an 
article to the Bayreuther Blatter. At Weimar he had 
previously become the head of the Wagner Society, 
and conducted a number of performances of Wagner's 
operas, going so far in his zeal that he restored nearly 
all the pages that had been cut by his predecessors 
in order to shorten the operas. And when, a decade 
later, the question of prolonging the copyright on 
Parsifal came before the German Reichstag (Parlia- 
ment), Richard Strauss was foremost among those 
whose pens were used to persuade the legislators to 
allow Bayreuth to continue its monopoly of Wagner's 
final work. It is needless to add that when Heinrich 
Conried invited him to conduct Parsifal at the Metro- 


politan Opera House in New York, he promptly de- 
clined the honor* But let us not look too far ahead in 
the story of Strauss's life. We must now take up the 
case of two musicians who, in very different ways, 
helped to change him from a conservative to a radical : 
Hans von Billow and Alexander Ritter. 


Hans von Billow, who was chosen by Wagner to 
conduct the first performances of Tristan and Isolde and 
Die Meistersinger in Munich, first heard of Richard 
Strauss through his friend Eugen Spitzweg, who pub- 
lished some of Strauss's compositions and sent him 
copies for his opinion. Von Billow did not approve of 
them ; on the contrary, he wrote to Spitz weg : "Piano 
pieces by R. Str. I thoroughly dislike they are un- 
ripe and compared with him, Lachner has the imagina- 
tion of a Chopin. I miss .all youthfulness in his 
invention. Not a genius, I am thoroughly convinced, 
but only a talent of the kind that requires 60 to make 
a bushel." 

Possibly this verdict would have been less tartly 
expressed had not von Billow, who was an irritable 
and irate musician, borne in mind that "R. Str/* was 
the son of the obstreperous professor and horn player 
who had made so much trouble for him and for Wagner 
at the Royal Opera. However that may be, he soon 
got over his tantrum ; he first learned to esteem Strauss 
as the composer of the Serenade (Opus 7) for thirteen 
wind instruments, which pleased him so much that he 
included it in the programs of the concerts he gave at 


home and on tour with the Meiningen Orchestra. In 
his "Personliche Erinnerungen an Hans von Billow", 
printed in the Vienna Neue Freie Presse (December 25, 
1909), Strauss relates that it was at a performance of 
this Serenade in Berlin that he first met von Billow, 
who asked him to write a whole suite of pieces for the 
same number of wind instruments. Strauss complied 
with his wishes. His father subsequently wrote to 
von Billow, asking him to give a rehearsal of this 
suite in Munich before its performance there by the 
Meiningen Orchestra, to which von Billow assented, 
on condition that Richard Strauss should conduct his 
own work. When the time came, it was found im- 
practicable to have a special rehearsal in Munich; 
but Strauss conducted the performance though he had 
never before piloted an orchestra. "I conducted my 
piece in a dusky state of mind," he wrote ; "all I know 
is that I did not have a smash-up." 

His father nevertheless was so much pleased with 
the result that he went to the artists* room after the 
performance to thank his old enemy for giving him a 
chance to hear his son's composition. Von Billow, 
however, was not in a conciliatory mood. "Like an 
enraged lion he pounced upon my father, exclaiming : 
'You have no occasion to thank me; I have not for- 
gotten all the things you formerly did to annoy me, in the 
accursed Munich. What I have done today I have 
done because your son has talent, not on your account/ " 

Not long afterwards von Billow put on one of his 
programs in Meiningen, Strauss's concerto for horn 
possibly because he had heard that, on account of its 
extreme difficulty, even Professor Franz Strauss "the 
Joachim of the horn", had not dared to perform it pub- 
licly in Munich, though he often practised it at home. 


Besides conducting the Meiningen Orchestra, von 
Billow occasionally gave piano recitals in various 
cities, or lessons in Berlin or Frankfort. During his 
absence, Professor F. Mannstadt took care of the 
orchestra ; but when Mannstadt went to live in Berlin, 
von Billow needed a new Hofmusikdirektor, and his 
choice fell on Richard Strauss. In suggesting his 
engagement, he wrote to the Duke: "His only fault 
is his youth; he is only twenty-two, but his whole 
personality commends him to the respect of the Court 
Orchestra, which has already learned to esteem him 
as a composer." 

Strauss (who really was only twenty-one) was de- 
lighted with this offer, although the emoluments were 
only fifteen hundred marks ($360) a year. He fully 
realized what extraordinary opportunities for progress 
in his professional studies he would have as the as- 
sistant of the most renowned orchestral conductor of 
his day. Von Billow was only one of the many dis- 
tinguished pupils of Liszt, but one of the few whom 
Wagner deigned to instruct personally in the art of 
orchestral interpretation. He studied with him at 
Zurich in 1850-1851, and Wagner then sent him to 
Liszt, with whom he remained four years. His keenly 
analytical mind and amazing memory (he could play 
or conduct a new piece by heart after looking it over 
a few times) enabled him to get all possible profit from 
the instruction of his teachers, the two greatest musi- 
cians of the time ; and it is no wonder that as a con- 
ductor, in particular, he made a sensation, for his 
principles of interpretation were those of Wagner and 
Liszt amalgamated. 

It was in 1880 that he accepted the post of director 
of the Ducal Orchestra at Meiningen, and during the 


five years he remained there, he exerted an influence 
comparable in some respects to that of Liszt at Weimar. 
His orchestra was smaller and less distinguished in 
personnel than the royal orchestra in the larger German 
cities; yet with this comparatively inferior material 
he achieved results which made the concerts of the 
"Meininger" the talk and the envy of the Empire. 
Not only did he apply the Wagner-Liszt principles of 
interpretation to classical as well as romantic and 
modern works, but he furthermore subjected his 
players to an amount of careful drill that was almost 
unprecedented. The musicians learned their parts by 
heart, and most of them stood while playing. So 
well were they trained that when von Billow played a 
piano concerto they needed no special conductor. No 
wonder that when this organization went on tour, 
local orchestras nearly everywhere seemed somewhat 
slovenly in comparison. 

With these facts in mind, we can understand why 
Strauss was so happy when von Billow invited him to 
share with him the privilege of presiding over this 
remarkable orchestra. Several hours daily he was 
privileged to be present at rehearsals in which his 
master opened the ears of his musicians as to the true 
inwardness of the varied compositions they were called 
upon to play. As an interpreter of Beethoven's 
symphonies, von Billow was second only to Wagner. 
e was the high priest of Brahms, and the foreign 
composers he welcomed to his programs among 
them Tchaikovsky, Saint-SaSns, Smetana, Dvor&k, 
helped to widen Strauss's horizon. 

He conducted usually from memory, thus setting 
an example which has since been followed by many 
of the great orchestral leaders. It is supposed to 


give a conductor the same advantages over those of 
his colleagues who look at the score during the per- 
formance that an orator has over one who reads his 

Von Biilow wittily divided conductors into two 
classes : those who have the score in their head, and 
those who have their head in the score. 


Great as was Billow's influence on Richard Strauss, 
it did not affect him as a composer quite the con- 
trary. Meiningen was his high school, but it also 
became the turning point in his career, the place where 
he turned his back on Brahms and the conservatives 
and became a champion and follower of Wagner in 
the opera house, Liszt in the concert hall. 

He himself has related how, starting with Haydn 
and Mozart as his models, he gradually paid the 
flattery of imitation to Mendelssohn, Chopin, Schu- 
mann, and finally to Brahms. Mention has been made 
of the particular works in which his admiration for 
Brahms is indicated. When he became assistant 
conductor at Meiningen he still adored Brahms 
so much so, indeed, that after that master had con- 
ducted his fourth symphony in that town, Strauss 
participated in a series of games of cards (skat), the 
winner of which was to have as prize the score of that 

It was his privilege at Mannheim to conduct some 
of Brahms's works and once, on October 18, 1885, 
Brahms heard him conduct some of his own (Strauss's) 


works. It was an important occasion in the young 
man's career ; the first time (excepting when he con- 
ducted his Serenade for strings in Munich) that he 
wielded the bton and also the first time he appeared 
in public as solo pianist (in a Mozart concerto). After 
hearing his juvenile symphony, Brahms said, "Quite 
pretty, young man." He then advised him to study 
Schubert's dances as models in the art of invention; 
he also warned him against thematic juggling and 
other things. In writing to Hermann Wolf in Berlin 
concerning this occasion, von Billow declared that 
Richard's "debut as a conductor as well as a pianist 
was simply stunning." 

Concerning the Strauss symphony (in F minor) 
played on this occasion, Billow wrote that it was 
"very significant, original, ripe in form." Not long 
afterwards in a letter to Strauss himself, he said: 
"You, my dear young friend, know always how to 
guide your pen the right way, avoiding dreary spots 
or steppes." But he soon changed his mind about 
the guidance of that pen. As long as his dear young 
friend wrote in the conservative vein, Billow was 
entirely with him; but when the Italian Fantasy 
appeared, which marks the parting of the ways 
the change from absolute to program music Billow 
balked. True, he accepted the dedication of this 
composition, but to Ritter he wrote not long after- 
wards: "Does my age make me so reactionary? I 
find that the clever composer has gone therein to the 
extreme limits of tonal possibilities (in the realm of 
beauty) and, in fact, has frequently gone beyond those 
limits, without real necessity." 

Yet, compared with his later tone poems, * 'Aus 
Itolien is as simple and harmless as a Mozart symphony. 


Advancing age certainly did have the effect of 
making von Billow reactionary. He refused, for in- 
stance, to do anything for Gustav Mahler. He even 
knocked Liszt, his former idol, from his pedestal. 
Like others who took up Brahms as their main pabulum, 
he had tired of the fleshpots of Egypt, and his appetite 
craved food without much spice. He still took some 
interest in Strauss's early tone-poems, Macbeth., Don 
Juan, and Death and Transfiguration, acknowledging 
their success with the public; but his interest in 
them was purely musical. Their poetic side, which 
affiliated him with Liszt, he ignored, to Strauss's 

Obviously Hans von Billow was not the man to 
lead him from Brahms to Liszt. Another musician, 
Alexander Ritter, did that. One of Strauss's biog- 
raphers, Doctor Erich Urban, contends, it is true, 
that it was von Billow who did it ; but the preceding 
paragraph shows how thoroughly he erred. Von 
Billow would have taken his friend from Liszt to 
Brahms, could he have done so. We have, more- 
over, Strauss's own word for it that Ritter was the 
man who converted him to musical modernity. In 
an autobiographic sketch printed in 1898, he said 
explicitly that it was Ritter who changed him into a 
"musician of the future by revealing to him the im- 
port of the works and writings of Wagner and Liszt/* 
"To him alone/* he continues, he owed the compre- 
hension of these two masters; and he it was who 
pointed out to him the direction in which he could 
now travel by himself. Ritter, he further attests, 
had a thorough knowledge of philosophical works, 
and of literature old and new. "His influence was 
like a storm-wind. He urged me to develop the 


expressive, poetic side of music, after the examples 
given by Berlioz, Liszt and Wagner." 

Alexander Ritter was one of that considerable 
number of composers who just fall short of greatness 
as creators. He was born in Russia but made his 
home in Dresden, where he married a niece of Richard 
Wagner. He composed fr^o comic operas and several 
symphonic poems, but failed to get the recognition 
he and his friends thought he deserved, and was 
finally glad to accept a place as a member of the 
famous Meiningen Orchestra. His devotion to Liszt 
was exceeded only by his withering contempt for 
Brahms, Steinitzer relates that on one occasion he 
declared: "Brahms we must study long enough till 
we discover that there is nothing in him." 

Strauss's engagement at Meiningen lasted from 
January, 1885 to April, 1886. The last five months 
he was the sole conductor of the Ducal Orchestra, 
as von Billow had resigned his position, for reasons 
which readers who may wish to know will find in 
Steinitzer (second edition, page 36). It had some- 
thing to do with Brahms. This composer's influence 
is still to be found in the only work Strauss composed 
at Meiningen, the Burleske for piano and orchestra, 
which, however, after playing it over with orchestra, 
he felt inclined to look on as "sheer nonsense. 5 * 



Although the Meiningen authorities and the public 
seemed well pleased with Strauss as successor to von 
Billow, he was of course too little known to keep up 


the orchestra's prestige on tour; nobody knew then 
how famous he was destined to become both as con- 
ductor and as composer. There was a rumor that 
the Duke intended to reduce the size of the orchestra, 
and Strauss felt more or less uncertain as to the future. 
Von Billow advised him to remain and await develop- 
ments ; but when Intendant von Perf all of the Munich 
Opera invited him to return to his native city and 
accept the modest post of Music Director, he ac- 
cepted, only to feel sorry for this step ere long. At 
Meiningen, though resources were limited, he was 
conductor-in-chief . In Munich he ranked only third, 
after Levi and Fischer, who appropriated nearly all 
the operas that were worth while, leaving little for 
their assistant. His one chance seemed at hand 
when he was allowed to preside over the rehearsals 
when Wagner's juvenile opera, The Fairies, was re- 
vived. But at the last moment the command was 
transferred to Fischer. In a conference relating to 
this matter "Strauss was like a lioness defending her 
young"; but, as Steinitzer relates, "the Intendant 
declared that he disliked conducting in the Billow 
style, and violently assailed Strauss because of his 
high pretensions for one of his age and lack of ex- 

He did not realize that Richard Strauss at the age 
of twenty-two knew his business better than most 
conductors do at forty-four. Indeed, in view of von 
Perfall's conservative attitude and his unhappy ex- 
periences with von Billow, it is a wonder that he ever 
offered a position to that conductor's pupil. 

He was by no means the only one who disapproved 
of the Wagner-Liszt-Biilow style of interpretation 
which Strauss had made his own. Just as Wagner, 


when he conducted the concerts of the London Phil- 
harmonic, was told again and again that he must 
not read the music in hand as he read it because "Men- 
delssohn did not do it that way", so Strauss was 
censured for every deviation from the conventional. 
As he wrote to von Billow, he longed for a position 
elsewhere where he would not "get into a violent 
collision with both conductors and artists" whenever 
he allowed himself "the slightest slackening of pace 
in a classical opera. So it was again with the Water- 
Carrier: whatever Lachner had not done I must not 
do either. To conduct as I wish and feel, one must 
have the authority of a first position, backed up by 
an Intendant on whose unconditional support one can 


Being only third conductor, with little to do, had 
one advantage. It left plenty of leisure for composing. 
Among the important works he created during his 
three years' connection with the Munich Opera, the 
first was the symphonic fantasia From Italy, the 
sketches for which he made during an Italian journey 
taken at the advice of Brahms just after he had signed 
his Munich contract. 

What gives this Italian Fantasy special significance 
is the fact that it is, as Strauss himself called it, "the 
connecting link between the old and new" in other 
words, the bridge which took him from Brahms to 
Liszt; for Brahms, though born twenty-two years 
after Liszt, represents an earlier stage of musical 


On his Italian trip, Strauss visited the principal 
cities, from Florence to Naples. He had never be- 
fore had any faith in getting inspiration from the 
beauties of nature, but "among the ruins of Rome", 
he wrote to von Billow, "thoughts came to me as if 
on wings.'* 

The Fantasy pays tribute to the traditional sym- 
phonic form in being in four movements; but in 
spirit it is new, genuine program music, as much so 
as Liszt's Italian piano pieces, or his symphonic poems, 
as is indicated by its subtitles : "In the Campagna", 
"Among the Roman Ruins", "Fantastic Pictures of 
Vanished Splendors", "Melancholy Feelings while 
Basking in the Sunniest Present", "At the Shores of 
Sorrento", "Neapolitan Folk Life." 

In the belief that he was using a folk song, he helped 
himself in the last movement to the popular "Funiculi 
Funicula", which perambulating Italian quartet singers 
perpetrate in every cafe and restaurant they visit. 
Concerning this song, two amusing bits of information 
are contained in the "Encyclopaedia Britannica" and 
in Grove's "Dictionary of Music and Musicians." In 
the former, Robin H. Legge remarks that Aus Italien 
is "a comparatively poor and quite unrepresentative 
effusion apart altogether from the faux pas contained 
in it by mistaking a popular song composed in St. 
Johns Wood, London, for a Neapolitan folk song." 
In Grove, J. A. Fuller Maitland relates that "when 
Aus Italien was first given in London, at one of Hen- 
schel's symphony concerts, some disappointment was 
felt at the work not being played in its entirety; it 
only transpired later that the finale, being based on a 
tune which Strauss no doubt imagined to be a genuine 
folk song, was scarcely suitable to be played before 


an audience already sated with the air and fully aware 
that Signer Denza was its author." 

The first performance of this work, given in Munich 
under the composer's direction on March 2, 1887, 
furnished him a foretaste of the things he was fated 
to endure whenever one of his bold tone poems was 
first brought before the public. In a letter to his 
uncle Horburger, he gives an amusing account of this 
occasion: "There has been much ado here over the 
performance of my Fantasy general amazement and 
wrath because I too have now begun to go my own 
way, create my own form and bother the heads of 
indolent persons. The first three movements were 
tolerably well received, but after the last part, Nea- 
politan Folklif e, which, I admit, is somewhat extrava- 
gantly crazy (life in Naples, to be sure, is boisterous) 
there was not only lively applause, but real hissing, 
which of course amused me greatly. Well, I console 
myself ; I know the way I want to travel quite well. 
No one has ever become a great artist who was not 
held by thousands to be crazy. The Pschorrs were 
enchanted and there were a few other enthusiasts: 
Levi, Ritter, Kapellmeister Meyer these were 
quite carried away by it; they were the only ones 
who already knew the work/ 5 

Max Steinitzer, who cites this letter, relates that 
Strauss's father, mortified and indignant because of 
the hisses, hastened to the artists' room to see his 
son after the performance, but found him sitting on 
the table, dangling his legs cheerfully. 

Richard Strauss evidently has always enjoyed a 
fight in the concert hall, as much as Susan B. Anthony, 
the original suffragette, did in the lecture room. 

This was not the only time when Father Strauss, 


an audience already sated with the air and fully aware 
that Signer Denza was its author/* 

The first performance of this work, given in Munich 
uiider the composer's direction on March 2, 1887, 
furnished him a foretaste of the things he was fated 
to endure whenever one of his bold tone poems was 
first brought before the public. In a letter to his 
uncle Horburger, he gives an amusing account of this 
occasion: " There has been much ado here over the 
performance of my Fantasy general amazement and 
wrath because I too have now begun to go my own 
way, create my own form and bother the heads of 
indolent persons* The first three movements were 
tolerably well received, but after the last part, Nea- 
politan Folklif e, which, I admit, is somewhat extrava- 
gantly crazy (life in Naples, to be sure, is boisterous) 
there was not only lively applause, but real hissing, 
which of course amused me greatly. Well, I console 
myself; I know the way I want to travel quite welL 
No one has ever become a great artist who was not 
held by thousands to be crazy. The Pschorrs were 
enchanted and there were a few other enthusiasts: 
Levi, Rrtter, Kapellmeister Meyer these were 
quite carried away by it; they were the only ones 
who already knew the work." 

Max Steinitzer, who cites this letter, relates that 
Strauss's father, mortified and indignant because of 
the hisses, hastened to the artists' room to see his 
son after the performance, but found him sitting on 
the table, dangling his legs cheerfully. 

Richard Strauss evidently has always enjoyed a 
fight in the concert hall, as much as Susan B. Anthony, 
the original suffragette, did in the lecture room. 

This was not the only time when Father Strauss, 


who had done so much to discourage Wagner and his 
helpers, found, to his dismay, the conservative batteries 
turned against his own son. But the son, far from 
being intimidated, followed the example of Wagner in 
paying no attention to such demonstrations. 


Far from repenting, and returning to the conserva- 
tive camp, he became still more Straussian in his next 
two elaborate works: Macbeth, which is the first of 
his symphonic poems (in one movement), and Don 
Juan, which, it may as well be said now, is the most 
inspired of all his compositions, though he was only 
twenty-four when he wrote it, and he has been busy 
ever since, adding seven more tone poems and half a 
dozen operas. 

Macbeth, though composed before Don Juan, was 
published after it, as Opus 23, because Strauss sub- 
jected it, in Weimar, to a thorough revision before 
he considered it ready for the printer. Comments 
on all these works will be found in later chapters. 

Don Juan, Opus 20, is to-day, three decades after 
its creation, the most popular of Strauss's tone poems, 
in America as well as in Europe. It is worth noting 
that the most popular of all his songs, the Serenade, 
also belongs to this early period, its opus number 
being 17. 

Special interest attaches also to Opus 18, a sonata 
for violin and piano, not so much because of its in- 
herent merits which are modest as because it 
was his last piece of chamber music. A born orchestral 


colorist, he had evidently reached the conclusion that 
he could not show to best advantage in that branch of 
music in which Brahms most excelled. 

Thenceforth, furthermore, he turned his back on the 
piano, except in connection with his lieder. Songs, 
with piano or orchestra, tone poems for enlarged 
orchestra, and operas thenceforth monopolized his 
attention till 1913, when he wrote the music for a 
pantomimic ballet, The Legend of Joseph. 


Although Hans von Billow did not approve of the 
cacophonic and programmatic features of Strauss's 
works, he held him to be, next to Brahms, the most 
important musical personality 'of the time. He put 
Macbeth on a Berlin program and gladly recorded the 
popular success of Don Juan. 

He also used his influence to secure for Strauss the 
position of Court Conductor at Weimar, which was 
better than being third conductor in Munich. So, 
from October, 1889, to June, 1894, Strauss occupied 
the position in which Liszt had made the small city of 
Weimar the world's musical center by gathering about 
him not only all the aspiring and already famous 
pianists but also the composers, whose works he pro- 
duced, in accordance with his motto, "First place to 
the living" 

This Lisztian motto Strauss made his own. Some 
of the programs conducted by him in Weimar were 
"madly modern" as he called them, but the concerts 
were "well attended and much applauded." At the 


first rehearsal with the Weimar orchestra, he made a 
speech in which he expressed his pride at standing in 
the place of Liszt whose high principles he promised 
to follow. That the works of Liszt, so many of which 
had been created in Weimar, had a prominent place 
on his programs, need not be said. 

Strauss was one of the few who at that time fully 
understood the epoch-making importance of Liszt's 
orchestral works. In conservative Munich, where, in 
recent years his Faust symphony has been applauded 
as frequently and as warmly as any of Beethoven's 
works, it seldom happened at that time that one of 
Liszt's works was heard without derisive exclamations 
on the part of some of the hearers, as Steinitzer informs 
us ; many, he adds, who did not wonder that Strauss 
became a follower of Wagner, could not comprehend 
that he put Liszt's name also on his banner. But the 
more he studied the marvelously original compositions 
of this master original not only in musical and 
poetic content, but also in form the more he felt 
that his own creative activity must be along the lines 
traced by Liszt. 

From no point of view is Liszt more remarkable 
than from that of his many-sidedness. In view of 
this, Strauss held that whole concerts should be devoted 
to Turn exclusively, in order to illumine him from all 
directions. From letters to Ritter passages are cited 
in which he expressed his great admiration of various 
works of Liszt, .among them the Dante Symphony, 
Mazeppa, The Battle of the Huns, The Mephisto Waltz, 
the concertos, the oratorio St. Elizabeth. What he 
says about this last is characteristic : " So little technical 
display, yet so much poetry; so little counterpoint, 
but so much music." 


In the opera house he devoted himself with like 
enthusiasm to Wagner, whose works he strove to 
produce not only with as near an approach to Bay- 
reuth musical standards as his small orchestra and 
the capacity of the singers permitted, but with a 
stubborn determination to carry out Wagner's wishes 
as to the constant dovetailing of the scenic effects and 
the action and the continuous comments of the or- 
chestra. He had prepared himself for this by repeated 
visits to Bayreuth, where, one summer, he guided the 
middle chorus in Parsifal and otherwise made himself 
useful. In 1894 he was invited to conduct some of 
the performances of Tannhauser given at Bayreuth, 
which he did much to the satisfaction of Wagner's 
widow, who exclaimed : "Well, well, so modern, yet 
how well you conduct Tannhauser" (which, bear in 
mind, was one of Wagner's early works). 

A really pathetic illustration of his devotion to 
Wagner is given by his friend Doctor Arthur Seidl in 
** Straussiana." In May, 1891, he was taken very 
seriously ill with congestion of the lungs. For a week 
the doctors despaired of his life* He knew how critical 
the situation was ; but while trying to reconcile him- 
self to the thought of death, he said to a pupil and 
friend it would be really well if he could die now ; but 
a moment later he added solemnly, "No, before I do, 
I should love to conduct Tristan" 

He doubtless remembered how, only seven years 
earlier, even he, with his abnormal'musical intelligence, 
had failed to understand this music drama to compre- 
hend its new harmonic and contrapuntal features. In 
order to help others where he had failed, he gave lecture 
recitals at the piano on Wagner's works, which must 
have been interesting* 


That he went so far in his enthusiasm as to re- 
store all the pages wisely cut by his predecessors 
was related on a preceding page. Like Wagner 
himself, Strauss knew not the value of moderation. 
Many of his own works would gain much through 

An amusing aspect of his Wagnerolatry is the fact 
that he conducted the works of the Bayreuth master 
(and those only) standing. 

In the summer his bronchial trouble returned and 
he was advised to take another trip south. In No- 
vember he started for Egypt via Greece, taking with 
him the libretto written by himself for his first opera, 
Guntram, in which, as we shall see later, he published 
in tones his complete subjection to Wagner. 

Instead of resting during his trip, he devoted much 
of his time to composing the Guntram music, the first 
act being completed in Africa, at Luxor, while the 
second was orchestrated in a Sicilian villa near Catania, 
where he had a view from his windows of Mount 
JStna. Here he also sketched the third act, which, 
subsequently, was completed on his return to Bavaria 
near the picturesque Chiemsee. 

An interesting letter from Cairo (dated December 19, 
1892) to Doctor Arthur Seidl is printed by this writer 
in his "Straussiana" (pp. 34-35): "What I should 
like best would be to remain here altogether, in this 
delightful land of palms, roses, acacias, under a sun 
which has little in common with the fixed star which 
in our Germany now and then pretends to shine; 
reveling in this illumination, enjoying Spring, Summer, 
and Autumn at the same time; among these charm- 
ing, amusing native * savages* in the solitude of the 
glorious desert, entirely alone with the God of the 


Christians, who has come to mean so little in Ger- 
many here I should like to remain and compose 
one opera after another, regardless of what they would 
do in Europe with the poor things." 


At the performance under Strauss of Tannhduser 
in Bayreuth, to which reference has just been made, 
the Elizabeth was his betrothed, Pauline de Ahna, 
whom he married a few weeks later, on September 10, 
1894, He had first met her seven years previously, 
while visiting his uncle, Georg Pschorr, at Feldafing, 
a Bavarian summer resort not far from Munich. His 
uncle's nearest neighbor was General de Ahna, whose 
older daughter, Pauline, had been a student at the 
Munich Conservatory. Though possessing an agree- 
able voice, she had little conception of the require- 
ments of a singer in the opera house or concert hall 
until Strauss took her in hand and gave her an insight 
into the subtleties of dramatic interpretation ; especially 
in Wagner's operas. She followed him to Weimar, 
where she continued her studies and made some ap- 
pearances on the stage as Elsa in Lohengrin, Elizabeth 
in Tannhauser, Pamina in the Magic Flute, Fidelio in 
Beethoven's opera, and Saint Elizabeth in Liszt's 
operatic oratorio. Her engagement to Strauss was 
announced in May, 1894. 

It is needless to say that she made a special study 
of the Strauss songs, to the popularization of which 
from this time on her singing, often with her husband 
at the piano, contributed a good deal. 


Pauline de Ahna was also the heroine of Strauss's 
first opera, Guntram, which had its premiere at Weimar 
on May 12, 1894, under his own direction. It was not 
a brilliant success ; nor did it achieve more than one 
performance when in the autumn of the following year 
it was produced at Munich. 

To that city he returned in October, 1894, because 
he was invited to become the successor of General- 
musikdirector Levi, who however did not entirely 
give up the reins until two years later. 

The description of Guntram to be given in a later 
chapter will make it clear why it would have been a 
wonder if it had succeeded. The performance, too, 
was inadequate, the leading singers of the Royal 
Opera having refused their cooperation, probably be- 
cause of the unvocal character and the difficulties of 
the r6les 

The reviews in the press were anything but flattering. 
"It is incredible," Strauss wrote on January 16, 1896, 
to his friend Arthur Seidl, "what a number of enemies 
Guntram has made for me. I shall soon come to 
think of myself as a real criminal. Yes, yes, people 
are willing to pardon anything, even the most impudent 
lies, but not the act of writing a work in accordance 
with the heart's dictates.'* 

Referring to the first and only performance in 
Munich, Max Steinitzer relates that "the orchestra 
was against the opera, yet, from a sense of duty, played 
as well as it could. After the second and the third act 
there ^ere loud calls for the composer, who no longer 
had complete faith in his work. 9 ' 

Although Guntram was subsequently performed alsc 
in Frankfort and Prague, it did not anywhere augmenl 
Strauss's fame. His tone poems, however, and his 


songs were becoming more and more popular, and 
during his second Munich engagement, which lasted 
till October, 1898, his achievement as a conscientious 
and stirring conductor of modern as well as classical 
works also made him a welcome musical guest every- 
where. He was invited to conduct at music festivals 
in the leading cities of Europe, and also went on con- 
cert tours of his own, which were usually successful 
from every point of view. 

In the season 1894-1895 he began to make regular 
trips to Berlin to conduct the concerts of the Phil- 
harmonic Orchestra as successor of Billow; and with 
this orchestra he subsequently earned laurels in all 
European countries as composer as well as conductor, 
his own tone poems being featured on the programs 
in unmistakable compliance with the wishes of the 

During the second Munich engagement, the list of 
tone poems was increased by Till EulenspiegeV s Merry 
Pranks, Thus Spake Zarathustra, and Don Quixote; 
all of these, being even more extravagantly Straussian 
than their predecessors, were violently assailed by 
most of the critics wherever they were played; and 
thus it came about that Strauss soon found him- 
self the most conspicuous personality in the musical 

For advertising purposes violent abuse provided 
there is plenty of it is more eff ective than superlative 
praise. Most persons do not distinguish between 
notoriety and fame, and many are as eager to see a 
musical criminal as any other kind. Consequently, 
the concert halls were crowded whenever a new work 
by this bold, bad man was performed. 



The reference made a moment ago to Strauss's uncle, 
Georg Pschorr, was not a misprint or a slip of the pen. 
Richard Strauss is the nephew as well as the grandson 
of Georg Pschorr. The elder Georg was a man in 
comfortable circumstances but he was not, like his son 
of the same name, a millionaire. His daughter, who 
married Franz Strauss, did not inherit a fortune. If 
Richard Strauss is perhaps the wealthiest composer 
Germany ever had, this is due chiefly to his own 
energy, good luck, and business instinct. 

He has obtained surprisingly large sums from the 
publishers for his tone poems; his operas (of which 
more anon) brought him vast royalties ; and for every 
new song good, bad, or indifferent he gets two 
hundred dollars, or just one thousand times as much 
as Schubert got, in the last year of his life, for one of 
his best songs. 

Until the Metropolitan Opera House in New York, 
backed up by a mob of millionaires, began to compete, 
Berlin enjoyed hearing the world's greatest singers, 
such as Lilli Lehmann, Emmy Destinn, Geraldine 
Farrar, Frieda Hempel, because no other German 
city not even Munich with its summer festivals 
could afford to pay equally high salaries* Naturally, 
Berlin also wanted the most famous of the orchestral 
conductors, and thus it came about that Strauss was 
engaged at the Royal Opera, beginning with November, 

It is not likely that the larger emoluments offered 
by Berlin would have tempted Strauss away from 


Munich had other things been equal. But his native 
city had not been particularly hospitable to him, nor 
could it afford to allow him so much leave of absence 
as he got in Berlin; and this was a matter of very 
great importance to him; for his concert tours, as 
just related, were not only profitable but gave him 
excellent opportunities for spreading the gospel of 
Straussism throughout Europe. Under his own direc- 
tion his complicated and very difficult scores were not 
subject to misinterpretation, 

A mere enumeration of the numerous Strauss festivals, 
some of which lasted a week, and the concert tours 
undertaken by Strauss since he made Berlin his home, 
with mention of all the cities visited, would take up 
several pages of this book. As such a list would be 
neither entertaining nor instructive, this very im- 
portant phase of his activity may be summed up by 
saying that one week we read of his giving concerts 
in Russia, the next in France, England, or Spain. 
When Salome, EleJctra, and the Rosenkavalier added so 
enormously to his fame, he had still further reasons 
for traveling from one end of Europe to the other; 
indeed, he could not begin to accept all the invitations 
that came to him. 

Paris was most hospitable to his operas, thoroughly 
un-French though they are ; and London went through 
several Strauss crazes. Ernest Newman devotes pages 
22 to 26 of his excellent little book on Strauss to an 
account of his gradual conquest of England. 

In Berlin itself, oddly enough, Strauss had com- 
paratively few opportunities to preach his gospel. 
Berlin is really an even more conservative city than 
Munich. In my Wagner biography I devoted many 
pages to the amazing struggle, lasting for years, which 


the present idol of the German public had to make to 
gain a foothold in that city, even though the aged 
Emperor William I took sufficient interest in his 
activities to personally attend the first festival at 

The present Emperor thinks Wagner's music is too 
noisy, and has often expressed his preference for the 
still small voice of Gluck. Needless to say, Strauss is 
still less to his taste. But as he always liked to have 
the great men of the Empire about him, he did not 
oppose his engagement. On one occasion the Kaiser, 
in commenting on Strauss's radicalism to Schuch, of 
Dresden (who conducted most of the premieres of 
Strauss's operas), added humorously: "That's a fine 
snake I have been warming in my bosom,** which 
led to Strauss's being nicknamed the Hofbusenschlange 
(or Court bosom snake) . 

There was one kind of noisy music which the Kaiser 
liked military marches, to which he sometimes 
listened by the hour. When Strauss wrote several 
compositions of this class, including a Konigsmarsch, 
the Kaiser accepted the dedication and conferred on 
Strauss the Kronenorden, third class. 

It was not the Kaiser's fault that Strauss for some 
years had little opportunity to assert himself in the 
concert halls of Berlin. Felix von Weingartner and 
Arthur Nikisch conducted the concerts of the two 
leading orchestras, and Strauss had to expend a great 
deal of time and labor before he could train an or- 
ganization of his own the Tonkiinstlerorchester 
to carry out his plans satisfactorily. 

The most important of these plans was a series of 
Modern Concerts at which he produced not only his 
compositions but all the symphonic poems of his 


idol, Liszt, in chronological order. These he inter- 
preted with such sympathetic insight that, as Steinitzer 
relates, even Hamlet, which had previously been coldly 
received, was honored with stormy applause: thus 
proving once more that no composer is more popular 
in concert halls than Liszt, providing his works are 
conducted by men like Strauss, Seidl, or Josef Stransky, 
who bring out the true inwardness of these rhapsodic 
works, as Paderewski does that of the Hungarian 

Strauss had heard Paderewski's delightful opera, 
Manru, and was so much pleased with it that he 
played excerpts from it at these Modern Concerts. 
From Boston he imported a composition by Loeffler. 
England was represented by Stanford and Elgar; 
Russia by Tchaikovsky; France by Charpentier, 
D'Indy, Bruneau; while among the Teutonic com- 
posers for whom he did missionary work were his 
friend Ritter, Bruckner, Pfitzner, Schilling, Wolf, 
Hausegger, Reznicek, Thuille, Huber. 

Before Richard Strauss became famous, the Strauss 
was Johann, the Waltz King. Him Richard admires, 
as much as Wagner and Brahms admired him, and he 
took as much pleasure in conducting his tuneful 
Fledermaus as he did in presiding, at the Royal Opera, 
over the operas of Wagner, Weber, Mozart, Verdi, 
Gluck, Auber, and others. 

Concerning other spheres of his activity, as editor, 
as writer of letters to the press, as president of as- 
sociations for promoting the cause of modern music 
and helping German composers to the royalties due 
them, more will be said in Part II of this work. 

All these things would have sufficed to keep an 
ordinary man busy more than eight hours a day (for 


a brain worker five are enough) ; but Strauss is a man 
of extraordinary energy. 

In the first ten years of his Berlin engagement he 
composed and produced two more mammoth tone 
poems. Heldenleben (1908), and Sinfonia Domestica 
(1903) ; three operas : Feuersnot (1899), Salome (1903), 
Elektra (1906-1908) ; and a number of songs and choral 
works. Der RosenJcavalier followed in 1909-1910; 
Ariadne auf Naxos in 1911-1912; the Josef's Legende 
in 1913 ; while the Alpensymphonie and the last opera, 
His Wife's Shadow, bring us up to the date of this book. 



One of the most interesting things about three of 
the works just named : Heldenleben, Sinfonia Domestica, 
and Feuersnot, is that they are autobiographic. 

Sir George Grove once declared that Schubert was 
the only modest composer he knew of. There have 
been others, but Richard Strauss is not one of them. 
He himself is, without disguise, the subject of his 
Heldenleben (Life of a Hero). To make the point 
quite obvious, he introduces a number of themes from 
his earlier works. The fact that these works were 
violently abused by the critics makes him try to get 
even with them in pages in which he swears at them 
in the most violently cacophonic clashes of sounds. 
For details see the chapter on the tone poems. 

Equally egotistic is the Domestic Symphony, in 
which Strauss, with astounding nalvet6, undertakes to 
relate the doings of a day and night in his household, 
consisting of papa, mamma, and baby. To set forth 


these simple, peaceful doings he uses an orchestra of 
over a hundred players; and the time required to 
tell the story is forty-five minutes ! 

In the opera Feuersnot he again introduces himself, 
this time in a satirical spirit, of which more anon., 
Ernest Newman has happily summed up the matter 
in one short sentence. Strauss, he says, has used 
this opera "as a mouthpiece for his own feeling of 
soreness at the comparative neglect that had been his 
lot in his own native city of Munich." 


While Feuersnot was not a success, the next three 
operas, Salome, Elelctra, and Der Rosenkavalier made 
Strauss for a time the rival of Wagner and Puccini in 
the number of performances accorded his productions 
in the theaters of not only Germany, but of France, 
England, and even Italy. 

Salome owed its sensational success much less to 
its music than to its subject. The play of Oscar 
Wilde had an amazing vogue in the German theaters 
when Strauss set it to music, and this is by no means 
the first and only instance of a successful opera based 
on a popular play. The objectionable features in the 
libretto which caused his opera to be "edited" in 
London and banished from the Metropolitan Opera 
House in New York after a single performance, served, 
of course, as an invaluable advertisement of it else- 

Its first performance was in Dresden, on December 9, 
1905. In spite of the great difficulty of the vocal 


parts and the orchestral score, dozens of other opera 
houses promptly staged it, and the royalties soon 
began to swell its composer's bank accounts at such a 
rate that he might have rested on his laurels for the 
rest of his life. But he did not. 

On January 25, 1909, there was another sensational 
premiere at Dresden, this time of Elektra. In this 
opera all the peculiarities of Strauss, especially his 
mania for needless dissonances and excessive polyphonic 
complexity, as well as his disregard for the possibilities 
of vocal achievement, reached a climax which alarmed 
even his devoted followers and made them wonder 
"What next?" 

As usual, Strauss was ready with a new surprise. 
Realizing that even he could not travel any farther 
in the tonal jungles and marches into which he had 
led the music drama, he announced that his next work 
would be a light comic opera "in the style of Mozart." 
He should have said the style of Schubert, for valses & 
la Schubert play a prominent part in this comic opera 
which, under the name of Der Roserikavalier, had its 
first hearing on January 26, 1911. 

Dresden was again the first to get acquainted with 
the new work, but for a time it seemed as if some 
other city would have to claim the honor. The in- 
tendant of the Royal Opera was, of course, eager to 
launch this comic opera, which was sure to prove 
another sensational success; but Strauss stipulated 
that in return for the right to the first night of the 
novelty, the Royal Opera must sign a contract provid- 
ing for at least four annual performances each of 
Salome and Elektra for ten years ; and at this condi- 
tion the management balked. 

Strauss wrote a long and diplomatic letter in which 


he tried to explain his attitude. It was printed in the 
Allgemeine Musikzeitung for October 9, 1910. He suc- 
ceeded in smoothing over matters, but the fact that 
at his own chosen headquarters they refused to promise 
a paltry four performances a year of two operas which, 
when first launched, were sensationally successful, was 
not a good advertisement for Strauss. It gave him, 
in fact, a black eye, both as a composer and a business 
man. Intoxicated by success, he had evidently over- 
reached himself. People began to ask themselves: 
"Are his successes so ephemeral?" 

Der Rosenkavalier, however, did not suffer in the\ 
least from this embarrassing situation. It proved an 
even greater success than Salome and Elektra; and, 
what is better, a more lasting one. In Germany it 
has taken the favored place, among his operas, of 
Don Juan, Death <md Transfiguration* and Eulenspiegel 
among his tone poems. 



Again the friends of Strauss, and the foes no less, 
began to wonder what was to be the next surprise. 
The answer came in 1912, when the smaller auditorium 
of the new Stuttgart Opera House was opened with 
performances (on October 24 and 25, the second under 
Strauss himself) of his latest creation, a one-act opera, 
Ariadne auf Naxos, preceded by a Moliere comedy, 
with incidental music by Strauss. 

It was an absurd combination, making much too 
long an entertainment (as was realized too late at the 
rehearsals) and requiring an array of good actors as 
well as singers (both solo and ensemble) that a manager 


could hope to get together only under exceptional cir- 
cumstances. Not the least of the curiosities of this 
combination show was the orchestra,' which, instead of 
being of the usual prescribed mammoth proportions, 
consisted of only thirty-five instruments, all of which 
had parts so difficult that only soloists could perform 

The vocal parts furthermore call for no fewer than 
ten singers, who have to be musicians and artists as 
well as vocalists ; and, most surprising of all, one of 
these singers disports herself in the most dazzling 
fioriture breakneck embellishments that out-Rossini 
Donizetti. And this in an opera by one who, in his 
preceding works, had subordinated the voice in every 
way to the orchestra ! 

Those who had asked "What next?" had their 
answer. With increasing tension they once more 
asked the question, and once more Strauss rose to 
the occasion. His next work was an opera without 
words in other words, a musical pantomime, en- 
titled Josefs Legende, which he wrote for Nijinski and 
the Ballet Russe, and which had its first performance 
in Paris, on May 14, 1914. It was not at all surprising 
that he should compose such a work ; he had had the 
plan for one in his mind for years, and there are those 
who think this kind of stage entertainment has a great 
future. Details will be given in their proper place, in 

After devoting fourteen years (1899-1913), apart 
from the Sinfonia Domestica and some vocal composi- 
tions, to the dramatic stage, Strauss returned, in 1915, 
to the concert hall with his Alpensympkonie. Let us 
now consider his personality. 



IN reviewing the uneventful yet interesting story of 
Strauss's life, one cannot but be struck by the fact 
that his most outstanding characteristic is energy. 

We have seen that while still in his teens he composed 
about a hundred works of diverse kinds, which he did 
not consider of sufficient importance for the printer 
but which involved a great deal of hard work. The 
decade 187&-1886 includes instrumental works and 
groups of songs, which do have opus numbers, yet are 
not likely to live. The three decades from 1887 to 1916 
represent the vpsisdme Strauss who, from the Italian 
Fantasy to the Alpensymphonie, is "different." It in- 
cludes, besides many songs and smaller works, nine sym- 
phonic poems most of them as long and elaborate as 
symphonies six operas, and a pantomimic ballet* 

Besides composing these works mostly marvels 
of complexity he spent a vast amount of time and 
energy in rehearsing and conducting them, with most of 
the great European orchestras, not to speak of recital 
tours with his wife or Doctor Wiillner, or other singers. 
And there were many other calls on his time and en- 
ergy, as we shall see. 


While Richard Strauss, unlike his two idols, Wagner 
and Liszt, has not put forth volumes of essays on 
musical and other topics, he has written plenty of 
articles and letters to the press which, if collected, 



would make a good-sized volume. Such a volume 
was indeed, contemplated shortly before the great 
war but has been delayed, like so many other good 
things; for a good thing it would be, revealing the 
writer perhaps more consistently in a favorable light 
than his compositions and their subjects. 

Many of his letters to the press are as vivid in 
style and as trenchant as the writings, public and 
private, of his patron and friend, Hans von Billow. 
Thanks to his principal biographer, Max Steinitzer, 
who was his classmate and has therefore had unusual 
opportunities, we have also been favored with fas- 
cinating extracts from his letters to Billow, Thuille, 
and others. These extracts from letters, combined 
with those made public in the writings of Arthur 
Seidl, Richard Batka, and other writers, indicate 
that another treat is in store when the complete Strauss 
letters get into print. 

In spite of the fact that he had (as he remarked in 
an article contributed to the periodical Morgen, June 14, 
1907), "an almost unconquerable aversion to literary 
work", he nevertheless at one time (during his second 
engagement in Munich) contemplated joining Schillings 
and others in establishing and editing a progressive mu- 
sical periodical, but the plan was not carried through. 

Some years late he accepted the editorship of a 
series of biographies issued under the general title 
" Die Musik." To the first of these volumes, Gollerich's 
"Beethoven,"* he contributed a long intrduction. He 
also wrote an interesting introduction to a volume of 
essays by the famous Berlin critic, Leopold Schmidt, 
entitled " Aus dem Musikleben der Gegenwart." 

In this introduction he discusses, among other things, 
his relations to critics: "I know of nothing more 


helpful to a writer than the criticisms of a deadly 
enemy, who deliberately listens with the intention of 
finding as many flaws as possible! The keener his 
intellect, the less likely he is to overlook the most 
recondite weaknesses, which are disregarded, con- 
sciously or unconsciously, by the enthusiasts as well 
as those who are merely sympathetic or good-natured. 
Now since, as everybody knows, it is more difficult 
for the author than for any one else to recognize his 
own shortcomings, it is clear that a deadly enemy is 
useful because he promotes self-criticism in those who 
are likely at all to indulge in it. 

"It is another truism that all really great works, 
however new and unusual they may be in form and 
content, may serenely face unfavorable comment as 
well as dispense with praise. I often smile to myself 
when colleagues who are more sensitive than I am are 
thrown into a state of great excitement when their 
works do not meet with the critical approval they had 
expected. Think of the damage which Hanslick's 
attacks on Wagner were fabled to have done !" 1 



While Strauss was editor of Der Morgan he wrote 
for it an article "Is There a Party of Progress in 
Music?" of which the following condensed transla- 
tion appeared in Musical America: 

1 Doctor Hanslick's attacks, nevertheless, did retard the appreciation of 
Wagner's works, while Strauss was helped by the assaults made on him. 
Newspaper readers, remembering how unmercifully Wagner was drubbed, 
naturally inferred that Strauss, too, might be the innocent victim of 
journalistic intrigue and malevolence. 


Alexander Bitter once told me that when Liszt, about 
fifty years ago, gave for the first time three concerts in 
Dresden with programs containing orchestral works of his 
own, the performance of some of his symphonic poems 
aroused tremendous enthusiasm on the part of an audience 
which was without prejudice against these new works. The 
next morning the papers said that Liszt could not be called 
a composer at all ; whereupon the good people who on the, 
preceding evening had given free vent to their enthusiasm 
were suddenly ashamed of it ; no one would admit he had 
applauded and every one had a thousand buts and ifs. 
But whatsoever is great can at the worst be kept from its 
triumphant success only temporarily by the men of darkness, 
and thus the great public has exalted Liszt, too, above the 
malice and ignorance of his enemies, even as it helped Wagner 
by its enthusiasm in 1876 to triumph over the carpers and 
the envious. 

The moral of all this is, as Strauss goes on to intimate 
broadly, that it is foolish to criticize him. 

Reactionaries of an insufferable sort are, in my view, 
those who maintain that because Wagner got his subjects 
from German mythology, therefore no one is to be allowed 
thenceforth to get subjects from the Bible (I speak, of course, 
pro domo) ; or those who teach that it is vulgar to use a 
valve trumpet for melody for no other reason than be- 
cause Beethoven was obliged to confine his natural-trumpet 
players to tonic and dominant; in short, all those who, 
armed with big law tablets, hurl an anathema, hit at every 
one who endeavors to create something new and try to hinder 
him in his efforts. 

One must not permit oneself to be deceived by the fact 
that the self -same public often grows ecstatic over the 
accidental, the commonplace and the trite as something 
entirely new, original and progressive. These outbursts 
are, moreover, usually of a passing nature. The public 
has really two souls in the breast ; a third is, indeed, lacking ; 
for that kind of art which possesses neither deep, inner 
feeling nor a commanding, overmastering strength the 
public has the smallest possible understanding and still 


less inclination. Hence so many disappointments of earnest, 
hard-working artists whom even their adversaries cannot 
charge with triviality while their friends admit that they 
do not possess suggestive power enough to capture the 

Weber once said of the great public: "The individual is 
an ass, but the whole is, nevertheless, the voice of God." 
And indeed, the soul of the thousand headed public which 
appears in our theaters and concert halls for an evening's 
artistic enjoyment will, as a rule, instinctively get a true 
appreciation of what is presented provided, however, 
that a fussy criticism or a busy competition does not interfere. 

Displeased with the critics of the German press, 
who have seldom been friendly to musical novelties 
and innovations, Strauss usually has given his writings 
a controversial character, with occasional flashes of 
irony or satire, especially when referring to Doctor 
Hanslick and other would-be "guardians of the eternal 
laws of beauty", which he and other moderns were 
accused of violating. 


Richard Strauss is not altogether a selfish man, 
as many seem to think. On the contrary, one of the 
several ways in which he followed in the footsteps of 
Liszt has been his readiness to champion the cause 
of his colleagues and promote their interests, even 
when they really were his rivals. He censured the- 
musical journalists for their habit of bestowing super- 
fluous praise on the admittedly great masters while 
dwelling on the shortcomings of minor composers, 
instead of calling attention to the undeniable flashes 
of genius to be found in many of these. 


One day, at the opera, as Steinitzer relates, Strauss 
explained this point of view to the Kaiser, who had 
summoned him to his box, during an intermission. 
"He added that those talents of the second rank had 
a hard struggle for existence, all the more as the German 
composers did not know so well how to show their 
works to advantage as the more experienced French 

Practising what he preached, he gave, as we have 
seen, the names of the less favored composers a prom- 
inent place on the programs of his Modern Concerts 
in Berlin. These concerts, it is needless to say, were 
not profitable. Strauss gave them by way of preach- 
ing progressive principles and helping composers who 
had not had their fair share of attention. Wherefore 
he did not grudge the vast amount of time and energy 
he expended on them. The deficits, to be sure, were 
paid by a wealthy friend. 

One of the most interesting episodes in his career 
is due to this commendable habit of trying to dis- 
cover merit in obscure musicians. It led to the dis- 
covery of a real genius the composer of Hansel and 
Gretel and Konigslcinder. 

When Humperdinck was teaching music at the Hoch 
Conservatory in Frankfurt for a mere pittance, he 
amused himself by composing a fairy opera for his 
children. Urged by friends he sent the score to 
Richard Strauss, who promptly replied in a letter 
dated Weimar, October 30, 1893 : 

Dear Friend: I have just looked through the score of 
your Hansel and Gretel and sit down at once to try to tell 
you how greatly your work has delighted me. Truly, it 
is a masterwork of the highest quality, on the completion of 
which I offer you my heartiest congratulations. Here, for 


the first time in a long while, is a composition that makes a 
deep impression on me. What refreshing humor, what 
preciously naive melodic art, what skill and subtlety in the 
treatment of the orchestra, what perfect art in the shaping 
of the whole work, what rich invention, what splendid poly- 
phony and everything original, new, and thoroughly 
German. My dear friend, you are a great master who has 
bestowed on the dear Germans a work which they hardly 
deserve, but which I hope they will soon learn to appraise at 
its full value. Should this not come to pass, accept at any 
rate, from a true friend and sympathizer the warmest grati- 
tude for the pleasure you have given him. 

The Germans did soon learn to appreciate this glo- 
rious work at its true value thanks to Strauss, who 
brought it out two months later, under his own direc- 
tion, at Weimar, whence it immediately spread like 
a prairie fire all over the Empire. In a few months 
Humperdinck was a wealthy man. 

Anything more unlike the merry pranks of Till 
Eulenspiegel, which Strauss was incubating about 
this time, than Hansel and Gretel, it would be difficult 
to imagine. But Strauss had always been most cos- 
mopolitan in taste. He, the most complicated and 
cacophonous of composers, adores the simplicity, 
tunefulness, and euphony of Mozart. 

In England he won tte good will of many by what 
Alfred Kalish calls "his almost impassioned advocacy 
of Elgar in the days when England had not yet learned 
to admire the Dream of Gerontius. His remarks in 
his speech at the banquet after the Lower Rhenish 
Festival at Diisseldorf in 1902 were no mere idle after- 
dinner talk. ... At that time hardly any English 
authority had dared to speak so enthusiastically of 
Elgar and his work. 9 * 



Another way in which Strauss helped contemporary 
composers was as president of the Allgemeine Deutsche 
Musikverein, in which capacity he once more trod 
in the footsteps of Liszt, who had (in 1861) founded 
this association for the advancement of modern music 
by means of annual festivals. 

An amusing detail is the circumstance that Strauss 
was elected president of this association in 1901, as 
successor to Fritz Steinbach, who had displeased the 
members by putting the names of conservative com- 
posers like Brahms and Max Bruch on his programs. 
The paradoxical information is given by Steinitzer that 
it was Steinbach who first made Brahms palatable to the 
Munichers by interpreting him in the Wagnerian manner ! 

Under the presidency of Richard Strauss (until 
1909), no names of conservatives were smuggled into 
the programs of the Musikverein festivals. There 
were plenty and to spare of the progressives : they 
contributed every year some two hundred manuscripts 
on approval. Even Strauss, with his rare energy, 
could not undertake to read and judge these manu- 
scripts, and this was fortunate for him, in view of the 
abundant opportunities he had otherwise of exercising 
the "gentle art of making enemies." 

For a time .he incurred the enmity of even the pro- 
gressive composers by his strenuous efforts to help 
them to what few of them had in abundance 
royalties. This paradox calls for an explanation. 

In France there has long existed an association for 
securing to composers and other creative artists 


royalties on the public performances of their pieces 
or songs. Grieg once told me how he had been asked 
to join this association and how glad he was he had 
accepted the invitation, because in a short time he 
received a check for twelve hundred francs; which 
illustrates the advantages of this plan. 

In order to help German composers to similar ad- 
vantages, Strauss became one of the founders, in 
1898, of the Genossenschaft Deutscher Tonsetzer. 
They surely needed such assistance, for never have 
men been so shamelessly exploited as the composers 
of Germany. Bach's widow died in a poorhouse. 
Mozart was buried in a grave with several other 
paupers. What Schubert left when he died was not 
worth one gold piece. Weber's Freischutz> which 
enriched hundreds of managers, singers, and pub- 
lishers, netted him only a few hundred. Even Wagner 
did not earn one dollar for every thousand that others 
got from his operas, Strauss helped to put an end 
to this unjust state of affairs. 

He did not need the help of a "Genossenschaft" to 
secure royalties for himself, for he has ways of his 
own of getting his dues. His labors along this line 
were therefore purely altruistic ; yet they met with so 
much opposition on the part not only of publishers, 
managers, and artists, but of the composers them- 
selves including some of his closest friends that 
he regretted more than once having ever undertaken 
this job, which caused him much annoyance and com- 
pelled him to write scores of letters, both private and 
public, when he would have preferred writing musical 

It must be admitted that there are two sides to this 
question. Composers whose works are not impera- 


lively demanded by the public may naturally fear 
that if they ask for royalties on their performance 
the singers and players may refuse to produce them; 
and it is well known that (particularly in England) 
publishers and authors in many instances actually 
pay the performers for producing their works and 
thus advertising them. On the whole, however, the 
royalty plan, as forced on his colleagues by Strauss, 
seems to be best. At any rate, Steinitzer assures us 
that the opposition to this plan has nearly vanished 
because of the hundreds of thousands it distributes 
every year among the composers. 


Time was when most operas were prima donna operas ; 
that is, they were composed for the special purpose 
of giving famous singers opportunities to display their 
beautiful voices and dazzling bravura. Gradually as 
Gluck, Mozart, Beethoven, Weber, Wagner, Verdi, 
Gounod, Bizet, and other masters assigned a more 
important function to the orchestra than that of a 
"huge guitar", the conductors became more and more 
prominent ; until a climax was reached at the Metro- 
politan Opera House in New York, where Arturo 
Toscanini had the audacity to attempt and with 
considerable success to make himself and his or- 
chestra seem more important than the world-famed 
artists singing under him; for which astonishing 
achievement he received one thousand dollars a per- 
formance. The most spoilt favorite of the public 
never had her way more completely than he did, and 


the wits had reason for referring to him sarcastically 
as "the last of the prima donnas." 

Theodore Thomas once conducted the Messiah with 
Adelina Patti in one of the solo parts. When he ob- 
jected to her way of rendering a certain passage, 
she remarked sharply that, as the prima donna of the 
occasion, she had a right to follow her own ideas of 
interpretation; upon which he replied: "Beg pardon, 
Madam, but here I am prima donna." 

To-day the expression "prima donna conductor" is 
applied to all orchestral leaders who, following the 
example of Wagner, Liszt, Btilow, Hans Richter, and 
Anton Seidl, interpret operas and concert pieces sub- 
jectively as Paderewski plays the piano, and as 
Liszt and Rubinstein played it ; that is, they do not 
read the lines literally and mechanically, but color 
them with nuances that give them ]an individual 

While some critics foolishly attack the prima donna 
conductors, the public quite properly adores them, 
because they add a new interest to familiar works, 
just as great actors do to Shakespearean and other 
rdles by their individual readings and gestures. 

This explains why managers, owing to growing com- 
petition, are compelled to make their offers to these 
popular conductors larger and larger. Arthur Nikisch 
must earn at least twenty-five thousand dollars a year 
by his activity in a dozen European cities, and in the 
United States such conductors as Dr. Muck and 
Josef Stransky earn even larger sums. 

Of all the prima donna conductors none has been in 
such demand as Richard Strauss, to whose extraor- 
dinary activity in this direction on one occasion 
thirty-one concerts in thirty-one days reference has 


already been made. This activity has been, for a 
quarter of a century, one of the main sources of the 
wealth he has achieved, as well as of his fame. 

In one respect Strauss is unlike some, at any rate, 
of the prima donna conductors. He does not pose, 
does not try to show off his skill and his grace as prima 
donnas love to show off their personal attractions. 

His appearance on the stage is thus sketched by 
Doctor Erich Urban in his brochure Strauss Contra 
Wagner : 

A feast for the eyes his beating of the baton is not. He 
declines to enter into competition with fashionable conduc- 
tors to curl a languishing lock on his pale forehead, 
or to paint mystic figures in the air with his magic white 
hands. His movements are hard and angular. An increase 
of power he indicates by a hasty bending of his knee joints. 
He hovers with outspread arms over the orchestra, like a 
spider over its prey. He has his players so firmly in his 
power, has penetrated them so completely, that he has 
achieved the wonder of imposing his conception of a piece 
of music on so overworked an organization as the Berlin 
Philharmonic in a single rehearsal. 

Grieg once spoke of Strauss as "the man who con- 
ducts with his knees", and Steinitzer relates that in 
his Weimar days he indulged in lively gesticulations 
and sweeping movements of the arms; but in later 
years his signals for increase or decrease of loudness 
became more and more simple and reserved. But he 
never changed the principles of interpretation in the 
style of Wagner and Liszt, as taught him in Weimar 
by Billow. To this mentor he wrote in October, 1887 : 
"A charming new acquaintance I have made in Mahler, 
who appears to be a highly intelligent musician; one 
of the few modern conductors who know about modi- 
fications of tempo. Altogether his views are splendid, 


especially those that refer to Wagner's tempi (as 
against those of the now approved Mozart conductors)/* 

In the pages relating to Strauss's activity in Munich, 
reference was made to the difficulty he had in over- 
coming the traditional but by no means correct read- 
ings of classical works. Ignorant conservatives who 
followed* the letter instead of the spirit advised him 
to be "objective", especially in the interpretation of 
Beethoven; which made him remark one day to 
Ritter : "If I only knew how to go about this business 
of conducting * objectively'; I really haven't the 
faintest idea what I should do." 

Perhaps from no other point of view does Strauss's 
character appear in a more favorable light than in 
that of conductor. I remember reading in the AJlge- 
meine Zeitung about his great successor in Munich: 
"As is well-known, Herr Mottl is a great conductor 
when he feels like it." Strauss, apparently, always 
"feels like -it;" He was often distressed by the lack 
of thorough rehearsing in some of the leading German 
cities, and shirked no amount of hard work to do 
justice to whatever he undertook. 

An amusing illustration of his seriousness and 
whole-souled devotion to his work was given at a 
Tanrihauser rehearsal in Weimar when he threatened 
the chorus that he would hurl his b&ton right in their 
midst if they did not do better at the public performance. 

Strauss enthusiasts claim that there would be 
fewer who doubt his genius if all could hear him con- 
duct his own works. Naturally enough, he brings 
out details that show his intentions in the brightest 
light. No other conductor, except perhaps Josef 
Stransky, at the head of the New York Philharmonic, 
has ever impressed me so favorably with the reading 


of a tone poem by Strauss as did Strauss himself when, 
in New York, he conducted the first performance 
anywhere of his Sinfonia Domestica. While I did 
not like the Sinfonia, I was thrilled by his handling 
of the vast orchestral masses, and the novel sound 
effects, especially in the brass choir. 


With all the exhausting work done by Strauss, how 
did he manage to preserve his health ? In appearance 
he is anything but robust, yet he has had only one 
serious illness, and, as already related, he utilized the 
period of convalescence from it to write a long opera 
instead of resting. 

In Hausegger's biography of Alexander Ritter, we 
find this snapshot: "With deep concern Ritter heard 
of his friend's illness. Daily he asked for reports. 
He advised him to give up all mental activity, but in 
doing so forgot to take into account the rapid re- 
cuperative power of this temperamental individual. 
From the sick-bed came this reply : * You want me to 
unhitch my mind? Dear Uncle Ritter, you'll have 
to teach me how to do that when I get back to Munich. 
I don't know how to begin. How can I repress my 
thoughts which in the very first days of my recovery 
already performed for me by memory half an act of 
Tristan at a time ? Altogether, I cannot imagine my- 
self without mental occupation/ 5 ' 

After his record tour of thirty-one concerts in as 
many days he is said to have been far from esdbausted. 
How did he contrive to conserve his vitality? 


His German biographer reveals the secret. Strauss 
learned at an early age the important art of mental 
relaxation. "Immediately after completing one of 
his mammoth tasks as composer or conductor he has 
the ability to arrest the activity of the higher brain 
centres and to devote himself with complete atten- 
tion to a cosy game of skat. (He did this for in- 
stance, on his way from Dresden to Berlin at ten o'clock 
on the morning after the surely most exciting pre- 
mi&re of Salome.) And it is known that after a per- 
formance he does not mentally * continue to conduct' 
but plays his cards very well, as many of those who 
play with him remember to their cost." 

His love of cards dates back to his school days ; and 
a game of skat has been throughout his life the most 
effective way of arresting creative activity when not 



In Bayreuth, during the Parsifal festival, I met a 
New York journalist who had made up his mind to 
secure an interview with Wagner. Knowing that the 
great man took a walk daily in the park behind his 
house, he boldly accosted him one afternoon, but was 
curtly told to "get out" ; whereupon the journalist 
proceeded to collect information about Wagner's habits 
and views from his neighbors and the tradesmen who 
supplied his needs, all of which he presented as utter- 
ances of the great Richard, thus making a very enter- 
taining and quite informative "interview", which, to 
be sure, discreetly omitted the few words actually 
spoken by Wagner. 


Richard Strauss has been more accessible to news- 
paper reporters, some of whom have been able to give 
vivid sketches of his personality and his views. Ex- 
tracts from a few of them follow. The first appeared 
in Theodore Presser's musical magazine The Etude 
and was written by the well-known critic, William 
Armstrong, who says : 

The face of Richard Strauss is a combination of strength 
and weakness. The strength lies in the noble develop- 
ment of the forehead, and the weakness in the chin and 
jaw, quite feminine in outline and curious by contrast with 
the upper part of the face. His eyes are full of the poetry 
of his mind. Large, grayish blue in color, and set far apart, 
they show high development of the imaginative faculties. 
They are absolutely frank, and there is an expression of 
the ideal in them that nothing would have the power to 

It was at 6 o'clock in the evening, and at the house of 
Mr. Speyer, the London banker, which had been placed 
at his disposal during his stay in the metropolis^ to conduct 
the Strauss festival, that I met him, for The Etude. The 
day had been spent in rehearsal ; it would presently be time to 
dress for the concert. With an active, springy step he came 
down the stairs, hurrying into the room. Tall and angular, 
his clothes hang on him in a characterless way. His brown 
hair is thin to the point of baldness, his manner is of a simple 
dignity that impresses itself. 

Of his compositions he spoke reluctantly ; on that subject 
his staunch advocate, Mr. Willem Mengelberg, conductor 
of the Amsterdam orchestra, and his assistant in the festival, 
spoke at length to me later, and as a student enthusiastic 
on his theme. 

"My composing is done in the afternoon and evening", 
said Mr. Strauss, "and I keep it up until one or two o'clock 
in the morning. But it never leaves me nervous ; that is a 
strange thing about it. When I finish, my mind seems 
absolutely free from a thought of it, and I go to sleep im- 


"But I need the calm and quiet of the country to write 
in, so the major part of my work is done in the summertime. 
In Berlin I have too much else to do ; the stress is too great 
to make it possible to compose; I score my work there, 
but I cannot compose. That would be impossible. 

"My work in composition means not revolution but 
evolution, and evolution built on the classics which must 
be the foundation of all musical composition. 

"My compositions are built on classical lines; all real 
music must be. I believe in the old masters; for Mozart 
especially I have a great love. 

"We have composers in Germany today," Strauss 
asserted, "but the difficulty is that the picture of Wagner 
is so great that it dwarfs all others. His breadth, his power, 
and his forcefulness overshadow by contrast. But we 
have our smaller composers, nevertheless. There are Mahler, 
Schilling, von Hausegger, Pfitzner, Humperdinck and 

In his interest to have mention of some of his colleagues 
he took my notebook, and himself wrote their names. 

"Where do I think the chief difficulty in interpreting 
my compositions lies ? In this a lack of sense of humor. 
Humor is generally the last quality an orchestral conductor 
has. Look at Beethoven, how full of humor he is in his 
Fourth and Eighth Symphonies ! But how few conductors 
look for humor in Beethoven, and yet he is so full of humor ! 

"Shall I follow my plan of setting other poems to music 
for recitation as I have done in 'Enoch Arden'? No, 
scarcely. That was merely a side issue. Such things can 
be done with a piano or very small orchestra. The theory 
that Madame Bernhardt has advanced, for instance, that 
an entire play be scored with the speaking voice is impossible, 
nor could any such revolution come, for the reason that 
no speaking voice could be sustained against an orchestra. 
Only the singing Voice will accomplish that. 

"The first of my compositions to be played in America, 
my First Symphony, was done from the manuscript by 
Mr. Theodore Thomas in New York. I was seventeen years 
old at the time. I have never seen him since that meeting 
in Munich, when my father took me to see him, and he 


accepted the work ; but I know that he has generously given 
my compositions a hearing." 

As he talked, his simplicity and sincerity grew in the 
impression that they made. In one sense he is, apparently, 
among the few he recognizes thoroughly the place he holds 
in musical art, his value he knows fully and completely, but 
as a man associating with other men he is as other men are. 

His manner toward an orchestra in rehearsal is calculated 
to be particularly grateful to the men. If a thing is well 
done he makes recognition of it as soon as the final chord 
is sounded. If a player does a solo well, even though it be 
a short one, he steps down from the desk and shakes hands 
with him when the piece is ended. 

Turning presently to his songs, Strauss, in reply to a 
question as to the sequence in which they should be taken 
up in study, said: "Even the easiest are difficult; they are 
for singers already accomplished/' 


At the time when Strauss was composing his Rosen- 
kavalier, lie granted an interview to the American 
composer, Ward Stephens, who has told of his visit 
in the Pictorial Review. Strauss was spending the 
summer, as usual, in the picturesque Bavarian village 

A few minutes after nine, Mr. Stephens writes, with my 
camera under my arm, I started for my man, and after a 
brisk fifteen minutes' walk I came to the very end of the 
town and Doctor Strauss's house is to all appearances the 
end of the town. His house was a surprise to me; the 
change in architecture was startling. I had been walking 
through streets with little two-storied houses, graceful 
balconies and picturesque overhanging roofs and enjoying 
a decidedly foreign atmosphere, when I was suddenly con- 




fronted with a house, grounds and fence which might have 
been put together in America, grounds and all, and shipped 
to Garmisch and planted there. 

At the appointed time I was there "waiting at the gate." 
In the post, at the left of the gate, was a speaking tube and a 
brass sign which tells you to ring the bell and then put 
your ear to the tube. If you "make good" with the party 
at the other end of the tube you are told that the gate is 
unlocked. Another sign tells you how to open it and to be 
sure to close it after you, all of which makes you feel that 
Herr Strauss must be a very particular man. 

The house is about sixty yards from the gate, and half 
way up the walk I met a very tall boy with an enormous 
head, big dark brown eyes, black hair and a fine complexion, 
quite the handsomest face and head I have ever seen on a 
boy. He looked at me with a peculiar look of inquiry 
in his eyes, as any tame animal might look at a stranger. 

That boy's face haunted me for days. He was the 
thirteen-year-old son of Doctor Strauss. 

A woman, none other than Mrs. Strauss herself, as I 
afterward learned, dressed in Tyrolean costume, escorted me 
around the rear of the house and there I saw the man I had 
come so far to see, the most talked-of musician in the world 
to-day, seated at a table on a veranda (entirely enclosed in 
glass), writing the orchestral score of the new opera the 
Rosenkavalier. After an exchange of greeting, he said : 

"You see I am very busy and our visit will have to be 
very short ; what can I do for you ? " 

The look in his eyes, his manner of speech and attitude 
impressed me at once with frankness, simplicity, directness, 
energy, and dignity. I assured him that I would not take 
up much of his valuable time, but would like to have him 
tell me a few things about himself and his work. 

"Well," he said, "what is it you wish to know? Go 
right on and talk, for I can write this score and talk as well," 
and for a while he did. 

Strauss is a very difficult man to engage in conversation, 
and it was a little difficult to know just how to get him 
started, especially with his head full of an orchestral score 
for an opera. 


"Do you feel, Herr Doctor, that you have given to the 
world your best work or may we look for greater things?" 

This seemed to amuse him. 

"Why should I feel that way about it ? Why, I am only 
forty-six now and have hardly begun my life's work. In 
fact, it is only when a man is free from any thought of money 
matters that he can give all of himself to his art and as I 
said before that is what I hope to do very soon." 

"It is very evident that you do not believe that poverty 
is a good thing for the artist born ? " 

"I do not; it frequently crushes the best in a man. 
Worry alone is enough to kill a sensitive man, and all 
thoroughly artistic natures are sensitive." 

Now I had heard that Strauss was not very indulgent 
with the struggling composer; in fact, that he refused to 
even look at manuscript sent to him for inspection. He 
denied that by saying : 

"A great many manuscripts are sent to me, and if I 
were to give a careful analysis of each one I would have 
no time left for composing. I do glance through the larger 
works, and if any real merit shows itself I look through it 
carefully and return it with a letter, often making sug- 
gestions. More than this," he went on to say, " could not 
be expected of me, as I am not a proof-reader for others." 

"You Americans are very clever, you are great money- 
makers, you buy the best of everything, you buy the best 
orchestras, you buy the best artists, you buy the best 
musical works, you build beautiful opera houses and halls 
for musical entertainments, and with such opportunities of 
absorbing good music America should give birth to great 

You will observe that he was not giving us any credit for 
what we have to-day. 

Now every composer has his own ideas as to which of 
his compositions is the best. I naturally wanted to know 
which "son" Strauss considered his best piece of writing, 
and like most composers he named one of the unpopular 
ones Das Lied des Steinklopfers, composed in 1902. 

"You must have received large royalties for your popular 
song, Traum durch die Dammerung, I remarked. 


"On the contrary, I sold it for thirty shillings, but the 
publishers made four hundred pounds out of it the first 
year. However, I fared a little better with my Domestic 
Symphony, for which I was paid seventeen hundred and 
fifty pounds, nearly nine thousand dollars of your American 

Doctor Strauss's regard for his family and home 
life is shown in Mr. Stephen's account of how his 
wife and son joined him during the conversation. 

His voice changed to one of great tenderness when he 
spoke to his wife and son, and I saw at once that the man was 
very happy in his domestic life. He became even pleasanter 
with me and called my attention to the various plants and 
flowers about the place. He was just like a pleased boy. 
Strauss is a typical Bavarian and loves Munich, and quite 
shares the opinion of others who have said "Berlin would 
be beautiful if there were not so many Prussians in it." 

You could easily think that this man has accumulated 
a fortune to judge by the beautiful house and grounds he 
had built for himself in Garmisch. He undoubtedly has 
earned a fortune by his writing, but he has always been 
surrounded with luxury and has never known what it is 
to be poor. He loves the society of highly cultured people 
and does not care to waste any time on others. Dr. Strauss 
is a very serious man. He takes the world seriously, also 
himself and his work. I cannot imagine him being com- 
panionable for any length of time with one of small intellect, 
and he can be very sarcastic with the common enthusiast 
and idol worshipper. 


During the Elektra days, the eminent German critic, 
Ludwig Karpath, had two talks with Strauss which 
he placed on record. The following translation of 
them was made for Musical America : 


Whatever one may have to say against Richard Strauss 
personally, he is the most charming and most modest of men. 
He never shows that he resents unfavorable criticism of his 
works. Last year I permitted myself to make, in the 
Munich Allgemeine Zeitung, the modest observation that 
I was already scared at the prospect of the next Philharmonic 
concert, at which the Sinfonia Domestica was to be played. 
A few weeks later I saw Strauss at the Cafe Imperial. "You 
aren't going to run away from me," the composer called out, 
and invited me to his table. "Then he doesn't know," 
I thought, and turned to my coffee. We spent a pleasant 
hour chatting. Then suddenly the fatal moment arrived. 
In tones of flute-like sweetness, gentle and soothing, the 
words fell from his lips: "By the way, I wanted to ask 
you you've recovered from your fright at the Domestica, 
haven't you?" I quickly recovered my composure and 
replied that as it was six weeks ago I was feeling better. 
Strauss burst into frank, hearty laughter. 

On another occasion Strauss had another chat with 
Karpath. Once more the conversation turned to 
Elektra, and the critic gave his personal impression of 
the opera which, he observes, was by no means favor- 

And again Strauss disarmed me with his winning amia- 
bility. I recalled to him the first performance of Feuersnot 
in Dresden. We were only a few at that premiere. No 
trace of the crowd of foreigners at the first performance 
of Salome and later at Elektra. It was almost a family 
party, and yet Strauss was a sensation. It was the first 
work in which Strauss struck new paths. Strauss began 
to speak, "Now look here," he said; "You must admit 
that today Feuersnot appears quite harmless to yojj.. I am 
absolutely certain that in my later works I have attained 
to new formations. When I heard Tristan for the first time 
in my life and I was a finished musician then it made 
on me the impression of complete chaos, in which I could 
not clearly see my way. And yet today how simple and 
clear Wagner's masterpiece appears to those who then had 



the same experience as I. It's nonsense to say that I will- 
ingly write discords. I cannot cite a single passage in my 
works that ever seemed to me to be discordant. On the 
contrary, I sometimes strive to express some phrase or other 
with unwonted roughness, but I can't." 

"Because you're a tonal musician, Doctor," I observed, 
"for all your daring harmonic extravagances, because 
you have the art of returning to harmony at the right 

"You're quite right. I still regard myself as an adherent 
of the tonality principle, however much my opponents may 
deny this. And it is unusually important to seek effects 
of contrast. In composing one cannot remain continually 
homophonic or polyphonic. Everything which music re- 
quires must assume symphonic form ; that is to say must 
be worked out polyphonically. So that the voice on the 
stage is also regarded as an integral part of the musical 
texture. If, however, one is concerned with a portion of 
the text which is to make some definite event immediately 
clear to the spectator, one must undoubtedly compose 

"The first monologue in EleJctra is an example of this. 
The effect is certain to be missed if the composition is wholly 
homophonic or wholly polyphonic. Nothing damaged 
Liszt's works so much as their consistent homophony, and 
nothing is more a hindrance to the correct comprehen- 
sion of Bach than his consistent polyphony. One gets 
wearied of the one as of the other, for the charm of contrast 
is lacking. 

"If you pretend to take a creative spirit in music in 
our time seriously, you must not condemn him at once, 
but you ought first to ask yourself if the composer may 
not possibly have raced ahead of your faculty of compre- 
hension. There is nothing worse than an obstinate ad- 
herence to fixed forms. My own father made this great 
mistake. Because he thought when he was hornist at 
the Munich Court Theater in 1885, that he didn't 
understand Wagner, he refused later on to change his 




Strauss has one thing in common with Mascagni: 
he "always makes money, even when his operas do 
not", as James Hufceker remarked in a page of the 
New York Sun (November 24, 1912) devoted to the 
Ariadne Festival in Stuttgart. One of the jokes of 
Strauss, according to the same brilliant writer, "is 
to make music critics pay for their seats. Screams 
of agony were heard all over the Continent, as far 
North as Berlin, as far South as Vienna. A music 
critic dearly hates to pay for a ticket. Hence the 
Till Eulenspiegel humor of R. Strauss." 

The following, from the same article, is character- 
istic of both Strauss and Huneker : 

For Richard Strauss is an extraordinary musician. To 
begija with, he doesn't look like a disorderly genius with 
rumpled hair, but is the mildest mannered man who ever 
scuttled another's score and smoked bad Munich cigars or 
played* skat 'to the liquid accompaniment of brown Bavarian 
beer. He resembles less today our esteemed fellow-citizen, 
August Wiirzburg Liichow, inasmuch as he is thinner, yet 
he doesn't recall in the least his own music. And then he 
loves money! What other composer, besides Handel, 
Haydn, Mozart yes, and also Beethoven Gluck, Meyer- 
beer, Verdi, Puccini, so doted on the box office? Why 
shouldn't he? Why should he enrich the haughty music 
publisher or the still haughtier intendant of the opera house ? 
As a matter of fact, if R. Strauss is in such a hurry to grow 
rich (he is already worth over 2,000,000 marks) he would 
write music of a more popular character. It would seem 
then that he is a millionaire malgrg lui, and that no matter 
what he writes, money flows into his coffers. Indeed an 
extraordinary man. Despite his spiritual dependence upon 
Wagner, and, in his Tone Pd&ms, upon Liszt and Berlioz, 


he has a very definite musical personality. He has am- 
plified, intensified the Liszt-Wagner music, adding to its 
stature, also exaggerating it on the purely physical side. 

While Strauss's music is based chiefly on Wagner 
and Liszt, he once said in a Paris interview: "In the 
main I have endeavored to derive from French music 
those things which are most wanting in German music, 
certain airy, graceful, charming finenesses as exemplified 
particularly in the score of Carmen, which presents 
such a strong contrast to the serious, heavy style from 
which German composers find it difficult to get away." 

In another interview, printed in 1910, Strauss said, 
referring to his Bavarian home at Garmisch : 

Here it is easiest to compose and here I prefer to work. 
I compose everywhere as far as that is concerned walking 
or driving, eating or drinking, at home or abroad, in noisy 
hotels, in my garden, in railway carriages ; my sketch book 
never leaves me, and as soon as a motive strikes me I jot 
it down. One of the most important melodies for my new 
opera (Rosenkavalier) struck me while I was playing Schaf s- 
kopf (a national Bavarian card game) with the Upper 
Twenty in this village. But before I improvise even the 
smallest sketch for an opera I allow the texts to permeate 
my thoughts and mature in me for at least six months, 
so that the situations and characters may be thoroughly 
assimilated. Then only do I let the musical thought enter 
my mind. The sub-sketches then become sketches. They 
are copied out, worked out, arranged for the piano and 
rearranged as often as four times. That is the hard part 
of the work. The score I write in my study straightaway, 
without troubling, working at it twelve hours at a time. 



"Richard Strauss/* says a writer in the London 
Academy (February 11, 1905), "does not at first 


suggest the typical musician. He is not burly and 
leonine, as were Beethoven and Rubinstein; neither 
is he delicate and chStif like Chopin or Mozart; but 
the initial impression, which on nearer acquaintance 
is fully confirmed, is that of an essentially thinking 
man whose genius might take the form of literature 
may be, or perchance painting, but certainly not 


Rather above the middle height, fair in complexion, 
with deep-set eyes of a palish blue, short hair over an ex- 
ceptionally high forehead, a small sandy moustache, a 
straight, small nose and firm lips. Such is the bare portrait 
of the man, to which must be added a pair of working but 
not artistic hands, the fingers spatulate rather than taper, 
an entire absence of nervousness, a quick decided manner 
of speaking and an attire which is as neat and unobtrusive 
as that of a diplomat. Watch him conduct the orchestra 
at the Berlin Opera. There is no unseemly swaying or 
ugly contortion, no monkey-tricks of manner, but a firm, 
decided simple beat, with scarce an indication beyond the 
use of the baton. Even the head barely moves, and the 
torso not at all. There is rather more animation when he 
conducts a concert orchestra on a platform, but even then 
the whole figure is self-contained and dignified. 

Away from his orchestra, his piano and his scores, Richard 
Strauss is a strange mixture of frank simplicity and pro- 
found depth ; a curiously complex individuality, probably 
the product of an intensely high form of intellectual cul- 
ture. . . . If you did not know who the man was, you might 
talk for an hour with Richard Strauss and not know that 
he was a musician and a genius. You would come away 
with the impression that you had met an exceptionally 
well-informed man, conversant with the latest developments 
of science and politics, well versed in ancient and modern 
literature, more than commonly interested in painting and 
sculpture, no stranger to sport, and possessed of a very 
keen sense of humor;' no ordinary man and, indeed, no 
ordinary musician. . . . 


Lastly, an anecdote just to illustrate Strauss's quickness 
of wit and sense of humor. On one of his visits to London 
he was entertained at a dinner at which musicians and 
critics were present. One of them made a speech, long 
and flattering to fulsomeness, concluding with the senti- 
ment: "Richard Strauss knows all. He is the Buddha 
of composers/' During the applause that followed, Strauss 
remarked in an undertone to his neighbor : " If I am a musical 
Buddha, then that last speaker is a musical Pesth !" 

Another English writer, Alfred Kalish, relates in 
Ernest Newman's book that Madam Strauss once said 
to him concerning her husband : "You may say what 
you like about his music; but if you don't praise his 
handwriting he will be cross with you." 

"Being himself a man of very wide culture/* Mr. 
Kalish also remarks, "he loves the society of his in- 
tellectual equals, and his house in Berlin is the resort 
of all who are associated with the most advanced 
movements in art. 9 ' 


Perhaps there is no living musician who can do so many 
amusing things unconsciously as Richard Strauss. By 
appointment, says a writer in the Musical Leader, I went 
one night to meet him at the Berlin Royal Opera where 
he was conducting the performance. Our talk was in his 
dressing room during an intermission. A woman's magazine 
had entrusted me with the mission of securing original 
compositions by noted men, and the name of Strauss was 
in the list. When the sum offered for rights only to publish 
that song in one issue reached him, he grew attentive. 
Another meeting was arranged with promptness ; it would 
take place at his home. Arriving there he met me; his 
face was clouded. And I soon knew why. "I signed," he 
said, "a contract with the publisher who brought out my 


Symphonic Domestica to give him the next twelve songs I 
wrote. He has gotten only two in three years; I don't 
know when he will get more. You may have the song, 
but first get his consent." 

The publisher proved in even a cloudier mood than 
Strauss. The songs he had never received were to have 
helped him out in part for the large sum paid down for 
the right to publish the Domestica, which had not become 
the household word its title would seem to warrant. "I tell 
you what I will do," he prefaced, naively, "you may have 
this charming piano arrangement of a march from the 
Domestica. A Strauss song you can never have." After 
stating the lack of any panting desire for even this Domestica 
morceau in America, I drove back to Strauss. Explain- 
ing things, we then sat in silent gloom. Suddenly a light 
shone in his face. "I know what I can do ! " he declared, 
brightly. "I have some songs composed before I signed 
that contract. I will play them to you, you may have any 
one you like." And I selected a song set to words by Burns. 

To the telephone Strauss darted; a long argument 
ensued. The side I heard ended with this clinching state- 
ment, "If you don't let me give him the song, you will never 
get it any way." Beaming, Strauss hung up the receiver 
to announce briefly, "You may have it." 

However, that was not the end. When I arrived next 
morning with the money, he said casually, "I have only 
the voice part here ; the man copying it doubtless thought 
that some one wanted to use it in concert. I leave to- 
night to join my wife in Bavaria, but you can take the 
original to the Royal Opera Library and have it copied. 
But I must have the original back." 

By dire fate the library in question was that day being 
moved, perhaps for the first time since its foundation. The 
copyist, overwhelmed at seeing a world in which he had 
lived so long vanishing slowly by the cartload, almost tear- 
fully declared that the song could not be copied for a week. 

"Tomorrow morning," I insisted, "I leave for Norway 
to see Grieg. The song must be ready by tonight." At 
last, but with ill suppressed emotion, he consented; his 
feelings were doubtless identical with those sustained by 


many who failed to own a private ark at the time of Noah's 
flood moving and a Strauss song to copy on^the same day. 
If you have ever lived in the Continental Hotel neighbor- 
hood and had to travel to the Frankfurter Allee, as I did 
that night at ten o'clock, you will need no explanation as 
to the distance. Besides, the copyist lived five flights of 
stairs above the street. "Who will pay for this ? " he asked, 
when he had handed me the copied song. "Herr Strauss/* 
I answered promptly. "He has already been paid enough. 
Until you get your money keep this manuscript. Herr 
Strauss says he must have it back." 


There are many anecdotes about Strauss's close- 
fistedness. Here is one of them. 

"Edyth Walker, Paul Bender, and both the von 
Billows of the Munich Opera; Gustav Brecher, of 
Cologne; IQemperer of Strassburg; Hugo Hoffmans- 
thal ; Baron de Ginsburg and his co-director Diaghileff 
of the Ballet Russe ; Raoul Gunsburg of Monte Carlo ; 
Stravinsky and Leo Ornstein, the Russian futurists; 
Fiirstner the publisher, and many other international 
celebrities as well as Tout Paris were present, when 
Doctor Strauss raised the baton to conduct at the 
Paris Opera House the world's premiere of his ballet 
La LSgende de Joseph. 

"Those from Germany and Italy had travelled many 
miles to be present at the last rehearsals and the first 
performance. They all had daily intercourse with 
Doctor and Mrs. Strauss at the Hotel Majestic on the 
avenue IQ6ber. They all knew him well and had come 
to do him honor. What wonder then, he invited them 
to an after-theatre supper at La Rue's. Exquisite was 
the <i la carte menu. Especially exquisite were some 


early giant strawberries and some hothouse peaches 
freely partaken of, and even more exquisite were the 
wines recommended by the maitre d'hotel. Merry and 
gay was the munching and wine-sipping bunch of 
people, who all laid claim to be somebody in the musical 
and literary world. The additions ran up to big sums 
and when they had supped to their heart's content, 
there came a veritable la doloureuse, as the bill is 
jocularly termed by Parisians. For, be it related, 
Doctor Strauss had invited, but he did not play the 
host; the waiters collected from each guest!" 

How the war prevented Strauss from making a 
second visit to America is thus related by the well- 
known manager, M. H. Hanson : 

"Miss Walker tried to get Strauss to sign a contract 
to come to the United States once more, to play her 
accompaniments at ten Strauss song recitals during 
the early spring of 1915, which were to be included in 
the 20 concerts I had arranged with he^and Cleofonte 
Camp^anini, who had engaged her for Chicago. 

"She offered him a never-before-heard-of fee. All 
to no avail ! The Alpine Symphony had to be com- 
pleted; and worse, Frau Direktor Strauss, anyhow, 
did not desire her husband to go across the ocean again. 
She could not spare him for three months, she de- 
clared. But Strauss was wavering; Edyth Walker's 
influence began to be felt. And then came the war ! " 


A sense of humor is one of the conspicuous traits 
of Richard Strauss. His friends and others have 
found him a sly, subtle joker. 


In 1896 he wrote a song (published as Opus 31, 
Number 2) in the key of D flat, which ends, however, 
in D natural, contrary to all rules and regulations. 
At the bottom of the page is a note suggesting that any 
one singing this song before the end of the century 
might end it in the initial key. This attempt to be 
funny at the expense of those who abused him for 
his daring innovations was resented by his superior, 
Intendant Perfall of the Munich Opera, who took 
him to task for "frivolous conduct unbecoming a 
royal Kapellmeister 1" 

Of his sarcasm a good specimen is the remark he 
made to a man who tore Liszt's oratorio, The Legend 
of St. Elizabeth, into shreds : 

"But you must surely admit, my dear Sir, that only 
a highly respectable man could have written that 

Mention has been made of three of Strauss's works 
as being autobiographic. A fourth might have been 
named ; Till Eulenspiegel, which is made up of instru- 
mental pranks reflecting the spirit of the practical 
jokes of a fictitious rogue whose doings are known to 
all Germans. Keen observers of Strauss think he is 
a good deal of a Till himself. 

Some have indeed gone so far as to intimate that 
Salome, Elektra, and most of the tone poems are huge 
jokes on the musical world attempts to see how much 
professional musicians and the public will tolerate in 
the way of orchestral dissonantal eccentricities, diverse 
exaggerations, and the suppression or maltreatment of 
the human voice. It has long been suspected, in par- 
ticular, that his program music is insincere ; and that 
he has often laughed in his sleeve at those who have 
taken it seriously. 



IN the realm of concert music, progress has been 
made since the day of Beethoven chiefly in two things : 
the cult of program music and the composing of 
symphonic poems in place of symphonies. In both 
these Liszt was the leader; but the opinion has been 
expressed (and parroted) that while he was the pioneer, 
Strauss was the perfector of the programmatic sym- 
phonic poem. 

Is this true ? The answer to this question is of great 
importance, for on it depends our estimate of Strauss's 
place in the history of music. 

The most extravagant presentment of the view 
that program music and the symphonic poem cul- 
minate in Strauss is made by Ernest Newman in his 
life of that composer. Therein he declared that 
Strauss "has given a new life and meaning to the 
symphonic poem. He has put at once more brains, 
more music, and more technique into it than any of 
his predecessors or contemporaries. He has really 
added a new chapter to the history of musical form. , . . 
He has done for program music what Wagner did for 
opera taken up the stray threads that earlier men 
had been fumbling with more or less ineffectively, 
added a great deal of new stuff of his own and woven 
it all into a fabric of undreamt of strength of texture 
and richness of color/ 9 



To this extravagant eulogy I venture to oppose the 
opinion that Strauss in his symphonic poems has no 
more excelled Liszt than he has in his operas sur- 
passed Wagner. 

Before proving this statement by comparing the 
orchestral works of these two men from every point of 
view, I shall try, for the sake of the general reader, 
to explain briefly what is meant by "program music" 
and by "symphonic poem", and give a bird's-eye 
view of what others did along these lines before Liszt. 



Probably the most amusing thing in the history of 
music is the fact that before Beethoven composed his 
Pastoral Symphony in which there is an orchestral 
thunderstorm, with other sounds of nature such as the 
twittering of birds and the babbling of a brook the 
writing of program music was looked on almost as a 
misdemeanor punishable by fine or imprisonment. 

To this day, indeed, there are not a few who hold 
that music of this sort is necessarily inferior to what 
is called absolute music, or music which is not associated 
with sounds of nature or any kind of story or poetic 
conception. Among those who hold this view are some 
who seem to think that program music was originated 
by Berlioz and Liszt who, by their pernicious example, 
corrupted and demoralized the whole musical world. 

Yet program music is as old as the art itself. Among 
primitive races all music is associated with the acts 
and thoughts of daily life hunting, wooing, war, 
religion, death. 


A fight with a dragon was one of the things the 
ancient Greek flute players attempted to suggest. 
Their instruments, to be sure, were not like our own 
flutes, or like the mellifluous flageolet with which the 
Omaha Indians did their courting, but more like a 
shrill clarinet. 

In the Middle Ages, choruses were sung in which one 
was expected to hear the various sounds that would 
meet the ear in a frequented spot like St. Mark's 
Place in Venice. In others there were imitations of 
the clashing of swords, the bugle calls and other battle 
sounds, including the commands of the officers. 

Modern program music is mostly instrumental, 
because the great variety of instrumental sounds and 
combinations makes it easier to imitate and suggest. 
Of instrumental battle and hunting pieces, countless 
samples have been composed. Beethoven was nearer 
the thousandth than the first who introduced the 
song of birds in his music. Before him Haydn had 
had the courage to enliven the scores of his oratorios 
with the roar of a lion, the croaking of frogs, the neigh- 
ing of a horse, the sounds of thunder, rain, and wind. 
Long before him, in the sixteenth century, the cackling 
of hens, the barking of dogs, and the mewing of cats 
were imitated; so there is really nothing very startling 
or revolutionary in the baas of the sheep in Richard 
Strauss's Don Quixote. 



Beethoven's apologetic remark that the program 
music in his Pastoral Symphony is "more the expression 
of feeling than painting" led Ernest Newman to re- 


mark (in his "Musical Studies") that "the imitations 
of the nightingale, the cuckoo, and the quail may or 
may not be a Beethoven joke; but if they are not 
specimens of painting in music it is difficult to say what 
deserves that epithet. If the peasants' merry-making 
again, the brawl, the falling of the raindrops, the 
rushing of the wind, the storm, the flow of the brook 
if these are not ' painting' but merely the 'expression 
of feeling*, well, so is the hanging of Till Eulenspiegel, 
the death shudder of Don Juan, and the battle in 
Ein Heldenleben" 

Encouraged by the example of Beethoven, whose 
music so delightfully contradicts his words, the com- 
posers who followed him succeeded gradually in secur- 
ing more respect for program music. The irony of 
fate brought it about that the orchestral works of the 
conservative Mendelssohn that have best withstood 
the tooth of time are those in which his imagination 
was stirred by pictorial or poetic subjects the over- 
ture to Midsummer Night's Dream, the Hebrides, the 
Scotch Symphony, the Calm Sea and Prosperous 
Voyage. To Schumann, who was almost as much 
interested in poetry as in the tonal art, program music 
was inevitable. He differed, however, from others 
in adding the poetic titles to his finished pieces instead 
of starting with the literary or pictorial conception 
in his mind and allowing that to shape or color the 


In America we have had Edward MacDowell, whose 
works include many choice specimens of the most 


refined sort of program music. The Woodland Sketches, 
for instance, have imaginative titles: To a Wild 
Rose, Will o' The Wisp, From Uncle Remus, From an 
Old Indian Lodge, A Deserted Farm, To a Water Lily, 
Told at Sunset, which are admirably calculated to 
inspire the composer's creative fancy ; and how well he 
succeeded in making his music mirror the poetic 
subjects ! 

Or take the Sea Pieces, of which Lawrence Oilman has 
well said in his " Nature in Music ", that "they present 
a composite picture of the sea that is astonishing in 
its variety and breadth. Here is genuine sea-poetry 
poetry to match with that of Whitman and the author 
of 'Thalasseus' and tf A Channel Passage. 9 The music 
is drenched with salt spray, wind-swept, exhilarating; 
there are passages in it through which rings the thun- 
derous laughter of the sea in its moments of cosmic 
and terrifying elation, and there are pages through 
which drift sun-painted mists, or wherein the in- 
effable tenderness of the ocean under Summer Stars 
is conveyed with a beauty that is both magical and 

To return to Europe and an earlier date: program 
music received a fresh impetus through Berlioz, who, 
however, made the mistake of writing out an elaborate 
plot which, as Wagner noted, it is difficult to dovetail 
with the music while listening to a performance. There 
is much that is impressive, even thrilling in Berlioz's 
Fantastic Symphony, and some of his other works* 
yet when all is said and done, the chief debt of grati- 
tude we owe this brilliant Frenchman is that he in- 
spired Liszt to make a specialty of program music 
and by his example and influence, give it universal 



"Important as Berlioz is in the development of 
program music," writes Professor Niecks of the Uni- 
versity of Edinburgh, in his elaborate and admirable 
history of this branch of music, "Liszt is far more so, 
indeed, he is the most important of all, and is this 
quite apart from the value of his productions as works 
of art." 

What I wish to emphasize particularly about Liszt's 
program music is its refined, aristocratic character. 
Mere imitation of the sounds of nature or the cries 
of animals was too obvious and easy to appeal to him. 
True, in the St. Francis of Assisi Preaching to 'the Birds, 
the birds are heard; but their chirpings 'and twitter- 
ings are commingled and varied with a subtle art 
that raises this piano composition far above ordinary 
bird pieces. And how genuinely musical, in the 
noblest sense of the word, is its companion piece, 
St. Francis Walking on the Waves, with its surg- 
ing billows of sound! No other composer for piano 
except Edward MacDowell has done anything to 
match it. 

Crude realism was avoided by Liszt. He fully 
realized the limitations of music. "The merest tyro 
in landscape painting," he wrote in 1837, "can with 
one stroke of his pencil produce a scene more faith- 
fully than a consummate musician with all the re- 
sources of the cleverest orchestra." 

He did not wish his music to play second fiddle to 
painting or poetry; and, while he usually associated 
it with some pictorial or poetic idea, he tried to make 


it a tonal and emotional commentary and intensifier 
rather than a mere echo or imitation. 

The only one of Liszt's twelve symphonic poems 
that tries to tell a story in tones is Mazeppa, of which 
Professor Niecks justly says that it is "perhaps the 
most daring piece of tone painting in existence." 
It was inspired by Victor Hugo's poem of that name, 
in which the exciting story is told of a man who is 
tied by his enemies to the back of a wild horse which 
for three days speeds across forests, steppes, and 
frozen rivers, till it falls dead, while he is rescued from 
the birds and beasts of prey and becomes chief of a 
Ukraine tribe. Concerning Liszt's setting of this 
plot, Wagner wrote to him : "But how terribly 
beautiful your Mazeppa is : I was quite out of breath 
after reading it through the first time ! I feel sorry, 
too, for the poor horse : How cruel are nature and the 

Liszt prefixed Hugo's long poem to the score as a 
guide; but there is also an earlier purely symbolical 
preface, which indicates that at first he intended this 
composition to illustrate the martyrdom and ultimate 
triumph of genius. 

There is nothing cheap or sensational in the details 
of this piece of program music; nor is there in any 
of the other eleven symphonic poems or in the Dante 
or the Faust symphony two great works, as Saint- 
Saens has well said, which are symphonies in name 
only, being in reality symphonic poems in two and 
three parts. Next to this fact, I wish to emphasize 
the variety of ways in which Liszt embodies his ideas 
of program music. 



The Battle of the Huns was inspired by Kaulbach's 
mural painting in the New Museum in Berlin. For 
this symphonic poem Liszt supplied no programmatic 
indications, any more than he did for three of its 
companions ; Hungaria, Hamlet, and Festklange, which 
leave all details to the imagination of the hearer. 
But in a letter to his apostle, Walter Bache in London, 
he indicated what had been in his mind while compos- 
ing the Battle of the Huns. "Kaulbach's world-famed 
painting shows two battles : One on the earth, the other 
in the air, in accordance with the legend that the 
warriors continued after death to fight as ghosts. In 
the midst of the picture appears the cross and its 
mysterious light ; to that my symphonic poem is at- 
tached. The gradually emerging choral, 'crux fidelis*, 
proclaims the final victory of Christianity." 

What could be more potent than such a "program 9 * 
to fertilize the creative power of a composer, or to 
evoke in the hearer the proper mood for thoroughly 
appreciating the music ? Surely, program music offers 
to both composer and hearer a great advantage over 
absolute music, provided the program is simple and 
easily followed. 

The first of Lizst's symphonic poems was, like the 
sixth (Mazeppa), inspired by a poem of Victor Hugo. 
Its title is What One Hears on the Mountain. In the 
score Liszt asks that the following indication of his 
intentions be printed on the programs of concerts 
at which this piece is to be played : 

"The poet hears two voices; the one boundless, 


glorifying, orderly, proclaiming to the Lord its jubilant 
song of praise; the other dull, filled with expressions 
of pain, weeping, culmination and curses. The first 
of these voices represents Nature; the second Man- 
kind. The two voices struggle to get nearer and 
nearer together, they cross and amalgamate, till 
finally they dissolve in solemn contemplation and die 

In this work, says Saint-Saens, Liszt has succeeded 
marvelously in reflecting the spirit of Victor Hugo's 
poem. He is, indeed, inclined to consider it "the 
most admirable of these famous symphonic poems." 
Weingartner and most Lisztites give first place to 
Tasso, which also is, next to Les Pr&ludes, the most 
popular of them. Lament and Triumph is the sub- 
title of Tasso. Prefixed to the score is a program- 
matic explanation in course of which Liszt says: 
"Tasso loved and suffered in Ferrara; he has been 
avenged in Rome; his glory still lives in the folk 
songs of Venice. These three moments are inseparably 
connected with his immortal memory. In order to 
express them in music we have first evoked the shade 
of the hero, such as it appears to us nowadays, haunt- 
ing the lagunas of Venice; we have then glanced at 
his proud and saddened face as he wandered amidst 
the festive scenes of Ferrara, where he had given 
birth to his masterpiece; finally, we have followed 
him to Rome, the Eternal City, which, in handing 
him her crown, glorified in him the martyr and the 
poet." 1 

1 For details regarding all the symphonic poems see Huneker's book on 
Liszt, pp. 103-158; Hervey's, pp. 79-120; Kapp's (German), pp. 403-408, 
etc. ; Mtlller-Reuter's " Lexicon '* ; and Nieeks's book on " Program Music " 
pp. 265-316. 


These examples indicate the variety as well as the 
exalted character of Liszt's program music. No trace 
is there of crude materialism. What he aimed at was 
atmosphere, poetic suggestion, evocation of moods. 
What Beethoven claimed for his Pastoral Symphony 
("more the expression of feeling than painting") is 
literally true of the bulk of Liszt's symphonic poems. 

"Psycho-Dramas" the eminent German historian, 
Karl Storck, has happily called them. Felix Draeseke, 
the composer, praises them because of their avoidance 
of grotesque subjects whereas in Strauss, as Ernest 
Newman himself points out, there grew up gradually 
"a deep love of the grotesque for its own sake (and 
music happens to be the art in which the grotesque 
most jars upon us and most quickly wearies us)." 
Weingartner, the great conductor, who devotes some 
eloquent pages to Liszt in his book "The Symphony 
since Beethoven", points at his symphonic poems as 
models for all time, showing where music must stop 
in its attempts to vie with poetry or painting; and 
Saint-Saens agrees with Richard Strauss that they 
are the most important works for the concert hall composed 
since Beethoven. 

The high-toned, lucid, truly refined, and aristocratic 
character of Liszt's symphonic poems is so vividly 
attested in the brief analysis of his Mazeppa made by 
Saint-Saens that I cannot resist the temptation to 
cite it. Mazeppa, he declares, is a masterwork. "In 
all music there is not another such riot of sound, which 
carries along violins, violas and violoncellos, as a raging 
mountain torrent sweeps away bushes by their roots." 
He then calls attention to the fact that even in this his 
most pronounced piece of descriptive music, Liszt avoids 
crude materialism (such as Strauss often indulges in). 


"The physical imitation of the horse's gallop is," 
he continues, "entirely secondary, and by no means 
realistic, as the enemies of descriptive music might 
fear; the title indicates the subject, and that suffices 
to guide the thoughts in the right direction. In the 
midst of the orchestral furious gallop there come into 
prominence melodic phrases which tell their meaning 
with marvelous distinctness. The horse annihilates 
space, yet all the interest centers on the man who 
suffers and thinks. Toward the middle of the compo- 
sition one gets the impression as of an immensity 
without limits ; horse and rider flee into the boundless 
steppe, and the man's vision confusedly feels, rather 
than sees, the thousand details of space. There is 
here a marvelous orchestral effect. The string in- 
struments, divided into many groups, sound from the 
greatest heights to the lowest depths of their scale 
a mass of little sounds of all kinds, tied, detached, 
nipped, even with the wood of the bow, and from all 
this results a sort of harmonic crackling of extreme 
tenuity, a background of veiled sound from which 
arises a plaintive and touching phrase. And it all 
ends with a Circassian March, irresistible in effect, 
on which Mazeppa rises as King." 



Saint-Saens's own symphonic poems share the 
lucidity and refinement of Liszt's ; it is easy to follow 
the poetic subject while hearing the music. 

Nothing could be more admirably suited for musical 
illustration than the poem on which his Danse Macabre 


(Dance of Death) is based ; a poem by Henri Cazalis 
in which Death is pictured as a fiddler who summons 
the skeletons from their graves, as the harp strikes the 
midnight hour, for a dance which lasts till the cock 
crows, the rhythm being accentuated by the clack 
of bones. Neyer for a moment does the hearer lose 
his clue. Nor does he in the same composer's Phaeton, 
based on the story of the ambitious young man who 
tries to drive the sun chariot across the sky but gets 
too near the earth, which is saved from destruction by 
a thunderbolt hurled by Jupiter. That's the real 
stuff for musical treatment! And if the stuff was 
lacking, Saint-Saens was silent. When I asked him 
why he had composed no more symphonic poems he 
replied : "Because I had no more ideas." 

Now comes the important question: How does 
Richard Strauss's method compare with that of Liszt 
and his pupil Saint-Saens? Does he really improve 
on Liszt, as Ernest Newman maintains, and in what 

He does not improve on him. Quite the contrary, 
He goes back to Berlioz, and even farther, to the old- 
fashioned kind of program music of which Kuhnau's 
David and Goliath was a famous specimen more than 
two hundred years ago. 1 

It must be admitted that Strauss started out with 
the best of intentions to do the right thing and prove 
himself a worthy disciple of Liszt. In the section of 
this book devoted to his nine tone poems, full details 
will be given on this point. Here a few of the principal 
facts will suffice to prove my assertion. 

When this programmatic symphony, From Italy, 
was played, he was indignant because one of the critics 

1 See Niecks's " Program Music " p. 24. 


referred to it as "a musical Baedeker of Southern 
Italy"; a criticism which indicated, as Strauss put 
it, " a frightful lack of understanding and judgment." 
To be sure, the movements were entitled In the 
Campagna, Amid the Ruins of Rome, On the Beach of 
Sorrento, and Neapolitan Folk Life. But, as the 
composer wrote to a friendly journalist, Karl Wolff, 
he did not intend to describe the splendid sights 
of Southern Italy but his feelings on beholding 
them. "It is really absurd," he continues, "in the 
case of a modern composer like myself, who has learned 
from the classical masters, including the mature 
Beethoven, as well as from Wagner and Liszt, to sup- 
pose him capable of composing a work lasting three 
quarters of an hour with the deliberate intention of 
exhibiting a few piquant specimens of tone painting 
such as at present are at the command of almost any 
advanced conservatory student." 

In this indignant diatribe against the critics, Strauss 
really condemns in the most amusing fashion his own 
subsequent method of writing program music. 

As we follow the story of his life we note his extraor- 
dinary struggle against his friends, his publishers, and 
the orchestral conductors, who fairly compelled him 
to spoil his tone poems by supplying detailed programs 
which at first he had withheld. 

His first symphonic poem, Macbeth, attracted so 
little attention that he was not called upon to add to 
the simple cues he had supplied the words "Mac- 
beth" and "Lady Macbeth", and a brief citation from 
Shakespeare. Don Juan was published without the 
lines from Lenau's poem now printed (with his sanction) 
in concert programs. They were not used at the first 
performance of this work. As for Ritter's poem which 


now accompanies Death and Transfiguration, it did 
not inspire or shape the music, but was written after 
the score was completed. 

When Wiillner in Cologne was preparing the first 
performance of Till Eulenspiegel, he wrote for a pro- 
gram to Strauss, who had not supplied one, and who 
said in reply. "It is not possible for me to give you a 
program for Eulenspiegel. What I had in mind when 
I composed the different parts would, if clothed in 
words, often seem queer enough, and might even give 
offence. Let us, therefore, this time leave it to the 
hearers to crack the nut offered by the rogue. * . . 
The merry Cologne folk may guess as to the musical 
pranks played on them by a 'rogue.'" Subsequently, 
however, he sanctioned (and obviously inspired) the 
copious details and elucidations given in Mauke's 
Musikfuhrer Number 103. 

A Hero's Life also was not provided at first with a 
detailed program, while Zarathustra had only nine 
explanatory headlines besides a prose preface in four- 
teen brief sentences. But in all these cases Strauss 
subsequently as we shall see in detail later on 
helped to provide detailed analyses which, in the words 
of Ernest Newman, "burden music with extraneous 
and inassimilable literary concepts." Already in Don 
Juan he starts on "the false path that has led him into 
so many marshes and quicksands"; until gradually 
"people were puzzled to the point of insanity", New- 
man continues, " by Zarathustra and its * Uebermenschen * 
and its 'Genesende* and all the rest of that queer 

" Puzzled to the point of insanity ! " So this is the much 
vaunted "progress" in Strauss's program music over 
that of Liszt, proclaimed by this same English critic ! 


Was I justified in heading this chapter "Strauss's 
Symphonic Puzzles?" 

An amusing summary of Strauss's habitual pro- 
ceeding in gradually doling out information about his 
programs is given by Mr. Newman in an article printed 
in the London Speaker : "With each new work of 
Strauss there is the same tomfoolery one can use 
no milder word to describe the proceedings that no 
doubt have a rude kind of German humor, but that 
strike other people as more than a trifle silly/' 

Ergo the culmination of program-music making 
lies in silliness, Teutonic humor and tomfoolery ! 

To how much better advantage Strauss's tone poems 
would now appear if he had lived up to the point of 
view indicated by some remarks addressed to the critic 
Paul Riesenf eld, whom he begged to remember that he 
was "through and through a musician and always only 
a musician, to whom all programs are merely incite- 
ments to new forms and nothing more." 

It might be said that Strauss has gone beyond Liszt 
in his ingenious use of unmusical sounds to imitate, for 
instance, the baaing of scared sheep in Don Quixote. 
But Liszt would have refused to follow his follower in 
that "new departure", because well, because he 
would have considered it too medieval, too obvious, 
too crude. As Strauss himself said, in a passage already 
quoted, "almost any advanced conservatory student" 
can do that sort of thing, which is about on a level 
with the steamboat races and similar things "pic- 
tured" in tones by band masters. 

Max Steinitzer calls attention to the fact that it is 
only in a detail here and there that Strauss's music 
depends for its comprehension on the program; and 
he recommends hearing the tone poems first as absolute 


music before studying their poetic substratum. This 
is sound advice; but does it not practically remove 
the works from the realm of program music altogether ? 
As absolute music some of them are as interesting as 
Brahms's symphonies. 



Gilbert and Sullivan obviously never perpetrated 
anything more topsy-turvy than the statement that 
Strauss with his tone poems that "puzzle the hearer to 
the point of insanity", "has done for program music 
what Wagner did for opera." 

Particularly untenable is the claim that Strauss has 
"really added a new chapter to the history of musical 
form" The man who did add a new chapter to the 
history of orchestral form was Franz Liszt. He was 
the creator of the symphonic poem, and, as Saint- 
Saens has enthusiastically written, 1 "this brilliant 
and fertile creative act will be with future generations 
his chief claim to honor. When time shall have ef- 
faced the bright record of the greatest pianist that 
ever lived, it will write his name in its golden book as 
that of the emancipator of music." 

Why the "Emancipator"? Because he freed com- 
posers from the slavery of a few rigid and artificial 
forms. "Not long ago," Saint-Saens remarks, "or- 
chestral music had only two forms at its disposal: 
the symphony and the overture. Haydn, Mozart, 
and Beethoven did not write anything else; who 

1 See his splendidly eloquent chapter on Liszt in his "Harmonic et 


would have dared to do things different from theirs ? 
Weber did not dare, nor did Mendelssohn, nor Schu- 
bert, nor Schumann." 

Why did it take a man of rare courage to create the 
symphonic poem? Because it involved the dethrone- 
ment of King Symphony. 

Up to that time all the composers had bowed their 
heads and bent their knees before that monarch. The 
symphony was regarded and still is regarded by some 
conservative persons as the perfection of organic form. 

In truth the symphony, as a cyclic composition 
that is as a work in four movements has with very 
few exceptions no organic form that is, no coherence, 
at all. The exceptions are Beethoven's ninth, in 
which the themes of the first three movements are 
recapitulated in the fourth, and a few works by Schu- 
mann, Tchaikovsky, Dvor&k, and other modern mas- 
ters, in which some degree of coherence is established 
by the recurrence in one movement of themes from a 
preceding one* 

If a painter inclosed four small pictures, totally 
unrelated in subject, within one frame and called the 
ensemble an organic, coherent work, would not every- 
body smile? And would not everybody laugh at an 
author who claimed superior honors for four of his 
short stories, totally unrelated, simply because he 
chose to publish them between the same covers and 
called the book Opus 17 or 24 ? 

Yet this superior respect is claimed for sets of four 
unrelated short pieces when they are grouped together 
and issued, as, for example, Symphony Number 7, in 
D major, Opus 14. Could anything be more childish ? 

There is absolutely no organic structural connection 
between the four movements of any one of Haydn's 


one hundred and four symphonies or Mozart's forty, 
or, in short, of ninety-nine of every hundred sym- 
phonies in existence ; yet music lovers to this day are 
expected to fall down and worship the antique stuffed 
fetish called the Cyclic Symphony ! 

I do not, of course, speak here of the music of these 
symphonies, which is often beautiful and sometimes 
sublime. What I assail is the /orra, which is really no 
form at all, but simply an academic formula, about as 
simple and brainy as a cook's mold for gingerbread. 

Liszt refused to worship this stuffed symphonic 
fetish, this cyclic absurdity, this everlasting formula 
of incoherent allegros, adagios, scherzos, allegros. 

What a lack of imagination this formula showed 
this monotonous repetition of allegro, adagio, minuet 
(or scherzo), allegro ! How infinitely more poetic is 
the symphonic poem with its titles : Tasso, Mazeppa, 
Battle of the Huns! 

Because of Liszt's refusal to worship the stuffed 
fetish, he was (and still is) violently abused, just as 
was his friend and son-in-law, Wagner, for smashing 
the sequence of incoherent airs called an opera and 
building up, in place of it, the music drama, which is 
coherent in all its parts ! 

The methods by which these two men achieved co- 
herence were similar. Wagner and Liszt worked at 
the problem at the same time and independently of 
each other, both being influenced by Weber, who, in 
his operas, first hinted (long before Berlioz, who also 
learned from him) at the splendid possibilities for es- 
tablishing coherence which is offered by leading mo- 
tives, or recurring themes. 1 


1 For details on this point I must refer the reader to the chapter on 
Leading Motives in Volume II of my "Wagner and his Works." 


How infinitely superior this new method is to the 
old-fashioned operatic mosaic is illustrated even in the 
case of so early a work as The Flying Dutchman, the 
basis of which is the dramatic ballad which relates 
the story of the cursed seafarer and the phantom ship. 
By the use of his new method, as Saint-Saens has 
graphically remarked, 1 Wagner "performed almost a 
miracle when he succeeded during the whole of the 
first act of The Flying Dutchman in making us hear the 
sound of the sea without interrupting the dramatic 

In his later music dramas, Wagner steadily per- 
fected his method. Think of the love motive which 
pervades Tristan and Isolde in a thousand metamor- 
phoses ; or the heroic, martial Parsifal motive, which 
assumes a mysterious transformation to a minor key, 
when he appears disguised in his helmet before Gurne- 
manz, in the third act. 


A, similar way of transforming themes is used by 
Liszt in his symphonic poems, which, like Wagner's 
music dramas, are coherent in all their parts, thanks 
to the use of recurring themes. No better description 
of his method could be given than that of Saint-Sagns, 
whose symphonic poems are, next to Liszt's, the best 
ever written, and whose literary works are as inter- 
esting and valuable as the best of his compositions. 
As a writer on musical topics, Saint-Saens is, indeed, 
even more fascinating and suggestive than the only 
two other Frenchmen who compete with him, Berlioz 

1 Century Magazine, February, 1893. 


and Remain Rolland. Each of his three books : "Har- 
monie et Melodie", "Portraits et Souvenirs", and 
"I/Ecole Buissonniere", contains a splendid chapter 
on Liszt. Everybody interested in music should 
read these volumes. "The symphonic poem, as shaped 
by Liszt, is," he says, "usually a group of different 
movements depending on one another and derived 
from a primary idea, which interlace and form one 
piece. The pattern of a musical poem of this sort is 
capable of endless variation. To secure the greatest 
possible variety, Liszt most frequently chose a musical 
phrase which he transformed by artful manipulation of 
the rhythm in such a way as to make it assume the 
most varied aspects and express the most diverse feel- 
ings. It is one of Wagner's most habitual procedures, 
and is, I believe, the only thing these two composers 
have in common." 

There is no break between the different movements 
which make up a symphonic poem d la Liszt. The 
music flows on continuously and coherently, just like 
a short story by a great writer, with a plot and de- 
scription of characters. 

The most important thing about a true symphonic 
poem is that the form of the music is shaped by the 
poem, as the brief descriptions of several of Liszt's 
works given in preceding pages show. This gives op- 
portunities for endless variety of structure, whereas a 
composer of symphonies follows the everlasting, stereo- 
typed, unpoetic formula of allegro, adagio, scherzo, allegro. 

Richard Wagner congratulated Liszt on the invention 
of this new form in music and on the choice of the two 
words, "symphonic poem", to indicate it. 

He frankly admitted that he had made a mistake in 
declaring that instrumental music had reached its 


full development in Beethoven, with nothing to be 
expected beyond. Liszt's symphonic poems proved 
to him that not only was further development beyond 
Beethoven possible, but development of extreme 

The symphony, he recalls, was developed from simple 
dance and march rhythms, whereas the symphonic 
poem has a poetic basis ; its form is conditioned by the 
evolution of a poetic idea and not by an alternation of 
slow or lively dance rhythms. "Now/* he asks, "are 
the march or the dance, with all their associations, a 
more worthy source of form than, for example, the 
principal and most characteristic features in the ac- 
tions and sufferings of an Orpheus, a Prometheus, etc. ? " 

Liszt, in a word, enabled composers to enjoy the same 
freedom in shaping their thoughts that the writers of books 
have always enjoyed. 

For this epoch-making achievement he was attacked 
and slandered by musical critics with amazing violence 
and persistence. 


Whenever a musical critic discourses about form he 
is apt to remind one of Artemus Ward's kangaroo, 
which that showman described as an "amoosin 5 but 
onprincipled cuss/ 5 

In the two volumes of my "Wagner and His Works ", 
I devoted several pages after the description of each 
opera to short extracts from abusive criticisms. At 
the time they were written, these criticisms were seri- 
ous matters. To-day everybody laughs at them, as 
at the capers of an Australian marsupial. 


These critics could not see that Wagner's music 
dramas differ from operas in really being organically 
coherent. One of them compared them to jellyfish, 
"Tone molluscs*' another called them, while a third 
boldly proclaimed that the music of these operas "is 
entirely devoid of continuity of musical form." Sim- 
ilar criticisms were flung at Liszt and his pupil, 
Strauss. Newman devotes several pages of his book 
on this composer to refuting "the wild charge of 

Nor were these by any means the only composers 
against whom the marsupial critics brought this "wild 
charge of formlessness." To mention only two in 
place of two dozen : concerning Chopin, a prominent 
English scholar wrote that he had "no form at all but 
only style"; and as for Schumann, his symphonies 
were declared to be "made up of cobbler's patches." 



It would not be fair, even if it were permissible, to 
cite here Mr. Newman's amusing defence of Strauss 
against the charge of formlessness; every reader of 
this book should peruse it in his volume. But I can- 
not resist the temptation to quote a few lines from two 
admirably lucid articles by the same forcible writer 
which appeared in the London Musical Times of No- 
vember and December, 1911. 

The Lisztian way followed also by Strauss and 
many others is, he says, as much more difficult than 
the old symphonic way as "driving a team of horses 
is harder than driving one; you have both to evolve 


new material out of the old and to advance your story 
or extend your picture at the same pace/' . . . 

Critics of Liszt's form would do well to remember that 
perfect form is extremely rare even in the great classical 
writers. All really good form has the air of an improvisa- 
tion, like a flower or a crystal ; the moment you can detect 
the joints in a piece of music, or see the reflective, delibera- 
tive processes by which a given section of it has been built 
up, all illusion as to its being an organic growth necessarily 
vanishes. The opponents of Liszt and of the school of pro- 
gram writers that has developed from him have thitherto 
had too unquestioned a say on these matters. No impartial 
student of Liszt will deny that he is often in serious difficul- 
ties with his building. But if some one, instead of accepting 
blindly all that is said about "classical form" and its prac- 
titioners, were to play the devil's advocate and subject it 
and them to a searching and unsympathetic examination, 
what havoc he could play with them ! . . . A quite un- 
prejudiced eye can detect numberless instances of mechanical 
jointing in Beethoven, due to his working, at a certain stage 
of a sonata or symphony, on a plan settled by tradition, 
instead of letting his imagination run without constraint. . . . 

So with Brahms, the "faultless master of form.*' Take 
the first movement of the second symphony, and look at 
the passage commencing with the horns in the fifth measure 
after the double bar, and extending for some forty measures, 
to the fortissimo in the full orchestra. What is this but a 
mere text book exercise in the variation of a given thematic 
fragment, a thing as easy to do as twisting a Panama hat into 
one shape after another? Like Beethoven in the case I 
have cited, Brahms is here a mere mechanician ; he is simply 
treading water until he can find courage to plunge and swim 
again, simply "talking through his hat", as the proletariat 
would put it, to keep our attention occupied until he can 
think of something really vital to say. 1 

1 Compare with this Mr. Newman's delightfully humorous remarks in 
his Strauss book (pp. 56-60) explaining why he wishes somebody would write 
"an exhaustive book on Sonata Form, Its Cause, and Cure, and present a 
copy to every student who is in danger of catching the disease." 


It could never be said of Liszt, as has justly been said 
of Brahms by this same English judge, that "he is less 
a master of form than "form 5 is master of him." In the 
words of Doctor Hugo Riemann, "a victorious musical 
logic penetrates even those of Liszt's works which 
most conspicuously ignore the old laws of form"; 
and "he never loses his thread as Berlioz does so often." 

Read also what Hans von Billow says (in his "Aus- 
gewahlte Schriften", p. 140) concerning Richard 
Strauss's idol and model. " Liszt's school is not a school 
in the old sense of the word. His school not only desires 
but teaches the artistic emancipation of individual 
content from conventional forms. In it are life and 
variety in place of the stagnation and monotony to be 
found elsewhere. In Liszt's new forms the smallest 
of which as well as the largest show the most faultless logic, 
the most admirable architectural economy we find, 
whatever doubters may say, laws; but they are laws 
of the spirit, not of the letter; laws unchangeable in 
their nature, but varying in their application. Liszt 
gives models for free, not for slavish imitation." 

Even in the Hungarian Rhapsodies, which sound like 
free improvisations, Liszt is revealed as a master of 
form. As August Spanuth has written : "Like the 
bard who moves his listeners first to tears through the 
recital of a sombre legend and turns to a joyful story 
after having touched the heart but binds both elements 
together with a latent string, so Liszt's rhapsodies are 
groups of fragments of heterogeneous modes, united 
through hundreds of secret relations. There is a 
symmetry of content and form in all of them, which 
becomes more apparent as soon as a virtuoso ventures 
to distort it by omitting a section or interpolating a 
portion of one rhapsody into the other." 




If Strauss has gone beyond Liszt in his mastery of 
form, I have not been able to find the evidences thereof 
either in his works or the pleadings of his apostles. We 
saw in the biographic pages how, after mastering all the 
classical forms, including Brahms's treatment of them, 
and after himself writing some orthodox symphonies, 
Strauss turned his back on this phase of music and 
thenceforth followed the Lisztian maxim that the 
poetic contents of a composition should shape its form. 
None of his works differ from Liszt's more widely in 
form than Liszt's differ from one another ; and he most 
certainly has not added "a new chapter to the history 
of musical form/' 

His tone poems differ from Liszt's chiefly by their 
polyphonic complexity ; but polyphonic complexity is 
not a new thing in music but a thing medieval. Not 
only Bach, but many of the old Netherlander sur- 
passed even Strauss in contrapuntal ingenuity. Of 
this more anon. 

Strauss is simply one of the three chief disciples of 
Liszt, the other two being Saint-Saens and Tchaikovsky. 
Of these three, Saint-Saens is the earliest as well as 
the most cleverly and vividly realistic; Tchaikovsky 
the most melodious and impassioned, and Strauss 
the most elaborate, complicated, and dissonantaL 

Besides these three giants, there was a multitude of 
composers, big and little, who hastened to benefit by 
Liszt's discovery of a new and better way of shaping 
orchestral works. Symphonies continued to be writ- 
ten, but the bulk of orchestral works was made up of 


symphonic poems along the free and varied line indi- 
cated by Liszt. 

The Russians flocked to the new standard en masse 
not only the radicals but the reformers. Besides 
Tchaikovsky, we find Rimsky-Korsakoff, Scriabin, 
Glazunoff, even Rubinstein, and many others. In 
France Saint-Saens led the procession, followed by 
Bruneau, Dukas, DTndy, and the Belgian Cesar 
Franck. In Bohemia Smetana devoted himself chiefly 
to works in the Lisztian form, to which his countryman, 
Dvor&k, also turned after writing five symphonies. 
In Germany, Brahms was the only prominent master 
who refused to put his orchestral wine in the new 
bottles; nor do we find a different state of affairs in 
other countries, including England and America. In 
a word, Liszt conquered the world ; and, let me repeat 
most emphatically, it is a monstrous injustice to him 
to give the credit for this monumental achievement to 
Richard Strauss, who is merely one of his followers, 
and who would be the last in the world to filch the 
honor from his idol. 



There are two things in which Strauss, in his tpne 
poems, has gone beyond Liszt: in the polyphonic 
interweaving of themes and in the laying on of orches- 
tral colors. The question now to be considered is 
whether in going beyond Liszt he has improved on him. 

It is harder to drive a stagecoach with six horses 
than one with only two, but it is more fun for the 
driver. Strauss evidently greatly enjoys writing com- 
plicated orchestral scores, both for the concert hall 


and the opera house. To keep up the simile, some of 
his works remind one of the advertisements of the 
Twenty-Mule-Team Borax Company. Liszt, except 
in his choral works, seldom indulged in polyphony. 
One melody at a time was enough for him. In his 
works the horses are driven tandem style. The very 
important question to be asked is : "Are those driving 
with Strauss in his coach and six likely to have a better 
time than those who are content with Liszt's equipage 
and his company?" 

When reproached with the complexity of his scores, 
Strauss replied, "The devil ! I cannot express it more 
simply, although I try to be as simple as possible; 
striving for originality is a thing a true artist does not 
indulge in; 9 * and he proceeded to explain that if his 
rhythms and other procedures seemed too subtle and 
complex, it was due to the fact that what to others 
might seem quite modern, of the twentieth century, 
was to him so familiar and ordinary that he did not 
care to chew the cud once more. 

Writing any kind of an orchestral score is perhaps 
the most intricate thing the human brain can ac- 
complish. A painter with his brush covers one thing 
at a time. A novelist dwells on one character at a 
time; but a composer has to do "stunts'* as astound- 
ing as those of Lasker, who could play twenty games 
of chess at the same time, blindfolded, with some one 
telling him the moves. He had to keep in mind twenty 
chess boards, with the consecutive changes on all of 
them ! 

This seems uncanny, if not incredible; yet what 
did Strauss do when he composed, say, Thus Spake 
Zarathustra? He had to write for three flutes, three 
oboes, English horn, three clarinets, bass clarinet, 


three bassoons, double bassoon, six horns, four trumpets, 
three trombones, two bass tubas, four kettledrums, 
bass drum, cymbals, triangle, glockenspiel, a bell, two 
harps, organ, and sixty-four strings (sixteen first and six- 
teen second violins, twelve violas, twelve violin-cellos, 
eight double-basses) one hundred and five players 
altogether. To be sure, the sixteen first violins or the 
other groups of strings sometimes play only one part, 
but often they are divided into a number of parts, so 
that the complexity of the score is enormously in- 
creased; and in using the full orchestra the composer 
is like a coachman driving a hundred horses and seeing 
to it that each one does his share of the work with 
this difference, that the musician's achievement requires 
a hundred times more brains than the coachman's. 

From this point of view, Richard Strauss's mind is 
one of the wonders of the musical world, his achieve- 
ments in orchestral polyphony being equaled perhaps 
only by those of Richard Wagner, in the final acts of 
Tristan, Gotterdammerung, and Parsifal. 

Polyphony implies not only the simultaneous sound- 
ing of many instruments (or voices), but also the 
interweaving of them so as to form a continuous tonal 
web with a definite pattern. Of this interweaving of 
parts Strauss is a consummate master, rivaling Bach, 
who would have nodded approvingly at such feats of 
contrapuntal virtuosity as the fugue in Zarathustra or 
the double fugue in the Sinfonia Domestica. 

Thus, in Strauss's superlative contrapuntal skill, we 
have at last found a point in which he has excelled Liszt. 
But to conclude from this, as some have done, that his 
works are in a higher artistic level than Liszt's is foolish. 

Polyphony is an attribute of German art in particu- 
lar of Bach, Handel, Wagner, Strauss, Reger. Yet 


in Beethoven's symphonies, or in those of Schubert, 
the polyphonic interweaving of melodies is much less 
in evidence; nor are Chopin, Verdi, Bizet, Grieg, 
Tchaikovsky to name the greatest geniuses of five 
musical countries more addicted to polyphonic prac- 
tices than the leading Hungarian composer, Liszt, who 
thus finds himself in very good company. 

We now laugh at those who belittle him because he 
was not a contrapuntal juggler, as we laugh at Schu- 
bert's friends, who, shortly before his death after the 
creation of works which made him one of the three or 
four greatest of all masters persuaded him to take 
lessons in counterpoint of the desiccated old Sechter ! 

While admiring Strauss for his contrapuntal skill, 
which places him on a level with Bach and Wagner, 
we must not overlook the fact that this same skill has 
been his most dangerous foe. It has often tempted 
him to exaggeration to writing pages so extremely 
complicated in the interweaving of the multitudinous 
parts that no ear, however well trained, can follow 
them. The Germans themselves have called this sort 
of thing Augenmusik music for the eyes. An ex- 
pert score-reader finds such an ultrapolyphonic page 
very interesting, because of the mathematical ingenuity 
it exhibits ; but when he has his orchestra play it, he 
finds that the composer has been wasting his juggler's 
skill on the desert air. 

A vivid illustration of Strauss's method of damaging 
his own music by indulging his propensity to do poly- 
phonic "stunts" is given by Ernest Newman in his 
"Musical Studies." In the dance in Zarathuslra 
"his excessive subdivision of the strings merely re- 
sults in the waltz-theme coming out far too feebly. 
His own specification at the beginning of the score 


is for sixteen first violins (to consider this section 
alone). In the waltz he divides them into (1) first 
desk, (2) second, third, fourth, and fifth desks. Then 
he divides the first desk again, giving part of them an 
arpeggio figure, and the remainder a theme in two 
parts, involving a further subdivision of this small 
remainder. The result is that the melody is shorn of 
all its power. There is no earthly need for such a 
page as this. The whole strength of the strings is 
frittered away upon things that do not come out, and 
would be quite unimportant if they did come out; 
and the really important theme is shorn of all its 

This is a good example of what the Germans call 
"eye-music." It is very prone to degenerate into a 
sport, and already Strauss has been beaten at his own 
game. In a pamphlet on Arnold Schonberg's Quartet 
in D minor, published by G. Schirmer, Kurt Schindler 
tells us that Strauss was quite interested from the 
beginning in this innovator ; and he relates this char- 
acteristic anecdote : While at a private party, Strauss 
was being complimented on the extraordinary skill 
and complications of his scores, when he exclaimed, 
with a singular mixture of sarcasm and naive admi- 
ration : " Children, that is nothing at all ! There is a 
young man of Vienna who leaves us all behind; he 
needs sixty-five staves for his scores, for which he has 
his music-paper specially printed, and I told him that 
I myself could not make head or tail of them/ 5 Which 
reminds one of the metaphysician Hegel, a word jug- 
gler rivaling these tone jugglers, who is said to have 
complained on his deathbed that only one man had 
understood him. "And even he," he added lugubri- 
ously, after a pause, "didn't understand me." 


What this kind of emulation may lead to is suggested 
by a satirical article by Frederick Corder printed in 
the London Musical Times. About a century ago 
there lived in Naples a composer named RaimondL 

This remarkable man, after writing a dozen fugues which 
could be played any three at the same time, four other 
fugues in four other keys which could be played together (pace 
Richard Strauss !) and an overture which could be played 
in canon a bar later by a second orchestra (I have seen those 
works with these eyes) wrote for the carnival a serious 
opera and a comic one, so arranged as to be performed si- 
multaneously, at stages on opposite sides of the public square. 
The overtures went together, but after this there would be 
a chorus in one opera while a song or duet was taking place 
in the other, so that they seemed quite independent. Fired 
by the success of this effort, he wrote three oratorios entitled 
Potiphar, Pharaoh, and Jacob which, after being performed 
separately, were played all at once to a fourth libretto called 
Joseph. It is said that the excitement caused by this per- 
formance was so great as to cause the death of the aged com- 
poser. All this sounds like a fairy tale, but I assure you it 
is an unvarnished fact. 

Mr. Corder further says : "I have tried the experi- 
ment of setting two pianolas to play Strauss's Zara- 
thustra- and Death and Transformation at the same time, 
with the curious result that I could have sworn I was 
listening to Elektra!" 


The tendency to overexercise his marvelous technical 
skill also prevents Strauss at times from appearing to 
best advantage as an orchestral colorist. Often, in 
listening to his works, one feels like saying "Less would 
be more." Having an orchestra of a hundred or more 


players lie seems to think lie must keep all of them 
busy all the time; reminding one of the theatrical 
manager who, noticing at a rehearsal that the trombone 
players were silent several minutes, asked them sharply 
what they thought he was paying them for. 

Keeping in mind the subject of this part of our book : 
"Program Music and Symphonic Poems: Do They 
Culminate in Richard Strauss?" we must now ask 
whether, as an orchestral colorist, he has surpassed 
Liszt. The answer to this is Yes ; but a qualified Yes. 
Liszt never made the mistake of overorchestrating in 
which Strauss so often indulges. He. shows the same 
exquisite taste in combining and laying on the instru- 
mental colors, and the same instinct for idiomatic ef- 
fects that he does in his piano pieces. And while 
Strauss has gone beyond his idol in some ways, to be 
dwelt on presently, he did not do so to a greater extent 
than Liszt went beyond all of his predecessors or con- 
temporaries, excepting Berlioz and Wagner. His col- 
orings, while rivaling those of these two specialists, 
are quite different. 

To Saint-Saens, himself a past master in the art of 
orchestral coloring, this fact was patent at the time 
these three men were still busy. In his "Portraits 
et Souvenirs" he pays this eloquent tribute to Liszt 
as an orchestrator, indicating how original his tonal 
effects were even to one who, like this great Frenchman, 
knew all musical literature by heart : 

The orchestral soberness of the classical symphony Liszt 
replaces by all the richness of the modern orchestra; and 
just as he had, with marvellous ingenuity, introduced this 
wealth in his music for the piano, so now he transfers to the 
orchestra his virtuosity, creating a new art of instrumen- 
tation of unheard-of splendor, being aided by the unexplored 
resources which the improvement in instruments and the 


increasing skill of the players placed at his disposal. The 
procedure of Richard Wagner is often cruel; he takes no 
account of the fatigue resulting from superhuman efforts; 
he often demands the impossible the players do what they 
can do ; Liszt's methods, on the other hand, do not call 
for such censure. He asks of orchestral players what they 
can do and no more. 

Strauss himself pays a similar tribute to Liszt in 
the introduction to his splendid edition of Berlioz's 
treatise on Orchestration. After explaining that the 
symphonies of Haydn and Mozart are little more than 
string quartets with obligate wood-wind instruments 
and noise-makers (horns, trumpets, kettle drums) for 
the tutti parts, he goes on to say that "the fact that 
Beethoven, in his fifth and ninth symphonies, makes 
freer use of the brass instruments cannot hide from us 
the truth that the symphonic works of this master, 
also, do not deny the chamber-music style. More than 
in the cases of Haydn and Mozart do we find in Bee- 
thoven's works the spirit of the pianoforte with its 
characteristic turns this same spirit of the piano 
which so exclusively rules the subsequent works of 
Schumann and Brahms, unfortunately not always to 
their advantage or the hearer's gratification. It was 
reserved for Franz Liszt's color-instinct (Klangsinn) to 
transform this spirit of the piano into its equivalent 
in the orchestra, which he awakened to new poetic life." 


Innumerable writers have sung and justly sung 
the praises of Strauss as a conjurer of dazzling or- 
chestral colors, wherefore one cannot apply to him 


Charles Black's witty adage: "Whoso bloweth not 
his own horn, the same shall not be blown." In this 
same introduction to Berlioz's treatise, however, there 
is such a subtle attempt to exalt himself above not 
only Liszt, but Berlioz and Weber, that it is of particular 
interest to subject his claim to a close scrutiny. 

To be sure he says of Berlioz, this bold innovator, this 
ingenious color-mixer, this real creator of the modern orches- 
tra, totally lacked the gift of polyphony. He may or may 
not have known the many- voiced mysteries of the miraculous 
scores of Joh. Seb. Bach ; one thing is certain : his purely 
musical and somewhat primitively melodic mind did not 
comprehend this highest efflorescence of musical genius, such 
as we find in Bach's cantatas, in Beethoven's last quartets, 
in the poetic mechanism of the third act of Tristan, as the 
supreme emanation of unrestrained melodic wealth. And it 
is only by way of true polyphony that the supreme miracles 
of orchestral sounds are achieved. An orchestral score in 
which there are middle and lower voices which are awk- 
wardly, or let us say, carelessly, conducted, will seldom be 
found free from a certain hardness and will never yield the 
richness of color which suffuses a score in the elaboration of 
which the composer has also assigned soulful, beautifully 
curved melodic lines to the second violins, second violas, 
violoncellos, basses, and other instruments. Here lies the 
secret of the unprecedented Klangpoesie of the Tristan and 
Meistersinger scores, as well as of that of the Siegfried Idyl, 
written for a small orchestra ; whereas, on the other hand, 
such works as the orchestral dramas of Berlioz, which are 
constructed with a keen instinct for coloring, and the scores 
of Weber and Liszt each of whom was in his own way a 
great instrumental poet and master of coloring betray by 
a certain unyielding hardness (Sprddigkeit) in the tints that 
the composer did not consider the choir of accompanying 
or supplemental parts worthy of melodic independence, for 
which reason the conductor, on his part, cannot call on them 
to contribute their share of soulf ulness which is necessary for 
warming up the whole body orchestral. 


This sounds plausible, and yet it is quite mislead- 
ing. If the beauty and the soulfulness of orchestral 
writing and playing depend on the polyphic elabora- 
tion of the score, why is it that Brahms, who is a past 
master of polyphony, is notorious for the drab hues 
of his scores. Why again is the instrumental coloring 
usually so void of charm in the scores of Max Reger, 
the cleverest polyphonist since Bach? And why did 
England's most scholarly historian, Sir Herbert Parry, 
call special attention to the fact that orchestration is 
"the very department of art in which Bach was most 
deficient/' If Strauss's reasoning were correct, it 
would be just the other way with these three superla- 
tive masters of polyphony. 

Handel sneered at Gluck, who, he said, knew no more 
about counterpoint than his cook; yet while all the 
operas of Handel, the polyphonist, are forgotten, sev- 
eral of Gluck's survive to this day; and there are in 
them many pages of lovely orchestral water colors. 

The greatest master of coloring is he who has the 
ability to paint rich canvases with a few instruments, 
regardless of all interweaving of parts. Grieg was not 
a polyphonist, yet in all music there is no score richer 
and more soulful than his The Last Spring, in which 
the colors fairly shimmer and thrill by their glowing 

Schubert, whom his friends found so unpolyphonic 
that they advised him, shortly before his death, to take 
lessons in counterpoint, fairly reveled in orchestral 
colors, and in his last two symphonies there are many 
luscious pages like new sounds from another planet 
which excel anything in the way of color in the 
symphonies of the contrapuntal masters, Haydn, Mo- 
zart, and Beethoven. 


Wagner was a master polyphonist, but the richness 
of his colors is not due to the intertwining of his melo- 
dies. It is equally resplendent in hundreds of pages 
which are as homophonic as the works of Berlioz, 
Weber, or Liszt. 

Where, in all orchestral music, is there a more glow- 
ing work than the Marguerite movement in the Faust 
of the unpolyphonic Liszt ? 

No, Strauss is entirely wrong in his argument. In 
his own glowing scores, the splendor is due to his in- 
stinct for coloring and not to his amazing contrapuntal 
stunts. These, in fact, are an actual detriment. As 
Ernest Newman has put it, "he often falls a victim 
to the modern mania for using a pot of paint where a 
mere brushful would do equally well, or better." The 
score of the Domestica, as the same critic has pointedly 
put it, "would sound just as well with a third of the 
notes and several of the players omitted." These are 
the words of one who, on the whole, is an admirer and 
champion of Strauss. To cite two or three more of 
his caustic sentences: "Master of orchestration as he 
is, there is page after page in the Symphonia Domestica 
containing the grossest miscalculations; time after 
time we can see what his intention has been and how 
completely it has been frustrated by his own extrava- 
gance. He wants to wear all the clothes in his ward- 
robe at once." 1 

Another admirer and champion, Max Steinitzer, 
has written a paragraph which shows that Strauss 
(though he erred, as we have seen, in claiming too 
much for polyphonic orchestration) did not encourage 
those of his apostles who talked about him as if he were 
an arch revolutionist, and practically the creator of 
1 "Musical Studies", page 303. 


the modern art of coloring. "How little desire he 
had to be considered a reformer of the orchestral ap- 
paratus/' he writes, "is indicated by many remarks 
he has made which show that he looks on himself 
as being simply a pupil of Wagner. On hearing 
somebody express admiration of the Salome orches- 
tration he seemed a little surprised, and, taking up 
the passages specially referred to, he replied that 
essentially the same things had been done by the 
'Old Man/ Further proof of his attitude may be 
found in the rare modesty manifested in his edition 
of Berlioz's work on orchestration. Of the one hun- 
dred and fifty-one larger examples in musical type 
only eight are taken from his own scores: three 
from Feuersnot, two from the Domestica, and one 
each from Tod und Verldarung y Eulenspiegel, and 
Zarathustra. A remarkable contrast to those of his 
worshipers who talk as if he originated the art of 

To a biographer who thus, by telling the plain truth, 
squelches the ignorant adulators and exaggerators, oi^e 
is the more willing to lend an ear when he defends the 
man he writes about against diverse unjust charges. 
It has often been said that Strauss searched for new 
instruments merely for the sake of making a sensation 
by introducing novel sounds in the orchestra. Even 
had he done so, this would be no crime, for new sounds 
are desirable when they are agreeable or characteristic. 
But Strauss introduced the new instruments for pur- 
poses of expression. In his Salome , for instance, "a 
new domain of expression" is secured by the use of 
the heckelphone, an improved kind of bass oboe which 
Wagner already had dreamt of; but as its narrow 
bore impaired the sonority, it remained for Strauss 


to make .die first operatic use of the instrument as 
improved by Ernest HeckeL 


Nor can we look on Strauss as a bold, bad innovator 
because he likes to use mammoth orchestras. In 1784 
a Handel Commemoration was held in London at 
which the orchestra numbered forty-eight first and 
forty-seven second violins, twenty-six violas, twenty- 
one violoncellos, fifteen double basses, six flutes, twenty- 
six oboes, twenty-six bassoons, one double bassoon, 
twelve trumpets, twelve horns, six trombones, four 
drums, two organs. 

Berlioz's Messe des Marts calls for one principal 
orchestra, four brass bands, and a separate band of 
drums and other instruments of percussion. There 
are no fewer than eight pairs of kettledrums, twelve 
horns, and sixteen trombones. 

Wagner's Parsifal requires four flutes, four oboes, 
two alto oboes, four clarinets, one bass clarinet, four 
bassoons, one double bassoon, seven horns, three 
trumpets, four trombones, one bass tuba, four harps, 
besides kettledrums, bells, and strings. 

With these examples in mind, we are less likely to 
be scandalized on reading that Strauss, in his fullest 
score (Elektra), calls for twenty-four first, second, and 
third violins, eighteen first, second, and third violas, 
twelve first and second cellos, eight double basses, 
four flutes, four oboes (including English horn and 
heckelphone), eight clarinets (including bass clarinet 
and two basset-horns), four bassoons, four horns, 


four tubas (the players of which sometimes take 
four more horn parts), six trumpets, six bass trump- 
ets, four trombones, contrabass tuba, and six to 
eight kettledrums, besides glockenspiel, triangle, tam- 
bourin, bass drum, cymbals, tamtam, celesta, and 
two harps. 

It was lucky for Strauss that his operas as well as his 
tone poems invariably had a sensational success at 
their first performance, for this made it easier to per- 
suade the managers to expend the extra money needed 
for such enlarged orchestras and the necessary re- 
hearsals. For the premiere, Strauss has always in- 
sisted on compliance with his demands ; but for later 
performances, especially in cities where such mam- 
moth aggregates are out of the question, he has judi- 
ciously moderated them. 

In his Domestica score he introduces a quartet of 
saxophones borrowed from military bands; they give 
a richness to the harmonies which I enjoyed immensely 
when he conducted the world premiere of this work in 
New York. Concerning their use, he gives the direc- 
tion that they may be left out, but "only in extreme 
cases of necessity." 

Why is it that, notwithstanding all their orchestral 
splendors, the later compositions of Strauss often bore 
us ? Because the themes the melodies are insig- 
nificant. An anecdote will illustrate this* A certain 
German prince who had written a piece of music once 
asked Liszt to arrange it for orchestra and bring in 
the trombones with the same splendid effect as Wagner 
did in the Tannhauser overture. Liszt, with all his 
diplomacy, found it difficult to make it clear to him 
that the trombones had less to do with it than what 
they played. 



Having defended Strauss against the unjust assertion 
(not approved by him) that he surpassed all other 
masters in his orchestral splendors, and also against 
the insinuation that his love for new instruments is 
born of sheer sensationalism, let us focus our attention 
on the opinion, very often expressed, that the reason 
why he is so lavish in the use of rich colors and indulges 
in such astonishing feats of technical skill, is that he 
wishes by these methods to hide his lack of ideas. 

Sir Charles Villiers Stanford relates in his Memoirs 
that "Brahms once said to Joachim that he wished 
that he had half Dvorak's invention.' 5 "Dem fallt 
immer etwas ein" (He is never at a loss for an idea) he 
said of the same composer on another occasion. Brahms 
himself often was at a loss for ideas, but his command 
of form and his technical skill were so great that this 
lack of melodic inspiration did not prevent him from 
composing away lustily. Any commonplace theme, 
or group of notes, sufficed to start his pen, and the re- 
sults were often surprising and commendable from 
a technical point of view. 

There are judges who hold that in no way does a 
composer exhibit his mastership more completely than 
by his ability thus to take insignificant bricks and 
with them do an architectural "stunt." 

"Art for art's sake" this is often called. It should, 
however, be called technic for technic's sake; for art 
means infinitely more than technic. 

Bach, the first of the great musical architects* built 
many a fugue that is a marvel from a technical point 


of view, though its theme is undistinguished. In 
genuine musical interest such a piece is, however, 
vastly inferior to one^ which, like the famous fugue in 
G minor, or the stupendous toccata in F, is built up 
on great ideas having choice marble for its themes in 
place of common red bricks. 

Max Reger has often been called the modern Bach, 
because of his marvellous skill in constructing fugues 
and other polyphonic pieces. But it is only in his 
technical skill that he resembles Bach. He had 
none of that great cantor's soaring ideas; and for 
this reason his structures will soon crumble into 
ruins. Mere architectural skill mere ingenuity in 
the invention of "workable" themes cannot save 

The whole history of music proves that only those 
compositions survive which, besides exhibiting coher- 
ence and technical skill, are also blessed with melodic 
inspiration. Of Schubert V more than five hundred 
songs, all but about a hundred have vanished. From 
a technical point of view, most of those that have 
become obsolete are not inferior to those that still 
live; they have died because their melodies lack the 
originality and charm which have endeared the others 
to music lovers permanently. 

Beethoven owes his exalted position in the musical 
world chiefly to his melodic originality and fecundity* 

The dictionaries of musical biography are full of 
the names of composers who were masters of form 
and technique, but whose works are no longer sung or 
played, simply because they lack melodic charm of a 
lasting kind; names like^Hummel, Lachner, Macfar- 
ren, Bargiel, Reinecke, Bendel, Dittersdorf, Haupt- 
mann, Thalberg, and a thousand others. 


If Liszt had been like Thalberg (whom so erudite 
a scholar as Fetis considered superior to him botli 
as pianist and composer!) his works, too, would be 
dead. Time has proved a better judge than the 
learned F6tis. Liszt's works are now, a generation 
after his death, more in vogue than ever, thanks to 
their melodic originality. They are alive and will live 
on because, in the words of his biographer, Arthur 
Hervey, they "literally teem with melodic ideas" ; or, 
as Saint-Saens puts it, in them "la source m&lodique 
coule dbondamment" 

It is foolish to demur against these statements. 
Judge Time, of the Supreme Court, has spoken; from 
his verdict there is no appeal. 

Now, how is it with Richard Strauss? In his case 
Judge Time has not yet spoken definitely, for he is 
still at work; yet already we can guess what will 
happen for his early works, Don Juan, Death and 
Transfiguration, and Till^Eulenspiegel, in which there 
are, as Mr. Newman justly states, "great soaring, 
sweeping melodies", are much more in demand than 
the later ones, in which "mere snippets of phrases" 
which "go contrapuntally with almost anything" 
are used in place of real melodies. 

It is hardly an exaggeration to state that there is 
more real melody in Liszt's PrSLudes and Tasso than 
in all of Strauss's tone poems put together. 

His most eloquent eulogists do not claim the gift of 
melody for him. His "thematic invention is not 
commensurate with his other gifts" says James Hun- 
eker, which agrees with the opinion of Doctor Muck, 
who conducted the RosenJcavalier alone more than fifty 
times in Berlin, and who was reported in the Chicago 
InterrOcean (in February, 1907) as saying: "Most 


of Strauss's later works I find of only passing Interest. 
To three only do I return with pleasure all of them 
early works. They are Till Eulenspiegel, Death and 
Transfiguration, and Don Juan. And since I have 
frankly told Mr. Strauss my opinions, I see no reason 
why I should hesitate to make them public. ... In 
his later works his themes are not worthy the marvelous 
technical development given them/* 

Romain Rolland could not find in Strauss's works 
"a single melody truly original and interesting per se" 9 
that is, apart from its literary associations or harmonic 
investment. The writer of an article "From Guntram 
to Ekktra" in the London Times (July 23, 1910), 
sums up the matter in these words: "Melody has 
never been a strong point in Strauss's equipment. His 
songs, with a handful of exceptions, are lamentably 
weak in sustained melody. ... It is not that he 
thinks, with Debussy, that melody is antilyrical; it 
is simply that, like most modern Germans, he does not 
possess the capacity for writing sustained and original 
tunes. Musical form and orchestral color apparently 
absorb his capacity", and "the best of Strauss's 
melodies canot be called original." 

Thus we see that from the all-important melodic point 
of view, too, the symphonic poem does not culminate 
in Strauss. Not only Liszt, but Saint-Saens, Tchai- 
kovsky, and others have surpassed him. 

While Judge Time has not yet had his full say about 
Strauss, a real court of German judges has passed on 
the question of his melodies. The following chapter, 
which I contributed as an editorial to the New York 
Evening Post, is concerned with one of the most amusing 
episodes in musical history. 



What is melody ? This question had to be answered 
the other day in a German law court. A composer 
named Noren wrote a symphonic piece entitled the 
Kaleidoskop, in which he embellished a theme of his 
own with variations introducing two themes from 
Richard Strauss's Heldenleben. It was intended as a 
deliberate act of homage, as was indicated by the 
words "To a famous contemporary" printed in the 
score over the bars cited. Strauss himself had no 
objections; indeed, he actually congratulated Noren 
on his achievement. The publisher of Heldenleben, on 
the other hand, protested against the printing and 
sale of the KaleidosJcop, on the strength of Section 13 
of the copyright law of 1901, which says : "In a musi- 
cal composition it is not permissible to take a recogniz- 
able melody from it and incorporate it in a new work.** 
The jurists, in course of the trial, appealed to the royal 
Saxon musical experts for a definition of melody, and 
got one which at the same time sounds like a justifi- 
cation of those who claim that there is no melody in 
Strauss's music. 

"From the standpoint of musical composition," 
the royal experts said, "neither the leading theme (in 
the Heldenleben) nor the motive of the opponents is 
a ' melody/ The science of music makes a strict dis- 
tinction between motive, leading motive, theme, 
phrase and melody. While the motive represents 
the smallest independent oneness of a musical thought, 
and the theme is a chain of motives that are re- 
peated or linked together, the word melody, in accord- 


ance with its origin melodia, allied to melos, limb and 
ode, song signifies a group of tones which embodies 
the musical thought in artistic, singable form, as an 
articulated, rounded whole. In the motive as well 
as in the theme the melodic element may find expres- 
sion ; but a melodious motive or well-sounding theme 
does not constitute a melody. One may in particular 
call the main theme in the Helderileben a melodic theme ; 
a melody it is not ; and as for the motive of the oppo- 
nents, that is the direct and conscious negation (Gegen- 
satz) of melody." In accordance with this explanation, 
the Landgericht of Leipsic granted Noren permission 
to publish his Kaleidoskop. 

Perhaps Strauss is sorry now that he congratulated 
the man who cited his music; for not only have the 
experts failed to find melody in this music, but the 
court, in announcing its verdict, rubbed salt into the 
wound by saying: "Inasmuch as the 'melody* still 
remains the truly attractive and popular part of every 
musical composition, the new German copyright law 
has provided for it thorough protection against all 
unwarranted exploitation. The appropriation of mo- 
tives and themes in the compositions of others remains, 
on the other hand, permissible in accordance with 
Section 13, on the condition that these motives and 
themes are subjected to a new artistic manipulation 
and development. The difference thus established 
between the constituents of the music of another part 
is not to be wondered at, for a motive or a theme is 
capable of the most diverse changes and artistic elab- 
orations, whereas a melody, in consequence of the 
finished form in which it appears, does not permit in- 
versions, shortenings, or other changes without losing 
its individuality. By means of the new elaboration 


of a theme or motive it is therefore possible to pro- 
duce an entirely new and individual composition, 
whereas the appropriation of a melody, since it can 
only be taken as a whole, is usually an act of delib- 
erate plagiarism/* 

It is difficult to avoid expecting that this verdict 
will lead to many complications and a number of law- 
suits. Strauss's imitators will now be able to steal 
not only his orchestral thunder and his insulting dis- 
sonances, but his very motives and themes. We may 
expect, too, that the legion of Wagner's imitators will 
take fresh courage, appropriating the Nibelung mo- 
tives of the dwarfs, gods and giants bodily and con- 
structing new tetralogies therewith. Who is to pre- 
vent them, as long as they avoid the complete melodies 
into which these buds gradually develop in Wagner's 
scores? The new German copyright law, as inter- 
preted in Leipsic, will certainly prove a boon to the 
minor composers who have no ideas of their own, and 
encourage them in their petty pilferings. The bor- 
rowing of complete melodies being forbidden, none of 
them will, however, be able to compete with Handel, 
whose wholesale appropriations of complete airs by 
contemporary and older masters earned for him the 
sobriquet, bestowed on him by one of his most erudite 
and enthusiastic English admirers, of "The Grand 
Old Thief." 

From another point of view, one cannot but feel 
glad that this matter has been brought before the 
courts. The trial has given prominence to the sad 
truth that the composers of our time are more given to 
raising buds (themes and motives) in their gardens 
than the flowers of melody; and it has emphasized 
the fact that, however pretty buds may be, full-blown 


melody remains the most attractive and popular ele- 
ment in music. Unless the younger composers take 
this lesson to heart, there is no future, and little present, 
use for their works. A clever musician like Debussy 
may launch an opera like P&lUas et M$lisande with 
melody deliberately left out of the score, and it may 
prove a seven-day possibly even a seven-year 
wonder, "but it will not be heard ten years hence* 
Every European country has hundreds of immortal 
folk songs immortal, though, in their native form, 
they are simple melodies without harmonic embellish- 
ments. But where is there 'a single composition with- 
out genuine melody that has stood the test of time ? 

More than two decades ago, Saint-SaSns wrote a 
book entitled "Harmonie et Melodie", explaining in 
the preface that he put the "Harmonie" before the 
"Melodie" because it seemed necessary .to emphasize 
the importance of that element of music. To-day, he 
has admitted, he would emphasize the importance of 
the "M61odie." In France, as in Germany, and even 
in Italy, the melodic fount seems to have run dry, and 
the chief element of novelty lies in daring harmonic 
experiments. These, and the gorgeous orchestral ef- 
fects, now at the command of all composers, have their 
charm and their use ; but they will never take the place 
of melody. That alone bestows lasting life on music. 


Reviewing the facts presented in the preceding 
pages, we see how uninformed and unjust those are who 
claim that Liszt was merely the pioneer in the realm 


of the symphonic poem and Strauss the perfecter. In 
the choice and presentment of poetic subjects, Liszt's 
works are superior. In form they are equally coherent, 
though in a less architectural and more literary way. 
In melodic content the supreme test they are 
far ahead of Strauss's tone poems. There remains 
only one more point of comparison. Surely, as an 
innovator in the realm of harmony, or dissonance, 
Strauss has surpassed Liszt, has he not? 

Most emphatically he has not. It is precisely as a 
harmonic innovator that Liszt looms up biggest. 
Even Richard Wagner, who, with the possible excep- 
tion of Bach and Chopin, is the greatest of all har- 
monists, sat at the feet of Liszt to learn from him. 

Everybody knows how surprising is the harmonic 
difference between the earlier operas of Wagner, up to 
Lohengrin, and the later ones, beginning with Kheingold. 
This difference is owing to the influence of Liszt, whose 
epoch-making symphonic poems Wagner studied thor- 
oughly and delightedly during the five years' interval 
between the two works just named. 

So great was this influence of Liszt that Wagner, 
the great egotist, did not wish to call public attention 
to it when he wrote his essay on Liszt's symphonic 
poems, which was unkind of him, for Liszt had done 
so very much to help him. But in a letter to Hans 
von Billow he frankly admitted his indebtedness. 
"There are many things we gladly confess among our- 
selves," he wrote; "for example, that since my ac- 
quaintance with Liszt's compositions, I have become quite 
another fellow as a harmonist." 

Not only harmonic progressions and modulations 
did Wagner borrow from Liszt but melodic themes too. 
At a rehearsal of Die Walkiire one day, he turned to his 


father-in-law and said cheerily: "Here, papa, comes 
something I got from you." And Liszt answered, 
good-naturedly, "Tis well then it will at any rate 
have listeners." Poor Liszt's works had none at that 
time. But "I can wait" he used to say ; for he knew 
his day would come. 

The Russian Princess von Wittgenstein, Liszt's 
companion for many years, knew very well how 'he 
had helped to educate the harmonic sense of his 
greatest contemporaries. Memorable is her remark: 
"He shot his arrow even farther into the future than 

The Russian composers, in particular, who have 
startled the world with their harmonic audacities, 
have their roots in Liszt's scores. He was the first, 
too, who made effective use of the whole-tone scale, 
on which Debussy and his tribe have based a new 
school. But this point is too technical for these 
Images. 1 

"^Strauss is no less bold as a real harmonist than Liszt 
was, and in his orchestral and operatic scores there 
are as we shall see in later pages some new and 
splendidly dramatic effects. Too often, unfortunately, 
he exceeds the limits of the permissible. Liszt never 
did this. As Professor Riemann has shown, there is 
a theoretical way out of even his most novel and mys- 
terious labyrinths, the careful study of which he par- 
ticularly recommends to musicians as a means of cul- 
tivating their harmonic sense. 

One day a pupil of Liszt brought a manuscript with 

1 Students who are interested in the subject of whole-tone and Hungarian 
scales, with which Liszt created such a new musical atmosphere, must be re- 
ferred to pages 419 to 424 of Biemann's " Geschichte der Musik seit Beeth- 
oven." The Hungarian scale, on which Liszt has built such poignant and 
epoch-making harmonies, is a sort of intensified minor scale. 


outrageous dissonantal combinations. "Such things 
must not be done," the master declared. "But I 
have done them," the pupil retorted obstinately; 
whereupon Liszt took a quill pen, dipped it in ink, and 
flicked the black fluid on to the young man's white 
vest, with the words: "That also can be done, as you 

There are too many ink spots, too many dissonantal 
blotches, on Strauss's pages. Not content, like Liszt 
and the other great masters, with dissonances which 
ultimately are resolved into consonances, he "pro- 
gressed" to cacophonies for their own sake, hideous 
daubs of sounds which torture the ears like a con- 
cert of steamboat whistles on a foggy morning in 
the bay. 

To these cacophonies even the ardent admirers of 
Strauss feel like saying "out, damned spots !" Read, 
for example, what Ernest Newman, who in the other 
respects puts him on so high a pedestal, calls the 
episode of the Adversaries in the Heldenleben : "merely 
a piece of laborious stupidity"; while the "battle* 5 
section is "a blatant and hideous piece of work." He 
adds that "there must be a flaw, one thinks, in the 
mind of a man who can deliberately spoil a great and 
beautiful artistic conception by inserting such mon- 
strosities as these in it." 

These "monstrosities" of Strauss have unfortunately 
engendered and encouraged a whole school of cacoph- 
onists, who toss notes with pitchforks. Their leader 
is Arnold Schonberg. If he and his rivals turn out 
greater geniuses than Wagner and the other great 
composers who profited by Liszt's harmonic dis- 
coveries, then I am ready to admit that, in the realm 
of harmony, Strauss progressed beyond his idol. 



One day a man came into one of the largest music 
stores in New York and asked for all the works of Rich- 
ard Strauss on hand, arranged for piano, four hands. 
Throwing up his arms, the astonished clerk exclaimed : 
"Mein Gott, you are velcome to them !" 

That salesman had doubtless tried some of the tone 
poems on the piano and found the cacophonous passages 
even more ruthlessly vontirpitzian in their frightful- 
ness than they were in the original orchestral form. 

It is well known to musicians that a chord which on 
the piano is unbearably ugly can be actually converted 
into a thing of beauty by judicious distribution of its 
constituent tones among orchestral instruments. In 
this matter Strauss rivals Wagner and Liszt; but the 
monstrosities just referred to are beyond remedy. Nor 
does Strauss wish to euphonize them. They stand in 
stubborn defiance of everybody and everything, like 
the ugliest bull dog or sesquipedalian dachshund ever 
invented incorrigibly Teutonic. 

When Josh Billings wrote that "Wagner's music 
isn't as bad as it sounds 5 * he probably did not realize 
that there was also a serious side to his joke. For years, 
nay, for decades, Wagner's music was often played so 
unintelligently that it really did sound much worse 
than it was. 

So was Liszt's. The music dramas of Wagner and 
the symphonic poems of Liszt were so novel in struc- 
ture and spirit that they required for their correct 
and effective interpretation an entirely new style of 


When Liszt conducted his own orchestral works, in 
accordance with his new principles of interpretation, 
the applause was as great as when he played the piano. 
But when these same works were conducted by old- 
style time-beaters, they were hissed, or fell flat, or won, 
at best, a succes (Festime. 

It was because of these bungling attempts that 
Liszt took the attitude (which so surprised some of 
his contemporaries) of usually advising those who 
contemplated performances of his symphonic poems to 
leave them alone. There is much food for thought in 
the following preface to his orchestral works, made 
public in 1856 : 

To secure a performance of my orchestral works which 
realizes my intentions, and give them the right color, rhythm, 
accent, and life, it will be well to have the rp6tition g&n&rcde 
preceded by separate rehearsals for the strings, the wind, the 
brass, and the percussion, instruments. This division of 
labor saves time and makes it easier for the players to 
understand the work. I therefore beg the messieurs conduc- 
tors who are inclined to produce one of these symphonic 
poems to adopt this method. 

At the same time I beg to observe that the mechanical, 
metronomic, choppy way of playing, which is still practised 
in many places, is something which I am anxious to have 
done away with as far as possible. I acknowledge as cor- 
rect only a periodic reading which gives prominence to 
special accents, and rounds off the melodic and rhythmic 
nuances. In the mental conception of the conductor lies 
the vital nerve of a symphonic performance, provided the 
means for its realization exist in the orchestra. If that is 
not the case, it would seem wiser not to take up works like 
those which by no means aim at an every-day popularity. 

Although I have endeavored to indicate my intentions 
with regard to nuances, accelerations, retardations, etc., 
as clearly as possible by a detailed employment of the usual 
expression marks, it would nevertheless be a mistake to 


believe that one can put on paper that which constitutes 
the beautiful or the characteristic. The talent and inspira- 
tion of those who conduct and play my works alone com- 
mand the secrets of such expression; and the amount of 
sympathy they kindly accord to my works will be the best 
measure of their success with them. 1 

Richard Strauss's great advantage over Liszt, re- 
ferred to in the heading of this section, lay in this : that 
he did not have to worry about conductors and cor- 
rect interpretations. By the time he gave his tone poem 
and operas to the world, the new problems presented 
by the works of Liszt and Wagner had called into exist- 
ence a new kind of conductor, who interpreted their 
music in accordance with the principles hinted at in 
the preface just cited. To these master wielders of 
the b&ton, Strauss's compositions were nuts which, 
though hard, they had no difficulty in cracking. 

It is impossible to exaggerate the importance of this 
stroke of good luck. If the tone poems of Strauss 
had been led, at their first productions, by conductors 
like Mendelssohn, Hiller, Taubert, Lachner, Reinecke, 
they would have fallen flat as a pancake ; whereas the 
leaders trained by Wagner and Liszt were able to cre- 
ate sensations with them ; sensations which gave their 
composer world-fame and filled his pockets with 

Liszt died too soon to witness the complete triumph 
of his works as interpreted by the new school of con- 
ductors. In England and France they are still music of 
the future ; but in the cities of Germany they are now 

1 This illuminating little preface is printed in both French and German. 
The two versions differ considerably. In making t.fria translation, I have 
taken the best of each, following the French in the first and third para- 
graphs, the German in the second. 


fully appreciated, as they will be in Paris and London 
when the right conductors appear. 

New York has been singularly fortunate. Liszt 
lived to know that his works were being capably in- 
terpreted here by Theodore Thomas as well as by Doc- 
tor Leopold Damrosch, one of his personal friends 
and pupils, to whom he dedicated his Le Triomphe 
funtibre du Tasse. Then came Wagner's favorite and 
best interpreter, Anton Seidl, who adored also the 
music of Liszt, because he knew it so well ; and he made 
many others adore it by his inspired readings. Other 
conductors of the Philharmonic Orchestra, among 
them Weingartner and Mahler, exhibited their ad- 
miration of Liszt by glowing performances. Then 
came the bequest of three quarters of a million dollars 
to the Philharmonic by the owner of the New York 
World, Joseph Pulitzer, with the request that the pro- 
grams should give prominence to the works of his 
three favorite composers: Beethoven, Wagner, and 
Liszt. There was no need of this condition, for these 
three composers had long been general favorites. 
With Joseph Stransky, the Philharmonic acquired a 
leader who is the greatest Liszt specialist since Seidl, 
and who also performs the tone poems of Strauss more 
glowingly, brilliantly, and convincingly than any one 
else except Strauss himself. Thanks to him, there 
has been quite a Strauss cult in New York in recent 

Boston also rejoices in a conductor whose readings 
of both Liszt and Strauss are wonderful. Doctor Muck 
could not conduct the tone poems of Strauss so ad- 
mirably had he not been trained in the school of Wagner 
and Liszt. Although the Boston Symphony Orches- 
tra had two good interpreters of Liszt before him 


Henschel and Nikisch it remained for him to con- 
vince the music lovers of that critical city of the full 
grandeur of this composer. In 1914 he produced the 
Faust symphony. So great was the enthusiasm over 
its two performances that he decided to give two more. 
What happened then was related in the Boston Journal 
of April 3 : 

Liszt's Faust Symphony, featured for the second time this 
season on Dr. Muck's programmes, drew the biggest crowd 
of the Symphony season yesterday afternoon, and capped 
this record by arousing the biggest outburst of enthusiasm 
witnessed at a Symphony concert for a long, long time. 

Hundreds of enthusiasts couldn't get into the hall at all. 
There has been nothing like this intense interest over a sym- 
phony in Boston in recent years, except at one or two special 
performances of Tchaikovsky's Pathetic symphony. The 
Faust symphony is gradually forcing its way into recognition 
as the most impressive musical translation of Goethe's 
drama. It is wonderfully rich, both in lyrical and dramatic 

"Music of the future it not only was, but is/* ex- 
claimed Olin Downes, in the Post; adding "Lo and 
behold! Symphony Hall could not yesterday and 
cannot to-night contain the people who want to hear 
music that was the very crown of madness in the 40 5 s 
Faust symphony." 

Philip Hale wrote in the Herald that "It is enough 
to say that the music seemed even more poetic, dra- 
matic, imaginative, imposing." He then paid his 
compliments to those who are not with the musical 
public in its enthusiasm over Liszt : 

It is the fashion for some to admit the genius of Liszt in 
shaping the symphonic poein, in enlarging the scope of the 
symphony; to admit, though grudgingly, his influence on 
contemporaries and followers even to this day ; but they deny 


his creative power, as there are some who find no "ideas" 
in the music of Berlioz, no skill in thematic treatment, only 
an unusual sense of orchestral color, and an inexplicable abil- 
ity in orchestration. Argument is out of the question with 
these men. They have ears and they do not hear ; they will 
not hear ; Berlioz and Liszt are not thus to be idly dismissed. 
It is not possible to think of modern music without invoking 
their glorious names and remembering their music. It is 
pleasant to think that in this city they have long been 
ranked among the immortals. . . . The performance of 
the Faust symphony yesterday should have turned the most 
prejudiced, the most "conservative", from the error of his 



Two of my reasons for dwelling at such length on 
the creative genius of Liszt were given in a preceding 
paragraph, to wit: the desire to do historic justice 
to one of the most original and influential personalities 
in the history of music ; and, second, the wish to ex- 
hibit Strauss's true place in the development of pro- 
gram music and the symphonic poem, as neither their 
originator nor perf ecter, but simply one of many great 
composers who followed in Liszt's footsteps, without 
really surpassing him in any important respect any 
more than the song writers since Schubert have sur- 
passed this creator and perf ecter of the art-song. 

To these two reasons another may now be added: 
the wish to show that Strauss had the genius to appre- 
ciate the genius of Liszt at its full value at a time when 
he shared this gift of full appreciation only with Wagner, 
Ritter, Saint-Saens, and a few others. 

Steinitzer relates that when Strauss, as a young 
man, became a Wagner convert, his friends were sur- 


prised; but it was incomprehensible to them that he 
should also become an admirer of Liszt at a time when 
Liszt's works were so little understood that hisses 
were often heard at their performance, and most of 
the musicians looked on him simply as a pianist and 
Wagner's father-in-law ! "Never," writes this biog- 
rapher, " shall I forget the distressed mien and air 
of surprise with which Paul Marsop, when I met him 
on the street, exclaimed : 'Have you heard the latest? 
Just think, Strauss has now become a Lisztite, too ! * " 

It took some musicians of distinction much longer 
than it did Strauss to understand and adore Liszt. 
On this point Arthur Friedheim, who was one of Liszt's 
leading pupils, and whose playing of the great sonata 
in B minor has never been surpassed, has contributed 
some interesting illustrations in The Musician. 

When Friedheim first met Hans Richter, in 1882, 
that great conductor disliked Liszt's music, but because 
he liked Liszt personally, he performed some of it, 
"badly, of course.'* Fifteen years later Richter had 
become enthusiastic over the Dance of Death, of which 
he said, "I have grown fond, just as you can get fond 
of an ugly dog." Later Friedheim discovered from 
his programs that he had evidently "discovered some 
more dogs of the kind among Liszt's works." 

With Felix Mottl the case was similar. It took 
him a quarter of a century to discover in Dante and 
Christus the genius he might have found in them at 
once had he studied them with the same attention he 
gave to Wagner's works. Eugen D'Albert disliked 
the great Liszt sonata at one time; ten years later 
it was his battle horse. Nikisch and Weingartner, 
after two decades of familiarity, brought out details 
that had long escaped them in Liszt's scores. 


In view of such facts, it is surely one of the bright- 
est feathers in Strauss's cap that let me say it again 
he had the genius to recognize the genius of Liszt 
at once, and also the courage of his convictions in pro- 
claiming him the greatest composes^ orchestral music 
since Beethoven. 


Hero worship is a good thing for the soul. Strauss 
benefited greatly by his worship at the shrines of 
Wagner and Liszt. It was only when he deviated 
from the paths trodden by these two reformers that 
he blundered. His attitude toward "programs" was 
an instance. Now let me call attention to another 
procedure which tends to shorten the life of Strauss's 
orchestral works. 

One of the chief merits of Liszt's symphonic poems 
is their brevity. The duration of Tasso is nineteen 
minutes; of Les Preludes, fifteen; Orpheus 9 twelve; 
Mazeppa, eighteen; Festlclange, eighteen; Hfroide 
Fundbre, thirteen; Hungaria, twenty-two; L'Id6al 9 
twenty-eight ; Battle of the Huns, sixteen ; and Hamlet, 
only ten minutes. 

Strauss in his tone poems at first followed the good 
example of Liszt in the matter of brevity, as in other 
ways. While he had made his Italian symphony last 
forty-seven minutes, his first symphonic poem, Mac- 
betk, wisely contented itself with eighteen. Don 
Juan even bettered that with seventeen minutes, but 
Death and Transfiguration consumes twenty-four. , Eu- 
lenspiegel is so good that it seems short at eighteen 
minutes. The danger zone begins with Zarathustra, 


which lasts thirty-three minutes. Don Quixote is 
worse, with thirty-five ; not so bad, however, as Helden- 
leben with forty minutes, or the Domestica with forty- 
five. With his Alpensympkonie, Strauss reaches the 
Eroiea dimensions of fifty minutes* 1 

In his last four or five tone poems he thus loses one 
of the great advantages of the symphonic poem, which 
is brevity; and that is one reason why these later 
works are less frequently performed than the earlier 
ones. So many compositions, old and new, clamor 
for admission to concert programs that preference 
is necessarily given to those which heed the modern 
demand for conciseness. Brevity is the soul of other 
things beside wit. 



It is too bad that the greatest masters of orchestral 
coloring : Mozart, Beethoven, Weber, Schubert, Liszt, 
Wagner, Dvorak, Grieg, Bizet, Saint-Saens, Tchaik- 
ovsky, Strauss, did not each write a treatise on this 
fascinating branch of the tonal art. Berlioz was the 
only one who did. His treatise was an epoch-making 
work ; from it Wagner, Liszt, Strauss, and all the others 
coming after him got invaluable hints. 

Richard Strauss paid it a remarkable compliment 
when he refused invitations to write a new treatise on 
orchestration but, instead, prepared a new edition 
of Berlioz's, interlarded with remarks of his own. This 
was published (in German) by C. F. Peters in Leipzig, 

1 These duration figures are culled from the MtiHer-Reuter "Leodkon der 
deutschen Konzertiiteratur." They are based on performances under 
the composers themselves or their leading interpreters. 


in 1905* It is a book absolutely indispensable to every 
musician who intends to compose, revealing, as it 
does, all the secrets of the workshop of Berlioz, with 
additional copious information by Strauss which 
brings it quite up to date. 

Strauss's remarks are inserted in their proper place 
in Berlioz's chapters on each instrument, and the 
publishers have made it easy to find his additions by 
enclosing them between wavy lines. Many pages 
are filled with excerpts from the full scores of the 
masters, to illustrate the text. From his own works 
Strauss makes only eight citations; from Wagner's 
sixty-four. The other composers from whose works 
excerpts are made to illustrate novel and happy instru- 
mental effects are Auber, Beethoven, Berlioz, Bizet, 
Gluck, Halevy, Liszt, Marschner, Mehul, Meyerbeer, 
Mozart, Rossini, Spontini, Verdi, and Weber. 

To the subject "Strauss as a Judge" these pages 
add many interesting items. Attention was called 
in the first part of this book to his admiration for the 
classical masters, particularly Mozart, of whose works 
he is considered an ideal interpreter. It is needless 
to say that titbits of orchestral tinting in their scores 
never escaped his attention. He cites, for instance, 
the happy use, in Mozart's Cosi fan tutte, of the oboe, 
with the bassoon two octaves lower, "for the expres- 
sion of affected coyness. 5 ' 

In the cavatina of the third act of Euryanthe, where 
the heroine, deserted in the woods, is perishing, Weber 
evoked from the bassoon "the most heart-rending 
tones of suffering innocence." 

Repeatedly, in this treatise, Strauss takes occasion 
to point out the wide range of emotional expression 
possessed by most orchestral instruments. The clari- 


net, for instance, which Weber employs so exquisitely 
for the expression of virginal purity, becomes in Wag- 
ner's Parsifal "the embodiment of demoniac sensuality, 
sounding, in the Kundry scenes, the awesome, disquiet- 
ing voices of seduction which no one who has heard 
will ever forget." 

An extremely interesting footnote on page 204 
about this same instrument indicates that Strauss by 
no means believed that he and his predecessors had 
exhausted the possibilities of orchestral coloring. 
After naming the members of the large clarinet family, 
he remarks: "The wealth of clang-tints which I can 
fancy radiating from the different mixtures of these 
diverse members of the clarinet family have made me 
realize how many unutilized treasures there are still 
in the orchestra for a dramatist and tone poet who 
knows how to use them for the appropriate expression 
of new color symbols and for the characterization of 
new and subtle emotional shades and nervous vibra- 

He laments the fact that in modern orchestras the 
clarinet in D is still almost always replaced by the 
E flat clarinet, "although an important r&le has been 
assigned to it by Liszt in Mazeppa and by Wagner in 
the Ride of the Valkyries " (one of those cases where 
Wagner got a hint from Liszt). Strauss himself uses 
this same instrument in his Till Eulenspiegel "as the 
humorist", to cite his own words. 

Among the other references to Liszt in this treatise 
is one calling attention to the "compelling realism 5 * 
of the cymbal stroke in the opening chord of Mazeppa 
"like the snapping of a whip"; and, in the same 
wonderful work, to the thrilling horn tone heard as 
"the last hoarse cry of the dying Cossack chief in the 


limitless steppe." Strauss also notes the "extraor- 
dinarily poetic use" Liszt has made of the big drum 
in his Mountain Symphony for the suggestion of the 
distant sublime sound of the sea. 

In French works, too, Strauss notes many striking 
orchestral apergus. Mehul's Joseph and Auber's 
Masaniello are among the scores he refers to. In 
Bizet's Carmen there are countless strokes of genius. 
Strauss calls attention to the "demoniac call of fate 
of the deep trumpets" in this score. He has a good 
word even for the much-abused Meyerbeer, "as one 
of the first who recognized the power of the viola for 
demoniac suggestion", using it in Robert the Devil 
for the expression of a pious shudder and the pangs of 

Strauss disapproves of the way Verdi uses the trump- 
ets in his last two operas, Otello and Falstaff for 
reasons which may be found on page 307 of his treatise. 
He also notes points of excellence in Verdi's scores. 


Strauss's additions to Berlioz's treatise alone are 
worth the price of the whole book, which is not only 
absolutely indispensable to those who wish to compose 
for the orchestra, but also of great interest to all 
music lovers who want to thoroughly enjoy the romance 
of this most entrancing aspect of the art divine. 
Strauss discourses on recent additions to the orchestra, 
as well as on obsolete but desirable instruments. He 
holds that even the flute is capable of a wide emotional 
range although Wagner makes little use of it in 


his later scores ; explains why the piccolo needs further 
improving in its mechanism; tells why he does not 
approve of the custom of making all the violinists 
in an orchestra use the up and down stroke of the bow 
simultaneously; gives hints as to fingering; describes 
the effects of mutes on trombones, etc. 

Some of his notes have a personal touch, as when 
he relates how his first clarinetist in the Royal Orchestra 
in Berlin experimented with mouthpieces of marble, 
glass, porcelain, rubber, 'and gold, but finally came 
back to the old wooden one because of its better tone 

By far the most interesting thing in these additions 
to Berlioz's pages are, however, Strauss's glowing trib- 
utes to Wagner, and his explanation of wherein lies 
the main difference between the orchestration of Wag- 
ner and that of Berlioz or Beethoven. 

Many writers have ignorantly stated that Wagner 
got all his ideas about instrumental coloring from 
Berlioz. Yet any musical expert can tell after hearing 
a dozen bars which of these two masters "painted" 
them. There are countless details, especially in the 
subtle mixtures of brasses with wood-wind instruments, 
that are the product of Wagner's "Klangphantasie", as 
Strauss remarks (p. 318) ; and in many other para- 
graphs he calls attention to Wagner's original tints 
and devices in all instrumental families. By aug- 
menting these families so as to represent all the voices 
in one group, and by endless subdivisions (violini 
divisi, etc.) in which Strauss followed him he 
called into existence entirely new color schemes, as 
entrancing as they were novel. By this new orchestral 
magic he was enabled to achieve miraculous effects 
like that at the close of the second act of Lohengrin, 


where "the organ sounds, which Wagner so cleverly 
coaxes from the orchestra, surpass those of the 'Queen 
of Instruments' herself", as Strauss puts it. 

The greatest improvement an improvement 
amounting to a revolution was brought about by 
Wagner with what we call the French horn (Wald- 
horn or " forest horn" in German). Of the tremendous 
possibilities of rich and emotional coloring inherent 
in this glorious instrument Berlioz had no conception; 
nor did any other master, although Beethoven and 
Weber had glimpses. Berlioz's pages on the horn are^ 
as Strauss remarks in a footnote (pages 264, 275), 
mostly antiquated and have now merely a historic 
value. But as to Wagner and his use of this instru- 
ment, listen to Strauss's glowing, ecstatic tribute : 

The horn is perhaps of all instruments that which mixes 
best with all groups. To prove this in its full significance 
I should have to copy the whole Meistersinger score; for 
I do not think I exaggerate in saying that it was only the 
amazing versatility (Vieldeutigkeif) and the highly-developed 
technic of the valve horn which made it possible that this 
score which, apart from an added third trumpet, a harp, 
and a tuba, is the same as that of Beethoven's C minor sym- 
phony, should have become in every bar something different, 
new, unheard before. 

To be sure, Strauss adds, the two flutes, two oboes, 
two clarinets, two bassoons already used by Mozart, 
are in this Meistersinger score of Wagner's "employed 
with an uncanny virtuosic ingenuity and divination 
of their color secrets which exhausts their expressional 
possibilities." The string quintet, furthermore, is 
constantly called upon to provide new marvels of 
sound by means of subtle subdivisions. The harp 
gives life, and the glorious polyphony provides "emo- 
tional glow without a precedent"; while trumpets 


and trombones are made to yield "all their capacity 
for solemn or comic characterization." Yet "the 
most essential, outstanding factor is the faithful horn, 
now intrusted with the melody, now used as a middle 
part, and again as bass, the horn, of which the Meister- 
singer score is the grand hymn of praise." 

"The introduction and perfecting of the valve 
horn", he continues, "means decidedly the greatest 
improvement in the technic of orchestration since 
Berlioz." He then proceeds to illustrate the "pro- 
tean" nature of the horn by citing a column of instances 
in which it is used in this opera (which Paderewski 
considers the greatest work of genius not only in the 
realm of music but in any department of human activ- 
ity) and in other works of Wagner for the expression 
of diverse emotional states. 



There is an interesting anecdote about Mozart, 
who, when one of his clarinetists complained about a 
difficult passage, asked: "Is it possible to do it?" 
and when answered in the affirmative, added : "Then 
it is for you to learn how." 

In summing up the achievements of Wagner, so far 
as the orchestra is concerned, Strauss declares that, 
apart from his greater wealth of ideas, he has improved 
on Berlioz in three ways in particular : his wealth of 
polyphony, his exploitation of the valve horn, and 
his demanding from orchestral players a degree of 
virtuosity which previously was asked only of soloists 
playing concertos. 


Strauss could not compete with Wagner in the 
wealth of ideas particularly melodic ideas but 
he strove to go beyond him in polyphonic complexity, 
in the varied use of the horn, and in asking seeming 
impossibilities of the players. 

A German publisher has had the happy thought of 
printing separately, for players of the different instru- 
ments, books of exercises made up of the most diffi- 
cult pages written for them in the tone poems of Strauss : 
" Richard Strauss. Orchesterstudien aus den zehn 
symphonischen Werken." After mastering these things 
the violinists, 'cellists, oboists, clarinetists, trom- 
bonists, and so on, can play at sight anything ever 
composed, no matter how unidiomatic it may be or 
seem. Consequently, those who hold that Strauss 
has not given to the world any masterworks surpass- 
ing those of his predecessors, cannot but concede that 
he has, at any rate, advanced the cause of music by 
improving the musicians. 



IN the biographic section of this volume, reference 
was made to the fact that Strauss discarded about a 
hundred of his early compositions before he considered 
any of his creations deserving of an opus number 
and printer's ink. Several times he started the opus 
numbers only to discard them ; which shows a laudable 
and unusual faculty of self-criticism. 

Many of the early songs and instrumental pieces 
were composed for domestic use in the several branches 
of the Pschorr family ; others for an amateur orchestra 
called the "Wilde Gungl", of which he was a member, 
playing the violin. The writer of this volume has 
had no opportunity to see the manuscripts of the 
pre-opus compositions, and must therefore refer those 
of his readers who are interested in them to Max Stei- 
nitzer, who devotes twenty-five pages to a brief descrip- 
tion of these unprinted juvenile efforts. 1 In perusing 
them, Steinitzer was struck by the evidences of the 
influence of the classical masters, from Haydn to 
Beethoven, followed by the romanticists, including 
Schumann and Chopin. Of Schubert there are few 
traces in his printed works till we come to the Rosen- 
Jcavcdier, but in these early compositions his influence 

1 Consult, also, " YollstSudiges Verzeiehniss der im Druck erscheinenen 
Werke von Richard Strauss", with a preface by Richard Specht. Uni- 
versal Edition No. 2756. 



is sometimes strikingly indicated. There is already 
considerable skill in the handling of forms. In the 
songs there is no great effort to make the melodic 
accents coincide with the poetic, or to consult, the 
convenience of singers. 

His first piece for piano was a SckneiderpolJca (Tai- 
lor's Polka) dated 1871. There are other short piano 
pieces, also sonatinas and sonatas; three composi- 
tions for voice with or without orchestra ; a serenade, 
some overtures, a Festmarsch in two versions, followed 
by another. - 

Under the head of chamber music we find a Con- 
certante (minuet and andante) for piano, two violins 
and cello; a Festmarsch for violin, viola, cello, and 
piano ; two trios for piano, violin, and cello ; a Serenade 
for violin, viola, cello, piano ; a set of Variations, and 
two pieces for strings with piano. 

Among other compositions which, though most of 
them were not printed, had a temporary vogue in 
Munich and elsewhere, may be named a chorus from 
the Elektra of Sophocles (printed) ; a symphony in 
D minor ; a concert overture in [C minor ; Improvi- 
sations and Fugue for piano ; a Suite in B flat ; Fest- 
musik for the golden wedding of the Grand Duke of 
Sachsen- Weimar ; and a Hymn for mixed chorus and 
grand orchestra. 

This brings us to the compositions which Strauss 
deemed worthy of opus numbers and publication. 
The first fifteen of these might as well have shared the 
fate of their predecessors, as they have contributed 
very little to their composer's renown. They call, 
however, for brief comment, as they are seen occa- 
sionally on programs and are interesting as specimens 
of the Brahmsian period of Strauss's development, 


before he abjured absolute music and attached himself 
to the programmatic school. 

Opus 1 is a boyish Festmarsch (1876), in which 
Ernest Newman finds a "quite amazing vigor of the 
bantam kind." For a boy of twelve it is a remarkable 
composition, foreshadowing the fact that the orchestra 
is destined to become its author's real realm. 

Opus 2 (1880), a quartet for two violins, viola, and 
violoncello, is written in the style of classical chamber 
music. Steinitzer finds the opening allegro "inspired 55 , 
and far superior to the other movements, which he 
suspects were written chiefly "for the form's sake" 
a criticism which, alas ! applies too often to chamber 
music, even by masters who rank far above Strauss 
in this branch of the art. 

Opus 3 (1881), Fiinf Klavierstucke, includes five 
pieces for piano which aroused the ire of Hans von 
Billow, whose contemptuous remarks are cited on p. 
12 of this volume. Steinitzer thinks Number 4 of 
this collection, Elfenstiicklein, well worthy of a place 
in concert programs. 

Opus 4 is a Konzertouvertiire, not published. 

Opus 5 (1881), sonata for piano in B minor, belongs 
to the Mendelssohnian stage in Strauss's development, 
and has few moments of special interest. 

Opus 6 (1882), sonata for violoncello and piano is 
occasionally heard in our concert halls. It has a few 
individual touches and striking idiomatic details but 
is far less inspired than the unjustly neglected cello 
sonatas of Rubinstein and Saint-SaSns. 

Opus 7 (1881), Blaserserenade, for thirteen wind 
instruments (two flutes, two oboes, two clarinets, 
two bassoons, double bassoon, four horns), achieved 
the important distinction of winning the favor of Hans 


von Billow, wMch meant so much for Strauss. Under 
date of October 9, 1884, Billow wrote to Albert Gut- 
mann: "The Serenade for Wind Instruments, Opus 
7, by Richard Strauss (a young Municher of the classical 
school), exhibits the virtuosity of our players in the 
most brilliant light/' He was, indeed, so much pleased 
with this Serenade that he requested Strauss to com- 
pose a whole suite for the same instruments, which 
was done forthwith. 

Opus 8 (1881-1882) is a violin concerto in D minor 
which also is still played occasionally. Its slow move- 
ment is inferior to the opening allegro as well as to 
the final presto. Commenting on this, Newman 
makes a remark which is applicable to all of Strauss's 
works, and not only, as he intimates, to the early ones : 
"Wherever the youthful Strauss has to sing rather 
than declaim, when he has to be emotional rather 
than intellectual, as in his slow movements, he almost 
invariably fails. ... In the Violin Concerto and 
the Violoncello Sonata he wisely cuts the slow move- 
ment as short as possible, and gets on to his finale or 
rondo with an evident sigh of relief." Dvorak once 
repeated to me a remark of Hans Richter's that the 
genius of a composer is to be rated by his slow move- 
ments. If this is true, then Brahms also falls short. 

Opus 9 is a series of piano pieces called Stimmungs- 
bttder. Like those of Opus 3, they were sneered at 
by Billow, who wrote concerning them to Spitzweg: 
"A pity that the writing for the piano is so unpolished 
(kolprig) and in need of so many improvements. Is 
it so very difficult to learn the right way from the works 
of Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Liszt, Raff ? " Steinitzer, 
on the other hand, admires not only the technical 
aspect of these pieces but declares their composer 


"a poet of the piano." He specially recommends 
No. 1 : Auf stillem Waldespfad to recital givers. 

Opus 10 includes the first of his songs which Strauss 
considered worthy of print. The other opus numbers 
comprising songs (or choral works) are 15, 17 (including 
the Serenade}, 19, 21, 22, 26, 27, 31, 32, 33, 34, 36, 37, 
39, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 51, 55, 56. These 
will be commented on in a special section. 

Opus 1 1 (1882-1883) is a concerto for horn. Strauss's 
father often played this at home but did not dare to 
do it in public because of one risky note recurring in 
it repeatedly. It was first played by his pupil, Bruno 
Hoyer, Btilow liked it well^ enough to pay the pub- 
lisher twenty-five dollars for the right to perform it; 
but he thought the old-fashioned tutti in it should 
be shortened or made more spicy. He had it played 
at Meiningen and on one of his tours. It is still heard 
occasionally in German concert halls, usually with 
piano. What it lacks is the soulful cantilena which 
is demanded by the French horn as well as the cello. 

Opus 12 is the F minor symphony (1883-1884), 
which Theodore Thomas was the first to produce, at 
a concert of the New York Philharmonic (December 
13, 1884). Strauss himself conducted it at his debut 
in Meiningen on October 18, 1885. Billow found 
it quite important (redd sehr bedeutend), "original and 
ripe in form/' Brahms said "Quite pretty, young 
man* 5 , and gave Strauss some advice regarding the 
invention and treatment 'of themes (see Steinitzer, 
first edition, pages 35 and 52). In December, 1887, 
Strauss Conducted it at Milan, where, he wrote to 
Billow, "the newspapers praised me far more than 
I deserved. The orchestra presented me with a splen- 
did silver b&ton with an inscription. I was very 


happy, all the more as my fellow citizens in Munich 
have certainly not spoiled me with kindness and appre- 
ciation. 3 * 

An elaborate analysis (sixteen pages) of this sym- 
phony by Wilhelm Elatte is incorporated in the 
"Meisterfiihrer Number 6" published in Berlin by 
Schlesinger. The most remarkable thing about this 
composition by a man not yet twenty years old is, 
in Klatte's opinion, its formal perfection: it stands 
like a well-proportioned architectural monument, with 
every detail measured off to an Inch. 

It cannot be denied, however, that its architectural 
or formal merits overshadow its other qualities, al- 
though the orchestration is also commendable. It 
calls, among other things, for four horns (an unusual 
demand at that time for a symphony) three trombones, 
and a bass-tuba. An attempt to give coherence to 
the work as a whole is made by introducing in the final 
part the themes of the three preceding movements. 

Opus 13 is a piece of chamber music, a quartet for 
piano and string, in C minor, which received the first 
prize offered by the Berlin Tonkiinstlerverein in 1885. 
Strauss himself played the difficult piano part when it 
was given at Meiningen. To Btilow he wrote regard- 
ing this occasion that the public liked it, rather to his 
surprise, "because it is not at all a pleasing and ingrati- 
ating work." Its duration is thirty-eight minutes. 
It betrays the influence of Schumann and Brahms. 

Without opus number but belonging- in this place 
is the Burleske for piano and orchestra, the only work 
composed by Strauss in Meiningen (1886). The 
piano part was written for Billow, who, however, 
declared it "unplayable." Strauss himself, as Steinitzer 
informs us, was inclined to look on this work as "sheer 


nonsense." The same biographer, in an interesting 
footnote, declares that while D'Albert, to whom it 
is dedicated, played the Burleske at Eisenach in 1890, 
and Hainauer offered a considerable sum for the privi- 
lege of printing the score, Strauss wrote to Bitter: 
" I really need money ! What shall I do ? I am terribly 
averse to allowing the publication of a work of mine 
which I have left far behind and which I cannot any 
more approve of sincerely/' Steinitzer gives a brief 
analysis of the piece (I, 211). He thinks it is unac- 
countably neglected. 

Opus 16 is the orchestral score Aus Italien (From 
Italy) which calls for more detailed comment because 
it has remained in the modern concert repertory. 
Before turning to it, however, let us briefly consider 
the only remaining piece of chamber music, after 
writing which Strauss devoted himself entirely to or- 
chestral tone poems, vocal works, and operas. 

Opus 18, a sonata for violin and piano, belongs to 
the sarfre year (1887) as the most popular of Strauss's 
songs, the Serenade, and has much of its buoyancy and 
sparkle. The influence of Schumann is unmistakable ; 
also that of Chopin, in the second movement, "Impro- 
visation **, which has become so popular in Germany that 
it has been printed separately. The sonata is dedicated 
to Strauss's cousin, Robert Pschorr, and should last 
twenty-seven minutes. 

AUS ITALIEN (From Italy) 

Just as all Americans are supposed to long for a 
glimpse of Paris, so all Germans dream of a visit to 
Italy as the goal of human bliss. Goethe, Jean Paul, 


and many other writers have voiced this longing and 
the joy of its fulfillment. I 

Richard Strauss's joy at its fulfillment in his case is 
voiced in his symphonic fantasia Aus Italian. After 
his nearly fatal attack of pneumonia in 1886 he went 
south of the Alps and there made the sketches for his 
first orchestral work with a pictorial background 
From Italy. 

What inspired him was a combination of scenic 
and other impressions with the balmy comfort of 
escape from the rigors of a northern climate. 

Remain Rolland relates in his "Musiciens d'aujourd- 
hui" that when he saw Strauss in Berlin one icy April 
morning, the composer said to him with a sigh that 
he could not create in winter. "He is homesick for 
the light of Italy. This nostalgia has got into his 
music, which exhibits one of the most troubled souls 
of profound Germany combined with a continual 
longing for the colors, the rhythms, the laughter, the 
joy of the South/' 

These colors, rhythms, laughter, and joy of the 
South Strauss sought to express in his Aus Italien. 
His mind seemed to thaw out in the South. Musical 
thoughts came to him as on wings, as he wrote to a 
friend, and there is more warmth as well as fancy in this 
music than in anything he had previously composed. 

The Italian fantasy is program music, as the titles 
given to the four movements frankly proclaim: 1. 
"On theCampagna"; 2. "Amid the Ruins of Rome "; 
3. "On the Shore of Sorrento"; 4. "Neapolitan Folk 
Life." The Roman section has this further guide to 
the composer's thoughts: "Fantastic pictures of 
vanished splendor, feelings of sadness and anguish 
in the midst of sunniest surroundings." 


Strauss himself called this work the bridge on which 
he passed from absolute music to music which has a 
poetic or pictorial background. It is not yet a sym- 
phonic poem, for it is not connected in all its parts 
but is divided, in accordance with the old symphonic 
pattern, into four detached movements. It is there- 
fore more like the program music of Berlioz than 
like that of Liszt, in which the poetic subject shapes 
the composition and the cyclic form is abandoned. 

The solitude of the Campagna the plain which 
surrounds Rome, desolated by the plague of malaria 
is the picture we are expected to keep in mind in lis- 
tening to the first movement, which is in free form. 
As the music rises to a climax with a trumpet call, 
the sun breaks through the mists and the pilgrim gets 
his first glimpse of the eternal city. 

The second movement is constructed in sonata 
form, thus taking the place, from this point of view, 
of the ordinary first movement of a symphony. It is a 
mood picture, in composing which Strauss probably had 
in his mind some of the most stirring events in Roman 
history. Fortunately he did not specify these events, 
thus sparing the hearer the puzzling task of trying to 
guess where one ends and the next one begins. 

The widest appeal is made by the third movement 
"By Sorrento's Strand/ 5 In it Ernest Newman finds 
"a sensitiveness to ptire beauty to the quality in 
music that gives the ear the same deep contented 
joy that the form and color of beautiful flowers 
give to the eye that marks a great advance upon 
anything of the kind that Strauss had attempted pre- 
viously. Both this and the first movement, indeed, 
remain to this day among his most truly felt and 
exquisitely expressed works. 5 * 


For the first theme of the last movement, depicting 
"Neapolitan Folk Life", Strauss borrowed (as stated 
before) a tune he often heard in Naples and which he 
erroneously supposed to be a folk song : the Funiculi 
Funieula, which was perpetrated by Luigi Denza. 
Further local color comes from the use of a tarantella, 
one of the liveliest of Neapolitan dances. In the 
elaboration of his material Strauss displays, in this 
movement, that astonishing virtuosity which thence- 
forth became his hall mark. 

Aus Italien is dedicated to Billow, who apparently 
could not quite make up his mind whether or not he 
really liked it. After reading over the score he admitted 
that it made a deep impression on him as a whole, 
but added, in a letter to Ritter : "Does age make me a 
reactionary to this extent? I think that the inspired 
composer has gone to the utmost limits of tonal possi- 
bility (in the realm of beauty), has even overstepped 
them without compelling necessity." It must be 
remembered that at that time Billow had become very 
conservative and Brahmsian. Yet he wrote at this 
time to the Munich publisher Spitzweg concerning 
Strauss : "I think you will always rejoice in the fact 
that you launched him." "The orchestra is his 
domain; no one will dispute that." He was impressed 
by the colossal difficulties of From Italy, and doubted 
if the Berlin Philharmonic could master it in three 



Richard Strauss's orchestral works and operas have 
been almost as copiously analyzed in essays and mono- 


graphs as the music dramas of Richard Wagner. 
Special guides to the poetic and musical contents of 
most of them appeared even before their first perform- 
ance. The more important of these will be mentioned 
in their proper place. Here I wish to call attention 
particularly to an excellent guide which covers all of 
the Strauss tone poems up to the Domestica, as well 
as Aus Italien and the symphony in P minor. It is 
called "Meisterfiihrer" Number 6 (Berlin: Schle- 
singer) and includes analyses, with copious examples 
in musical type, by Walden, Klatte, Brecher, Mauke, 
Teibler, Hahn, and Schattmann ; which gives the ad- 
vantage of viewing these works from different personal 

As the present volume is intended for the general 
reader, no attempt will be made to compete with this 
"Meisterfiihrer", in so far, at least, as what might 
be called parsing is concerned. What I mean by pars- 
ing is illustrated by an extract from an otherwise 
admirable general guidebook by an eminent American 
author. In commenting on the first movement of 
Aus Italien he says: "After a somewhat extended 
introductory passage a theme is given out by the 
first violins and "cellos, with accompaniment of clar- 
inet, bassoon, and horn, with figures for the second 
violins and violas, and chords for harp. After de- 
velopment the clarinet takes the theme, with re- 
sponses by horn and bassoon, the movement dying 
away softly." 

The parsing with which helpless children are bothered 
in school has at least this to be said for it: that it 
helps to teach the elements of grammar, whereas the 
two sentences just cited do not teach anybody any- 
thing. It is like telling which of the colors on his 


palette a painter successively dips his brush into. 
But what are the poor analyzers to do ? You cannot 
describe music, as you can a painting, and in the case 
of Strauss, even excerpts in musical type are of little 
value, because his themes owe so much of their indi- 
viduality to their polyphonic alliances and their 
orchestral distribution that playing them on the piano 
is of little use. 

The difficulty of writing about music as such, without 
indulging in technical jargon intelligible only to those 
who do not need guides, is so great that one hardly 
wonders at the eagerness of the writers to get program- 
matic indications of the contents of new compositions. 
It explains why Strauss was so beset by these writers 
for hints as to the "plots" of his pieces in those cases 
where he at first stubbornly refused to reveal them, 
preferring to give only a general title and leaving the 
details to the hearer's fancy. 

While abstaining from parsing, I shall attempt in 
these pages to tell the reader everything tangible and 
elucidating I know about Strauss's compositions, 
partly from repeated hearing of most of them and 
partly from what I have been able to gather in books 
and newspaper articles. While frankly presenting 
my own estimate of them, I shall also cite the opinions 
of critics of divergent views. Time alone can show 
which of these views are correct. If, thirty years 
after his death, Strauss's works are as wildly applauded 
as the compositions of Liszt are to-day, they will be 
catalogued among the world's masterworks of enduring 

It is well to bear in mind Brahms's sarcastic retort : 
"for how long?' 9 to one who had claimed immortality 
for a certain composition. 



Having used his Italian Fantasy as a bridge to cross 
from the absolute side of music to the side in which it has 
poetry as an ally, Strauss gave to the world in 1888 his 
Don Juan, and a year later his Death and Transfigura- 
tion. Macbeth followed in 1890. But while the third 
to be made public, Macbeth is really the first of his 
symphonic poems. It was sketched and scored in 
1886, but subsequently remodeled, reorchestrated, 
and otherwise retouched. 

In those days Strauss was not yet sufficiently fa- 
mous to be besieged by friends and journalists for "the 
story 5 * of his compositions. He contented himself, 
therefore, with the simple title, Macbeth, to which he 
added only one guide post: the words "Lady Mac- 
beth"; writing also into his score these lines from 
Act I Scene 5 of Shakespeare's play : 

Hie thee hither 

That I may pour my spirits in thine ear, 
And chastise with the valor of my tongue 
All that impedes thee from the golden round 
Which Fate and metaphysical aid doth seem 
To have thee crown'd withal. 

Not only did Strauss supply no further details, but 
he seems to have had no definite plan in his head when 
he composed this work. We may infer this from what 
Mtiller-Reuter says, on the authority of Strauss him- 
self : "In its original form Macbeth ended in D minor 
with a triumphal march of Macduff. To this ending 
Hans von Billow objected on the ground that while 
an Egmont overture might end with a triumphal 


march of Egmont, Macbeth could not close with a 
triumphal march of Macduff. In consequence of 
this, Strauss changed the ending and modified many 
'tame* places in the score." The word "modified" 
in this sentence is "writ sarcastic 5 ', for what Strauss 
did was to pile Pelion on Ossa in the way of disso- 

Doctor Arthur Seidl, who was a classmate of Strauss, 
and who has written two books about him, says in 
one of them ("Richard Strauss: Eine Character- 
skizze") : 

As in Don Juan the composer expresses, with the utmost 
precision, the intoxication of enjoyment which leads to dis- 
gust and satiety, so in Macbeth his subject is the madness of 
relentless cruelty. He strives to depict in tones the wild 
demonic horror of this terrible character; no color is too 
crude for his purpose no manner of expression too harsh. 
Nay, it sometimes seems as if the boundaries between the 
psychic and the physical were obliterated, as if the composer 
attempted with overwhelming power to present to the eye and 
the mind's eye a thrilling picture of unprecedented grandeur 
and frightfuJness. Those who admire a creative impulse 
of elemental strength and complete independence will know 
how to appreciate at its true value the genius of this strong, 
ruthless, incisive piece of poetry in tones. 

Attention is also called to the fact that while Strauss's 
Macbeth is "after Shakespeare* 5 it is concerned "more 
with inner processes than outer events" ; it is "psycho- 
logical and not narrative. 9 ' 

Concerning Strauss's treatment of Lady Macbeth, 
an English writer has said that he "does not conceive 
of her as a virago with no instinct but that of cruelty ; 
of the * undaunted mettle* of one who * should bring 
forth men-children only' there is but little trace; it is 
rather a coldly-cruel and subtly-calculating character. 


yet capable of great tenderness, which he seems to be 

Teibler characterizes the Lady Macbeth theme as 
"ingratiating and yet awe-inspiring, cold, and glassy", 
and he further remarks that "Strauss thus does not 
follow Heine in championing the Lady's amiability, 
nor is she to him the 'evil beast/ Rather does he 
recognize her immeasurable love for Macbeth, which 
compels her to show him the way which, according to 
her demonic view, must lead him and her to the highest 
pinnacle of happiness." 

According to the commentators, another of the 
themes is "typical of the love of Macbeth for his 
queen/' But most of the themes and phrases (Teibler 
cites sixteen) are virile, martial, sinister, awesome, 
depicting irresolution, cruelty, soul-torture, wild ter- 
ror, despair. 

To a musician it is interesting, on perusing the score 
or hearing it performed, to note how the themes, 
treated as leading motives after the manner of Liszt 
and Wagner, follow one another and recur with kaleido- 
scopic changes of color and mood. Strauss's poly- 
phonic art, his rare skill in intertwining themes, is 
already in evidence in this work, which was completed 
when he was twenty-six. 

From the point of view of form, Ernest Newman 
thinks Macbeth is superior to Don Juan; and he ad- 
mires it because it is "all psychology and no action/* 
Were Strauss to write a Macbeth to-day, he adds, 
"he would probably not be content with the soul 
alone of the character; he would make him pass 
through a series of definite adventures, and the score 
would be half penetrating psychology and half exasper- 
ating realism. His taste was purer in 1887." 


Macbeth is scored for the usual quintet of string 
instruments, two flutes, piccolo, two oboes, English 
horn, two clarinets, bass clarinet, two bassoons, double 
bassoon, four horns, three trumpets, bass trumpet, 
three trombones, bass tuba, three kettledrums, bass 
drum, side drum, cymbals, and tamtam. The dura- 
tion should be eighteen minutes. The first perform- 
ance was at Weimar, from manuscript, under 
Strauss's own direction, on October 13, 1890. Of 
the nine tone poems it is the least frequently heard. 
The dedication is to Alexander Ritter, the musician who 
converted Strauss to the gospel of Liszt and Wagner. 

The substance of an amusing letter written by 
Strauss to Ritter a few days after the Weimar premiere 
of Macbeth, is printed by Steinitzer : "There were some 
persons present who perceived that the horrible dis- 
sonances stood for something more than mere joy 
in cacophony, namely, an idea/* Bronsart confessed 
frankly that he "couldn't make anything of the piece." 
Lassen applauded furiously. Bronsart asked him if 
he liked it. "No," said Lassen, "but Strauss I must 
applaud." "Both of these men had heard nothing 
but interesting new sounds in Macbeth. O, if I only 
could exterminate the accursed euphony ! I" 

In the way of exterminating euphony (or honeyed 
sounds) he went much farther in his later works ; but 
Macbeth was already too much for most of his col- 
leagues. Like Bronsart and Lassen, Hans von Billow 
found the "Macbethian witches kitchen-boilings and 
steamings" too rude for his-ears at first. Yet when 
he had heard Strauss conduct it in Berlin, in 1892, he 
wrote to his wife "Macbeth is for the, most part crazy 
and deafening, but inspired in the / highest degree." 
In French he added: "Imagine toi; Macbeth 6norme 


succbs je n 9 en r emeus pas. C*e$t qu'il y a 6norm6- 
ment d'SlectricitS dans Pair" And to his friend Spitz- 
weg: "The success of Macbeth to-day was colossal. 
Strauss was recalled four times. It must be admitted 
that the work made an overwhelming impression. 
Never before has its composer had such a reception 

The New York Philharmonic, which made a record 
in performing the F minor symphony before Europe 
heard it, did not give its patrons a chance to hear 
Macbeth till November 16, 1916. It was also my 
first hearing of it, and here is my impression of it as 
printed in the Evening Post: 

Macbeth belongs to the very best period of Strauss's 
creative activity, the period of the Serenade and Don Juan. 
Why, then, is it neglected, while Don Juan is played more 
frequently than anything Strauss ever wrote ? The answer 
to this question was given last night. The performance, 
under Mr. Stransky, was simply superb : it was followed by 
applause so loud and so prolonged that the conductor finally 
asked his men to get on their feet, whereupon it was re- 
doubled. The audience had enjoyed the virtuosity of the 
Philharmonic ; it had enjoyed also the amazing polyphonic 
skill of the composer, his splendid command of tone-colors, 
his audacious way of hurling huge masses of sound from the 
stage. But if any one in that big audience of three thousand 
discovered in the Macbeth score any melodic strain, such as 
alone can secure real vogue for a composition, she or he was 
more fortunate than the writer of these comments. From 
the melodic, that is, the vital point of view, this tone poem 
is a failure. In all other respects it is a masterwork. As 
program music it is commendable because there is no com- 
plicated plot, as there is in its companions, for the hearer to 
dovetail with the music, a perplexing job. It is simply 
Macbeth and the hearer can guess from the turbulence of 
the music what soul struggles and agonies the composer 
had in mind when he put his notes on paper. 


The unmelodiousness of Macbeth was the more felt because 
it followed fifty minutes of Schubert his last symphony, 
which is all melody. Nor do the colors of this masterworfc 
of Schubert seem the least faded in comparison with the 
Strauss colors. 


Unlike Macbeth, Don Juan has an abundance of 
melody. It has more melody than any of the other 
works of Strauss, and that is why it is the most popular 
of them all. You cannot get away from it. What 
the musical public the best musical public wants 
now, has always wanted, and always will want in music 
more than anything else, is melody, melody, and 
always melody. The reason why the symphonic poems 
of Liszt still have a place in concert programs after 
more than half a century of existence is that they are 
full of melody. The most melodious of them, Les 
PrSludes and Tasso, are the most popular; and so in 
the case of Strauss; in proportion as melody exists 
in the different tone poems will their years be pro- 

Melody is in music what love is in life. 

H music be the food of love, love, in turn, is the food 
of musicians. Birds sing their spring melodies only 
in the time of courtship, and composers chant most 
sweetly when their theme is love. Strauss's best and 
most popular song, the Serenade, is, as its title indicates, 
a love song ; it is the invitation of a lover to his sweet- 
heart to meet him by moonlight alone in the garden. 
And his best and most popular symphonic poem, Don 
Juan* also has a lover for its theme. 


To be sure, there are various kinds and degrees of 
love, from the primitive passion of a coarse man who 
desires a woman just as he does a bottle of whisky, to 
the romantic and altruistic affection of a true lover 
who would give up his life for the beloved ; and then 
down again far down to the diseased state of 
mind (necrophily as illustrated in Strauss's Salome). 
To which of these kinds does his Don Juan belong ? 

Because of Strauss's great admiration for Mozart, 
one might guess that his tone poem was likely to be 
based on the same version of the old Spanish legend 
as that composer's The Libertine Punished, or Don 
Giovanni, which stages some of Don Juan's flirtations 
and then shows his undoing by the stone-ghost the 
walking statue of the father of one of his victims which 
he had insolently invited to share his supper with the 
girls. But this is not the subject of Strauss's work; 
nor did he follow in the footsteps of Byron's famous 

His Don Juan is the hero of an epic poem by the 
famous Hungarian-German poet, Nikolaus Lenau, 
whose real name was Niembach von Strahlenau, and 
who became insane before he could complete it. He 
was of a restless, saving disposition and once (in 1832), 
tired of Europe, he spent some months in the United 
States, exploring the West on horseback. What he 
saw did not please him ; he seems to have been as hard 
to satisfy enduringly as his Don Juan, who is an em- 
bodiment of the Spanish legend in its oldest form, in 
which it is intended to teach the disastrous results of 
sensual excesses* 

Strauss left no doubt as to which of the many Don 
Juans of Spanish, German, French, Italian, and other 
poets he had in mind, for on a flyleaf of the score he 


printed the following monologues of Don Juan from 
Lenau's poem : 

Den Zauberkreis, den unermesslich weiten, 
Von vielf act reizend schSnen Weiblichkeiten 
M6cht ich durchziehn im Sturme des Genusses, 
Am Mund der letzten sterben eines Kusses. 
O Freund, durch alle R&ume mocht ich fliegen, 
Wo eine Schonheit blliht, hinknien vor Jede, 
Und, wars auch nur fiir Augenblicke, siegen. 

Ich fliehe Ueberdruss und Lustermattung, 
Erhalte frisch im Dienste mich des SchSnen, 
Die Einzle krankend, schwarm ich fiir die Gattnng, 
Der Odem einer Frau, heut Friihlingsduft, 
Drtickt morgen mich vielleicht wie Kerkerluf t 
Wenn wechselnd ich mit meiner Liebe wandre 
Im weiten Kreis der schonen Frauen, 
1st meine Lieb* an jeder eine andre ; 
Nicht aus Ruinen will ich Tempel bauen. 
Ja, Leidenschaf t ist immer nur die neue ; 
Sie lasst sich nicht von der zu jener bringen, 
Sie kann nur sterben hier, dort neu entspringen, 
Und kennt sie sich, so weiss sie nichts vx>n Reue. 
Wie jede Schonheit einzig in der -Welt, 
So ist es auch die Lieb', der sie gefallt, 
Hinaus und fort nach immer neuen Siegen, 
So lang der Jugend Peuerpulse fliegen ! 

Es war ein schoner Sturm, der mich getrieben, 
Er hat vertobt, und Stille ist geblieben, 
Scheintot ist alles Wiinschen, alles Hoffen ; 
Vielleicht ein Blitz aus H<5h'n, die ich verachtet, 
Hat totlich meine Liebeskraf t getroffen, 
Und plotzlich ward die Welt mir wiist, umnachtet ; 
Vielleicht auch nicht; der Brennstoff ist verzehrt, 
Und kalt und dunkelward es auf dem Herd. 

The following excellent English version of these 
lines, a version which does not sacrifice sense to rhyme, 


is by John P. Jackson, who also made good transla- 
tions of some of Wagner's librettos, one of them on 
the battlefield while serving as correspondent of the 
New York Herald : 

magic realm, illimited eternal, 

Of gloried woman, O loveliness supernal ! 

Fain would I, in the storm of stressful bliss, 

Expire upon the last one's lingering kiss ! 

Through every realm, O friend, would wing my flight, 

Wherever Beauty blooms, kneel down to each, 

And, if for one brief moment, win delight ! 

1 flee from surfeit and from rapture's cloy, 
Keep fresh for Beauty service and employ, 
Grieving the One, that All I may enjoy, 

The fragrance from one lip to-day is breath of spring ; 
The dungeon's gloom perchance to-morrow's luck may 


When with the new love won I sweetly wander, 
No bliss is ours upf urbish'd and regilded ; 
A different love has This to That one yonder, 
Not up from ruins by my temples builded. 
Yea, Love Life is, and ever must be new, 
Cannot be changed or turned in new direction; 
It cannot but there expire here resurrection ; 
And, if 'tis real, it nothing knows of rue ! 
Each beauty in the world is sole, unique ; 
So must the Love be that would Beauty seek ! 
So long as Youth lives on with pulse afire, 
Out to the chase ! To victories new aspire ! 

It was a wond'rous lovely storm that drove me; 
Now it is over ; and calm all round, above me ; 
Sheer dead is every wish ; all hopes over shrouded, 
'Twas p Yaps a flash from heaven that so descended, 
Whose deadly stroke left me with powers ended, 
And all the world, so bright before, overclouded; 
And yet p'r'aps not ! Exhausted is the fuel ; 
And on the hearth the cold is fiercely cruel. 


In prose, the substance of this poem was thus briefly 
summed up by Lenau himself: "My Don Juan is 
no hot-blooded man eternally pursuing women. It 
is the longing in him to find a woman who is to him 
incarnate womanhood, and to enjoy, in the one, all 
the women on earth, whom he cannot as individuals 
possess. Because he does not find her, although he 
reels from one to another, at last Disgust seizes him, 
and this Disgust is the Devil that fetches him." 

When Hans von Billow, intending to perform Don 
Juan, wrote to Strauss for details regarding its inter- 
pretation the composer complied. 1 At the same time 
he begged Billow to allow no thematic analysis to be 
inserted in the program but only the verses of Lenau 
that are printed on the first page of the score. Thus 
did Strauss endeavor to follow the good example of 
Liszt with this program; but the commentators 
would not have it so. The best of them, Wilhelm 
Mauke, made an analysis of Don Juan? excellent from 
a technical point of view, but particularizing in such 
a way that the reader of his analysis who tries to keep 
it in mind while listening to the orchestra is apt to 
lose the charm of the music because he wastes most 
of his attention on the attempt to apply the "clues" 
in their proper places which was the reason why 
Wagner objected to Berlioz's Romte et Juliette. 

In a word, the commentators did their best to make 
a Berlioz of Strauss when he wanted to be a Liszt. 

Under these circumstances it seems hardly fair for 
Ernest Newman (p. 70) to chide Strauss for writing 
a certain sequence of notes "to signify a feeling of 

1 Conductors should not fail to look up in Steinitzer, first edition, p. 163, 
what Strauss says regarding the tempi in this score. 
* Included in Schlesinger's "Musikfiihrer number 6." 


satiety in Don Juan's heart" thus "striving to make 
music perform a purely intellectual task for which it 
is quite unfitted/' 

Wilhelm Mauke culls from the score sixteen themes, 
or motives, and although Strauss had unmistakably 
indicated that he had in mind Lenau's poem, Mauke 
and other commentators introduce characters from 
Mozart's opera Zerlina and Anna as being illus- 
trated by some of these motives, besides Don Juan's 
invitation of the statue in the cemetery to sup with 
him, preceded by the duel and "the fatal sword-thrust, 
represented by a piercing dissonant high trumpet note." 

The first performance of Don Juan was given under 
the composer's own direction at Weimar on November 
1, 1889. Strauss was recalled five times, and the 
audience tried, though in vain, to make him repeat it. 
Concerning this event Billow wrote to his wife: 
"Strauss /is enormously popular here. His Don Juan, 
two days ago, had a most unheard-of success." A year 
later Billow, while preparing the Berlin Philharmonic 
for a performance, under Strauss, of the same score, 
wrote to him: "Your most grandiose Don Juan 
has taken me captive." 

Remember that Billow at this time had become an 
ardent champion of Brahms and was hostile to musical 
"Progressiveness." Brahms's High Priest, Doctor 
Hanslick, on the other hand, could see nothing to 
praise in Don Juan. He called it a "tumult of dazzling 
color daubs" and found that Strauss had "a great 
talent for false music, for the musically ugly." The 
score seemed to him to consist of "short incipient 
melodies, shreds of Wagnerian motives, flying about 
aimlessly ; in vain we wait for a development of musi- 
cal ideas." 


The instruments employed in this tone poem are 
practically the same as in Macbeth. The duration is 
seventeen minutes. 



The most poetic of American writers on music, 
Lawrence Oilman, has a chapter in his "Nature in 
Music" on "Death and the Musicians" in which he 
dwells particularly on Schubert's thrilling song Death 
and the Maiden; Tchaikovsky's Pathetic Symphony, 
into which the composer emptied "all that he knew 
of anguished apprehension and foreboding, of grief 
that is unassuageable, of consternation and despair"; 
Wagner's Isolde's Liebestod, a "sublimated hymn to 
death" ; Strauss's Death and Transfiguration. Concern- 
ing the last-named he remarks that "the majestic and 
plangent conception of Strauss again recalls an evoca- 
tive phrase of Whitman, unwearying prophet of spirit- 
ual resurrections : the superb vistas of death. There 
are such vistas in this tone poem of Strauss." 

It is not strange that these musical poems of death 
are so universally liked, for we all love to shudder at 
awesome thoughts of the hereafter, although few of us 
can take the matter as philosophically as did Socrates, 
who argued that it is foolish to fear death, because when 
we are here he is not, and when he is here we are not. 

In Germany, for a number of years, Death and 
Transfiguration was played, in response to popular 
demand, even more frequently than Don Juan. It was 
composed in 1889 and dedicated to the composer's 
friend, Friedrich Rosch. The first performance was 
from manuscript at one of the festivals of the Allge- 


meine Deutsche Musik-Verein (founded by Liszt), at 
Eisenach, on June 21, 1890, under the direction of 
Strauss, who also, on this occasion, conducted the first 
performance of his Burleske, with D'Albert at the piano* 
The duration of the tone poem is officially given as 
twenty-four minutes. 

The "program" of this composition is a poem written 
by Alexander Ritter after the music had been composed ; 
but as Ritter was Strauss's most intimate friend at 
this time, and as, moreover, Strauss printed Ritter's 
lines on a flyleaf of his score, it may be assumed that 
it met with his approval, even if, as some commen- 
tators hold, it cannot be dovetailed with the music 
in all of the details. 

Ritter's poem, in the original German, is herewith 
reproduced in the abbreviated form adopted by Strauss 
for his score. In the original form, printed in Eisenach 
and Weimar programs, there were twenty-two lines 
preceding the following. 

In der Srmlich kleinen Kammer 
Matt vom Lichtstumpf nur erhellt, 
Liegt der Kranke auf dem Lager. 
Eben hat er mit dem Tod 
Wild verzweifelnd noch gerungen 
Nun sank er erschopft in Schlaf , 
Und der Wanduhr leises Ticken 
Nur verninunst du im Gemach, 
Dessen grauenvolle Stille 
Todesn&he ahnen lasst. 
Um des Krankenbleiche Ziige 
Spielt ein Lacheln wehmuthvolL 
Traumt er an des Lebens Grenze 
Von der Kindheit goldner Zeit ? 

Doch nicht lange gonnt der Tod 
Seinem Opfer Schlaf und Traume. 


Grausam rtittelt er ihn auf 
Und beginnt den Kampf auf 's Neue, 
Lebenstrieb und Todesmacht ! 
Welch' entsetzensvolles Ringen ! 
Keiner tragt den Sieg davon, 
Und noch einmal wird es stille ! 

Kampfesmiid' zuriickgesunken, 
Schlaflos, wie im Fieberwahn, 
Sieht der Kranke nun sein Leben, 
Tag um Tag und Bild um Bild 
Inn'rem Aug* voriiberschweben. 
Erst der Kindheit Morgenrot, 
Hold in seiner Unschuld leuchtend ! 
Dann des Jtinglings keckes Spiel 
KrSf te iibend und erprobend 
Bis er reift zum M&nnerkampf, 
Der um hochste Lebensgiiter 
Nun mit heisser Lust entbrennt. 
Was ihm je verklart erschien 
Noch verklarter zu gestalten, 
Dies allein der hohe Drang, 
Der durch's Leben i^n geleitet. 

Kalt und hohnend setzt die Welt 
Schrank* axif Schranke seinem DrSngen, 
Glaubt er sich dem Ziele nah*, 
Donnert ihm ein "Halt ! ?> entgegen; 
"JbToc/t* die Schranke dir zur Stqffel, 
Immer hoher nur hinan !"' 
Also drangt er, also klimmt er, 
Lasst nicht ab vom heiFgen Drang 
Was er so von je gesucht 
Mit des Herzens tiefstem Sehnen, . 
Sucht er noch im Todesschrein, 
Suchet, ach ! und findet's nimmer 
Ob er's deutlicher auch fasst, 
Ob es m&hlich ihm auch wachse, 
Kann er*s doch ersch<5pf en nie, 
Kann es nicht im Geist vollenden. 


Da erdrohnt der letzte Schlag 
Von des Todes Eisenhammer, 
Bricht den Erdenleib entzwei, 
Deckt mit Todesnacht das Auge. 

Aber mSchtig tonet ihm 
Aus dem Himmelsraum entgegen, 
Was er sehnend hier gesucht : 
Welterlosung, Weltverklarung. 

Of this poem William Foster Apthorp made the 
following prose translation for the program book of 
the Boston Symphony Orchestra : 

In the necessitous little room, dimly lighted by only a 
candle-end, lies the sick man on his bed. But just now he 
has wrestled despairingly with Death. Now he has sunk 
exhausted into sleep, and thou hearest only the soft ticking 
of the clock on the wall of the room, whose awful silence 
gives a foreboding of the nearness of death. . Over the sick 
man's pale features plays a sad smile. Dreams he, on the 
boundary of life, of the golden time of childhood ? 

But Death does not long grant sleep and dreams to his 
victims. Cruelly he shakes him awake, and the fight begins 
afresh. Will to live, and power of Death ! What frightful 
wrestling! Neither bears off the victory and all is silent 
once more. 

Sunk back tired of battle, sleepless, as in fever-frenzy 
the sick man now sees his life pass before his inner eye, trait 
by trait and scene by scene. First the morning red of child- 
hood, shining bright in pure innocence ! Then the youth's 
saucier play-exerting and trying his strength till he ripens 
to the man's fight, and now burns with hot lust after the 
higher prizes of life. The one high purpose that has led 
him through life was to shape all he saw transfigured into 
a still more transfigured form. Cold and sneering, the world 
sets barrier upon barrier in the way of his achievement. 
If he thinks himself near his goal, a "Halt 5 ' thunders in his 
ear. "Make the barrier thy stirrup! Ever higher and 
onward go !" And so he pushes forward, so he climbs, de- 


sists not from his sacred purpose. What he has ever sought 
with his heart's deepest yearning, he still seeks in his death- 
sweat. Seeks alas! and finds it never. Whether he 
comprehends it more clearly or that it grows upon him grad- 
ually, he can yet never exhaust it, cannot complete it in 
spirit. Then clangs the last stroke of Death's iron hammer, 
breaks the earthly body in twain, covers the eye with the 
night of death. 

But from the heavenly spaces sounds mightily to greet 
him what he yearningly sought for here ; deliverance from 
the world, transfiguration of the world. 

In the opinion of Professor Niecks (which I share) 
"the program of Tod und Verkldrung is not only a 
more sufficient guide than that of Don Juan, but also 
the most musical of all Strauss's programs." Mr. 
Newman thinks that in this work "Strauss has come 
nearer than anywhere to that fusion of matter and 
style that is the ideal of all the arts/ 5 To Max Stei- 
nitzer this score is "already a classic/* 

Strauss's indebtedness to Liszt is emphasized by Wil- 
helm Mauke, in his elaborate thematic analysis of Death 
and Transfiguration (in "Musikftihrer Number 6") : 

Franz Liszt, in his symphonic poem, The Lament and 
Triumph of Tasso, has expressed in musical terms the great 
antithesis in the fate of a genius who is ignored while living 
and glorified after death, and he has done this with such 
overwhelming might of musical utterance that it will not be 
easy to surpass him. The spiritual heir of both Liszt and 
Wagner, Richard Strauss has created a piece of program 
music which is formed entirely after the model of Tasso. 
In Tod und V&rlddnmg we find the same ideal contrasts as 
in Liszt's symphonic poem based on Goethe's drama. But 
both composers generalized the subject, transferring it from 
the individual to mankind as a whole. 

Sixteen pages, with twenty-one illustrations in musi- 
cal type, are devoted by Herr Mauke to an elaborate 


analysis of the structure of this score. The names 
given to some of the themes are "Death motive", 
"Fever motive" (there are two of these), " Life-pres- 
ervation motive", "Childhood", "Ideal motive." 

To students of music such an analysis is doubtless 
useful, but for concert-goers, Hitter's poem, or even 
the mere title of the work is, in the opinion of another 
ardent apostle of Strauss, Max Steinitzer, quite suffi- 
cient. He does not approve of Mauke's symbolical 
generalization of the subject, maintaining that "such 
a method of distilling is not at all Straussian." When 
apostles disagree, who shall decide? 



Wagner was fifty-five years old before he gave to 
the world his only humorous opera, Die Meistersinger. 
Strauss, too, for a long time, cultivated the serious 
muse exclusively; but he was only thirty when he 
wrote a work which, as its title indicates, belongs to 
the comic genre. 

In the case of Till EuUnspiegel it was his intention, 
as in previous cases, to give merely the title, letting the 
hearer guess the details and enjoy the music for its 
own sake. But he was not allowed to have his own 

When Franz Wiillner was preparing to conduct the 
first performance of the work (in Cologne) he wrote 
te the composer for a short explanatory program of its 
poetic contents. Strauss replied : l 

1 Although a part of this answer was printed on a preceding page, it is 
repeated here for the reader's convenience. 


"It is impossible for me to give a program of Eulen- 
spiegel; were I to put into words what I had in mind 
in composing the different parts, they would often 
seem queer and might even give offense. Let us 
therefore leave it to the hearers themselves to crack 
the nuts the rogue hands to them. By way of help- 
ing them to a better understanding, it seems sufficient 
to point out the two Eulenspiegel motives, which, in 
the most manifold disguises, moods, and situations 
pervade the whole up to the catastrophe when, after 
he has been condemned to death, Till is strung up to 
the gibbet. For the rest, let them guess at the musical 
jokes which a rogue has offered them. 55 

The motives indicated by Strauss to Wiillner were 
the opening theme of the introduction, the horn theme 
following it, and the descending interval expressive 
of condemnation and the scaffold. 

The full title: Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche, 
nock alter Sckelmenweise in Rondo form fiir grosses 
Orchester gesetzt, von Richard Strauss gave rise to 
considerable controversy in America, to which Philip 
Hale refers in one of his excellent disquisitions in the 
Boston Symphony Orchestra's Program Books : " There 
has been dispute concerning the proper translation of 
the phrase * nach alter Schelmenweise 9 in the title. Some, 
and Mr. Apthorp is one of them, translate it * after 
an old rogue's tune.' Others will not have this at all, 
and prefer ' after the old, or old-fashioned, ro- 
guish manner*, or, as Mr. Krehbiel suggests, 'in the 
style of old-time waggery', and this view is in all 
probability the sounder." 

Who was Till Eulenspiegel ? Every schoolboy in 
Germany could answer that question, but for American 
readers it may be advisable to state that he was a 


medieval clownish wag (Schalksnarr) who died in 1350 
at Molln near Ltibeck, where one may .still see his 
tombstone "with an owl (Eule) and a mirror (Spiegel). 
He was made the hero of an old book of the fifteenth 
century which tells of his roamings, during which he 
plays all sorts of pranks, some of them very coarse, 
on all sorts of people. Those finally send him to the 
gallows, but his ingenuity saves him at the end, and 
he dies peacefully in bed in the book, but not in 
the tone poem of Strauss, who found the gallows 
better suited to his fancies than the bed/' 

Philip Hale calls attention to the fact that the 
Flemish also call "Tile" their own, and that they, too, 
show his tombstone, which is as spurious as to its 
inscription as the one at Ltibeck. From a Belgian 
author, Eugene Bacha, Mr. Hale translates the fol- 
lowing description of "Tile" : 

A rogue who journeyed through the world with nothing 
but a clever wit in his wallet; a knowing vagabond, who 
always got out of a scape, he visited all cities, and plied all 
trades. Baker, wheelwright, joiner, musician, mountebank, 
he lived at the cost of the simple bourgeois caught by his 
chatter. A good fellow, with a kindly air, always ready to 
amuse. Tile pleased everybody and was welcomed every- 
where. He was not innately bad. He frankly lived, 
cheated, stole. When he was grabbed by the collar and 
hauled along to the gallows, he went as a matter of course 
without knowing why. He took life after the manner of a 
poet, and he also took the goods of others. With nose on 
the scent, empty stomach, gay heart, he went along the 
road, talking with passers-by, joining gay company, con- 
cocting constantly a sly trick to put something between 
his teeth. And he always succeeded. A curb's servant, 
charmed by his behavior, took him in her service; a lord, 
trusting in his talent as a painter, lodged and fed him for 
months; or Tile suddenly became a physician. Naturally 


unfaithful to every promise, lie insisted on payment in ad- 
vance and slipped away at the lucky moment. Thus in 
the Middle Ages this amusing fellow personified the triumph 
of nimbleness of wit over bourgeois dulness, foolish haughti- 
ness, and vanity. 

Some think that Murner, then in open revolt against the 
clergy, told the life of Tile as a satire in behalf of religious 
revolt, to throw ridicule on smug monks, vicious lords, 
egoistic bourgeois. Others would have the satire general; 
Eulenspiegel, the looking-glass of owls, stands for the mirror 
of humanity, just as the Fleming speaks of the vulgar 
crowd as hibous, and the top gallery in Flemish theatres is 
called the uylenkot, the owl-hole. 

While Strauss would have preferred to leave the 
poetic details of his Eulenspiegel to the imagination 
of the hearers, he yielded to the request of Wilhelm 
Mauke and marked into his copy of the score with 
lead pencil the following names for the leading motives : 
(1) "Once upon a time there was a VolJcmarr" ; (2) 
"Named Till Eulenspiegel"; (3) "That was an awful 
hobgoblin"; (4) "Off for New Pranks"; (5) "Just 
wait, you hypocrites!" (6) "Hop! On horseback 
into the midst of the market-women"; (7) "With 
seven-league boots he lights out"; (8) "Hidden in 
a Mouse-hole"; (9) "Disguised as a Pastor, he drips 
with unction and morals"; (10) "Yet out of his big 
toe peeps the Rogue"; (11) "But before he gets 
through he nevertheless has qualms because of his 
having mocked religion"; (12) "Till as cavalier pays 
court to pretty girls"; (13) "She has really made 
an impression on him"; (14) "He courts her"; (15) 
"A kind refusal is stiU a refusal"; (16) "Till departs 
furious"; (17) "He swears vengeance on all man- 
kind"; (18) "Philistine Motive"; (19) "After he 
has propounded to the Philistines a few amazing theses 


he leaves them in astonishment to their fate 59 ; (20) 
"Great grimaces from afar"; (21) "Till's street 
tune"; (22) and (23) are two of Mauke's motives 
not labeled by Strauss; (24) "The Court of Justice"; 

(25) "He still whistles to himself indifferently"; 

(26) "Up the ladder! There he swings; he gasps 
for air, a last convulsion; the mortal part of Till is 
no more." 

As clues to the thoughts that apparently were in 
Strauss's mind when he composed the music, these 
titles are interesting. The objection to them which 
he himself understood, and which made him wish to 
keep these details to himself, is that no one, even after 
memorizing the clues in proper order, would be able 
to apply them In their places on listening to the orches- 
tral performance, unless he followed it with a score 
on his knees. No one but an occasional student does 
such a thing, wherefore Till Eulenspiegel would have 
been a failure if it had depended for its proper appre- 
ciation on such a method of listening to it. 

It is obvious, too, that most of the details in this 
elaborate program cannot be expressed in music with 
such an approach to definiteness as we find, for in- 
stance, in the Danse Macabre of SamtSaSns, or the 
Mazeppa of Liszt. Apart from the scene where Till 
rides into the market place upsetting the stands, 
there is only one passage in which the music may be 
vaguely said to tell the story: the (Lisztian) bars 
in which the bassoons and the brass battery of tuba, 
horns, and trombones proclaim Till's death on the 

"Extremely characteristic," Mauke says quite seri- 
ously, "is the seemingly breathless trill of the flute, 
which depicts the filtering out of the last air from the 


man dangling at the rope." If Strauss so intended 
this, it is certainly funny, though fun at this particular 
moment seems a little untimely. 

Two of the prettiest details in this work are TilPs 
polka-like Gassenhauer or street tune. Number XXI 
inMauke, and Number IX, "Disguised as Pastor", 
marked "volkstumliche Weise" (after the manner of a 
folk tune). In reality the first two bars of this melody 
are almost identical with the folk song "Ich hatt* 
einen Kameraden." The tuneful simplicity of these 
two interpolations makes them contrast oddly with 
the polyphonic intricacies surrounding them; but 
that is part of Strauss's game. 

To avoid ending the merry, prankish piece with the 
musical shudderings at the gallows, Strauss closed 
it with a lively epilogue which is interpreted to mean 
"the apotheosis of immortal humor." 

The Viennese critic, Doctor Hanslick, who must 
have used up a whole barrel of ink in abusing the music 
of Wagner, Liszt, and all their followers, highly dis- 
approved, it is needless to say, of Strauss's tone poems. 
In Till Eulenspiegel he saw "a whole world's exposition 
of sound effects and contrasts of moods. The bond 
of union for these rhapsodic conceits is to be found 
in the title. ..." Were it not for this title, if, for 
instance, it was simply called a scherzo, "the unin- 
formed and plain spoken hearer might perhaps call 
it frankly a crazy piece. We for our part call it so 
even with the title. How many pretty witty ideas 
appear in it! Yet not one of them is not promptly 
followed by another that jumps on its head to break 
its neck. It is a mistake to look on this immoderate 
and masterless chase of pictures as an overflowing of 
youthful creative power, the dawn of a great new art ; 


I can see in it only the exact opposite : a product of 
subtly calculated decadence/ 9 

The Viennese critic also found fault with Strauss 
for using a huge orchestral apparatus (including eight 
horns, six trumpets, and a multitude of instruments 
of percussion) which seems more suitable for the ex- 
pression of "the English war in the Transvaal than as 
an illustration of episodes in the life of a poor vaga- 
bond." There is something in this. On the other 
hand, read what Herr Mauke says regarding the 
opportunities for characterization this apparatus put 
into Strauss's hands : 

"Till is perhaps the most complicated musical score 
in existence. The numerous instruments are used 
with dazzling ingenuity while preserving carefully 
their individual tonal character. The wood winds, 
in particular, are inexhaustible in their bold figures, 
lightning-like utterances, lightly executed runs and 
trills. They give to the whole its grotesquely humorous 
aspect. The reader of the score sometimes sees black 
from dizziness. And yet, when these criss-crossed 
and knotted hieroglyphics are converted into tones, 
everything sounds wonderfully simple, natural, and 
unforced. On the musical intelligence of the players 
Strauss makes heavy demands in this score/' 

In choosing the rondo form for a humorous composi- 
tion, Strauss followed the example of his predecessors 
who favored this form for pieces that were intended to 
display capriciousness, comic exaggerations, and end- 
less alternations of loud and soft, or quick and slow* 
Usually in a rondo, there is one main theme which is 
repeated again and again in alternation with other 
material. In the rondo of Beethoven's violin con- 
certi, the theme of five notes is repeated more than 


forty times ! In Till Eulenspiegel there are two main 
themes representing its hero, which pervade the whole 
score in all its changes of mood and situation. 



Alexander Ritter not only was influential in making 
Strauss adopt the ideals of Liszt and Wagner ; he also 
interested him in the books of Schopenhauer and in 
other philosophical literature. When Nietzsche be- 
came the fashion, Strauss read him eagerly, and what 
is generally considered Nietzsche's principal work, 
"Also Sprach Zarathustra", suggested to him the plan 
for his fifth tone poem. 

In this book, and in other treatises, Nietzsche acted 
the part of a bull in a china shop in demolishing nearly 
everything other people held sacred or proper. Reli- 
gion, morals, art, literature, science, all are assailed 
in brilliant epigrams. All the Christian virtues are 
heaved overboard. His ideal, the Superman, tramples 
under foot everything that gets in the way of the ful- 
fillment of his selfish desires. He knows not pity, 
which is described as a virtue of the weak. He looks 
on and uses the weak merely as stepping stones to his 
own success. These doctrines, it has been maintained, 
had a good deal to do in bringing on the great European 
War in 1914. "Might is right " sums up this Nietz- 
schean moral philosophy. 

When the German newspapers bruited the report 
that Strauss had based his latest tone poem on this 
anarchistic atheistic book of Nietzsche, even his 
admirers were astonished, if not dismayed, while his 


enemies indulged in delirious outbursts of pugnacious 
enthusiasm. After the first performance in Vienna 
of this work Doctor Hanslick cited some of Nietzsche's 
aphorisms : "Man is something that must be over- 
come. Once ye were apes and even now man is still 
more of an ape than any ape/' "Even concubinage 
has been corrupted by marriage. 59 "Is this cynicism," 
asks Hanslick, "a proper ideal for a musician?" 

Perhaps this question is not quite fair, for Strauss's 
tone poem is not concerned with the simian superiority 
of man to apes or the degradation of concubinage by 
marriage. When hi;s Thus Spake ZaratTiustra was 
first heard in Berlin in December, 1896, he said: 
"I did not intend to write philosophical music or 
portray Nietzsche's great work musically. I meant 
to convey musically an idea of the development of the 
human race from its origin, through the various phases 
of evolution, religious as well as scientific, up to 
Nietzsche's idea of the superman. The whole sym- 
phonic poem is intended as my homage to the genius 
of Nietzsche, which found its greatest exemplification 
in his book, 'Thus Spake Zarathustra V 

This book is, according to Nietzsche himself, the most 
profound treatise ever bestowed on mankind. He 
does not prove this, but he admits it. Four years 
after completing it, he became hopelessly insane. 

"Great wits are sure to madness near allied, 
And thin partitions do their bounds divide," 

if taken literally, never was better exemplified than in 
Nietzsche. After deifying Wagner, he smothered him 
in sulphurous fumes of disdain a change which 
would have delighted the Brahmsites had he not spoken 


of their idol with even more withering contempt. 
Bizet's Carmen now became his ideal. He also com- 
posed, and it has been insinuated that the reason why 
Wagner fell from grace was because he did not hail 
him as a colleague. When he sent one of his com- 
positions, Symphonic Meditation on Manfred* to Billow, 
in 1872, that unceremonious pianist promptly wrote to 
him that he had found it " the very acme of fanatical non- 
sense, and the most disagreeable and anti-musical thing 
that my eyes have ever seen committed to music paper." 
That Nietzsche's famous and notorious book 
contains not only anarchistic aphorisms but poetic 
thoughts capable of touching a musician's imagina- 
tion, is shown by the following excerpt, which is printed 
on a flyleaf of Strauss's core : 

Having attained the age of thirty, Zarathustra (who, 
by the way, is not the Persian prophet but Nietzsche himself) 
"left his home and the lake of his home and went into the 
mountains. There he rejoiced in his spirit and his lone- 
liness, and for ten years did not grow weary of it. But 
at last Ms heart turned ; one morning he got up with the 
dawn, stepped into the presence of the Sun and thus spake 
unto him : * Thou great star ! What would be thy happi- 
ness, were it not for those for whom thou shinest ? For ten 
years thou hast come up here to my cave. Thou wouldst 
have got sick of thy light and thy journey but for me, mine 
eagle, and my serpent. But we waited for thee every 
morning, and receiving from thine abundance, blessed thee 
for it. Lo! I am weary of my wisdom, like the bee that 
hath collected too much honey ; I need hands reaching out 
for it. I would fain grant and distribute until the wise 
among men could once more enjoy their folly, and the poor 
once more their riches. For that end I must descend to 
the depth; as thou dost at even when, sinking behind the 
sea, thou givest light to the lower regions, thou resplendent 
star ! I must, like thee, go down, as men say men to 
whom I would descend. Then bless me, thou impassive 


eye, thou canst look without envy even upon over-much 
happiness. Bless the cup which is about to overflow, so 
that the water golden-flowing out of it may carry everywhere 
the reflection of thy rapture. Lo ! this cup is about to empty 
itself again, and Zarathustra will once more become a man.* 
Thus Zarathustra's going down began. 55 

This excerpt from Nietzsche's preface is not intended 
to be taken as the program of Strauss's tone poem. 
The full title of the composition is : Thus Spake Zara- 
thustra, tone poem, free after Nietzsche. The word 
"free" indicates that the composer did not intend 
to follow the book too closely; yet he chose for the 
divisions of the musical score captions borrowed from 
the book. They are: 

I. Of the Dwellers in the Bear World. 
n. Of the Great Yearning. 
HI. Of Joys and Passions. 
IV. Grave Song. 
V. Of Science. 
VI. The Convalescent. 
VIE. The Song of the Dance. 
Vm. Night Song. 

The first thought likely to occur to the reader at 
sight of these headings is that Strauss at last had 
ceased his coy struggles to keep the poetic contents 
of his poems to himself until wrung from his reticent 
soul by persistent friends, interviewers, and commenta- 
tors. Casting aside what lie felt to be the better way 
of Liszt, he henceforth adopted the perplexing and 
unsatisfactory Berliozian way of presenting a detailed 
program which the hearer is expected to fit to the 
music as well as he can. Usually he can't. 

The next thought likely to occur is that Strauss's 
Zarathustra program refutes the charge that he at- 


tempted the impossible task of setting to music a phil- 
osophical treatise. With two exceptions, the eight 
headings in his score, instead of being revolutionary, 
are ludicrously conventional. Great yearnings, grave- 
songs, passions and joys, including the joy of con- 
valescence, dance, and night songs are they not 
the stock-in-trade of all composers ? 

The two exceptions referred to are Number I: " Of 
the Dwellers in the Rear World", and Number V 
"Of Science." Let us consider them, together with 
the other numbers, in proper order. 

I. Concerning the "Dwellers in the Rear World": 
Can they be definitely depicted in music, and why 
should they be so depicted? Who are they, anyhow? 
They are those deluded persons who, in Nietzsche's 
philosophy,' vainly sought in asceticism and religion 
a solution of the mystery of life. "Ah, ye brothers," 
says Zarathustra, "this God, whom I created, was the 
work of a man and an insanity, like all gods." The 
sounds of the Gregorian Credo and Magnificat are intro- 
duced for liturgical color. It is on record that when this 
tone poem was performed in Cologne, the heading con- 
cerning the Dwellers in the Rear World was discreetly 
changed to "Of the Divine." That inverted the mean- 
ing, but probably nobody knew the difference. 

IE. Before the Magnificat and Credo are intoned, 
the orchestra introduces the motive of the " Great 
Yearning" : " Sing with boisterous song, till all seas 
grow still, that they may listen to thy yearning." 

HI. " Animated, Very Expressive" are the directions 
for the theme "Of Joys and Passions/* "The tempo 
grows more vivacious, the passion grows hotter. . . . 
But here, too, there is no satisfaction, rest is nowhere. 
So away with it." 


IV. "Three trombones in unison shrilly intone a 
very characteristic motive that sounds like a * curse 
upon Patience 5 / 5 This is W. P. Apthorp's interpre- 
tation. To Arthur Hahn these tones hurled out by 
the trombones are "the expression of violent disgust, 
with which man now turns his back on the passions/* 

V. In this section, "Von der Wissenschaft", Strauss 
is confronted by the problem of expressing in music 
a problem of science. He does it by providing a fugue 
theme the fugue is the most scientific form of music, 
isn't it? a fugue theme, which includes all the 
diatonic and chromatic degrees of the scale. The 
elaboration of this fugue, with the Nature theme and 
motive of yearning, Arthur Hahn informs readers of 
his elaborate guide, is intended to depict "the eager 
endeavor to unveil the most secret relations between 
man and nature, and thus get on the track of the 
world riddle. But in vain are all attempts to lift 
the veil/' 

VI. "The Convalescent/ 5 After acting and crying 
out like a madman, Zarathustra falls down like one 
dead. After seven days he rises on his couch, smells 
a rose apple, and finds its odor sweet. Then his 
animals think the time has come for addressing him : 
"Speak not further, thou convalescent one! but 
go out where the world waiteth for thee like a garden. 
Go out unto the roses and bees and flocks of doves! 
But especially unto the singing birds, that thou mayest 
learn singing from them. Por singing is good for the 
convalescent; the healthy one may speak/ 5 The 
music in which Strauss depicts the convalescence 
from all unfulfilled yearnings is another "contrapuntal 
masterpiece/ 5 Counterpoint is Strauss's forte, and 
he usually applies it fortissimo. 


VII. The "Dance" is announced "by a gigantic 
soaring up in the strings in unison." Why a dance? 
Because "one night Zarathustra went through the 
forest with his disciples, and when seeking for a well, 
behold ! he came unto a green meadow which was sur- 
rounded by trees and bushes. There girls danced 
together. As soon as the girls knew Zarathustra, 
they ceased to dance; but Zarathustra approached 
them with a friendly gesture and spake these words: 
* Cease not to dance, ye sweet girls ! . . . I am the ad- 
vocate of God in the presence of the devil. But he 
is the spirit of gravity. How could I, ye light ones, 
be an enemy unto Divine dances ? or unto the' feet of 
girls with beautiful ankles? 5 " Gradually all the lead- 
ing motives of the piece are drawn into the vortex of 
the dance a dance which, as George P. Upton 
remarks, "is anything but terpsichorean in character. 
'To the general* it must be 'caviar'." The mood 
now becomes calmer, and we reach the last section : 

VIII. "Night song." "It is night: now only do all 

songs of lovers awake. And my soul, too, is a lover's 

song. An unsilenced, not-to-be-silenced something 

is in me, which would fain become vocal. A greed 

of love is in me, which itself speaks the language of 

love. I am Light! Ah, would that I were Night!" 

An energetic climax follows; then after a lull, "the 

mad dance bursts forth in indomitable vigor", as 

H. Reimann remarks, "till a /// stroke of the bell 

darkens the Dianysial mood." The following period 

is marked " Song of the Night- Wanderer " or 

"Drunken Song" in Nietzsche's later editions. On 

the strokes of the "heavy, heavy, humming bell 

(Brummiglocke) " Nietzsche wrote the following lines 

("Zarathustra's Roundelay") : 


O man, take heed ! 

What saith the deep midnight ? 

Three I 
" I have slept, I have slept ! 

From deep dream I woke to light. 

The world is deep. 

And deeper than the day thought for. 

Deep is its woe, 

And deeper still than woe delight ! 

Saith woe : 'Vanish !' 

Yet all joy wants eternity. 

Wants deep, deep eternity !" 


The twelve strokes of the bell are heard in the music, 
growing weaker and weaker, as if dying away in the 

Much ink was spilt, after the first performance 
of Zarathustra> over its closing measures. Doctor 
Hanslick resorted to sarcasm: "The violins and wind 
instruments in a high position hold on to the chord 
of B major, while far below the double-basses softly 
pluck C G C. This simultaneous sounding of the 
keys of B major and C major is intended, according 
to the official analyzers, to signify "the unsolved 
world-riddle.' 'What a trivial idea to be so witty!* 
I say with the critic in Harden's Future." 

Doctor Hanslick pays his compliments in similar 


fashion to other sections of this work. "Science" is 
"represented by a rhythmically lame, ill-sounding, 
repulsive fugue in five parts/' "Convalescence" has 
for its token " a comic kikeriki, twice intoned by the 
trumpet." The "Dance" is "a wretched valse which 
flutters about the leading motive C G C in all forms 
and colors. 35 The "Dance Song" is preceded by "a 
long and truly hideous howling." Strauss, this critic 
conjectures, gave his score the title it has in order to 
give it a significance which itself it lacks. As a whole, 
Zarathustra is "extremely weak and tortured in the 
matter of musical invention." It is an "orgy of 
sounds" (klingender Farbenrausch), which, with the 
display of technical cleverness "served the composer 
less as a means than as the chief end in view." 

A no less eminent critic, Doctor Richard Batka, 
on the other hand, finds ZarathnMra a work of monu- 
mental grandeur containing passages of irresistible, 
superb beauty; a work which shows us what Strauss 
can achieve in the realm of the sublime: "Strauss 
was much censured for combining the keys B major 
and C major at the close. But this * harassing' 
combination is only seemingly offensive. When the 
violins, in the highest position, let the B major chord 
die away and the double basses sound a C after it, 
pizzicato, the very great distance between the sounds 
in itself mitigates the sense of a harmonic monstrosity 
and simply leaves an impression of a vague dissonance, 
a mild feeling of dissatisfaction, which is precisely 
what the composer wished to express in this place. 
Strauss's opponents like to harp on details like this one ; 
but a sense of justice should have compelled them 
to dwell also on such passages as those of the Joys and 
Passions, wherein the heart's happiness and salvation 


have found such impressive human expression. And 
this is what makes Strauss preeminently the composer 
of our time his giving expression to feelings which 
move all of us, with the special accents of our period. 
Therefore those may not be in the wrong who see in 
Thus Spake Zarathustra the first composition filled 
with the modern spirit, a milestone in modern musical 

A millstone would perhaps come as near the truth; 
for what is there in the Strauss-Nietzsche Zarathustra 
that is specifically modern? Joys and Passions, 
the Grave, Dance, and Night Songs are subjects for 
music as old as the hills; and while Strauss's musical 
specialty gorgeous coloring is a modern char- 
acteristic, his achievements do not go beyond Wagner's. 
One might say that the extreme complexity of modem 
life is mirrored in his intricate scores, but that would 
be far-fetched. The contrapuntists of The Nether- 
lands indulged in the same excessive complexity as 
long ago as the sixteenth century. They are now 

There is one part of Zarathustra which, I admit, 
is not only beautiful but sublime. It is the stupendous 
climax at the beginning, where the full Straussian 
orchestra unites with the majestic tones of the organ 
to paint the glories of sunrise. Nature in all its splendor 
is revealed in tonal combinations of thrilling opulence. 
The man who could pen that is a genius. To be sure, 
Bolto wrote something similar in the Prologue in 
Heaven of his Mefistofele; but Strauss improved on 
Botto, as he did on Gluck in his revision of Iphigenia 
in Tauris. 

Probably Otto Floersheim had this scene in mind when 
he wrote rapturously that Thus Spake Zarathustra 


is "the greatest score penned by man." Quoting 
him, James Huneker adds in a paragraph orches- 
trated a la Strauss: "It is a cathedral in architec- 
tonic and is dangerously sublime, dangerously silly, 
with grotesque gargoyles, hideous flying abutments, 
exquisite traceries, fantastic arches half gothic, half 
infernal, huge and resounding spaces, gorgeous fagades 
and heaven-splitting spires. A mighty structure, 
and no more to be understood at one, two, or a dozen 
visits than the Kblner Dom. It should be played 
once every season, and the audience be limited to poets, 
musicians, and madmen." 

Strauss closes this tone poem with a dissonance. 
Let us follow his example in these comments. Zara- 
thustra has not proved a lasting success, Ernest 
Newman predicted, because of defects he enumerates, 
that it would "age more rapidly than any other orches- 
tral work of Strauss" ; and now Max Steinitzer refers 
to "the scarcity of its performances." 


Dr. Richard Batka, who, in a passage just quoted, 
waxes so enthusiastic over Zarafhustra, disposes of 
its successor in this summary fashion: "The attempt 
to illustrate the adventures of Don Quixote in a cycle 
of orchestral variations resulted in only a partial 
success. It turned out to be more of an intellectual 
gambol, an exhibit of drollery which leaves us inwardly 
cold and lacks the brevity which is the soul of art. 
All that the musical world remembers is a couple of 
astonishing examples of tone painting ; some exquisite 


details (Dulcinea !) have already fallen with the absurd 
whole into practical oblivion/' 

The complete title of this poem is Don Quixote 
(Introduzione, Tema con Variazione, e Finale): Fan- 
taMische Variationen liber ein Thema ritierlichen Char- 
acters. In English : (Introduction, Theme with Varia- 
tions, and Finale) : Fantastic Variations on a Theme 
of a Knightly Character. It was composed at Munich 
in 1897, and had its first performance on March 8, 
1898, at Cologne under Franz Wiillner. The dedica- 
tion is to Joseph Dupont, the Belgian conductor. 

The orchestral score of Don Quixote appeared without 
any "program" except the title; but the version for 
piano contains some clues. The following indications 
were provided by Strauss himself : 

Don Quixote loses his reason from reading books 
of knighthood and decides to become a roving knight 

Theme: Don Quixote, Knight of the Sorrowful 
Aspect (Solo violoncello). Sancho Panxa (bass clari- 
net, tenor tuba, and solo viola). 

1. Variation: The strange pair set out on their 
journey under the sign of the beautiful Dulcinea of 
Toboso. Adventure with the windmills. 

2. Variation: Victorious battle with the Host of 
the great Emperor Alifanfaron (a herd of sheep). 

3. Variation: Dialogue of Knight and Squire. 
Demands, questions, and proverbs of Sancho; in- 
structions, appeasings, and promises by Don Quixote. 

4. Variation: Unfortunate adventure with a pro- 
cession of penitents. 

5. Variation: Don Quixote's vigil by his armor. 
Outpourings of his heart to the distant Dulcinea. 

6. Variation: The meeting with the peasant girl, 


whom Sancho deludes his master into accepting as the 
enchanted Dulcinea. 

7. Variation : Ride through the air. 

8. Variation: Unfortunate adventure on the en- 
chanted boat (barcarole). 

9. Variation: Fight with the supposed magicians, 
two monks on their donkeys. 

10. Variation : Duel with the Knight of the White 
Moon. Don Quixote, felled, says farewell to his 
weapons, and returns to his home, resolved to be a 

Finale: Having recovered his reason, he ends his 
days in contemplation. Death of Don Quixote. 

Mark Twain defined a classic as being a book which 
everybody praises and nobody reads. The famous 
story of Cervantes is one which all know about but 
few know by actual perusal. For the sake of those 
who have not read it, but who wish to know more 
definitely what Strauss tried to portray in his music, 
a few more details may be added here to fill out gaps 
in Strauss's brief cues, and throw light on his musical 

Much reading of romances about knights-errant 
who slay monsters and rescue fair maidens has made 
the worthy Don Quixote mad and he resolves to become 
a roving knight himself. His imagination conjures 
up visions of giants, dames, and adventures diverse. 
To indicate that they are visions the instruments 
are muted. 1 

The grotesque Don Quixote motive, always sounded 
by solo violoncello, is easily followed. It is indicative, 

1 HerwartH Walden points out in his elaborate analysis of this score 
(which was inspired by Strauss himself) that in this passage for the first 
time a muted tuba is heard. 


at tlie same time, of the general idea of knight-errantry. 
A shrill discord portrays the oncoming madness. The 
Sancho Panza theme is characteristic of that coarse 
and clumsy but wily peasant's character. 

Sounded at its first entry by bass clarinet and tenor 
tuba, it is afterwards always assigned to the solo viola, 
a device which helps to make it (like the Don theme) 
easily recognized at its many recurrences in the score. 
To these a number of other themes and themelets are 
added gradually (Walden's analysis contains fifty- 
three) and with the varied combinations and inter- 
weaving of these, Strauss constructed one of his most 
complex and ingenious scores. 

With a helmet made of pasteboard, and a knacker 
named Rosinante to ride on, the knight sets out with 
his squire. Soon they come in sight of a number of 
windmills. The crazy knight, taking them for huge 
giants, charges, transfixes one of the wings, is lifted 
with his horse into the air, and hurled to the ground. 
To indicate this catastrophe musically, the composer 
resorts to a run in the wood-wind, a harp glissando, 
and heavy drum beats. 

Having got under way again, they soon see a cloud 
of dust surely an approaching army! Sancho sees 
that it's only a flock of sheep, but Don Quixote charges 
and puts the "army 53 to rout. The bleating of the 
terrified sheep is imitated by the use of muted brasses. 

Don Quixote had promised Sancho the governor- 
ship of an island (to be conquered) if he would ac- 
company him faithfully. In the third Variation, 
Sancho begins to have his doubts of the results and 
rewards of their journey and gets into a dispute with 
his master, who, after vain appeals to his sense of honor, 
gets angry and commands him to hold his tongue. 


A cJmrehly theme announces the approach of a 
band of pilgrims carrying the image of a woman. In 
the crazy knight's imagination, they are bold robbers 
kidnapping a noble lady. He charges, but the pilgrims 
peasants of the neighborhood fail to see the joke, 
and one of the image bearers fells the crazy knight with 
his club. With a wail Sancho throws himself on what 
he thinks is his master's corpse; but Don Quixote 
soon recovers, and the journey is resumed. 

Following the knightly custom that he has read 
about, Don Quixote scorns sleep and holds watch by 
his armor. Again he has visions of the adored Dul- 
cinea, for whose presence his longing increases. Soft 
breezes are blowing, and the orchestra revels in lus- 
cious sounds. It is, in the words of Steinitzer, "a 
brief passage intoxicating in its color effects." 

Don Quixote sends Sancho Tobo ahead to find 
Dulcinea, while he wait's for her return; but the 
wily squire, doubting the existence of such a person, 
brings to him an ugly country wench, who happens 
to come along on a burro. The knight cannot believe 
this is his ideal, but finally makes up his mind that 
she has been changed for the worse by evil magic. 

"Ride through the air" is Strauss's brief clue to the 
Seventh Variation. It refers to a practical joke 
played by some noble dames who put the Don and 
Sancho blindfolded on a wooden horse, which is to 
transport them through the air thousands of miles to 
a place where a giant will meet them in combat. The 
whistling of the wind about them is indicated in the 
orchestral score by chromatic flute passages, harp 
and drum roll, in addition to a special wind-machine, 
while the men really believe they are being transported 
through the air. " The persistent tremolo of the double 


basses on one note may be taken to mean that the two 
did not really leave the solid earth." So, at any rate, 
the official analyzer, Herr Walden, interprets it; and 
he thinks it one of Strauss's cleverest contributions 
to program music. 

Arriving at the banks of the Ebro River, they see 
an empty bark tied to a tree and rudderless. The 
Don had read about such a thing in the romances. 
Surely this boat had been sent by a knight who 
needed aid, and it would carry them swiftly to him. 
It did carry them swiftly but right into the vortex 
of a mill stream, in which they would have been 
drowned had not some of the millers fished them out 
with poles. The orchestra paints the turbulent waters 
with waving passages in the cellos, basses, and wood- 

To the churchly sounds of two bassoons, a pair of 
monks come along, thinking of no harm, when the 
Don Quixote motive is suddenly sounded, and the 
knight charges, under the impression that they are 

The tenth and last Variation is concerned with the 
action of a friend of Don Quixote, the Knight of the 
White Moon, who undertakes to cure his madness. 
The two engage in a duel, with the understanding 
that if the Don is vanquished, he is to give up roving 
and return to his home* He is vanquished, keeps 
his promise, and in the peaceful life he now leads he 
soon recovers his reason, seeing life again as it is, and 
not as painted in the romances. 

In the Finale, "tremolos in the strings indicate 
the first shiver of a deadly fever." The Don recalls 
his adventures. He has been deceived, and he is now 
ready to die. 


While Doctor Batka, quoted at the beginning of 
this section, does not regret the "practical oblivion" 
into which this tone poem has fallen, Steinitzer de- 
clares that this "musico-poetically infinitely charming 
work is heard far too seldom." 

Ernest Newman finds that "the blend of humor 
and pathos in Don Quixote is something wholly new 
in music." He could do well without such things as 
the extraordinary imitation of the bleating of the 
flock of sheep. On the purely formal side the score 
is "perfectly masterly." In it "the modern variation 
form may be said to have received its apotheosis" ; and 
"the method inaugurated by Wagner of denoting a 
character by a theme, and expressing the changes in 
the character by variations of the theme, is here carried 
to its furthest possibilities : every psychological change 
in Don Quixote is expressed with infallible certainty 
in a variation of the original theme." 

Another eminent English critic, Edward Algernon 
Baughan, admires the " humorous onomatopoeia" in 
these variations, and considers this "the one work 
of Richard Strauss which does partly justify itself." 
"The need of following a definite program helps him 
to shape his music, and gives him new forms and sug- 
gests new devices which he could not find in absolute 
music itself." 

This is all right but how about the hearer ? Can 
he possibly be expected to follow the story as musically 
told in the variations? Or is it not likely to spoil 
his pleasure to have to make a great effort prolonged 
during thirty-five minutes, to apply the programmatic 
cues at the right moments ? Let us hear what the emi- 
nent French author, Romain Rolland, an admirer of 
Strauss, has to say on this point : 


"This symphonic work marks, in my opinion, the 
extreme point program music can reach. In none of 
his other works does Strauss give more proof of intelli- 
gence, cleverness, and prodigious craftsmanship; nor 
is there another, I add in all sincerity, in which there 
is such a sheer waste of energy for the sake of a prank, 
a musical pleasantry, which lasts forty-five [thirty-five] 
minutes, and subjects the composer, the players, and 
the audience to a painful effort." Technically, he 
adds, this score indicates progress; but otherwise it 
is a step backward. 


Compared with Richard Wagner, who, as I pointed 
out in "Wagner and his Works", was forty-four 
years old, and had written all but three of his works 
before a single one of his operas was produced at 
Vienna, Munich, or Stuttgart, and fifty-six and over 
before Italy, France, and England began even with 
his early operas compared with Richard Wagner, 
I say, Richard Strauss was a pampered child of fortune. 
In the pages devoted to the story of his life we saw 
how promptly nearly every one of his symphonic 
poems and operas was performed, not only in German 
cities but all over the world; and how his fame 
and prosperity grew like an avalanche. Surely if 
ever a composer was fortunate, Richard Strauss was 
the man. 

He was fond of country life; why did he not lie on 
the lawn all day long and just enjoy life? Alas, he 
could not, for the grass was infested with snakes 
venomous creatures that got busy poisoning every 


one of his sensational successes. Some of the snakes 
were regular boa constrictors, big fellows who crushed 
all his new productions in their cruel coils. 

Max Steinitzer devotes a special section to Strauss's 
enemies among the critical fraternity, naming such 
writers as August Spanuth, Hanslick, Adolph Weiss- 
mann, Thomas San-Galli, Karl Grunsky, Edgar Istel, 
Rudolf Louis, Friedrich Spiro, Friedrich Brandes, Georg 
G<5hler, Hugo Riemann, Arthur Smolian, Max Kalbeck, 
Georg Graner ; a list to which he might have added an 
equal number of eminent foreign adversaries. 

The vicious remarks of these prominent critics 
gradually got on Strauss's nerves. It has been assumed 
that Wagner had in mind his pet enemy, Hanslick, 
when he created the part of the odious Beckmesser 
in his Die Meister singer; why should not Strauss 
improve on him by writing a work in which he could 
get even with all his adversaries at one stroke ? 

Such a work actually was penned by him in the year 
1898. Begun in Munich on August 8, it was finished 
on December 27, in Berlin. It is dedicated to the emi- 
nent Dutch conductor, Willem Mengelberg, who made 
a specialty of interpreting the works of Strauss and 
Brahms; and its first performance was at Frankfurt, 
March 3, 1899, from the manuscript, Strauss himself 
conducting. At its third performance, under Wiillner, 
in Cologne, a large number of the hearers hissed the 
new score, and Steinitzer relates that as late as 1914, 
whenever Ein Heldenleben was played in Berlin, many 
left the hall when the orchestra began to play the 
hideous music which Strauss hurls at the heads of his 
critical adversaries. 

While some of the commentators (including Wil- 
helm Klatte, who contributes an elaborate 1 analysis 


to Schlesinger's "Meisterfiihrer Number 6 55 ) discreetly 
veil the fact that Ein Heldenleben is a portrait, Strauss's 
intimate friend and biographer, Max Steinitzer, frankly 
states that the hero of this tone poem is the creator 
of it. Strauss, indeed, indicated this himself in un- 
mistakable fashion by citing in one section themes 
from his most important works. And why should he 
not celebrate himself admittedly the most talked- 
about composer of his time as a hero? Did not 
Goethe say Nur der Lump ist besckeiden (Only a good- 
for-nothing is modest) ? Strauss, says James Huneker, 
"but follows in the footsteps of Walt Whitman and of 
his own contemporaries Rodin, the sculptor; Ga- 
briele d'Annunzio in II Fuoco; Nietzsche in Zarathustra; 
Tolstoy in all his confessions despite their inverted 
humility; Wagner in Meistersinger ; Franz Stuck, 
the Munich painter, whose portrait of his own ec- 
centric self is not the least of his work/' 

All the details of the "program", moreover, fit into 
the theory that we have here a musical -autobiography, 
comparable, in a way, to the biography of Siegfried 
in the Gotterdammerung funeral music. 

As usual, Strauss was reluctant to betray the "pro- 
gram " which had helped him to shape this tone poem 
after the recipe of Liszt. To Romain Holland he said : 
"There is no need of a program. It is enough to know 
there is a hero fighting his enemies." But Priedrich 
Roeseh's analysis (Leipzig: Leuckhart) includes a 
poem by Eberhard Konig which "follows the com- 
poser's indications and explanations/' 

In the fewest possible words, the program of Helden- 
leben, which is in six sections, is as follows : 

(1) The Hero; (2) The Hero's Adversaries; (3) The 
Hero's Helpmate; (4) The Hero's Battlefield ; (5) The 


Hero's Works of Peace; (6) The Hero's Escape from 
the World and the Completion. 

The Hero. In the first section the orchestra en- 
deavors to portray the hero's character in its various 
aspects. It is a noble character, proud and emo- 
tional, but with an iron will, and free from sullen 
obstinacy. "This section closes with pomp and bril- 
liance, with the motive thundered out by the brass; 
and it is the most symphonic section of the tone poem." 

The Hero's Adversaries. They are men who not 
only fall short of greatness but cannot even compre- 
hend it. "Sneering and carping are all they are 
capable of?* They suspect the hero's sincerity. 
"Fifths in the tubas show their earthly sluggish nature." 
The hero is amazed, indignant. "Stupidly flippant 
little themes on the wood- wind indicate the antagonists." 

The Hero's Helpmate. "The solo violin represents 
the loved one, who at first is coy, coquettish, and 
disdains his humble suit. At last she rewards him." 
Of this section, and the following, Mr. Baughan has 
given the most vivid description: "The influence of 
woman comes into his life. At first it seems almost 
as bad as the cunning onslaught of his antagonists. 
A long-winded violin solo tells us that the hero can 
as little understand this new influence as his opponents 
understand him* The solo is for a long time an empty 
capricco, full of meaningless twists and turns, and 
maddening in its reiteration. The hero holds aloof; 
he does not understand"; but gradually the music 
grows warmer and more passionate, although the 
violin solo still holds its incomprehensible way. At 
last the oboe sings, a phrase a love-phrase of in- 
finite beauty and tenderness, and the violin, repeating 
it, responds. The hero has called to and has found 


his mate. Beautiful is the love music that follows 
it is among the most beautiful music that has ever 
been given to the world." Chiefly because of it, 
Joseph Stransky considers this the finest of Strauss's 
tone poems. 

The Hero's Battlefield. "But what are those shrill 
discordant trumpet calls that break in on his dream? 
The call to action ; the organized onslaught of the hero's 
antagonists. He girds himself for battle, inspired 
with new strength by the love for his companion. 
And what a musical battle it is ! Technically it is 
the development section of the work. Themes which 
we have already heard are hurled against each other; 
a new hero's theme makes itself heard against the din 
of the warfare; dissonances which should turn the 
hair of old-fashioned theorists grey assault the ears; 
and over all the maddening rhythms of the drum/* 
"Such $n exposition," exclaims James Huneker, "has 
never been heard since Saurians roared in the steaming 
marshes of the young planet, or when prehistoric man 
met in multitudinous and shrieking combat. Yet 
the web is polyphonically spun spun magnificently. 
This battle scene is full of unmitigated horror." 

The Hero's Works of Peace. The battle is over; 
but the world still has doubts of the victorious hero's 
genius. So he refreshes its memory by recalling the 
great things he has done; we hear themes from Don 
Juan, Macbeth, Zarathustra, Death and Transfigura- 
tion, Don Quixote, Till Eulenspiegel, the music-drama 
Guntram, the song, Traum durch die Dammerung. 
Jean Marnold has traced twenty-three of these remi- 
niscences introduced here; "and the hearer who has 
not been warned cannot at the time notice the slightest 
disturbance in the development." 


The Hero's Escape from the World and the Com- 
pletion. "The world is still cold. At first the hero 
rages, but resignation and content soon takes posses- 
sion of his soul. The bluster of nature reminds him 
of his old days of war. Again he sees the beloved 
one, and in peace and contemplation his soul takes 
flight. For the last time the hero's theme is heard 
as it rises to a sonorous, impressive climax. And 
then is solemn music, such as might serve funeral 
rites", "with flags and laurel wreaths lowered on a 
hero's grave.' 5 

At the first performance of Heldenleben in Germany, 
Romain Rolland saw "persons listening to it tremble, 
get up abruptly, unconsciously make violent gestures. 
I myself felt the strange intoxication, the dizziness 
from this turbulent ocean of sound, and I thought that 
for the first time in thirty years the Germans had found 
the poet of Victory." 

Ernest Newman declares that while "in the fine sense 
of form that controls the vast design", Heldenleben 
"stands at the head of all symphonic poems we know", 
the section of the adversaries, though it has "a certain 
humor of an essentially poor kind", is "merely a piece 
of laborious stupidity" which spoils "a great master- 
work" for the sake of flinging back at the critics "some 
of their-own mud." But was it "mud" ? 

My own objection to Heldenleben has always been 
that its technical cleverness is so much more in evi- 
dence than melodic inspiration. The cacophonies of 
the adversaries are certainly overdone, but they have 
at any rate a programmatic excuse. The chief objec- 
tion to them is that they encouraged Arnold Schonberg 
and many other followers of Strauss in making harsh 
dissonances an end in themselves, applicable at all 


times, including situations in which Strauss himself 
would have used honeyed strains. By his Helden- 
leben exaggerations he thus became "epoch-making" 
in a very regrettable direction. 


Five years after the Heldenleben, and separated from 
it by a number of songs as well as the opera Feuersnot, 
Strauss gave to the world another tone poem, Sin- 
fonia Domestic^ which again caused the critics of two 
continents to spill gallons of ink. Its first performance 
anywhere was given in New York on March 21, 1904, 
under the composer's own direction. It was the 
grand climax of a special festival concerning which more 
will be said in the section on Strauss in America. 

Concerning the novelty I wrote in the Evening Post : 

Europeans usually pay little or no attention to what is 
going on in our musical world. But on December 5, 1908, 
all European music lovers were eagerly awaiting cabled news 
from New York regarding the first performance of Wagner's 
Parsifal ever given outside of Bayreuth; and to-day, once 
more, the newspapers of Germany and England, at any rate, 
will have paragraphs regarding a musical event that has oc- 
curred in New York the first performance, not only in 
America, but everywhere, of Richard Strauss's latest tone 
poem, entitled Domestic Symphony a work to which the 
composer devoted thirteen months, from May, 190, to 
June, 1908. 

Richard Strauss is, at present, the most talked about 
writer of music, and in the minds of most people poor, 
innocent souls this is tantamount to his being the greatest 
living composer. Why, therefore, should not a product of 
his pen be treated as an event of sensational interest? 


Last night's audience did treat it as such. Many music 
lovers were present, and the composer had all the applause 
he could have desired, not only after his new work, but after 
the Don Juan, which preceded it, and the Zarathustra, 
which followed it; the Don Juan being a composition 
peculiarly barren of musical content, while the Zarathustra 
begins interestingly & la Rheingold prelude, continues d la 
prologue to Boito's Mefistofele and at the end evaporates in 
Richard Straussism, like a Western rivulet losing itself in 
sands of the Mojave desert. 

When Richard Strauss was asked to furnish a synopsis of 
Till Eulenspiegel 9 s Merry Pranks^ he merely indicated some 
of the motives, leaving all the rest to his hearers and 
journalists. It was a capital way of calling attention to his 
work. The critics forthwith set to work and spilled gallons 
of ink in conjectures as to what the composer might have 
had in mind, and the whole musical world was soon talking 
about Till; indeed, the commentators are still quarreling as 
to whether Strauss's music allows Till to die on the gallows 
or escape, even as, in the days when there were no musical 
journalists, the theologians used to discuss the question as 
to how many angels could dance on the point of a needle. 

The same business-like tactics have been pursued in 
regard to the new work. Dr. Strauss's full title for it is 
"Symphonia Domestica, dedicated to my dear wife and our 
boy, opus 53." There is also a sub-title "In one movement 
and three sub-divisions (a) introduction and Scherzo; (b) 
Adagio ; (c) double fugue and finale." For the present, at 
any rate, the composer wishes this title to be the only official 
indication of his programmic intentions, because, as he avers, 
he wants his work to be judged as music, pure and simple ; 
semi-officially, however, he has still further piqued curiosity, 
and incidentally, furnished matter for "copy" and conver- 
sation by letting the cat's tail, at any rate, peep out of the 
bag. The Symphonia we are told, represents a day in a 
composer's life, and it has three leading themes, representing 
Papa, Mama, and Baby. The Baby's theme is the most 
original and at the same time the most noisy of the set. The 
score contains a place in which the aunts are supposed to 
compare the child to his father and mother. In private con- 


versation the composer is said to have confessed that other 
passages represent him at his work, or standing on the 
balcony in his shirt sleeves, while others again depict the baby 
in his bath, or waking up at seven. What fine material for 
gossip, and for making the piece widely known ! 

Dr. Strauss is certainly a most original man the one 
composer of our time who, as his admirers inform us, has 
something new and grand to tell us. No musician has ever 
before thought of writing a "domestic" symphony. Rich- 
ard Wagner, to be sure, once perpetrated a charming piece 
of family music and called it the Siegfried Idyl. It was 
played as a pleasant surprise for his wife on her birthday 
and was composed in honor of their son. But Richard 
Wagner was a mere bungler in this matter. Fancy his 
scoring this domestic piece for only a few strings, one oboe, 
one flute, two clarinets, one bassoon, two horns, and a trumpet 
which has only thirteen bars ! Richard Strauss scorns such 
Liliputianism. To honor his boy and describe a day in his 
life he needs an orchestra of one hundred and eight instru- 
ments, including all the usual color and noise makers, be- 
side the obsolete oboe d'amore and four saxophones, which, 
because of their noisiness, have heretofore been confined 
chiefly to military bands. It is extremely foolish to ask: 
"If a man needs so big a band to depict a day in his hum- 
drum life, what would he do if he were to illustrate a tragedy, 
or a catastrophe a death, a ghost scene, an earthquake?'* 
What's the matter with an orchestra of a thousand in such 
a case ? Can't you see that this is the way to be "original" 
when you have nothing new to say no melodic ideas, no 
stirring modulations? In the whole of the Domestic Sym- 
phony there is only one particularly individual melody, the 
one which represents the baby; and even that is rather 
commonplace. It is developed and orchestrated with much 
skill, and towards the end it is built up into a climax which 
suggests a megalosaurian monster rather than a Bavarian 
baby. As Music, that climax is splendid; as program 
music, it is ridiculous. 

The champions of Strauss tell us that he is not only the 
pupil of Liszt, but his superior, on Liszt's own lines. Now 
it was a cardinal maxim of Liszt, the inventor of the 


symphonic poem, that "a program or a title is justified only 
when it is a poetic necessity, an inseparable part of the 
complete work and indispensable for its understanding." 
Is that the case with the Domestic Symphony ? If ten mil- 
lion persons should hear it, would a single one guess its title 
or subject ? Or, having heard the title, would anyone ever 
be able to guess a single detail regarding the doings of Papa, 
Mama, or the Baby? How different Liszt's Mazeppa or 
Saint-Saens's Phaeton! So far as there is any relation be- 
tween music and " poetic " subject, the Domestic Symphony 
might be called quite as appropriately "A Trip to Constan- 
tinople" or "A Day at Vladivostok.'* With such knowledge 
of his intentions as the composer has made public, it seems 
possible to "spot" certain domestic scenes like the discharge 
of an obstreperous cook, or the Buster Brown tricks of the 
boy; but that is about all. 

The whole thing is either a deplorable aberration of taste 
or else a clever method of courting publicity and making 
talk. But it must be understood, at the same time, that 
there is a great deal of exaggeration in all this talk about 
Dr. Strauss's mastery of the technique of composing and 
orchestrating. Up to the present time all of the great men 
in music have labored to make each instrument speak its 
own idiom. Mozart, Schubert, Wagner, Liszt, Dvordk 
secure their ravishing colors by doing this. Strauss does the 
opposite, trying to make the trombone play as if it were a 
piccolo, and thus topsy-turvying everything. In an Offen- 
bach operetta such things are appropriate, but not in a 
concert piece which has a program that cannot be followed. 
It is no great art to produce new orchestral effects by the 
Strauss procedure. 

If this criticism had appeared before the section de- 
voted to the "adversaries" in Heldenleben had been 
written, the composer might have introduced an ad- 
ditional note of his "cacophone" in my honor. I 
frankly admit that I erred in two directions. I should 
not now belittle Strauss's comparative craftsmanship, 
for in his contrapuntal mastery he certainly represents 


a culminating point. I have changed my mind, also, 
regarding Strauss's behavior in regard to programs. 
After studying his acts with the care that only a 
biographer is likely to bestow on them, I have con- 
cluded that his attitude of coyness, and his habit of 
revealing his "programs" only gradually, were not due 
to a desire to keep his name in the newspapers, but were 
a result of his wish to preserve a Lisztian reserve in 
regard to the "plots " (pictorial or psychic) of his works ; 
which wish was always frustrated by the eagerness of 
the commentators and analyzers to have something 
to write about. It is so much easier and so much more 
interesting to write about a program story than about 
music itself ! This book is much more interesting be- 
cause of the Strauss programs than it would be without 
them. And Strauss would never have been as famous 
as he is had he succeeded in withholding his detailed 

That he nevertheless tried hard to do this is one of 
the Strauss paradoxes. His sincerity in regard to the 
Domestiea is indicated by his remarks to Richard Al- 
drich printed in the New York Times of March 6, 1904 : 

He wishes it to be taken as music, for what it is, and not 
as the elaboration of the specific details of a scheme of 
things. The symphony, he declares, is sufficiently ex- 
plained by its title, and is to be listened to as the symphonic 
development of its themes. It is of interest to quote the 
title, as he wishes it to stand. It is "Symphonia Domestiea, 
(meiner lieben Prau und unserm Jungen gewidmet, op. 53), 
which is, interpreted, Domestic Symphony, dedicated to my 
dear wife and our Boy, op. 53." It bears the descriptive 
subtitle, "In einem Satze und drei Unterabteilungen : (a) 
Einleitung und Scherzo; (6) Adagio; (c) Doppelfuge und 
Finale." (In one movement and three subdivisions : (a) 
Introduction and Scherzo; (6) Adagio; (c) Double Fugue 
and Finale.) It is highly significant that the composer 


desires these movements to be listened to as the three move- 
ments of a composition, substantially, as he declares, in the 
old symphonic form. He believes, and has expressed his 
belief, that the anxious search of the public for the exactly 
corresponding passages in the music and the program, the 
guessing as to the significance of this or that, the distraction 
of following a train of thought exterior to the music, are 
destructive to the musical enjoyment. Hence he has for- 
bidden the publication of any description of what he has 
sought to express till after the concert. "This time," says 
Dr. Strauss, "I wish my music to be listened to purely as 

Philip Hale, in the program books of the Boston 
Symphony Orchestra, has devoted several pages to 
tracing the gradual evolution (for publicity) of the 
Domestica program. At FranMurt, the first German 
city to hear it (June 1, 1904), again under Strauss's 
baton, it was possible to use a program note published 
in advance in "Die Musik." In this note reference 
is made, among other things, to the Husband's theme 
being "easy going", with a "continuation that is 
meditative", and a melody that rises "in a fiery man- 
ner" on high. The second theme, "The Wife", is 
extremely capricious. The third theme, "The Child", 
is very simple and in Haydn's manner. It is to b 
played by an oboe d'amore. Among the one hundrec 
and eight instruments must be four saxophones 
"Richard Strauss refuses to give any further program. 5 

In Berlin, on December 12 of the same year, witl 
Strauss again as conductor, there was, in place of th< 
usual minute analyses of the works played, only tin 
following note for the Domestica: 

This work, written in one movement, is divided into fou 
subdivisions, which correspond, on the whole, to the ol< 
form of the sonata. 


I. Introduction and development of the three chief 
groups of themes. 

The husband's themes : 

(a) Easy-going, (b) Dreamy, (c) Fiery. 
The wife's themes : 

(a) Lively and gay, (b) Grazioso. 
The child's theme : 

n. Scherzo. 

Parent's happiness. Childish play. 
Cradle song (the clock strikes seven in the evening). 
IIL Adagio. 

Doing and thinking. Love scene. 

Dreams and cares (the clock strikes seven in the 

IV. Finale. 

Awakening and merry dispute (double fugue). 
Joyous conclusion. 

In Dresden the same titles were used, and one of the 
points given was that the husband is a man among 
men, upon whom a kind fate has bestowed unconquer- 
able humor. 

"Unconquerable humor!* 5 Perhaps after all and 
in spite of what I wrote a moment ago, those are 
right who think that Strauss, in his attitude toward 
programmatic clues and details, amuses himself at 
the expense of all who take him seriously. Cer- 
tainly the following detail, referred to by Wilhelin 
IQatte, comes under the head of what Ernest New- 
man has called Straussian "tomfoolery." Near the 
end of the first section there is a figure of three 
short notes and a long one, for clarinets and muted 
trumpets, which is answered by a similar group of 
notes for oboes, muted horns, and a trombone. Ac- 
cording to a note in the score, the first figure por- 
trays the baby's aunts saying: "Just like papa!" 


while the other represents the uncles saying: "Just 
like mamma!" l 

A few more details. Before the clock strikes seven 
P.M., there is a passage supposed to refer to baby's 
bath. It recurs just before the glockenspiel indicates 
that it is seven A.M. The cry of the child ("a trill 
on the F sharp major 6-4 chord"), muted trumpets, 
and woodwind arouses everything into life. The " merry 
argument 9 ' in the final fugue is supposed to be in re- 
gard to baby's future. It ends in perfect good humor, 
in true German fashion, "with an emphatic reassertion 
of the husband's theme with which it began, suggesting 
that the father had the last word in the argument." 

It is interesting to note what impression was made 
on that eminent Frenchman, Romain Rolland, by an- 
other possibly racial trait of this tone poem. In a 
chapter on Musique Frangaise et Musique Allemande (in 
"Musiciens d'Aujourd'hui") he quotes Strauss as saying 
regarding his Domestica: "I don't see why I should 
not write a symphony about myself I find myself 
as interesting as Napoleon or Alexander." "To this, 5 ' 
Rolland continues, "some have answered that that 
was no reason why others should share his interest. 
But I shall not make use of this argument. I under- 
stand that an artist of his rank may entertain us with 
himself. What grates on me more is the way he talks. 
The disproportion is too great between the subject 
and the means of setting it forth. Above all, I do not 
like this ostentatious display of one's most secret feel- 
ings* There is a lack of the intimate in this Sinfonia 
Domestica. The hearth, the parlor, the bedroom, are 

1 See Klatte's analysis in the Strauss number of " Die Musik ", January, 
1904. Another elaborate thematic analysis of this work, by A. Schattmann, 
is included in Schlesinger's ** Meisterftthrer Number 6." 


open to any one who comes along. Is that the family 
feeling in Germany to-day? I confess that when I 
heard this work the first time, I was disagreeably af- 
fected, for these purely sentimental reasons, notwith- 
standing my affectionate regard for the composer." 

Subsequently, Holland adds, he revised this first 
judgment, because he found the music itself admirable ; 
it is "his most finished work since Death and Trans- 
figuration", with a gain over that work in richness of 
color and constructive skill. To be sure, "the first 
exposition of the themes is too schematic; Strauss's 
melodic vocabulary is, besides, extremely limited, and 
not very exalted ; but it is very personal ; one cannot 
possibly detach from him these nervy themes, glowing 
with juvenile ardor, which cleave the air like arrows, 
and twist themselves into fantastic arabesques. In 
the adagio of night, there are, besides some very bad taste, 
solemnity, dreaminess, tenderness, emotion. The fugue 
at the end is of astonishing gaiety. It is a mixture of 
bouffonnerie colossale et de pastorale htrdique worthy of 
Beethoven, whose style it recalls in its broad develop- 
ment. The final apotheosis is a stream of life. Its 
joyousness makes the heart dilate. The most ex- 
travagant combinations of harmonies, the most im- 
placable harshnesses are obliterated and melt away, 
thanks to the marvellous corn-mingling of tone colors. 
It is the work of an artist sensuous and strong, the 
true heir of the Wagner who wrote the Meistersinger." 

Compare with this glorification the following, by 
Ernest Newman, who is by no means an anti-Straussian: 

The Symphonia Domestica made a sensation at the time, 
partly because the simplicity of the subject papa, mama 
and baby brought the program at any rate within the 
scope of the intelligence of the average man. People who 


were puzzled almost to the point of insanity by Zarathustra 
and its Uebermenscken and its Genesende and all the rest of 
that queer fauna, could recognize at once when the baby was 
squealing in its bath or the lullaby was being sung over it; 
and they had a kindly fellow-feeling for the terrible musician 
who now seemed to be even such a one as themselves. But 
the work, as music, was mostly unsatisfactory to musicians. 
It has its great and uplifted moments, such as the love 
scene, and there is considerable beauty in a good deal of the 
music that is written round the child. But the texture as 
a whole is less interesting than in any other of Strauss's 
works, the short and snappy thematic fragments out of which 
he builds it contrasting badly with the great sweeping themes 
of the earlier symphonic poems; the instrumental color is 
grossly overdone ; the polyphony is often coarse and sprawl- 
ing ; and the realistic effects in the score are at once so atro- 
ciously ugly and so pitiably foolish that one listens to them 
with regret that a composer of genius should ever have 
fallen so low. 

"It is to laugh I" as the Germans say. Holland 
and Newman belong to the Supreme Court of Musical 
Criticism, yet one sees white where the other sees black. 
Is one of them color-blind, or is Strauss able to paint 
a thing black and white at the same time ? It is this 
uncertainty that makes him so interesting by stimulat- 
ing curiosity and he knows it ! 



After producing the Sinfonia Domestica in 1903, 
Strauss devoted himself chiefly to the opera and ballet 
for more than a decade. Salome, Elektra, Rosenkavalier, 
Ariadne, and the Legend of Joseph successively were 
penned and performed, most of them with sensational 
success. It seemed as if he had turned his back on 


the concert stage, giving up orchestral poems as, at 
an earlier stage in his career, he had abandoned cham- 
ber music and pianoforte solo ; but in 1915 he surprised 
the world with a new tone poem entitled Eine Alpen- 
sinfonie. The first sketches of it are said to have been 
made in 1911. It took him just one hundred days to 
write the score, which is dedicated to Count Nicolaus 
Seebach. After its first performance, which took place 
in Berlin, on October 28, 1915, it was pronounced a 
marvelous specimen of program music, excelling, in 
the opinion of some, everything previously done in 
this branch of the art. The Dresden orchestra had 
been brought to Berlin for this concert ; Strauss him- 
self conducted, and the enthusiasm at the close was so 
overwhelming that August Spanuth, who did not like 
the work, declared it seemed as if the applause had 
been "orchestrated by Strauss himself." The audi- 
ence included scores of prominent musicians, among 
them conductors from all over Europe, who had come 
to imbibe the correct traditions. 

They need not have worried. The Alpensymphonie, 
like its predecessors, presents no complicated riddles 
to the interpreter. One would naturally suppose that 
the Domestic Symphony, the subjects of which con- 
fessedly are papa, mama, and baby, would be sim- 
plicity itself, while a description of the Alps would 
overtop even the philosophic Zaraihustra. Nothing 
of the sort. "A child could understand Strauss's 
latest work ", said one of the Berlin critics. It is big, 
but clear, and the program unfolds itself in the music 
so clearly that one needs few cues after having been 
informed that the scenes depicted successively by the 
orchestra are : Night Sunrise The Ascent En- 
trance into the Forest Wandering beside the Brook 


At the Waterfall Apparition On Flowery 
Meadows On the Aim (sloping pasture) Lost in 
the Thicket and Brush On the Glacier Dangerous 
Moments On the Summit Vision Mists rise 
The Sun is gradually hidden Elegy Calm before 
the Storm Thunderstorm The Descent* Sunset 


These words, in German of course, were written in 
the score by the composer himself. He had evidently 
made up his mind that he might as well reveal his pro- 
gram at once, without waiting for the commentators 
to dig it out of him piecemeal. 

It may be said that, like A Hero's Life, Guntram, 
Eulenspiegel, the Alpensinfonie is more or less auto- 
biographic, painting in vivid colors a day's experiences 
in climbing the Alps. 

It is the first of Strauss's symphonic works that is 
concerned with nature since 1886, when he composed 
From Italy. The intervening three decades were de- 
voted to problems connected with man. 

In that time he had excogitated many a trick for 
making music realistic or pictorial. The orchestral 
forces, as we shall see presently, are the largest and 
most varied ever used in a symphonic score. Yet 
even with such a mammoth apparatus, Strauss once 
more illustrated the truth of Liszt's remark previously 
quoted, that "the merest tyro in landscape painting 
can with one stroke of his pencil produce a scene more 
faithfully than a consummate musician with all the 
resources of the cleverest orchestra/* In the Alpensin- 
fonie there are divisions, like the Night, Sunrise, The 
Ascent, Apparition, On Flowery Meadows, and in fact, 
all the others except the Storm, which cannot be 
definitely suggested by the composer. All he can do 


'is to write music appropriate to such scenes, and this 
Strauss certainly has done. 

A "Thematic Guide", with fifty-nine excerpts in 
musical type, has been prepared by Max Steinitzer 
and published in Leipzig by Leuckart. For the first 
performance in New York, on October 26, 1916, by 
the Philharmonic Orchestra, the following brief but 
helpful analysis was made by W. H. Humiston : 

Strings, bassoons, clarinets, and horns open with a 
descending motive " Night " ; almost immediately, 
against a chord consisting of all the notes of the scale (IB- 
flat minor) sounded by muted strings, the "Mountain mo- 
tive" is sounded by trombones and tuba. Soon comes "Sun- 
rise**, nearly the full orchestra, with a descending theme. 
Edgar Stillman Kelley suggests that this is because the 
mountain tops are first lit by the sun's rays, which reach 
deeper and deeper until the valleys are suffused with light. 
The " Ascent' 5 , an energetic theme, first played by cellos 
and basses, is made much of in this part of the work. Hunt- 
ing horns announce the entrance into the forest, a "flowing** 
theme represents the brook, a marked theme with a "Scotch 
Snap " is played by the brass as the waterfall is approached. 
Arpeggios, glissandos, rapidly descending scales, bells and 
triangle picture the cascade, a passage which, begun for- 
tissimo, ends in extreme pianissimo. Oboes and clarinets 
play a lively theme which represents the "Apparition" 
which passes into "On Floweiy Meadows" where the 
theme of "Ascent" is introduced in the cellos. 

Although this symphony is not divided into movements 
the first section may be said to end here. Now comes the 
Aim episode cow bells are heard, and the " Alpenhorn", 
represented of course by the .English horn (so called, though 
it is neither a horn nor English). The principal theme, 
however, of this episode is a gentle melody in 6-8 time played 
by the horn. "Lost in the Thicket'* is portrayed by a fu- 
gato movement (a "fugato" is a short movement in fugue 
style), until the theme of "ascent" indicates escape from the 
entanglements, and again an open path toward the summit. 


The cold air of the glacier is indicated by a transformation 
of the "waterfall" theme, with new material added. "Dan- 
gerous Moments" is a sort of intermezzo, which leads us to 
the "Summit* 5 ' -Here four trombones play a majestic mo- 
tive, and as the magnificent view extends before one's eyes 
the various themes of the symphony are repeated in vary- 
ing guise. The "Vision" is a transformation of the "View" 
theme, and the organ is heard in the "Elegy." The storm 
breaks and we begin the descent, to an inversion, naturally 
enough, of the ascent theme. The " Mountain " theme again 
is sounded, passing into "Sunset and Night"; and the 
symphony ends as it began, with "Night" and a long drawn- 
out B-flat minor chord. 

It may well be that Mr. Kelley's idea regarding the 
descending theme for "Sunrise" was in Strauss's 
mind, although this idea would not be likely to occur 
to hearers without a cue, which he did not give. Ex- 
tremely obvious, on the other hand, is the use of horns 
for the "Entrance into the Forest. 5 * This is a device 
much used by Wagner, Weber, and by other generations 
before them. But no one ever used twenty horns, as 
Strauss did in Berlin. 

The grand orchestral outburst at the summit would 
of course be appropriate at any triumphal occasion. 

Delightful to the ears is the "waterfall" music, 
with its sliding sounds, bells, and triangle. It recalls 
rather vividly the cascades of jewels in the Ariane et 
Sarbe Bleue of Dukas, which Strauss may have heard 
in Paris. If he has borrowed these modern Parisian 
sounds, then the Alpensymphonie is a recent work. It 
is officially admitted that it was sketched five years 
before its completion. Other parts of it, however, 
indicate that it is much older, for there are distinct 
echoes of not only Wagner (especially Rheingold and 
WalMre), but even of Mendelssohn and Max Bruch, 


and Strauss has not been in the habit in recent years of 
borrowing from conservative sources. 

While I was listening to these sounds the question 
occurred to me : Is it not possible that the germs, at 
any rate, of this work date back to the time when, 
under the influence of his predecessors of the classical 
and romantic schools, Strauss composed more than a 
hundred works which have never been printed? 

Whatever may be true regarding the themes and 
melodies of this score, which have little originality or 
charm as such, Strauss has given them the benefit of 
his ripest art, in developing them with his usual con- 
trapuntal ingenuity and decking them out in the most 
brilliant and varied colors, intensified by the size of the 
orchestra. The climax is reached in the storm, which is 
of elemental power and makes one's flesh creep. When 
Mahler conducted Wagner's Flying Dutchman overture 
at a Philharmonic concert in Carnegie Hall, he doubled 
the piccolos whistling at the mastheads. For Strauss 
piccolos are not shrill enough. He invented an electric 
machine which approximates the real sounds you hear 
during an Alpine storm, and for the thunder there is 
another machine in which rolling cannon balls merge 
their sounds with those of huge rattles. This machine 
is even more terrifying in its results than the tonitruo 
which Paderewski devised for his Polish Symphony. 

Madame Schumann-Heink has told me an amusing 
incident which occurred at the Cincinnati music fes- 
tival* in 1916, when the Alpensympkonie was being re- 
hearsed for its first American performance. She sat 
on the stage on one of the rows of benches intended for 
the chorufc. Near her were two other women, who, 
when the thunder machine started its din, fled in dis- 
may, knocking her over ! 


After the storm there is a decided anticlimax. The 
Teutonic mania for length comes into play, and the 
work is made to last forty-five minutes, when twenty- 
five wbuld have been better. 

Besides these new machines, Strauss used Samuel's 
"aerophone", a device for reinforcing the lung power 
of the players of wind instruments, enabling them to 
hold on to their notes with undiminished vigor. 

The orchestral forces include (besides at least eight- 
een first and sixteen second violins, twelve violas, ten 
cellos and eight basses in the string family), sixteen 
wood- wind instruments (four flutes, four oboes one 
of them a heckelphone four clarinets, and four bas- 
soons) ; eighteen brasses (four horns, four tenor tubas, 
four trumpets, four trombones, two bass tubas), be- 
sides sixteen more behind the scene (twelve horns, two 
trumpets, two trombones) ; an organ, two harps, 
glockenspiel, celesta, cymbals, triangle, big and snare 
drums, cowbells, tam-tam. 

Summing up, we get a total of one hundred and nine 
instruments; and it must be borne in mind that in 
Strauss's scores the instruments of one kind like the 
first violins or the cellos are often divisi that is, 
divided or individualized, which adds greatly to the 
complexity of the score and the shimmer of kaleidoscopic 



Mention must be made here of one more orchestral 
piece by Strauss, not a tone poem but a Festival Prelude, 
which was composed in 1913 expressly for the inaugu- 
ration of the new concert hall in Vienna. It was, of 


course, played in other cities, too. After hearing it in 
Berlin, Doctor Hugo Leichentritt wrote to the New 
York Musical Courier that Strauss himself conducted 
it at a concert of his own compositions given "for the 
benefit of Germans expelled from Belgium at the be- 
ginning of the war." The Prelude "does not belong to 
Strauss's happiest works. Its lack of contents is ac- 
centuated still more by the splendor of its orchestral 
apparel ; pompous but shallow has been the signature 
of many a festival work made to order for a certain 
occasion. Anyway, the effect of very large orchestras 
is in my experience almost always unsatisfactory- 
There seems to be a maximum (about 100 players) 
beyond which enlargement does not mean improve- 
ment. It is an error to believe that an orchestra of 
two hundred players will give twice as much sound as 
an orchestra of 100. The axioms of arithmetic do not 
always hold good for acoustics by any means. Not 
only the increase in power is comparatively small; 
still worse it is that very large orchestras lose the flexi- 
bility, the proper balance of sound which are of so great 
importance in a well organized orchestra." 

New York, usually in the forefront so far as musical 
novelties are concerned, did not lag behind* After 
the Philharmonic Orchestra had played the Prelude I 
wrote in the Evening Post: 

When this piece was played in Vienna, a few weeks ago, 
the orchestra was augmented, in accordance with the com- 
poser's directions, to one hundred and fifty players, includ- 
ing nearly a hundred strings, eight horns, eight kettledrums, 
organ, and twelve trumpets, besides a new instrument, the 
"aerophone", a mechanical contrivance for helping the 
players of brass instruments to prolong the tone. This was 
found impracticable, and was not used last night, nor for- 
tunately did Mr. Stranksy deem it necessary to increase his 


orchestra to more than one hundred and ten players. This 
number was quite enough to make a record noise in Carnegie 
Hall ; and as the record for noise seems to have been Strauss's 
aim in perpetrating this empty, bombastic work, it must 
be admitted that he succeeded thoroughly. But how in- 
finitely more musical and enjoyable for its orchestral 
coloring as well as its melody and harmony a Johann 
Strauss waltz would have been ! x 

1 My aversion at one time to Richard Strauss was so intense that I 
conceived the plan of a book to be called "The Greater Strauss and the 
Lesser", Johann, of course, being the "Greater." I like Richard better 
now than I did ; but how much greater he would be if he could have had 
Johann's almost Schubertsean gift of creating real melodies ! 



AFTER paying his respects to Liszt by composing 
three symphonic poems Macbeth, Don Juan, and 
Death and Transfiguration Strauss turned to his 
other idol and created his first opera. Like Wagner, 
he wrote both text and music, and both text and music 
of this opera, named Guntram, are Wagnerian to a 
degree that would seem amazing were it not that 
dozens of other composers at that time were also being 
swept along helplessly by the Wagnerian maelstrom. 

In October, 1887, Strauss wrote to Billow that he 
was engaged on the "seLMn vented, tragic original 
text of an opera in three acts." But several years 
elapsed before the poem was completed. Some sketches 
for the musical score were made in 1891, and the fol- 
lowing year he took the finished text along on his 
trip for his health's sake, to Greece, Egypt, and Sicily, 
where the first and second acts were composed. The 
third was finished on his return to Bavaria, in August, 

The germ of his plot Strauss found one day in a ref- 
erence made in the Vienna Neue Freie Presse to the 
founding in medieval Austria of secret societies, partly 
religious, partly artistic, the members of which called 
themselves * c Champions of Love" (Streiter der Liebe). 
Guntram is one of these knights of the thirteenth 
century, whose object is to use the art of song for the 



purpose of teaching the blessings of peace and Chris- 
tian love and thus uniting all mankind in brother- 

A small lake in a woodland glade is the scene of 
the first act. Guntram and an older member of the 
society, Friedhold, are seen distributing food to the 
starving subjects of the tyrannical Duke Robert, who 
has just put down a rebellion instigated by his cruelties. 
The Duke's own wife, the beautiful and kind Freihild, 
known as "the Mother of the Poor", has been forbidden 
to help them any more. Having received their alms 
from Guntram, the people depart, and he is left alone 
in the woods, meditating on the beauty of nature and 
the evils brought on by the passions of men. He 
thanks the Savior for having guided his footsteps to 
this oppressed land and invokes his aid in carrying 
out his plan of trying to soften the Duke's heart with 
'his song. At this moment he sees Freihild, who is 
hurrying to the lake with the object of drowning her- 
self. He seizes her and prevents her from carrying 
out her purpose; his pity for her despair changes 
to love when he discovers who she is, the kind protec- 
tress of the poor. Cries of "Freihild" are heard, and 
presently her father, the old Duke, arrives, and thanks 
him for having rescued his daughter. Guntram then 
accompanies them to the castle. 

Festivities celebrating the victory over the insur- 
gents usher in the second act. Guntram has been 
invited" to sing. Doubting his ability to impress his 
views on an assemblage holding that might is right, 
he hesitates, but Freihild's sad mien makes him stay. 
Seizing his harp he sings the "FriedenserzShlung", 
the song of peace in which he contrasts its blessings 
with the horrors of war. All are moved by his impas- 


sioned appeal except Count Robert, who, jealous and 
enraged, orders his vassals to seize the bold minstrel. 
They hesitate, whereupon he seizes his sword and 
makes an attack; but Guntram is a good swordsman 
too, and the young Duke falls dead. The old Duke 
is at first paralyzed, but soon recovers his self-posses- 
sion and orders the arrest of Guntram, who offers no 
further resistance. 

His dungeon is the scene of the last act. While 
monks are heard outside, chanting over the body of 
the slain Duke, Wolfram is a prey to remorse over 
his act. His gloomy reveries are interrupted by the 
entrance of Freihild, who passionately confesses the 
love she feels for her rescuer, and begs him to escape 
with her. Friedhold now joins him, asking Guntram 
to appear before the tribunal ojf the Champions of 
Love and atone for his crime in using his sword to 
slay a man. Guntram, however, explains that that 
was no crime; he had simply acted in self -defense. 
The real sin lay in his being under the influence of 
jealousy when he stabbed the tyrant he loved his 
wife. For this sin he must now renounce the love of 
Freihild and spend the rest of his life in hermit solitude. 

Probably one of the reasons why Guntram failed 
was this ascetic turn of the plot. Freihild's father 
had died in the meantime, and to her fell the dukedom. 
Guntram could have married her and done a great 
deal of good along the altruistic lines pursued by his 
Brotherhood ; instead of which he appears as a narrow- 
minded ascetic, egotistically thinking only of the salva- 
tion of his own soul. Modern audiences have no 
sympathy with such a diseased state of mind, any more 
than they have with the actions of those alleged medie- 
val "saints" who labored under the blasphemous 


delusion that they could please the Lord by eating 
putrid food and wearing filthy garments. 

It is doubtful, however, if Strauss could have made 
Guntram a success even if he had ended it more oper- 
atically, with a ducal marriage procession and a wed- 
ding march. There were many other causes for its 
failure ; for a failure it was, .most emphatically. The 
one and only performance of it given in Munich, on 
November 16, 1895, was preceded by no end of gossip 
and chicanery. It was 'almost impossible to find singers 
willing to join the cast, because of the unwonted diffi- 
culties of the parts difficulties culminating in the 
r6le of the tenor, of whom more was asked in the way 
of endurance than Wagner asks of Tristan in his last 

The orchestra also was hostile, as Max Steinitzer 
relates; "yet it played with great conscientiousness. 
After the second and third acts there were repeated 
recalls for the composer, who no longer had full faith 
in his wprk and soon went with Schillings and Felix 
von Rath to Bozen in order to recuperate in the Hotel 
Greif, where, under pressure of adverse criticisms 
made in Munich, both publicly and privately, he 
planned radical cuts. But there was no second per- 
formance." Weimar heard the opera several times, 
and it was also produced in Prague and in Frankfurt, 
where it was included, 1910, in a cycle of Strauss's 

Doctor Arthur Seidl has a long chapter on Guntram 
in his "Straussiana", in which he berates the Munichers 
for being so unkind to their fellow citizen. He admits 
that Strauss himself agreed with Weber that "first 
operas, like the first litter of puppies, should be 
drowned, 5 ' Yet he declares that the Guntram fiasco 


long remained a sore spot with its composer; and in 
Doctor SeidPs opinion the opera deserved a better fate. 

Doctor Eugen Schmitz, in "Richard Strauss als 
Musikdramatiker", commenting at length on the 
many evidences of Wagnerian influence in Guntram, 
calls attention to the fact that unlike other imitators 
of the Bayreuth master, who have taken either the 
early or the later Wagner as model, Strauss in his 
first opera commingles reminiscences of both the early 
and the late Wagner. Tannkauser, and Lohengrin 
are suggested as well as Tristan and other works up 
to Parsifal, in the poem as well as in the music. It is 
hardly worth while to enter into details here (Schmitz 
does it), but the unmistakable suggestion of the Wold- 
weben in Siegfried in the scene of Guntram's reverie 
in the woods may be cited as a good example. 

Ernest Newman devotes no fewer than ten pages 
of his little Strauss book to Guntram. While noting 
that some of the music is "forced and ugly", he main- 
tains that "the bulk of the score touches a high plane 
of beauty, and curiously enough, in spite of the occa- 
sional Wagnerism of the music, the style throughout 
gives one the impression of being personal to Strauss. 
. . . Altogether Guntram is a great work, the many 
merits of which will perhaps some day restore it to 
the stage from which it is now most unjustly banished." 



The complete failure of Guntram so thoroughly 
discouraged Strauss that he gave up for half a decade 
all idea of composing another work for the stage. 


Returning to the concert hall, he followed up his first 
operatic attempt with four more big tone poems: 
Eulenspiegel, Zarathustra, Don Quixote, and Helden- 
leben before he was ready once more to tempt fate in 
the theater. In the winter of 1899 to 1900 he started 
to compose Feuersnot, a comic opera in one act, with 
a libretto by Ernst von Wolzogen, based on an old 
legend of the Netherlands which Strauss had found 
some years before in Johann Wilhelm Wolff's "Nieder- 
landische Sagen", published by F, A. Brockhaus in 
1843. It is reprinted in Eugen Schmitz's "Strauss 
als Musikdramatiker." 

The name of this saga is "Das erloschene Feuer zu 
Audenaerde" (the extinguished fire at Audenaerde). 
It tells of a worthy young man madly in love with a 
maiden who, however, laughed at his suit. At last 
she promised to receive him if he would place himself 
in a basket and let her draw him up to her window at 
midnight. He eagerly followed the directions, but 
when half way up, the basket stopped and turned 
round and round till he was quite dizzy. There he 
remained suspended till morning to be scoffed at by all 
the townsfolk. When at last he was lowered to the 
street, he fled the town, mortified and filled with hatred 
for the girl he had loved. 

In a neighboring forest he came across an old man 
to whom he told all that had happened. This old 
man was a mighty magician, who had many thousands 
of devils to do his bidding. He promised to avenge 
the young man and promptly sent his devils to put 
out all the fires and lights in the town. Soon the har- 
assed citizens gathered in the market place to discuss 
what should be done. Among those who attended 
the meeting was the old magician, disguised as a 


venerable burgher. He announced that he knew a 
way of getting fire again, but that the councilors must 
exercise all their authority to carry it out. On the 
assurance that they would do their utmost, the magi- 
cian added: "Then you must bring here the girl who 
exposed the youth to ridicule, for she is the cause of 
all the misfortune, and she alone can bring help." 
Despite her struggles, the maiden was brought to the 
market place, where the magician ordered her to take 
off her clothes. No sooner had she done so when a 
flame darted out from her back. At the magician's 
bidding all the burghers had in the meantime provided 
themselves with candles, which they applied to the 
flame. As every house in town had to get its fire 
direct from this flame, it took hours, and there was 
much laughter. 

Indelicate, ridiculous, and impossible though this 
story seems as a subject for a libretto, Strauss and 
Wolzogen nevertheless succeeded in preserving its 
outlines while mitigating its ocular objectionableness 
sufficiently to make it possible to produce the opera. 
The action is placed in Munich in the fabelhafte Unzeit 
(legendary No-time). 

In accordance with an old custom, on midsummer 
eve, a number of children go from house to house, 
begging wood for the day's festive fires. A large 
basketful is presented to them at the house of the 
Burgomaster, whose beautiful daughter, Diemut, also 
distributes cakes among them. Then they go to the 
house opposite in which lives a young man named 
Kunrad, who is said by some to be eccentric, inacces- 
sible, and uncanny, while others contradict this. After 
a good deal of knocking, he comes to the door. Dazed 
and absent-minded from the effect of his absorption 


in books, he presently realizes what the interruption 
means, and enters into the children's festive spirit. 
With his own hands he tears off all the wood in his 
room that is not nailed down and gives it to the chil- 
dren. Then, to signalize his return to humanity, he 
seizes the beautiful Diemut and kisses her passionately 
on the mouth, to the indignation of the burghers and 
the intense annoyance of the girl, who vows vengeance. 
An opportunity soon presents itself. As she is 
sitting in the balcony of her home, Kunrad appears 
below and pleads his love. She appears to yield to 
his entreaties and invites him to get into the basket 
that had held the wood given to the children. Forth- 
with she draws it up half-way to her room and then 
pretends that her strength has failed ; so there he hangs 
in mid-air, while three girls, friends of Diemut, glee- 
fully call the populace to witness the comedy. But 
Kunrad is a magician ; at his word all lights and fires 
in town are suddenly extinguished; everything is 
in darkness. The children are frightened, while the 
citizens threaten the magician in the basket with vio- 
lence. He, however, swings himself on to the balcony 
of the house, dimly lighted by the moon, and begins 
to harangue the excited citizens. He tells them that 
in the house now inhabited by him there lived once 
a great master, named Reichhardt, whose activity 
conferred great benefit on Munich but was repaid 
with opposition and hatred. He himself, he continues, 
has been called to continue the work of that old master, 
but to accomplish his high mission he needs "the true 
eternal light*' of a woman's love. The extinguishing 
of the fires has been a punishment for the insulting 
mockery by Diemut; and only by her submission 
can the fire-famine be stayed. At this moment Die- 


mut appears on the balcony and draws Kunrad into 
her chamber. The citizens below wait impatiently; 
presently a faint glimmer of light is seen in Diemut's 
room; and a moment later all the lights in town at 
once blaze out again. The voices of Diemut and Kun- 
rad are heard united, and the Burgomaster receives 
the congratulations on his daughter's marriage. 

Ernst von Wolzogen, who elaborated this amazing 
libretto, was much talked about at that time as the 
creator of the Ueberbrettl, a kind of stage entertainment 
of which the main characteristics were satire and the 
unblushing presentation of sex problems. In Feuersnot 
there are some needlessly coarse lines, and the climax, 
on which apologists have wasted ingenious sophistries, 
surely calls for an attitude too medieval for a modern 
audience. It is a situation which makes it unlikely 
that this opera, even if it had been a success in German 
cities, would have been exported to other countries. 

By the satirical side of its plot, this opera still further 
limits its sphere of usefulness. In Munich alone could 
there be found an audience able to follow its allusions 
to the expulsion of Wagner and other details of local 
musical history. Entirely dropping out of his rdle, 
the magician Kunrad, on the balcony, suddenly be- 
comes Richard Strauss himself chiding his fellow 
citizens for not appreciating his genius, just as they 
had failed to appreciate the genius of his predecessor, 
Richard Wagner ! 

The text leaves not the shadow of a doubt on this 
point; the very names of Wagner and Strauss are 
introduced as puns ; and when the power of Wagner 
is referred to, the orchestra intones the Valhalla mo- 
tive from Rhinegoldy while the punning reference to 
Strauss in the lines : 


Den b5sen Feind den treibt ihr nit aus, 

Der stellt sich Euch immer auf s Neue zum Strauss 

coincides with the orchestral proclamation of the wax 
motive from Guntram. 1 

Musically Feuermot presents a great contrast to its 
predecessor. While Guntram is steeped in Wagnerism, 
the second opera, apart from a few details, such as the 
Valhalla motive just referred to and the love duo which 
is based on the lovely motive of Gutrune in Wagner's 
Gotterdammerung, is entirely the product of Strauss's 
own mind and ripest methods. An essential part of 
this method is the alternation, for the sake of vivid 
contrast, of the simplest folk tunes with the utmost 
complications of polyphonic structure. While the chil- 
dren are merrily gathering wood, several old Munich 
folk tunes are sounded. We hear also, in a humorous 
way, that favorite of the beer halls : "Mir san net von 
Pasing, mir san von Loam", in which the Munich 
artisan daily expresses his feelings of superiority to 
the suburbanite. 

While agreeing as to the charm of the simple folk 
tunes, or imitations of them by Strauss, the critics 
are not at one as regards the operatic value of the 
intricate orchestral score. In the opinion of Doctor 
Batka, Strauss's method is much too heavy-footed for 
works of the "TJeberbrettl" style : "Strauss is through 
and through a symphonist. His orchestra suffocates 
the word ; he does not compose from within the char- 
acter of the dramatic personages, but his music lies 
down with leaden weight on the easy-going action, 
and with its incessantly clever commentaries it destroys 
the naivete and simplicity of the fun." 

1 No name lends itself more easily to punning than that of Strauss. The 
word means fight, bouquet, or ostrich. 


The critic of the London Times seems to have been 
more favorably impressed. When Feuermot was per- 
formed in the English metropolis, in July, 1910, he 
wrote that " it was the simplicity of the music which 
astonished the first night audience at Dresden when 
the opera was produced there in the autumn of 1901 
(November 21). Schuch had recently conducted Also 
Sprack Zarathustra at one of the Symphony Concerts, 
and the rumor was current that compared with the 
opera the symphonic poem was mere child's play. 
Scheidemantel (for whom the part of Kunrad was 
written) was said to be in despair of ever learning 
his part, and more than one leading member of the 
orchestra had laid down his instrument at rehearsal 
and declared the music to be unplayable. And yet 
when it came to the first night there was apparently 
not a member of the audience, from the most old- 
fashioned stallholder to the most advanced student 
in the *5te Rang 5 , who was not captivated by the 
simplicity of this much-dreaded opera." Close as it 
is to the Heldenleben and Domestica, the same writer 
continues, "Feuermot, in its comparative restraint 
and simplicity, is more nearly allied in spirit to the 
earlier orchestral symphonic poems, Don Juan and 
Tod und Verklarung. It is also allied to them by its 
persistent melodiousness" although "melody has 
never been a strong point in Strauss's equipment." 

Concerning the climax of the opera, the same writer 
waxes enthusiastic : "When once the homily in Feuers- 
not is over, when once the musician is allowed to sup- 
plant the preacher, the music moves on with a grad- 
ually increasing impetus to its climax in the love scene. 
No love scene that Strauss has given us is as moving 
as this. It is free from the heavy sentimentality of 


Zueignung and some of the more popular of the songs ; 
it is free from the morbid eroticism of Salome and the 
morbid savagery of Elektra; it is simply passionate, 
with natural, healthy human passion.' 5 


Why did Strauss compose a noisy opera on the noi- 
some subject of Salome as treated by Oscar Wilde? 
Was it because he had failed when he set to music an 
operatic hero who ascetically renounced love in favor 
of a selfish hermit life, and failed again when he tried 
to set to music a theme "simply passionate, with nat- 
ural, healthy human passion "? Was it chagrin at 
these failures that made him turn from the healthy 
to the morbid, from physiology to pathology ? 

Possibly ; but it seems more likely that what made 
him choose Salome for his third libretto was simply 
the amazing popularity of Wilde's play in Germany, 
a popularity which naturally would also help an opera 
based on it. If this was his reasoning, the result proved 
its acumen. 

What happened is vividly described by Doctor Batka : 
"This time he won a real success." To be sure, in 
spite of the popularity of Salome as a play, "a cry of 
indignation went up throughout Germany when it 
became known that Strauss had chosen this subject. 
Few approved of his freedom to search for the problems 
of life also in the most frightful abysses of feeling, as 
Kleist had done in Penthesilea, Marschner in his 
Vampyr. And sure enough, ever since the Dresden 
premiere of December 9, 1905, this subject has proved 


its appeal to the public in the most dazzling manner. 
People said : 'It isn't proper/ yet all went to hear it. 
With uncanny rapidity the opera secured a foothold 
on stage after stage, even in foreign countries, and 
this in spite of the hair-raising difficulties of the music. 
He who, as a composer of operas, had hitherto enjoyed 
at most a weeds d'estime, became an article for export, 
and, in the number of performances, took the lead 
among living composers of serious operas. Opinions 
collided with violence after each first performance in 
a new place, and Salome became the biggest operatic 
sensation of the newly-launched twentieth century/ 5 

Oscar Wilde's play was written originally in French 
for Sarah Bernhardt, who, however, did not appear in 
it. Neither in France nor in England or America, 
did it attain the vogue it enjoyed in Germany, and it 
remained for Strauss to give it sensational publicity 
in all countries where opera is cultivated. 

Without being actually named, Salome is referred 
to in the New Testament by both Matthew and Mark. 
She is the daughter of Hefodias. John the Baptist 
has been imprisoned by Herod because he has reproved 
him for marrying his brother Philip's wife. "And 
when a convenient day was come, that Herod on his 
birthday made a supper to his lords, high captains, 
and chief estates of Galilee ; and when the daughter of 
the said Herodias came in, and danced, and pleased 
Herod and them that sat with him, the King said unto 
the damsel, Ask of me whatsoever thou wilt, and I 
will give it thee. And he swore unto her, Whatsoever 
thou shalt ask of me, I will give it thee, unto the half 
of my Kingdom. And she went forth and said unto 
her mother, What shall I ask? And she said, The 
head of John the Baptist. And she came in straight- 


way with haste to the King, and asked, saying, I will 
that thou give me by and by in a charger the head of 
John the Baptist. And the King was exceeding sorry ; 
yet for his oath's sake, and for their sakes which sat 
with him, he would not reject her. And immediately 
the King sent an executioner, and commanded his 
head to be brought : and he went and beheaded him 
in the prison, and brought his head in a charger, and 
gave it to the damsel : and the damsel gave it to her 
mother/ 9 

This Salome, who, in the Biblical allusions, is merely 
the executrix of her mother's cruel orders, Oscar Wilde 
converted into the most hideous, ghoulish monster 
ever exhibited on the theatrical stage a monster as 
foul within as she is fair without. 

"How beautiful is the Princess Salome to-night! 5 * 
exclaims Narraboth, the young Syrian captain, when 
the curtain has risen on a terrace of King Herod's 
palace. He can see her in the banquet hall below. 
To the left is an old cistern, which is the dungeon of 
John the Baptist, or "Jokanaan", as he is called in 
the opera. Voices disputing violently about religion 
are heard in the banqueting hall, and from the depths of 
the cistern comes the warning voice of Jokanaan, proph- 
esying the coining of one mightier than he. The 
soldiers discuss the career of this strange man how 
he dwelt in the desert, living on locusts and wild honey, 
and then came and had disciples to follow him. He 
was terrible to look upon. 

Salome presently comes out on to the terrace to 
escape the babel of tongues in the hall and the amorous 
stare of Herod, her mother's husband. Hearing the 
voice of Jokanaan, she asks about him. They tell 
her it is the prophet. "He of whom the Tetrarch is 


afraid? Who says such terrible things about my 
mother ? " She is anxious to see him, to speak to him ; 
wants him to be brought up. This is strictly forbidden, 
but the enamored Narraboth, personally appealed 
to by her, forgets his orders, and Jokanaan comes 
out of the cistern. He bitterly denounces Salome's 
mother, the sinful Herodias, but Salome, as she gazes 
at him, is terribly fascinated by his appearance, his 
eyes, his voice. He demands to know who she is, and, 
on hearing her name, denounces her as a daughter of 
Sodom; but her infatuation increases steadily with 
his vehement aversion. "Let me kiss thy mouth!" 
she exclaims over and over again, till Narraboth, unable 
any longer to endure the spectacle, commits suicide, 
falling between Salome and the prophet. "Let me 
kiss thy mouth ! " she continues to exclaim, till Jokanaan, 
cursing her, goes down again into the cistern. 

Followed by Herodias, Herod now comes out and 
resumes his lustful stare at Salome. He tries to per- 
suade her to drink wine, to eat choice fruits, but Sa- 
lome heeds him not. Then again the voice of Joka- 
naan is heard from the cistern. Herodias asks the 
King to silence him and hand him over to the Jews 
who have long been clamoring for him; but Herod 
refuses; the prophet, he answers, "is a holy man 
a man who has seen God." 

The listening Jews dispute this statement, some of 
them denying that any man has seen God since the 
Prophet Elias. Then again the voice of Jokanaan is 
heard, proclaiming the coming of the Lord ; and again 
the Jews fall to wrangling. The prophet raises his 
voice once more to revile Herodias, who demands 
that he be silenced; but Herod pays no attention to 
her words. His eyes are fastened on Salome. He 


asks her to dance for him. She does not feel like danc- 
ing; but when he promises to give her in return any- 
thing she may ask, even unto the half of his Kingdom, 
she consents, after he has sworn it. She dances the 
"Dance of the Seven Veils", and then, kneeling before 
Herod, asks for the head of Jokanaan, on a silver 
charger. In vain the affrighted King offers her instead 
the largest and most beautiful emerald in the world, 
or his beautiful white peacocks. Stubbornly she reit- 
erates: "Give me the head of Jokanaan*'; till he 
is obliged, because of his oath, to yield. Herodias 
draws from his hand the ring of death and gives it 
to the executioner, who goes down into the cistern. 
Salome looks down and listens ; after a terrible silefcce 
there is a sound "something has fallen on the 
ground, 5 * she says. Presently the executioner's black 
arm becomes visible ; he has in his hand a silver shield 
in which lies the head of Jokanaan. Herod hides 
his face, while Salome seizes the shield and cries out : 
"Thou would'st not let me kiss thy mouth, Jokanaan. 
Well, I will kiss it now. I will bite it with my teeth 
as one bites a ripe fruit 55 and she suits the action 
to the word. The disgusting scene is too much even 
for the hardened Herod. His lust turns to loathing. 
"Kill that woman!" he cries wildly, and the soldiers 
crush Salome beneath their shields. 

Necrophflism is the name given in books on psycho- 
pathology to the disease from which Salome suffered 
a disease which sometimes leads its victims to exhume 
corpses and caress them. It is allied with cannibalism ; 
it is a horrible disease, a disease for medical, not for 
musical, treatment. That Richard Strauss should 
have found such a repulsive character a source of an- 
spiration is amazing. As a matter of fact, the most 


disgusting part of it, the nauseating final scene, quick- 
ened his creative powers to the utmost. There is 
not much that is beautiful in the score, but the music 
of this final apostrophe of the head-huntress is almost 
as beautiful, as touching, as sublime, as Isolde's Love's- 
death in Wagner's tragedy, which served as its model. 
It is a musical masterpiece, horribly, damnably wasted 
on the most outrageous scene ever placed before a 
modern audience. 

"Disgusted but fascinated", "disgusted and bored" 
these "seemed to be the predominant feelings in 
the audience", I wrote after the first performance of 
Salome in New York. Concerning this performance, 
more will be said in the pages devoted to Strauss in 
America. Here it suffices to recall the fact that only 
one performance of it was allowed at the Metropolitan 
Opera House, by order of the directors. It had been 
forbidden previously in Berlin, till changes were made. 
As a matter of course, the Kaiser's action in forbidding 
it in Berlin did more for the vogue of the opera than a 
thousand press agents could have done. Within a 
year two dozen cities had heard it. 

Beside the final beatification, there is another musical 
masterpiece in this score the "Dance of the Seven 
Veils." This is as interesting as Don Juan, and one won- 
ders why it is not played frequently in concert halls, 
now that Salome has lost its vogue in the opera houses. 

With the aid of his orchestral colors, Strauss suc- 
ceeds in giving a majestic effect to the Jokanaan mo- 
tive, though it is really very commonplace. The 
prophet's calm, flowing song contrasts strongly with 
the unvocal character of the other vocal parts, apart 
from some of the strains assigned to Salome, and 
Narraboth's exclamations about her beauty. 


From a humorous point of view, the cackling alter- 
cation between the Jews on the question whether 
any one has seen God since Elias may also be called a 
masterpiece as clever in its way as the quarrel 
between Mime and Alberich when the dragon is slain 
by Siegfried, in Wagner's music-drama. These things 
are permissible and admirable, though they seem the 
very negation of real singing. But Strauss makes a 
habit of treating the voice un vocally ; he does it 
throughout his operas. The persons on the stage are 
little more than declaiming actors and actresses, who 
have to display superhuman ingenuity in making their 
words fit into the polyphonic web woven by the or- 
chestra. There is one consolation: thanks to the 
prevailing dissonance and cacophony, nobody knows 
or cares whether the artists on the stage sing the 
right notes that is, the notes assigned to them 
or not. Who can fail to see the stupendous originality 
and advantage of this new style opera? What com- 
poser before him was clever enough to write music 
in which it makes no difference whether you sing or 
play correctly ? 

Strauss's music is often coarse and ill-mannered. 
It sometimes suggests a man who comes to a social 
gathering unkempt, with hands and face unwashed, 
cigar in mouth, hat on, and who sits down and 
puts his feet on the table. That's a sure way to 
attract attention! No boor ever violated the laws 
of etiquette as Strauss violates the laws of music 
and needlessly so; for too much cacophony is like 
too much mustard or red pepper it spoils the whole 

Lawrence Gilman has written a "Guide to Salome" 
an excellent little book of eighty-five pages, with 


musical illustrations of the motives and themes in 
the score. A glance at these themes shows how 
insignificant most of them are, from a purely mu- 
sical point of view. Gilman uses twenty labels for 
the leading motives. They are Salome Narroboth's 
Longing The Jews Jokanaan Salome's Charm 
Herod's Desire Salome's Grace Prophesy 
Ecstasy Yearning Anger Enticement Kiss 
Motive Fear Herod The Wind Herod's Gra- 
ciousness Dispute The Dance Herod's Plead- 

Some of these motives are characteristic or expressive ; 
but for the most part they depend for their effect of 
appropriateness on their transformations and combina- 
tions in the Wagnerian fashion a procedure in which 
Strauss shows his usual diabolical ingenuity and clever- 

While following Wagner in his use of leading mo- 
tives and their manipulation, Strauss deviates con- 
siderably from his model in the use he makes of the 
instruments. In Wagner we find the culmination of 
the art of what might be called idiomatic orchestra- 
tion the art of getting from each class and group 
of instruments the sounds most peculiar to them. 
Strauss, on the other hand, delights in trying to make 
each instrument stammer in a foreign tongue, as it 
were. He treats them, in a word, as relentlessly as 
he does the singers. As Lawrence Gilman has well 
put it, "it is not every music maker who dares to de- 
vise his instrumental color schemes with the serene 
disregard for the tradition displayed by the author of 
Salome to require, for instance, his violas and cellos 
to play parts immemorially delegated to the violins; 
to make his double basses cavort with the agility and 


the abandon of clarinets ; to write unheard-of figures 
for the tympanni player, and to demand of the trom- 
bonist that he transform his instrument into a flute; 
yet Strauss, at almost every point in his score, makes 
some such demand upon his executants." 

When Salome peers into the cistern, wondering why 
she hears no sound of a death struggle, there comes 
suddenly "an uncanny sound from the orchestra 
that is positively blood-curdling. The multitude of 
instruments are silent all but the string basses. 
Some of them maintain a tremolo on the deep E flat. 
Suddenly there comes a short, high B flat. Again 
and again with more rapid iteration. Such a voice 
was never heard in the orchestra before. What 
Strauss designed it to express does not matter* It 
accomplishes a fearful accentuation of the awful sit- 
uation. Strauss got the hint from Berlioz, who never 
used the device (which he heard from a Piedmontese 
double-bass player), but he recommended it to com- 
posers who wished to imitate in the orchestra *a loud 
female cry.' Strauss in his score describes how the 
effect is to be produced and wants it to sound like a 
stertorous groan. It is produced by pinching the 
highest string of the double-bass at the proper node 
between the finger-board and the bridge and sound- 
ing it by a quick jerk of the bow." 1 

While Mr. Krehbiel found those uncanny noises 
"blood-curdling", I was differently impressed. Some- 
how, I wrote, "they missed their effect; they sounded 
so much like the honk, honk of an automobile as to 
make many of the hearers smile. As a matter of fact, 
there are not a few other things in this music that 

1 From H. E. Krehbiel's "Chapters of Opera", which contains a long 
and excellent disquisition on Salome. 


might be treated from a humorous point of view, were 
it not for the horrible subject." 

Three times I have heard Salome, and each time 
the impression made on me was strangely like that of 
a bull fight I once attended in Madrid. The pictur- 
esque trappings and elaborate ceremonies transported 
me back in imagination to the Middle Ages. I winced 
at the cruelty to the blindfolded horses that were 
ripped open by the bulls. For the bulls I felt no pity, 
^mt I would have been glad to see them kill a few of 
* their tormentors. The predominant feeling was bore- 
dom yes, I was bored, frightfully bored, and left 
after the third of the six doomed bulls had been 
butchered. I would have left Salome each time I 
heard it, had not my duty as a critic compelled me 
to submit to the ordeal of such scenes and sounds 
succeeding one another without a break for nearly 
two hours. 

Afterwards I was much interested to read what 
Weingartner, the eminent conductor and composer, 
wrote regarding the impression made on him by some 
of Strauss's works : "exactly the same sensations that 
a weak work by Brahms awakens in me; the same 
insipid, empty, and heavy feeling of torment/' 

It is surprising to read what even so staunch a cham- 
pion of Strauss as his life-long friend, Doctor Arthur 
Seidl, has to say about Salome: It seems to Mm 
rather "a symphonic poem with living pictures" than 
a real music drama. After repeated hearing, and "in 
spite of my personal friendship and admiration for 
Strauss, I cannot enjoy Salome or adapt it to my 
taste", he writes. "Like a heavy dream it always 
moves along a nightmare, which weighs on me for a 
long time/* 



Richard Strauss was not permitted to complete his 
Elektra and then keep it in his desk for seven years 
before allowing the public to hear it. His publishers in- 
sisted on getting the score page by page, so that this com- 
poser had probably the experience familiar to journalists, 
of seeing the first half of what he had written in type 
before all of the second half was penned. Dates were 
set for first performances before the singers had been 
secured. The cities of Germany and Italy contested 
for the honor of the first performance, even as the seven 
rival cities of Greece claimed the distinction of being 
Homer's birthplace. Milan offered a few thousand 
more than Turin, and got the coveted score, which 
was more eagerly awaited in Italy than the new opera 
by Puccini. In Germany, Dresden got the premiere, 
because Strauss felt grateful to that city for having 
come to the rescue of Salome, when it had been for- 
bidden in Berlin, Vienna, and elsewhere. On Janu- 
ary 25, 1900, Elektra had its first hearing. Within 
four weeks it was produced in Munich, Frankfurt, 
and Berlin ; and many other cities soon joined the 
procession. The publisher of the score paid twenty- 
seven thousand dollars for the privilege, as against 
fifteen thousand dollars, the sum paid for Salome. 
Nothing succeeds like sensational success. 

Oscar Hammerstein, having found Salome so profit- 
able, got ahead of the Metropolitan in securing first 
option on Elektra for New York. He had to pay 
ten thousand dollars for it, and deposit an additional 
eighteen thousand dollars as advance royalties. It 


was, of course, too late in the season to get the scenery 
painted and the music rehearsed ; so he postponed the 
American premiere to the anniversary of the Urauffiir- 
ung, as the Germans say, in Dresden, the need of further 
preparation being apparent. The first hearing was 
deferred to February 1. On that night, accordingly, 
a large audience gathered at 'the Manhattan Opera 
House, ready to be electrified, or, perchance, Elek- 

JThe general objection to Salome was not so much 
against its orchestral cacophony and melodic barren- 
ness, as against its subject the public exhibition 
of necropnilism, the most hideous of all perversions 
of the erotic instinct. In Elektra there is also a touch 
of perverted feeling in the scene in which the heroine 
endeavors to persuade her sister Chrysotifcmis to 
aid her in slaying their mother, for having abetted 
her paramour, Aegisthus, the present King, in murder- 
ing their father, King Agamemnon ; but it is episodic, 
and likely to escape all except those readers of the orig- 
inal text of the libretto who are familiar with treatises 
on psychopathology. The passion which forms the 
main theme of this opera is revenge. "I look on 
Elektra as the personification of revenge," Strauss 
himself said, "and as the Goddess of Vengeance, I 
have characterized her musically." Now, the feel- 
ing of revenge is not in itself morbid or unnatural* 
but it may reach a degree of violence in which it verges 
on insanity; and that is the kind of mad vengeance 
which Elektra personifies. Even the ancient Greeks, 
whose sentiments were cruder, and in many ways 
differed from our own, looked on matricide as a crime 
that could be committed only by a mad person, and, 
for that reason Solon made no special law against it. 


Elektra is a princess denatured and maddened by 
the thought that she must take deadly revenge on her 
mother, Klytemnestra, for the murder of Agamemnon. 
Ever present in her mind is the thought of the king, 
her father, struck on the head with an axe as he lay 
naked in his bath now red with foaming blood. 
Her brother Orestes has been banished; she herself 
has been maltreated, deprived of her modesty. Her 
actions are those of a wild beast "a wild cat' 5 , the 
maids in the royal palace call her. She is warned 
that because of her actions and thoughts she is to be 
imprisoned in a dark tower, where she may moan, 
deprived of sun and moon. 

Mad also maddened by terror is the guilty 
Queen Klytemnestra. With her sallow, bloated coun- 
tenance, her ugly form covered with precious stones, 
she presents a repulsive appearance. Fear has made 
her terrible. She cannot sleep without being tormented 
by dreams worse than nightmares dreams that 
cannot be cured except by some new sacrifice of human 
blood. She asks Elektra whose blood may flow that 
she may have peace at last, but both know that her 
own son Orestes is in her mind. But Elektra replies : 
"Who must bleed? Thine own throat, when the 
hunter hath taken thee", and she proceeds to draw 
a picture with horribly vivid details of her mother's 
slaughter. As they glare at each other like wild ani- 
mals, servants enter and give the Queen information 
which causes the evil expression in her face to change 
to one of triumph. "Orestes is dead ! " is the message. 
Elektra does not, cannot, believe it. Yet it may be 
true, and revenge must have its way. She implores 
her sister to aid her in slaughtering the guilty pair 
with the same axe that cut their father's head, but the 


timid, womanly Chrysothemis shudders at the thought, 
and makes her escape. 

The messenger who brought the news of the death 
of Orestes was Orestes himself in disguise a disguise 
so complete that Elektra knows him not when he 
confronts her, nor does he recognize her, the cadaverous 
shadow of his sister. Her joy at his return is engulfed, 
like everything else, in her cyclonic passion for revenge. 
He shudders at her words, but promises to act. In 
her excitement she forgets to give him the axe. But 
he has another weapon, and presently the mother's 
screams are heard within the palace. "Strike, strike 
again!" cries Elektra, screaming like a demon. A 
fight ensues among the adherents of Aegisthus and 
Orestes. Aegisthus enters that house, is seized and 
dragged a^ay, yelling murder and help. Twice his 
face is seen through a window before he meets his fate. 
* Elektra's joy is unbounded. She dances a triumphant 
dance of death, then falls on the ground lifeless, while 
Chrysothemis calls for Orestes. 

Such is the drama which, like the Salome of Oscar 
Wilde, appealed to the taste of Richard Strauss so 
much that he felt an irresistible impulse to set it to 
music. In judging the motives for this choice, cau- 
tion is in place. ' It seems likely that unnatural, vio- 
lent, black, exaggerated passions appeal particularly 
to Strauss's taste, but apart from that, there is a musical 
reason why he selects such subjects. The Russian 
composer, Rachmaninoff, said that Strauss is inter- 
esting when he stands on his head, but commonplace 
when he walks on his feet. That tells the whole 
story. Strauss has found by experience that it is 
only with the utmost difficulty that he can create a 
simple melody. It is infinitely easier for him to per- 


form acrobatic feats in orchestration in giving nearly 
every instrument in an orchestra of a hundred and 
twenty a part of its own to play, and weaving these 
multitudinous parts into a tapestry of extraordinary 
intricacy. The result of such close interweaving of 
tones is a constant clashing and tangling the crea- 
tion of incessant dissonance, of linked cacophony 
long-drawn-out. That is Strauss's specialty, and nat- 
urally he seeks for his librettos poetic subjects in har- 
mony with his dissonantal musical proclivities. 
"^Tlbfmannsthar^ drama of revenge, which is a mod- 
ernization of a plot diversely used by the ancient Greek 
dramatists, especially Sophocles, was an ideal one 
for Strauss to set to music. No one but he would 
have thought of selecting it, but for him it was just 
the thing, and it must be admitted that, from his 
point of view, he has scored a complete success. Could 
music such as was written by Gluck, Mozart, Wagner, 
Verdi, Bizet, Massenet, Debussy have been made to 
fit such a libretto ? A smile is the only possible answer 
to this question. Richard Strauss alone could have 
imagined music sufficiently horrible to match Hof- 
mannsthal's ghastly, hysterical play. 
" ~So completely obsessed is Strauss by his specialty of 
making uglier music than any one else, that he brings it 
into play even when the situation calls for softer strains. 
In the recognition scene, when Orestes embraces 
Elektra, we expect tender music, as a matter of course, 
but Strauss lets loose an orchestral riot that suggests 
a murder scene in a Chinese theater. Some soothing 
bars do follow a little later, but they are common- 
place. Strauss lacks the highest of all gifts of genius 
tenderness a gift so frequently in evidence in 
Wagner, for instance. Even the words of Orestes: 


"The dogs of the house knew me, but not my sister 5 *, 
did not suggest a tender note to the composer of 

Some German critics have claimed that this opera 
is an advance over Salome in the art of orchestral color- 
ing, but it is not. In neither of these operas does 
Strauss provide more than a fraction of the color effects 
possible with so big an orchestra. With eight horns, 
seven trumpets, and eight clarinets at his disposal, 
what lovely new tints might not be revealed ! Strauss 
uses them chiefly to increase the dissonantal chaos. 
It took the composers of three countries three centuries 
to discover the peculiar idioms of each class of instru- 
ment. Strauss pays no attention to that, but makes 
each instrument grunt or squeal in a language foreign 
to it. Is this progress? Is it progress to use the 
whole orchestra nearly all the time, and nearly always 
fortissimo? Has not contrast a value in art? If 
you emphasize every word in a sentence, you emphasize 

Champions of Strauss claim that his opera marks 
an advance over Wagner's in this that his leading mo- 
tives undergo constant changes with the altered situa- 
tion ! As if Wagner's did not do the same in an amaz- 
ingly subtle and dramatic manner. Wagner's motives 
are, moreover, real melodies, so distinct and individual 
(besides being always appropriate), that one remem- 
bers them easily. The Strauss analysts have dis- 
covered in the Elektra score more than forty "leading 
motives"; but nearly all of them are trifles of no 
musical value, useful only for being pitted against 
one another in a merciless contrapuntal jumble. If 
the reader who has not heard Elektra desires to witness 
something that looks as its orchestral score sounds, 


let him, next summer, poke a stick into an ant lull 
and watch the black insects darting, angry and bewil- 
dered, biting and clawing, in a thousand directions 
at once. It is amusing for ten minutes, but not for 
two hours. 

Is it progress to use the human voice as Strauss 
does? Madame Schumann-Heink, who is noted for 
her big robust voice, found the strain of singing Klytem- 
nestra in Dresden so great that she resigned after the 
first performance. She has related how, at the re- 
hearsals, when Conductor Schuch, out of regard for 
the singers, moderated the orchestral din, Strauss 
declared: "But, my -dear Schuch, louder, louder the 
orchestra ; I can still hear the voice of Prau Heink ! " 
(I have this from Madame Schumann-Heink herself.) 
Strauss's maltreatment of artists and their voices 
is illustrated by the fact that Elektra is. on the stage 
almost every one of the hundred and ten minutes that 
the opera lasts. She not only has to act incessantly, 
and dance at the end, but also use her voice much of 
the time in its highest register, singing, screaming, 
fortissimo. At the first performance in New York, 
the interpreter of the part, Madame Mariette Mazarin, 
was so exhausted that she fainted away when she came 
out at the end to acknowledge the applause. 

Another trial for the singers was the presence on 
the stage of so many living animals, "four-legged and 
smelling Oh! Oh"* as Madame Schumann-Heink 
wrote to me. Strauss wanted also living bulls a 
dozen of them and only desisted from his demand 
when the stage manager asked what if any of them 
jumped down on the orchestra. And then the expense ! 
Even an ox would cost three hundred marks ! The 
eminent contralto's record of this speech at the Dresden 


rehearsal is so amusing in the Saxon dialect that I 
will cite it : 

"Herr Doctor nee, nee, das konnen wir nicht riskiren, 
en eenziger Bulle wenn der das rote Gewand von der Frau 
Kammersdngerin (ich war es) sieht, kriegt er die Wuih 
und wir alle fliegen in die Liifte die Scenerie, na, und 
wenn das Vieh erst ins Orchester springt! Man kann's 
ja nicht ausdenken, und dann die Leihgebiihren fur enen 
Ochsen alleene, unter Mark 300 pro kopf taten mer 
keenen kriegen nu gar zwolfe!" 

New York heard Elektra before London. After 
the enormous success everywhere of Salome, curiosity 
in England was at fever heat. The New York repre- 
sentative of the London Times asked me to prepare a 
long dispatch about its American premiere. Lack 
of time prevented me from complying, but I did accept 
a cabled request from the Glasgow Herald for a letter 
about this performance. This letter I closed with the 
following paragraph : 

Is Strauss insane, as some of his countrymen have con- 
jectured? Not in the least; he is one of the most intelli- 
gent men before the public. Or is it all a huge joke, as others 
maintain ? This seems more likely. Strauss has repeatedly 
shown that he is a humorist, and, maybe, he is having fun 
with his contemporaries, trying to see how far they will 
humor him in his choice of repellent subjects, in his amazing 
acrobatic feats of orchestration, and his maltreatment of 
the human voice. Whatever the truth may be, it is undeni- 
able that Strauss is an interesting man to talk about, and that 
he is making a great deal of money. 

When, finally, London did have its chance to hear 
Eleldra, thanks to the enterprise of Thomas Beecham, 
there were scenes of great excitement and enthusiasm. 
Big headlines were printed in the newspapers : Superb 
Production Triumph of Elektra King and Queen 


Present Great Outburst of Enthusiasm, and so on. 
"It was a night," wrote the critic of the Telegraph, 
"fraught with infinite possibilities. Only to think 
of it the most advanced and eagerly discussed opera 
of the past quarter of a century given within twelve 
months of its initial production, in what is regarded 
as, operatically speaking, unprogressive, unenterprising 
England England to which such masterworks have 
hitherto only found their way after many years' 
battling and buffeting on the Continent and in America. 
. , . It is certain that Covent Garden has never 
previously witnessed a scene of such unfettered en- 
thusiasm. . . . Mr. Beecham practically conducted 
from memory. " 

This same critic could not "resist the feeling that 
the vital spark of genius is wanting ; that it is music 
of the head rather than the heart; the expression of 
motion rather than emotion. Indeed, the fever heat 
at which the instrumental writing is maintained, the 
riot and welter of the score, its frantic leaps and web 
of tangled sounds, leads to the impression that the 
composer fears, even for a moment, to check its impetu- 
ous eloquence for fear the means by which the ends 
are achieved might be disclosed." The melodies, 
"when stripped of their sensuous and beautiful or- 
chestral trappings, are not a little trite and ordinary." 
However, this Judge concludes: "Elektra may not 
be great music in the sense that Wagner's music is 
great, but it is great drama very great drama !" 

Is it really "great drama"? On this subject an- 
other London critic said: "We have described it as 
decadent it is worse than that: it is nauseous. 
Mr. Kalish, in his admirable translation, has toned 
down the repulsiveness of the original text, which teems 


with 'putrefying carrion', 'ulcers*, and loathsomeness 
of every description. The yells and groans of the wild 
passions let loose in this debased tragedy imperiously 
demand a corresponding fierceness in the musical 
setting. Moans and shrieks, demoniac laughter, physi- 
cal and mental disease, can only be expressed by dis- 
cords, not by a sweet even flow of melody. The 
wonder is that Strauss, while closely following the 
emotional convulsiveness of the libretto and thrilling, 
where it is needed, his listeners to the marrow, has 
been able to ennoble the sordid play by his wealth of 
pure musical invention. . . . When all is said and 
done, Elektra is a great masterpiece by a great com- 
poser/ 5 

"A tragedy unsurpassed for sheer hideousness in 
the whole of operatic literature* 5 is what the critic of 
the London Times called Elektra. "There is truly 
not any but the most rugged, grandly heroic aspect 
of beauty in this nightmare of cruelty and brutality." 
George Bernard Shaw declared concerning this opera 
that "not even in the third scene of Das Rheingold or 
in the Klingsor scenes in Parsifal is there such an atmos- 
phere of malignant and cancerous evil as we get here/ 5 

A Berlin critic referred to the composer of Elektra, 
as "The Barnum of German Music/ 5 

An elaborate guide of forty-two pages to this opera 
has been prepared by Otto Rose and Julius Priiwer; 
English version by Alfred Kalish. The score calls 
for these instruments : eight first violins, eight second 
violins, eight third violins, six first violas (later fourth 
violins), six second violas, six third violas, six first 
celli, six second celli, eight double basses, piccolo, 
three flutes (also two piccolos and two flutes), two oboes, 
cor anglais (also third oboe), heckelphone,' E flat 


clarinet, four B flat clarinets (two B flat and two A 
clarinets), two basset horns, bass-clarinet (in B flat), 
three bassoons, double bassoon, four horns, two B 
flat tubas, two F tubas (also horns 5, 6, 7, 8), six 
trumpets, bass trumpet, three trombones, contra bass 
tuba, contra bass trombone, six- eight kettledrums 
(two players), glockenspiel, triangle, tambourine, small 
drum, whip, cymbal, big drum, tamtam (three -four 
players), celesta ad libitum (according to space), two 
harps (to be doubled if possible). 


Possibly with a view to emphasizing the fact that his 
next opera was to be of the comic persuasion, Strauss 
played a joke on the German newspapers by keeping 
from them all detailed information regarding the 
Rosenkavalier and finally giving it first to the London 
Times. Maybe gratitude to the English for the ado 
they had made over his Elektra also came into play. 
At any rate it was amusing to read in England's lead- 
ing newspaper of January 27, 1911, an account of the 
premiere in Dresden on the preceding night of Strauss's 
new opera in which this sentence occurred : "Probably 
the Times article of last Saturday, which was largely 
copied in the German papers, may have assisted the 
audience to follow the rather complicated incidents." 

After the sensational success of Elektra, Strauss had 
put himself at once in communication with Hugo von 
Hofmannsthal for another libretto, with the procla- 
mation : "This time I shall compose a Mozart opera" ; 
by which he meant a work simple and tuneful. He 


was in such a hurry about it that he did not wait for 
the complete text but asked the playwright to send 
him each act, and, in the third act, each scene, as it 
came from his pen an inartistic proceeding, inasmuch 
as it made it difficult to introduce desirable changes. 
He himself, as Steinitzer relates, was not pleased with 
the third act, but that did not prevent him from going 
ahead with it. The composition began on May 1, 
1909 ; and in about a year and three quarters he had 
completed the enormously complicated score of an 
opera lasting three hours and a half. 

In the biographic section brief reference was made to 
the fact that when Strauss offered the right of first 
performance of the Roaenkavalier to the intendant of 
the Royal Opera in Dresden, he included among his 
conditions a written guarantee that Salome and Elektra 
must each be performed at least four times for a period 
of ten years ; and that the intendant refused to accede 
to this condition. Strauss had to yield. To justify 
himself he wrote a very long letter to the editor of the 
Allgemeine Musik-Z&itung, which appeared in that 
periodical in the issue for September 28, 1910. In 
this open letter he called attention to the fact that 
Baron Putlitz and Count Seebach had repeatedly as- 
sured him that, judging by past experiences with 
Salome and Elektra, these two operas were likely to 
remain profitable additions to the repertory for years 
to come, wherefore they did not deem it necessary to 
make a compact regarding them ; but that Strauss him- 
self thought it better to include the two operas in the 
contract. ' He calls attention to the fact that when 
Wagner gave permission for the production of his 
Meistersinger and Ring of the Nibelung in certain 
theaters* he insisted cin receiving royalties also on 


Tannhauser 9 for which none had been paid up to 
that time. 

"I did not ask in my contract/' he continues, "that 
e.g. my hitherto unsuccessful Guntram be accepted to- 
gether with the Rosenkavalier, but only that Salome 
and Elektra which, in spite of much opposition, 
have richly earned their claims to inclusion in German 
repertories by reason of good artistic successes and 
large receipts should acquire this ' citizenship*, which 
would safeguard them for a number of years against 
accidental conditions which are often more potent 
than the best intentions of the most capable theatrical 
managers, and which have often in the past endangered 
the most successful works, or even killed them. The 
history of German opera offers most instructive illus- 
trations thereof." 

With biting sarcasm, Strauss thus closes his epistle : 
"Those, to be sure, were beautiful times when authors 
were completely at the mercy of theatrical managers. 
I hope, however, that those times are passing away." 
It would have been well if Strauss had used the keen 
edge of his sarcasm in curbing the extravagance, lo- 
quacity, and coarseness of his librettist, Hugo von 
Hofmannsthal, the same playwright (best known as 
the author of The Fool and Death) who provided the 
Elektra text. Hofmannsthal is not a humorist, and 
although he calls the Rosenkavalier a "comedy for 
music" it is for the most part broad farce, relying for 
its effects on horseplay, vulgar words and actions, and 
the use of the quaint Viennese dialect. One might 
say of the whole opera what one of the characters says 
of the incidents in the last act : "Das Gauze war halt 
eine Farce und weiter nichts." 
The outlines of the plot have been used, with vari- 


ations, a hundred times in other farces. The principal 
character is Baron Ochs, an exceedingly vulgar sort of 
Rabelaisian Falstaff, whose coarsest utterances were 
not included in the version used in New York. In 
the first act he makes an early morning visit to his 
cousin, the Princess von Werdenberg. She is the 
wife of one of Maria Theresa's field-marshals, and 
during his absence she has been consoling herself with 
the ardent attentions of a youth of seventeen, Oc- 
tavian, a young gentleman of noble family. The 
Baron's untimely arrival puts an end to the love-mak- 
ing, and Octavian hides behind a screen. 

The object of the Baron's matutinal visit is to ask the 
Princess to suggest a cavalier who could carry to his 
chosen bride a silver rose, according to the customs of 
the period. The Princess promises to find one for him. 
Octavian, in the meantime, to escape detection, has 
adopted the attire of a lady's maid. The Baron, a 
notorious lady-killer, sees in the supposed maid another 
prospective victim, and extends to her an invitation 
to supper, which is accepted. After he has left and 
the Princess has finished her breakfast, her people 
arrive for the lever; she grants audiences and charities 
while her hair is being dressed. Then are dismissed 
all but Octavian, who has once more resumed a man's 
dress. She sadly foresees the result of his embassy 
and how she will probably be forgotten for a younger 
woman; but once more she enjoys his caresses, and, 
after he is gone, gives orders to have the silver rose 
sent to him. 

The second act takes us to the house of the wealthy 
army contractor, Herr von Faninal, who has recently 
been ennobled, and whose beautiful daughter, Sophia, 
Baron Ochs has decided to marry. The rose-bearer 


arrives, and, as the Princess had foreseen, promptly 
falls in love with Sophia. She does not wish to marry 
the Baron, who is present, and whose coarseness and 
familiarities disgust her more and more. She finally 
refuses to marry him, whereat her father threatens 
her with a life spent in a convent. A duel between 
Octavian and the would-be groom serves only to anger 
Faninal still further, and the act ends with Sophia in 
despair, and Octavian planning relief. 

In the third act the writer of the book undoubtedly 
had in mind the scene in which Falstaff is tormented 
by strange wood creatures, but its atmosphere is not 
that of a forest, but of a dubious restaurant. Here 
Octavian, disguised again as a girl, has promised to 
meet Baron Ochs. Through the inventions of two 
Italians, Valzacchi and Annina, who are ready to do 
anything for gold, the Baron's discomfiture is planned. 
Heads are made to appear and disappear, a man comes 
up through a trap door, Annina appears with four chil- 
dren and claims the Baron as her husband, a police 
commissary arrives on the scene, ostensibly to help the 
Baron, but, in reality to cause him more troubles ; he 
mislays his. wig, and in the midst of all these tribula- 
tions, Sophia and her father arrive. Faninal has the 
grace, toady though he be, to be disgusted with his 
prospective son-in-law, and to break off the match. 
The Baron then tries to console himself with Octavian, 
or Mariandel, , as he calls "her"; but Octavian, re- 
tiring behind the bed curtains, removes his feminine 
clothes, and reappears in his rightful garb. During 
this time the Princess has arrived, and has magically 
cleared the atmosphere by sending most of the people 
away, by telling the Baron the whole thing was a 
"Viennese masquerade", and by uniting the lovers. 


It takes twenty-seven vocalist-actors, besides a 
chorus, to perform this unsavory farce. That it ap- 
pealed to the imagination of Richard Strauss is not 
strange, since he liked the librettos of Feuersnot, Salome, 
and Elektra well enough to set them to music. Re- 
garded from a merely technical point of view, there is 
nothing in the plot that could not be used effectively 
by a writer of comic music. It is when we read the 
"book" that we realize what an impossible task Hugo 
von Hof mannsthal set Strauss. There are hundreds of 
details which in a spoken comedy would be in place 
but which in a musical setting are almost sure to be 

Instead of telling his librettist that this sort of thing 
would not do, Strauss fell into the trap and tried to 
mirror every detail of the text in the music. At this 
sort of thing he is extremely clever, but the result is 
unoperatic ; for in an opera one needs bold strokes and 
melodies the musical painting must be al fresco to 
be noticeable and effective. 

Whenever a new Strauss opera is announced, the 
press-agents lay great stress on its being "different.'* 
The Rosenkavalier was claimed to be something entirely 
new for Strauss ; instead of complexity we were to have 
Mozartean simplicity, instead of the horrors of tragedy 
the merriment of comedy. The horrors (except in so 
far as vulgarity is one of them) are avoided, and there 
is some working of the humorous vein which Strauss 
had previously shown in his Don Quixote and Till 
Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks; but the simplicity is 
not apparent except in the waltzes which are plentifully 
scattered throughout the score. These waltzes are 
tuneful and sprightly, but rather commonplace as 
melodies. Their chief charm lies in their unforeseen 


harmonic changes modulations as enchanting as 
those of Schubert in his waltzes, yet quite different. 

To hide his poverty of melodic invention, the com- 
poser falls back as usual on his exceptional skill in 
laying on orchestral colors. A hundred and three 
players are called for by the score, and there is a band 
behind the scenes. One of the musical gems of the 
opera is the presentation of the silver rose in the second 
act; here, with the aid of harps, celesta, flutes, and 
solo violins, an ethereal effect is produced which sug- 
gests the grail music in Lohengrin without being a 
copy of it. Generally speaking, there is more con- 
trast and variety of coloring than in most other scores 
of Strauss. He actually allows the trombones, the 
double basses, and other hard-worked instruments to 
be silent occasionally. There are frequent solo pas- 
sages, especially for wood-wind instruments. The 
ingenuity shown in the employment of leading themes 
is amazing. In Alfred Schattmann's guide to the 
Rosenkavalier there is a list of one hundred and eighteen 
themes and there are eighty-eight pages of text, de- 
scribing minutely the use made of them by Strauss. 
It is all very clear, but purely intellectual. With all 
its warmth of coloring, this music does not warm the 
hearer, because it lacks substance. The score of this 
opera is like a peck of nuts, all polished and pretty to 
look at, but hollow. 

The above verdict on the Rosenkavalier was written 
after its first performance in New York on December 
9, 1913. After several more hearings, I am still bored 
by most of the music and still unable to find real fun 
in the plot, or true wit in the coarse dialogue ; but I 
sympathize with the point of view of the eminent 
Hamburg critic, Ferdinand Pfohl, who, after the first 


performance of this opera in his city, wrote that the 
endings of the first and third acts are so exquisitely 
beautiful that they make one desire to hear the opera 
over and over again, forgetting and forgiving the ex- 
cessive lengths, the coarsenesses, the farcical excesses 
and other assaults on good taste. 

Pfohl calls attention to the fact that even at the 
Dresden prem&re, where the cast was so carefully 
chosen, it was seldom possible to understand the 
words of the text, which, in a comedy, are so im- 
portant. The same assertion was made by another 
eminent German critic, Paul Schwers: "The indi- 
vidual words were drowned in the uninterrupted flow 
of the musical stream, and with them most of the 
witty points." 

This calls attention to the chief fault of Strauss as 
an opera composer a fault dwelt on by his biographer, 
Steinitzer, who frankly admits that Strauss does not 
sufficiently distinguish between music for the eye and 
music for the ear. An expert reading the score can- 
not but be delighted with hundreds of subtle details, 
which, however, escape the attention of the audience, 
for which, after all, an opera is written. 

The same truth is vividly brought out by the critic of the 
London Truth (February 5, 1913) : Der Rosenkavalier has 
proved a huge box office success, and its many merits have 
been cordially recognized all round, but will it achieve en- 
during popularity in London ? I am afraid it is rather doubt- 
ful. It is all Strauss's own fault. He will be so diabolically 
clever and complicated. He is not content to charm and 
delight ; even in comic opera he must stagger and astonish 
as well. This is his besetting vice, and it is amazing that 
so clever a man does not realize it. His technical strength 
is his artistic weakness, and is almost solely responsible for 
the defects of Der RosenJcavalier. One is reminded per- 


petually of that famous criticism of a certain performer 
ascribed to the late Master of Trinity: "Mr. Blank some- 
times enchants and sometimes astonishes, and the less he 
astonishes the more he enchants." 

This is precisely Strauss's case, and the fault is more 
noticeable than ever in a work which is intended to be light 
and comic. Even if complex music is wanted at all here, 
this is the wrong kind of complexity. Compare it with that 
of Wagner, for instance. There is plenty of thematic elab- 
oration in Die Meistersinger. But every bar of it tells. 
Most of Strauss's is based on an absolute miscalculation of 
the capabilities of the human ear. His phrases are too 
scrappy, and their treatment is too involved. The texture is 
too close, there is no time to take it in, and therefore it 
goes for nothing. The ingenuity of it all is remarkable. 
In the matter of sheer brain work there is no modern music 
to come near it or ancient either, for that matter. But 
what does it benefit if so much of it can only be seen in 
the score and not heard by the ear ? If Strauss would 
only trust to his inspiration more, and to his intellect less, 
how much better it would be ! 

There is no objection, of course, to complexity per se. 
Otherwise some of the greatest pages in all music, from Bach 
to Wagner, to say nothing of Strauss himself, would stand 
condemned. It is complexity which does not come off which 
is so utterly futile, and I should say that about a third of 
the score of Der Rosenkavalier falls within this category. 
Fortunately, the remaining two-thirds are very different, 
and include some of the loveliest music and also some of 
the merriest and wittiest that Strauss has ever given us. If 
only it had all been written in the same strain and at half 
the length, it would have been twice as attractive. But 
we must take genius as we find it, and if Der Rosenkavalier 
is not beyond criticism there is certainly only one man who 
could have written it. 

The extraordinary interest manifested in this opera, 
not only in Germany but in other countries, is indicated 
by the number of arrangements of selections from it 
made for various instruments. The London publish- 


ers, Chappell and Co., for instance, list the following 
in their catalogue : 

Waltz for Piano (Otto Singer) containing the best 
Waltz themes from the opera. 

Ditto for Piano for 4 hands. 

Ditto for 2 Pianos for 4 hands (complete). 

Ditto for Violin and Piano. 

Ditto for Violin solo. 

Ditto for Flute and Piano. 

Ditto for Mandolin solo. 

Ditto for Mandolin and Piano. 

Ditto for 2 Mandolins. 

Ditto for 2 Mandolins and Piano. 

Ditto for full Orchestra. 

Ditto for Salon-Orchestra. 

Ditto for Parisian-Orchestra. 

Ditto for Military Band (Infanterie-Musik). 

Ditto for Brass Band (Kavallerie-Musik). 

Ditto for Brass Band (Jager-Musik). 

Ditto for English Military Band. 

Dancing Waltz for Piano. 

Ditto for Cither. 

Ditto for Cither. 

Ditto for full Orchestra. 

Ditto for Salon-Orchestra. 

Ditto for small Orchestra. 

Ditto for Parisian Orchestra. 

Prelude to the 1st Act for Piano. 

Ditto for Piano for 4 hands. 

Breakfast scene (Act 1) for Piano. 

Ditto for Piano for 4 hands. 

Ditto (intermezzo) for Violin and Piano. 

Ditto for Violin solo. 

Ditto for Flute and Piano. 


NachklSnge (Fantasia) for Piano (0. Neiteel). 

Suite for Piano. 

Ditto for full Orchestra. 

Ditto for Salon-Orchestra. 

Ditto for small Orchestra. 

Ditto for Parisian Orchestra. 

Ditto for Military Band (Infanterie-Musik). 

Ditto for Brass Band (Kavallerie-Musik). 

Ditto for Brass Band (Jager-Musik). 

Ditto for English Military Band. 

Ditto for English Military Band. 

Scene of Ochs von Lerchenau (II. Act) by composer. 

Walzerfolgen of III. Act, by composer. 


Beginning with Don Juan in the concert hall and 
with Salome in the opera house, everything done by 
Strauss turned out a sensational success, no matter how 
unusual, objectionable, or eccentric his procedure 
happened to be. Is it a wonder that he became more 
and more reckless in the demands he made on mu- 
sicians and the public? The demands culminated in 
his asking those who wanted to hear his sixth opera, 
Ariadne auf Naxos, to sit through two long hours of 
an old French comedy before the opera began. 

At a banquet following the first performance of this 
combination play-opera, he referred to it as "an ar- 
tist's dream." "An artist's nightmare" might have 
been an apter characterization, for of all the crude, 
distressing theatrical jumbles ever perpetrated, this 
new-fangled entertainment, in its original form, seems 
to have been the worst. 


It came about in this way. Max Reinhardt, widely 
known as the producer of Sumurun and other specimens 
of the new "symbolical *' stage art, had rendered Strauss 
and Hofmannsthal valuable aid in staging Der Rosen- 
kavalier in Dresden. Out of gratitude to him, they de- 
cided to combine a play with an opera. The play chosen 
was Moli&re's Bourgeois Gentilhomme. Reinhardt sup- 
plied the stage decorations and the costumes, while 
Strauss himself conducted the first public perform- 
ance, which was given at Stuttgart on October 25, 

Not having had an opportunity to hear this produc- 
tion, I must content myself with quoting the most 
lucid account of the plot I have been able to find. It 
is by Arthur M. Abell, and appeared in the New York 
Musical Courier : 

Moliere*s play, though good old French comedy of its 
kind, is of no especial interest today, particularly in Hof- 
mannsthars mutilation. One Jourdain, a bourgeois of un- 
usually common origin, after making a fortune in trade, 
has installed himself in a sumptuous home and is surrounded 
by a host of servants and all the external evidences of wealth. 
The boorish but good hearted simpleton longs for the polished 
manners and the allures of the aristocracy. He takes les- 
sons in dancing, singing, fencing and philosophy; he also 
becomes an art Maecenas and furthers a young musical 
genius, the composer of Ariadne auf Naxos. 

Jourdain is in love with the Marquise Dorimene, a charm- 
ing widow, and he gives a dinner in her honor. Count Dor- 
antes, a courtly but reprobate nobleman, in return for many 
financial favors at the hands of Jourdain, induces the mar- 
quise to accept the invitation by leading her to believe that 
it is he who is giving the affair for her at Jourdain's house. 
For the entertainment of his two guests, after the dinner, 
Jourdain has engaged two troupes of singers who are to 
present the opera Ariadne auf Naxos and the burlesque 
The Unfaithful Zerbinetta and Her Four Lwers. Both works 


have been composed by Jourdain's protege, mentioned above. 
The music played during the repast is a very clever sym- 
phonic poem in miniature, illustrating, chiefly with reminis- 
cences, the different courses. While the Rhine salmon is 
being served, the orchestra plays snatches from Rheingold, 
and during the roast mutton the bleating of the sheep from 
Don Quixote is heard. The banquet is interrupted by the 
unexpected appearance of Jourdain's wife, who makes a 
violent scene. The disgusted marquise would leave the 
house, but is detained by the count for a time. Jourdain 
finds it necessary, however, to curtail his program, so he 
orders the composer to combine his two works and to give 
them simultaneously. The young apostle of the Muse is 
in despair, but there is no help for him, and the changes 
are quickly made. 

Now comes the opera itself, with Jourdain, his two guests, 
the young composer and his teacher as audience. Here we 
have a stage within the stage. Hofmannsthal has made a 
free and by no means interesting use of the mythological 
story of Ariadne, who has been deserted by Theseus and 
left on the desert island of Naxos. She sings her despair 
and longs for death. In vain do her three companions, the 
singing numphs, endeavor to console her. The sudden en- 
trance of Zerbinetta and her lovers transport us from the 
tragic to the ludicrous. Finally the god Bacchus appears, 
wins Ariadne's love, and transports her to realms of eternal 

Hofmannsthal adds nothing to his fame by his mutilation 
of the Moli&re comedy and by this weak libretto. It is dif- 
ficult to see wherein his fame is justified any how, for the 
Rosenkavalier libretto, too, has many objectionable features. 
Strauss swears by him, but the operatic world does not, and 
it, after all, has a weighty word to speak. 

On this point, O. P. Jacob, who wrote up the premiere 
for Musical America, agrees with Mr. Abell : "It is a 
pity that for his libretto he did not choose an abler 
man than Hugo von Hofmannsthal. Strauss's adher- 
ence to Hofmannsthal has certainly estranged a 



great percentage of the public. Let the composer 
emancipate himself from this librettist, whose repu- 
tation, to me at least, is unaccountable, and he will 
surely win over a great number of those who to-day are 
his bitter opponents/ 5 

To make the confusion worse confounded, Ariadne 
auf Naxos was pitchforked on to the stage of the new 
opera house in Stuttgart before it had been definitely 
arranged or properly rehearsed* The London Times' s 
account of the Strauss Festival in Stuttgart gives these 
details, under date of November 2, 1912 : 

No doubt the actual time occupied seriously handicapped 
Strauss, and prevented him from securing a satisfactory 
balance by musical links and explanations. As it was, the 
play was considerably cut down even between the full re- 
hearsal and the first performance. At the rehearsal the 
charming duet of the shepherd and shepherdess presented 
to Jourdain in the first act of the play was left out; it was 
put back in the performance and some of the spoken dialogue 
sacrificed in its place. Moreover, the acting version of the 
scene in which the musicians consult about the simultaneous 
presentation of the opera and the Nachspiel, which is entirely 
Hofmannsthal's own, was quite different from that given in 
the printed libretto. The latter is considerably longer, and 
was supposed to take place before the curtain of the operatic 
stage, the players all hurrying on to the stage at the ap- 
proach of Jourdain and his friends and the opera beginning 
immediately, but in practice there was an interval between 
this scene, which took place in the banqueting-room, and 
the opera itself. The change, of course, served to disinte- 
grate the scheme still further. 

Notwithstanding this amazing unpreparedness, the 
critics were invited, not for the first public performance, 
but for the final rehearsal ; and before the beginning of 
this rehearsal an announcement was made from the 
stage asking the newspaper men to read a placard 


hung up in the foyer for their guidance. On this placard 
they were asked not to write reports of Ariadne till 
after the third performance! Of course they could 
not have done this without being promptly discharged 
by their employers. It was apparently one of Strauss's 
jokes an exhibition of humor about on a level with 
his musical quotations from Wagner's Rheingold and 
his own Don Quixote while the Rhine salmon and the 
mutton are served at the banquet. But it made talk, 
and talk means free advertising. 

There was much talk also about the fact that while 
the first performance was given in Stuttgart, the tickets 
for it had been sold en bloc to be resold by the mercantile 
house of Wertheim in Berlin. The price fixed for the 
first three performances was fifty marks (twelve dollars) 
but Mr. Jacob reported that after the first performance 
the tickets were to be had at reduced rates first 
for thirty, then for twenty-five, and even for fifteen 
marks. But there was great enthusiasm at the per- 

It seems a pity that Strauss allowed his collaborators 
to lead him into this quagmire, for on terra firma he 
would have probably done some of his best work. In- 
deed, he did achieve notable results, notwithstanding 
great and needless handicaps. Mr. Abell, to be sure, 
calls attention to the fact that "thematically Ariadne 
offers nothing that is new ; here Strauss again reveals 
his great weakness the lack of originality of melodic 
invention.*' He also noted a number of reminiscences 
suggestions of Mozart, Schubert, Wagner. On the 
other hand, "the duet between Ariadne and Bacchus 
toward the close of the opera is one of the most beau- 
tiful and impressive things Strauss has ever penned; 
here, too, the orchestra soars and surges in a sea of 


tones. The scene suggests Siegfried and Briinnhilde. 
The quintet with Zerbinetta and her four lovers, who 
sing and prance about in harmonious rivalry, is a 
masterpiece of light polyphony ; its UgZre effects make 
one forget its difficulties and the skill shown in mas- 
tering them. 

"One finds, in the music set to parts of the play, 
many surprises, charming dance forms, as the minuet, 
the polonaise, and during the fencing scene a wonder- 
fully brilliant piano solo (which was given a masterful 
rendition by no less an artist than Max Pauer, who 
modestly sat in the sunken orchestral pit), yet the play 
itself was much too long, and after the public rehearsal 
on Thursday evening, which I attended as well as the 
premiere itself on Friday, Strauss himself was forced 
to concede numerous cuts. 55 

William von Sachs, who wrote an account of Ariadne 
for the New York Evening Post> found that "pretty, 
graceful melodies are strewn throughout the score, 
while a comic quartet for men's voices with a soprano 
part for the concluding measures, which in point of 
musical workmanship could not well be surpassed, 
proved so catching that even the typical amateur, who 
longs for 'some pretty tune to carry home with him* 
would this time not have been disappointed." 

The two most novel and interesting things about the 
Ariadne music are the size and make-up of the orchestra, 
and the introduction of colorature florid song of the 
floridest kind in a Strauss opera, of all places in the 
world ! Zerbinetta has an ornamental aria which fills 
no fewer than twenty-four pages of the printed piano 
score an aria which, in the> words of Mr. Abell, 
"brings back to us the palmy days of Rossini, Doni- 
zetti and Meyerbeer; but the difficult fireworks of 


the vocal part are accompanied by arabesques in the 
orchestra of ravishing effect such as those masters of a 
past epoch never dreamed of iu their boldest flights 
of fancy. This aria calls for an extraordinary colora- 
ture singer who can take high F sharp." 

Thus did Strauss apparently attempt, with sly 
humor, to confute those who scolded him for subor- 
dinating the human voice. He may have had in mind, 
too, the charge that he needed a mammoth orchestra 
of over a hundred players to express himself, when 
he decided to employ only thirty-six musicians in 
this opera. 

These thirty-six players, however, all have to be 
soloists, as in a high-class string quartet. Extraor- 
dinary feats are demanded of them. For the Stutt- 
gart premiere Strauss engaged players who own old 
Italian violins, four of them by Stradivari, the result 
being unusual richness of tone. "Very novel effects," 
wrote Mr. Abell, "were produced by a new invention, 
a harmonium with wood-wind and horn effects, by 
virtue of which the thirty-six musicians often seemed 
augmented to seventy. A piano and a celesta added 
to the strange tonal combinations." 

While more than a dozen German cities followed 
Stuttgart in staging Ariadne auf Naxos, the clumsy 
and incongruous combination of old French comedy 
and modern German opera militated against the en- 
during success of this strange experiment. Four years 
after the Stuttgart festival, the work was produced 
in a new form, entirely remodeled, concerning which 
Strauss himself said: "The Moliere comedy has been 
entirely eliminated, and the erstwhile interlude in 
dialogue form, which represented the transition from 
the comedy to the opera, I have set to music and 

elaborated considerably. This interlude, which Hugo 
ron Hofmannsthal has also subjected to a literary re- 
vision, is intended to represent the tragedy and tragi- 
comedy of the youthful composer dependent on a 
Maecenas, singers and lackeys, similar to the youth- 
ful Mozart in the beginning of his glorious career. 

"And so the young composer has become the lead- 
ing figure, vocally as well as dramatically, for the 
creation of which my friend and colleague, Leo Blech, 
is to be essentially credited. It was acting upon his 
advice that I composed the female voice for this 

"The role of the ballet-master has also been rear- 
ranged and elaborated and is written for a tenor. 
Furthermore, I have tried a new experiment, transform- 
ing the secco-recitatives into smaller musical numbers. 
The finale has also been altered, the humorous satirical 
epilogue being eliminated, so that the opera is concluded 
with the duet between Ariadne and Bacchus." 

Under date of November 10, 1916, Arthur M. Abell 
wrote to the Musical Courier regarding the first per- 
formance in Berlin of the new version "which was 
awaited with as keen an interest as if a real premiere 
had been announced" : 

The transformation of the Ariadne was a difficult but 
necessary undertaking, as there was no doubt as to the inef- 
fectiveness of the work so long as it was given jointly with 
Moli&e's comedy, Bourgeois Gentilhomme. The opera was 
not easily separated from its framework. An introduction 
had to be invented in order to explain the curious fact that 
two different actions the Zerbinetta burlesque and the 
Ariadne drama are produced at the same time. Thus 
librettist and composer set to work again, and now Ariadne 
auf Naxos is being given in the form of an ordinary opera 
with a short one-act introduction. Richard Strauss and 


Hugo von Hofmannsthal, his librettist, have been fairly 
successful in their endeavor to save the opera for the 

The contents of the new introduction are briefly as fol- 
lows : The action takes place in the house of a rich man - 
the wealthiest man of Vienna, as the book calls him. This 
man desires to entertain his guests with a theatrical per- 
formance. A young composer is engaged to introduce on 
this occasion his first opera, Ariadne auf Naxos. But his 
rich patron has also invited an Italian troup of buffoons to 
perform a burlesque Zerbinetta and Her Four Faithless 
Lovers the production of which is to take place at the 
same time with that of the Ariadne opera. The young 
composer, the chief personage of the introduction, comes to 
the house of the Maecenas with a heart full of hopes for his 
future and filled with lofty ambitions. When he learns that 
his beloved work is to be given in connection with a trivial 
burlesque, he is in despair and tries to withdraw it. But in 
vain. Zerbinetta, the beautiful and fascinating leader of 
the Italian troup, succeeds in conquering his desperate 
mood. She wins his heart, and so the ridiculous double 
performance can take place. The rich Viennese and his 
guests do not take part in the action ; they only form the 

To this original and witty prologue Strauss has written 
appropriate music. His creation of the young composer's 
part is a success in itself. The r61e like that of Octavian in 
the Rosenkavalier is written for soprano. The other person- 
ages of the introduction the music teacher, the dancing 
master and the major domo, who is the only speaking per- 
son in the opera are humorous inventions and well char- 

The introduction is the chief innovation of the new Ariadne. 
The original opera proper is given without any interruption, 
which adds much to the lucidity and effectiveness of the 
work. There are, however, a few changes, which may be 
called improvements; for instance, the shortening of the 
long Zerbinetta aria which has also been simplified to some 
extent, and the effective conclusion which Strauss has given 
to the final duet of Bacchus and Ariadne. 




There is a dance musically speaking a splendid 
dance in Salome; there is one in Zarathustra; an- 
other in Elektra; while the Rosenkavalier has an or- 
chestral score, one fifth of which consists of waltzes. 
It would not have been a great shock, to read that its 
composer had up his sleeve for his next surprise, a 
regular Johann Strauss operetta, made up entirely of 
dance rhythms. Instead of it came Ariadne a 
broth spoiled by its too many cooks. But after Ariadne 
behold Monsieur Richard Strauss making his d6but 
in Paris as the composer of a pantomimic ballet 
heralded with trumpets and trombones, with drums 
and tubas, as an entirely new genre of art. 

One might say that a pantomimic ballet was the 
logical outcome of Strauss's tendencies. Ignoring the 
isolated colorature aria in Ariadne, we may sum up 
these tendencies as an increasing inclination to disre- 
gard and subordinate the singers, making them mere 
members of the orchestra speaking instruments, 
whose words, however, are rarely audible in the gen- 
eral din. Why have human voices at all? Why not 
let dancers elucidate the story with their gestures, 
movements, and facial expression? 

To Max Steinitzer we are indebted for the inter- 
esting information that Strauss had visions and plans 
of pantomimic ballets as early as the year 1897. Once 
he planned a scenario himself, and Wedekind submitted 
others to him. What he feared was that it would be 
difficult to secure the necessary exact correspondence 
between the music and the action and gesture on the 


stage. Presently there came from Russia a company 
which proved that this exact union can be attained. 
Paris had become the home of the Diaghileff Ballet 
Russe, an extraordinary aggregation of "star" dan- 
cers Nijinsky, Karsavina, Miassine, Fokine, Bolm, 
and others, whose representations of pantomimic 
ballets among them The Golden Cock, Scheherazade, 
Thamar, Daphnis and Chloe, The Firebird, Petrouchka, 
L'Aprds-midi-d'un Faune, Les Sylphides, Papillons, 
Carnaval, Le Spectre de la Rose, The Sacrifice to the 
Spring had created sensation after sensation, not 
only by their dances and the music associated there- 
with, but by the strangely fashioned and colored 
costumes and backgrounds designed by Bakst and 
others, which for five years, as Bernard Shaw remarked, 
furnished the sole inspiration for Paris fashions in 
women's dress. 

It was for this Ballet Russe that Richard Strauss 
composed the music to his Legend of Joseph, with the 
assistance for the plot and scenario of the inevitable 
Hugo von Hofmannsthal, aided and abetted by Count 
Harry Kessler, who seems to be responsible for the 
allegorical expansion of the simple Bible story. The 
choreographic features are the work of Fokine. 

The rising curtain reveals a great hall in the palace 
of Potiphar. He sits with his wife at a raised table. 
Among those present are a female slave, some giant 
mulattoes, and a Sheik receiving and weighing gold 
dust. Slaves approach Potiphar's wife, with precious 
stones and other treasures, but she, who suffers from 
an "almost passionate weariness of life", heeds them 
not. The next attempt to cope with her ennui is by 
means of a Nuptial Dance. Women are brought in 
in litters; some of them are veiled, others unveiled. 


The dance "represents symbolically how the Bride- 
groom on the wedding night unveils the Bride,'* One 
of the women emerges from the midst of the others to 
dance the Dance of Burning Lovelonging, the Dance 
of Sulamith. This is followed by a dance of Six Turk- 
ish Boxers. They are gradually "excited to a sort of 
madness and ecstasy like fighting cocks . . . one feels 
that unless somebody intervenes they will kill each 
other." Finally the mulattoes bind the arms of the 
boxers behind their batks and lead them away. 

Potiphar's wife is still bored. But the next diver- 
sion introduced for her creates a startling change in 
her attitude. We now enter (in the words of Heinz 
Tiessen, whose elaborate guide to this ballet has 
been done into good English by Alfred Kalish) 
"into a mood of heavenly purity, tenderness, and 
limpid clearness as of Paradise." A golden hammock 
is carried down the stairs, followed by two young 
harp players with small golden harps, two flute players, 
and two boys with cymbals. When the hammock 
is opened Joseph, a boy of sixteen, is seen asleep in it, 
wrapped in a shepherd's mantle of golden yellow silk. 
The Sheik wakes him; he gets out of the hammock 
and dances slowly. He makes four leaps to the four 
directions of the compass (the part was written for 
Nijinski, whose specialty is leaps) ; he shows weari- 
ness ; his movements become "a glorification of God" ; 
he seems to fly; "divine laughter seems embodied in 
him." The guests are lost in admiration. " Potiphar's 
wife, during this dance, is gradually roused from her 
apathy to interest, and then to passionate wonder 
and admiration. A new world of feeling is opening 
before her. She sits as if under a spell, leaning far 
forward, breathless, with burning eyes." She fills a 


bowl with precious stones and makes signs for Joseph to 
approach. He ignores them. Whereupon she sends 
a slave to bring him to her. She drops the necklace 
on him and dismisses the guests. Evening closes in. 
Joseph is left alone ; there is a couch for him in a cor- 
ner; he lies down, after saying his prayers, and falls 
asleep. In his dreams he sees an angel standing by his 
bed to keep watch over him. 

The door opens, and Potiphar's wife, a lamp in hand, 
comes stealthily near. With her left hand she touches 
his bare shoulder and shudders. She strokes his hair, 
bends over him, and presses a kiss on his lips. He 
wakes up and with a look of horror, jumps from the 
couch. Crouching in a corner, he is seized with vio- 
lent trembling. She attempts to disrobe him, but he 
wrests himself free and throws on her looks of con- 
tempt. Finding her pleadings in vain, her feeling sud- 
denly turns from passion to hatred. Calling her 
slaves, she orders them to seize Joseph, then sinks 
fainting into the arms of one of her attendants. 
"Women of the palace appear in wild haste, moaning 
almost like dogs, and busy themselves round Poti- 
phar's wife. 5 * There is a ghost-like dance, followed 
by a second in which "the gestures of the dancers are 
intensified till they become an Oriental witches' dance 
of hysterical wildness, as of whirling dervishes." 

Joseph stands motionless, as if in a trance. Chains 
are put on him. Potiphar enters, full of foreboding. 
Joseph's mantle has been brought to his wife; she 
tears it and casts it from her, pointing passionately to 
Joseph. Preparations are made for his torture with 
red-hot tongues. At this moment an Archangel of 
superhuman stature comes down in a shaft of light till 
he hovers over Joseph. At a touch the chain falls 


from the youth. Then he takes Joseph by the hand 
and leads him towards the steps. Potiphar's wife 
stretches out her arms convulsively, then strangles 
herself with her string of pearls. The attendants 
take her body, and as the funeral procession starts, 
young angels are seen in the rosy dawn making music 
while Joseph and the Archangel are seen -disappearing 
in space. 

In the directions for staging this plot we read that 
"the scene, the stage furniture, and the costumes are 
throughout in the manner of Paolo Veronese, and 
thus follow, in style and fashion, those of the period 
of about 1530. The Egyptian characters wear Venetian 
costumes; Joseph and the dealers who bring him to 
Potiphar, Oriental dress of the sixteenth century." 

Why this anachronism ? Is the fact that Veronese 
and other medieval artists, following the naive custom 
of their day, painted the old Biblical characters and 
scenes in the Venetian costumes of their own day, a 
reason for doing so incongruous a thing in our days of 
theatrical realism? One guesses that the dates were 
mixed in order to give Bakst a better chance to ex- 
cogitate novel and gorgeous costumes. The official 
explanation, however, was that (in the words of M. D. 
Calvocoressi) the whole play is a mixture of plain 
realism and ideal superhumanity, constantly inter- 
changing or interwoven. "The subject is founded on 
the Bible story, but aims at exhibiting the violent con- 
flict resulting from the contact between the sumptuous, 
shallow, impulsive world of Paganism in the present 
case, Pharaoh's court and the mystical' purity of 

Joseph, who represents the Hebrew monotheistic 

. , ,, 

A German critic, writing in the Allgemeine MusiJc- 


Zeitung> declares that, so far as Strauss's music is con- 
cerned, he could not find in it the contrast between these 
realistic and idealistic elements which is supposed to 
pervade the whole plot. He scoffs at the idea that 
Strauss has in this work created a new form of art, a 
"music-drama without words **, superior to the mimo- 
dramas of Ravel, Florent Schmitt, Reynaldo Hahn, 
the splendid Peri of Dukas, or the fascinating panto- 
mimes of Stravinsky. From these, the Legend of 
Joseph differs chiefly through its attempts to philoso- 
phize in dances and gestures attempts which assign 
it to the realm of boredom. After hearing the music 
several times, this critic liked it better than at first, 
yet the general feeling of disappointment was not dis- 
pelled. Over one scene he waxes enthusiastic: The 
dance of the moaning women "atones for much that 
precedes it.** This scene is overwhelming. " The chore- 
ographic motive and its realization are unsurpassable, 
and in the demoniac, splendidly rhythmic music we 
note the master who created Elektra. Here everything 
is of one piece. It is the only scene which gripped me, 
and it shows what Strauss might do in this art form, 
if he had a subject worthy of him." 

H. O. Osgood, in his article for the Musical Courier 
(New York), also found that the best choreographic 
feature of the evening was the "peculiar dance of the 
women expressing their hatred of Joseph for having 
seduced Potiphar's wife." The Dance of the Boxers 
"had rather an unexpected comic effect, and resembled 
the drill of a German turnverein more than anything 
else." Boxing to music is a novelty which Mr. Os- 
good recommends to sporting clubs. 

Doctor Leopold Schmidt, of the Berliner TageUatt, 
calls attention to the unusual number of instruments 


of percussion used by Strauss in this score; several 
celestas are called for, besides cymbals, glockenspiel, 
castagnettes, xylophone, wood and straw instruments, 
in addition to a wind machine, organ, piano, heckel- 
phone, tenor tuba, and, of course, all the usual orches- 
tral apparatus of strings, wood- wind and brass. Doctor 
Schmidt further remarked that the music "does not 
once rise to the fervor and depth of expression to be 
found in Ariadne, the somewhat cold symbolism of 
the action making no demand for such." On the other 
hand, "this music is valuable and significant because of 
its strong melodic impulse. Among contemporary 
productions it is one more shining example of the un- 
lost capacity for melodic creation. With ever greater 
clearness Strauss is developing along this line. His 
Joseph themes will take firm hold of the hearer and 
cling to them." 

He repeats that "more than by its power of pictorial 
characterization and its glowing colors does the music 
of The Legend of Joseph impress us by the abundance, 
the verve, and the natural flow of its melody." Yet he 
does not feel sure regarding the future of this work: 
"Whether the Legend will take root in Germany is 
difficult to predict. The cult of the nude calls for an 
absence of bias which is not always to be found amongst 
us. And still less have we at our disposal dancers 
who, in the solution of such problems, can rival the 
Russian artists." 

These things Strauss, with his usual lack of practical 
sense, overlooked. Immediate success in Paris, how- 
ever, was not denied him. As a despatch to the Lon- 
don Times reported: "the combination of Strauss 
and the Russians brought all Paris to the doors of the 
Opera House tonight (May 14, 1914). Seats which 


were sold three weeks ago for forty francs were resold 
today by speculators at double that sum. 35 This cor- 
respondent was struck by the fact that some of the cos- 
tumes had "the sharp, definite look of playing cards." 
As for the Parisian critics, some of the most eminent 
did not comment on this novelty at all, for the reason 
that no tickets had been sent for the premiere; and 
the final rehearsal, to which critics in Paris are usually 
invited, had not been open to them. Reynaldo Hahn 
found "fr&n&sie pythique dans I 9 improvisation orchestrale." 
Alfred Bruneau also was agreeably impressed; but 
most of the critics f oupd more to blame than to praise. 
Henry Quittard, in Le Figaro, found some parts "Zon- 
gues, obscures et d'une pu$rilit& un pen d&concertante" 
None of the critics seem to have liked the scenario; 
nor, according to Doctor Schmidt, was the performance 
as good as it might have been. For some reason or 
other Nijinsky, to whose measure the part of Joseph 
had been cut, was not on the stage, but was one of the 



IN the year 1900, when I was writing my book on 
"Songs and Song Writers", I asked the publisher 
of the songs of Richard Strauss (Joseph Aibl, in Munich) 
to send me a complete list of them. Instead of the 
list he mailed me the songs themselves, about fifty 
in number at that time. Not many of them had been 
made familiar in American concert halls. After 
carefully perusing and repeatedly playing them, I 
wrote as follows : 

The first thing that strikes me about these songs is their 
difficulty, and the composer's predilection for unusual keys. 
The Vienna publishers who used to object to Schubert's 
pianoforte parts and beg him to use keys with no more than 
three flats or sharps, would stand aghast at Richard Strauss, 
whose pages sometimes look like a wilderness of flats and 
sharps, with the head of a note timidly peeping out here 
and there. Familiarity, however, soon breeds contempt 
for these accidentals ; while the songs grow more and more 
beautiful. The art of tonal coloring, which is so noticeable 
in the orchestral works of Strauss, is also applied, as far as 
possible, to his pianoforte parts. He is fond of surging 
arpeggios sweeping the keyboard up and down, producing 
harmonies so rich and glowing that one often feels tempted 
to keep the pedal down longer than necessary, and linger 
on the resulting chord just to enjoy the euphony. Schu- 
bert was the first to indulge in chords alluring by their eu- 
phony color for color's sake but he never dreamed, of 
such orchestral glories in the pianoforte, of such arpeggios, 
such commingling of weird harmonies. Here are harmonies 



not anticipated by Bach, Chopin, or Wagner; harmonies 
beyond the daring of even Liszt and Grieg. 

Some of these harmonies or discords are frankly 
ugly, but they are characteristic, and we soon get to love 
them as we do faces that have more character than beauty. 
We look for something more than beauty in a man's face 
why not also in a man's music ? Yet beauty there is, 
too, in these songs sometimes in alluring abundance, 
as just stated ; nor is it confined to the piano part. Elab- 
orate as the piano part is, it does not swamp the voice, which 
stands out as boldly as in Wagner's music dramas when they 
are properly sung and played. These songs are not much 
easier for the singer than for the pianist, and they are not 
for bungling amateurs. Serious music-lovers may as well 
begin with some of the easier ones such as Morgen, 
Acb Liebl ich muss nun sch&iden, Breit uber mein Haupt 
dein schwarzes Haar, Die Nacht, Nachtgang, Ach weh mir 
ungluckshaftem Manne which also happen to be among 
the best. The appetite will soon grow by what it feeds on, 
and those who are not afraid of technical difficulties faill 
have a rich menu to choose from. As regards the poems, 
it is self-evident that the writer of the Zarathustra program 
makes some novel experiments in the Lied too. Among 
the songs in the comic vein I may mention Herr Lenz, and 
Fiir funfzehn Pfennige. 

When Ernest Newman wrote his little book on 
Strauss, the number of these songs had increased to 
over a hundred. He was much less favorably impressed 
by these hundred than I had been by the first fifty. 
"A careful study of them," he says, "gives one the 
impression that he is not a born song writer, and that 
comparatively few of his Lieder have much chance 
of survival. . . . Nowhere, in truth, does he appear 
to such poor advantage on the whole as here. He has 
written some good songs, and one or two exquisite 
songs, but also a number that are commonplace, or 
dull, or pretentiously empty, or stupid, or downright 


ugly. Only those who have conscientiously worked 

through them all a few times, desirous of seeing good 
in them wherever it is to be seen, can realize the woe- 
ful waste of time and labor that the majority of them 

More favorable is the verdict of Doctor Leopold 
Schmidt: 1 "Strauss is so interesting as a song- writer 
because he is strong as a creator of melodies. His 
melody, though formally considered not always quite 
original, gets an individual aspect through a certain 
inherent sensuous warmth. This warm-blooded tem- 
perament and vocal spontaneity of most of his songs 
have already given them a general vogue, have made 
them favorites of singers and music lovers. The 
best of them it is hopeless to try to out-trump with 
the songs of Hugo Wolf or other writers; they con- 
stitute, so far as one can see, the lyrical precipitate 
of our time." I 

This notion that Strauss in his songs has crystallized 
modern lyrical feeling is based on the fact that for a 
time he devoted himself to setting to music the verse 
of contemporary poets like Bierbaum, Dehmel, Mackay, 
Falke, Morgenstern, Liliencron, Henckell, Busse. Now, 
while it may be conceded that these poets wrote along 
new lines of social thought, it does not follow that 
Strauss created a new school of songs (as not a few 
writers have intimated he did) simply because he set 
to music these contemporary verses. There is nothing in 
the music of his songs to justify such a claim ; nothing 
that differentiates them entirely from some of the songs 
of Schubert, Liszt, or Hugo Wolf. 

As in his tone poems, so in his songs, Strauss 
began to write under the influence of Liszt. Liszt, 

l "MonograpMen moderner Musiker", Band I. 


as Gustav Brecher remarks, "was the creator of the 
new German Lied. He emancipated himself from 
every form sanctioned a priori, and in each case 
shaped the song in accordance with the spirit of the 

He was, we must add, by no means the first to do 
this; but, more minutely than his predecessors, he 
interpreted the individual words in a poem, but with- 
out sacrificing the melodic contours or making the mu- 
sician play second fiddle to the poet. 

When Strauss emancipated himself from the salu- 
tary influence of Liszt, he followed in the footsteps 
of Hugo Wolf, in whose songs the music nearly always 
does play second fiddle to the poem. Hugo Wolf 
favored this method because he almost entirely lacked 
the faculty of creating unique melodies; from the 
melodic the highest point of view, his songs 
are appallingly arid and uninteresting. That Strauss 
followed his example was doubtless due largely to his 
own increasing difficulty in creating melodies. Thus 
it happens that his earlier songs, like his earlier tone 
poems, are the best. It is significant that he practically 
ceased writing songs as long ago as 1905. 

That not a few of his songs are of inferior value is 
admitted even by his apostles and propagandists. 
It is intimated that when a composer gets two hundred 
dollars or more for every song he may dash off in a 
leisure moment, there is a temptation not to wait for 

Strauss himself has explained in an ingenious way 
why his songs are of such unequal worth. In 1893, 
Siegmund von Hausegger sent to prominent composers 
a request for an explanation of the creative processes 
in their minds. In his answer Strauss wrote : 


For months I have had no desire to compose ; presently, 
one evening, I open a book of poems ; I turn over the leaves 
casually ; one of the poems arrests my attention, and in many 
cases, before I have read it over carefully, a musical idea 
comes to me. I sit down and in ten minutes the complete 
song is done. 

If at such a moment, when the cup is full to the brim, I 
happen on a *poem which approximately corresponds with 
the musical idea that has come to me, the new opus is ready 
in a moment. But if as unfortunately happens very 
often I do not find the right poem, I nevertheless yield 
to the creative impulse and set to music any random poem 
that happens to be at all suitable for a musical setting 
but the process is slow, the result is artificial, the melody 
has a viscid flow, and I have to draw on all my command 
of technical resources in order to achieve something that 
will stand the test of strict self-criticism. All this happens 
because at the decisive moment the steel does not meet the 
flint, because the musical idea which God only knows 
why had come into my head, failed to find the correspond- 
ing poetic thought, and now has to be reshaped and altered 
to be at all available. Under these circumstances why do I 
not prefer to write my own poems ? That would be the right 
thing to do. But in my case the word-poet and the tone-poet 
are not in such immediate correspondence, the tone-poet being 
in technical skill and routine too far ahead of the word-poet. 

It would hardly be worth while to attempt to char- 
acterize, however briefly, all of the Strauss Lieder, 
good, bad, or indifferent; it is so much more satis- 
factory to look them over and decide for yourself, espe- 
cially as opinions of their merits differ so widely. A 
glance at the most important and popular of them 
must suffice for these pages. 

Opus 10 includes eight settings of poems by Herman 
von Gilm. The most popular of them are Zueignung, 
an effective song, with a telling climax, though the 
melody is commonplace; and Allerseelen, which is 


quite Brahmsian in style and sentiment, whereas 
Die Zeitlose in its modulations and atmosphere sug- 
gests the influence of Liszt. 

Opus 15. Five songs to poems by Adolf Friedrich 
Count von Schack. The best of them are Madrigal 
and Heimkehr; but they are not among his happiest 

Opus 17 includes the music to six more of Count 
Schack's poems, among them the Standchen, or Serenade, 
which has been sung more frequently than any other 
of Strauss's lyrics. Reference was made on a pre- 
vious page to the fact that Strauss has often expressed 
annoyance at what he considers the excessive popularity 
of this song as compared with some he values more 
highly. Nevertheless, with the exception of Morgen, 
the Serenade is probably the best (though not the most 
Straussian) of his songs. In view of its musical charms, 
neither singers nor audiences care one jot about the 
composer's rather high-handed declamatory treat- 
ment of the text, to which Steinitzer (I, p. 159) calls 
attention. Other songs in this collection that have 
their admirers are: Das Geheimniss, and Seitdem 
dein Aug. 

Opus 19. All the songs thus far commented on be- 
long to the years 1882-1886. In 1887 there appeared 
six more settings of poems by Count Schack (Lotos- 
blatter), among them the world-famed Breit fiber 
mein Haupt dein schwarzes Haar, and another that is 
often sung : Wie sollten wir geheim sie halten. 

Opus 21. Schlichte Weisen, settings of poems by 
Felix Dahn, includes four prime favorites: All mein 
Gedanken, Du meines Herzens Kronelein, Ach wek mir, 
ungliicJchaftem Mann, and Ach Lieb' ich muss nun 
scheiden. This last suggests Robert Franz. 


Opus 22. Mddchenblumen. Four more Dahn songs. 
They are not remarkable for musical inspiration, 
and depend for their effect on the singer's powers of 
declamation like so many of Strauss's later songs. 

Opus 26 includes settings of two songs by Lenau: 
Fruhlingsgedrange and 0, warst du mein. Mediocre. 

Opus 27. The opinion, somewhat debatable, is 
often expressed that it was not till he came to his Opus 
27, at the age of twenty-eight, that Strauss revealed 
his best powers as a song writer. We come nearer 
the truth if we say that, like Schubert, he wrote some 
of his best and some of his worst songs in years far 
apart. Nevertheless, Steinitzer had good reasons to 
write that the Lieder included in Opus 27, Opus 29, 
Opera 31, 32, and 39, "are to most hearers and singers 
the Strauss songs par excellence." 

That Morgen is the loveliest of all his songs is an 
opinion I have already expressed. To be sure it is 
strikingly Brahmsian, and it is really a piano piece 
with voice part added ; but a gem it is all the same. 
The poem is by the Scotch-German author, John 
Henry Mackay, who also supplied the verse for another 
song included in Opus 27 and much admired: Heim- 
liche Aujforderung. Famous also is Number 2 of this 
opus: Cacilie; this and Morgen have been published 
also in a version with orchestra in place of piano, made 
by Strauss himself. 

Opus 28. Mackay, Henckell, and Hart are three 
of the modern poets who led Strauss into new realms. 
Three more of them, Bierbaum, Busse,. and Dehmel 
are represented in Opus 29 and Opus 31 . Tremendously 
popular is Number 1 of Opus 29: Traum durch dir 

Opus 31 includes four songs to Busse and Dehmel 


verses, the most familiar of which is Und warst du 
mein Weib. 

Opus 32 comprises five songs dedicated to the com- 
poser's wife, the sources of the texts being the works 
of Henckell, Liliencron, and Des Knaben Wunderhorn. 
The best of them is Ich trage meine Minne. 

Opus 36. With these songs we reach the year 1898 ; 
they come, like those of Opus 37, between the tone- 
poems Don Quixote and Heldenleben. The poems 
are by Klopstock and from Des Knaben Wunderhorn. 
From the latter collection is taken Fur fiinfzehn Pfen- 
nige, which always amuses audiences. It is in the 
form of a dialogue between a girl and a clerk who, in 
wooing her, promises her all sorts of things for a nickel. 
Opus 37. In these six numbers Strauss returns to 
his modern poets. They are, like those of Opus 32, 
dedicated to his wife, and have their admirers; the 
best, perhaps, is Meinem Kinde. 

Opus 39 includes five songs for high voice, among 
which Befreit may be specially named ; also the famous 
Der Arbeitsmann, which attained great popularity 
through the dramatic delivery of Doctor Wiillner, 
who sang it in a number of cities, with the aid of the 
composer, who always plays his piano parts with 
unique effect. In Number 5 of this opus, Lied an 
meinen Sohn, the accompaniment depicting a storm 
is so difficult that Strauss himself nearly bungled it 
once in Munich, exclaiming afterwards to a friend: 
"The devil may play that !" 

Three opus numbers, 41, 43, and 46, comprising 
fifteen songs, belong to the year 1899, just preceding 
the opera Feuersnot; while 1900 and 1901 brought 
forth seventeen more, in the opus numbers 47, 48, 49. 
The last group of six songs, Opus 56, belongs to the 


year 1905. Not a few of these last songs seem to belong 
in the category of pot-boilers. Honorable exceptions 
are Ich Schwebe, and Blindenklage, Winterweihe, and 
particularly, Der Steinklopfer, which is very effective, 
provided the text is enunciated by a dramatic vocalist 
like Wtillner. 

While Strauss knows very well how to write idio- 
matically for the piano, nevertheless some of his songs 
seem to clamor for an orchestral accompaniment. 
He himself felt this, when he orchestrated the piano 
parts of eight of his Lieder : Cacilie, Morgen, Liebeshym- 
nus, Rosenband, Meinem Kinde, Wiegerilied, Mutter- 
tandelei, and Weihnachtsidyll. The Serenade was sup- 
plied with an orchestral accompaniment by Mottl. 

Eight of Strauss's Lieder were originally composed 
with orchestra. They are published under the opus 
numbers 33, 44, 51. One of the four songs in Opus 
33 is a much-admired Hymne for baritone; Doss du 
mein Auge wecktest, the words of which are not, as 
formerly believed, by Schiller. Pilger's Morgenlied 
also exhibits its composer to advantage. The Notturno 
in Opus 44 is dedicated to Anton von Rooy. Con- 
cerning the four numbers in this collection, Steinitzer 
says : "They are available only for a deep male voice, 
with the possible exception of such phenomenal artists 
as Ernestine Schumann-Heink or Margarete Matz- 
enauer. With a poet who has rare hours like Richard 
Dehmel, Strauss, in the first number, penetrates with 
subtle emotional portrayal to the deepest recesses 
of the soul." He is equally enthusiastic over the 
second number, Ndchtlicher Gesang, in which Riickert's 
ghostly poem is reflected in the music in a way to 
"make one shudder in full daylight." The two songs 
in Opus 51 are for a deep bass voice the poems by 


Uhland and Heine; their names, Das Tal and Der 

Einsame. 1 

Choral Works. Under the influence of Brahms, 
Strauss composed, at the age of twenty, his first pub- 
lished choral work, Opus 14; a setting of Goethe's 
Wanderer's Sturmlied. It lasts fifteen minutes, and is 
as polyphonic in structure as his orchestral scores. 
Calling attention to its "stupendous effects of vocal 
tone", Ernest Newman declares that "in its poetic 
feeling, its vigor, and its ease of workmanship, it is 
one of the finest pieces of choral and orchestral writing 
of the nineteenth century." 

Opus 34 contains two anthems in sixteen parts. 
They harken back to the medieval choruses of Lasso 
and Caldara, as Mauke notes in his "Meisterfiihrer" 
devoted to Opus 14, 34, 53 (Schlesinger) which should 
be consulted by those interested in the performance 
of Strauss's choral works. They are extremely dif- 
ficult, but effective if done with virtuosic skill. 

Opus 42 and Opus 45 comprise five choruses for male 
voices. The first is entitled Love; the second is an 
Old German Battle Hymn. The third, fourth, and fifth 
are another Battlesong; Song of Friendship; and a 
Bridal Dance dedicated "To my dear father/* 

In 1906, Peters in Leipzig issued, in two big volumes, 
a collection of German folk songs (Volksliederbuch 
fiir Mannerchor), compiled by order of the Kaiser, 
and arranged for male voices by more than forty 
eminent musicians, among them Richard Strauss, 
Humperdinck, Max Bruch, Reinecke, Thuille, Roent- 

1 Thirty-six poets are represented in the songs of Strauss. For a com- 
plete list of the songs, giving both titles and first lines, see Richard Specht's 
" Vollstandiges Verzeichniss der im Druck erschienenen Werke von Richard 
Strauss." Number 2756 of the Universal Edition, Vienna and Leipzig. 


gen, etc. In looking over Strauss's arrangements 
half a dozen in number one is struck by the fact 
that even here, where folk-tune simplicity is, or should 
be, the keynote, Strauss could not suppress his passion 
for complexity and for being "different/* Maybe 
he reasoned that if he wrote simply, musicians might 
say "anybody could have done that. 5 ' So even these 
arrangements got a Straussian cast. They may be 
found on pages 192 and 717 of Volume I, and on pages 
63, 221, 240, 615, of Volume EL Extremes meet in 
these arrangements : naive folk tunes of the sixteenth 
and seventeenth centuries in an ultra-modern setting. 
The last of them, Kuckuck> is an amusingly realistic 
cuckoo song. 

Opus 52 is a setting of Uhland's ballad, Taillefer, 
for mixed choir, solo voices, and orchestra. It was 
written for the inauguration of the Stadthalle in Heidel- 
berg and lasts sixteen minutes. It is al fresco music 
of the most massive, sonorous kind, suitable only for 
large halls. A note in the score calls attention to this, 
adding: "The chorus must therefore be as large as 
possible/* Together with Liszt's Dante Symphony, 
Bruckner's ninth, and Haydn's Creation, this was one 
of the works chosen by Philipp Wolfrum for testing 
his theory that musicians should be invisible at per- 
formances. For details see page 618 of Miiller-Reuter's 
"Lexikon der Deutschen Konzertliteratur." 

Opus 55. Bardengesang, for male chorus and 
orchestra, is characterized by Newman as "magnifi- 
cently barbaric/* This, too, owes its effect largely to 
massive sonority, variety being secured by dividing 
the singers into three groups and by means of brass 
instruments, also in several groups and at varying 
distance behind the scenes. 


Opus 38, Enoch Arden, resembles many of the Strauss 
(and Hugo Wolf) songs in owing its effect on an audi- 
ence more to the poem than to the music that goes with 
it. With the famous actor Ernst von Possart, at 
whose request this melodramatic work was written 
and who enraptured thousands by the declamation of 
Tennyson's story, Strauss, as accompanist at the piano, 
made an extensive tour in 1897-1898. In America, 
Max Heinrich for some years kept alive more or less 
interest in this musically insignificant work. 

Another melodramatic work is Das Schloss am 
Meer (The Castle on the Sea Coast), for declamation 
with piano accompaniment. The poem is by Uhland. 



THEODOBE Thomas, who did so much to popularize 
the works of Wagner and Liszt in America, also did 
pioneer work for Richard Strauss. His catholicity 
is evinced by the fact that he went often, in Vienna, 
to hear Johann Strauss conduct his waltzes, so that he 
might reproduce his best effects at his New York 
concerts. He was one of the first to see the rising 
star of Richard Strauss. 

Mrs, Thomas, in her fascinating biography of her 
famous husband (a book which, better than any other, 
mirrors musical life in America in the half century 
1845, when pigs still ran about on Broadway, to 1905), 
relates how Thomas, while in Europe in 1882, on the 
lookout, as usual, for novelties for his programs, had 
met in Munich "a young and almost unknown com- 
poser, one Richard Strauss, who had recently finished 
writing a symphony. Thomas secured the first move- 
ment of the work, and was so much impressed with it 
that he requested young Strauss to let him have the 
other movements, promising to bring out the whole work 
in a concert of the Philharmonic Society." On Septem- 
ber 20, 1883, Strauss in reply, sent him this letter : 

Highly Honored Sir : 

As I was unfortunately unable to welcome you here this 
Summer having only learned of your presence in Munich 



from Mr. Lockwood on the eve of your departure I must 
not neglect to express to you in writing my heartiest and 
warmest thanks for your kind intention to give my second 
symphony the great honor of a New York performance. 
My father also wishes to be remembered to you, and joins 
me in thanking you in advance. 

According to your request I have had the score of the 
three movements not already known to you written out, 
and also single parts of the string quartet, and have already 
corrected them. I must ask you to kindly paste the two 
inclosed changes in the Scherzo into your score. I have 
made these changes for harmonic reasons, in order to avoid 
the too strong predominance of the C minor key in the A 
flat major Scherzo. The number of measures is indicated 
on the back of the slip. In the parts the changes have already 
been made. 

Thanking you again most sincerely, and begging you to re- 
member me to your family, I remain, with the highest esteem, 

Your ever grateful, 
Richard Strauss. 

It was on December 13, 1884, that Thomas first 
produced this symphony. He did not have time to 
write to the composer at once about its favorable 
reception by the audience, but somebody mailed a 
very unfavorable criticism of it to Strauss, who was so 
much distressed by it that he wrote to Thomas : 

To-day, for the first time, I got some sign of life from 
the performance of my symphony in New York, in, it must 
be confessed, a very bad criticism of my work from I do 
not know what paper. This, combined with your absolute 
silence in regard to the performance, points to the certainty 
that my work has made a fiasco in New York. This, how- 
ever, will not prevent me from expressing to you, much 
honored sir, my fullest, deepest, and most hearty thanks 
that you had the extraordinary goodness to present my 
symphony to the New York public. It is principally on 
your account that I deplore the non-success of the work, 
and regret that your remarkable kindness was not rewarded 


X -K^L 



J'VftC/vcU^ avt^n. /A<*\ /\^i^yL JV<A. /?AvC^' 

U i 

' U 



by the applause of the critics. I console myself for the 
failure of my symphony with the critics and public, with the 
thought that the judgment of the musicians was favorable 
to me (which I care most for) and especially that you, 
most honored sir, considered my work worthy of produc- 
tion in your concerts. It would be very friendly if you 
would write me a few lines giving me your own judgment 
of the performance, and your exact opinion of my work, 
adding, perhaps, a few criticisms of it ! At the same time, 
I beg of you to express my sincere thanks to your orchestra, 
and believe me always gratefully 

Your devoted 
Richard Strauss. 

Thomas complied with this request, sending him 
a message concerning which Strauss wrote once more, 
under date of April 12, 1885 : 

The joy your delightful letter gave to me and mine you 
can scarcely conceive ; it was one of the most beautiful and 
happiest surprises that I could possibly have had. . . . The 
criticisms I had received of it were not of a nature to allow 
me to indulge in the hope of success, taken as the only ones. 
With one exception they were all so ordinary and superficial 
that they pointed to failure rather than success. That the 
latter was the case rejoices my heart, especially on your ac- 
count, as it was a dreadful thought to me that my work 
might have brought discredit on you. . . . Your kind offer to 
conduct my next orchestral work in New York I accept with 
the most cordial thanks, and will surely avail myself of it. 

In the summer of 1887 Thomas got another letter 
from Strauss, offering him the Italian Fantasy: 

When you were so kind, two years ago, as to write me in 
regard to the performance of my F minor symphony, you 
were good enough to hold out to me the promise that you 
would bring out in the Western world another orchestral 
work of mine. A second composition of this kind is to be 
published in October, score and parts; it is a symphonic 
Fantasie in four movements : 


L The Campagna (Lento). 

II. The Ruins of Rome (Allegro con brio). 
ILL On the Strand of Sorrento (Andante). 

IV. Neapolitan Folk Life (Allegro vivace). 
Would you permit me to ask, encouraged by your friendly 
offer, whether I might venture to hope that the work might 
be given under your direction in New York ? 

I myself conducted the first performance of it here in 
Munich, March 1, and achieved a fine success, although a 
not altogether uncontested one. The Pantasie offers an 
especial freedom of form, entirely new and unusual, and it 
would naturally be viewed with hostility by the old musi- 
cians who were brought here to fill positions as functionaries. 
As to the technical part of the work, it belongs to the most 
difficult which the modern school of music has produced, 
and we have very few orchestras here which could cope 
with it, especially the last movement. Few concert or- 
ganizations have great orchestras and conductors of genius 
who can grasp the intellectual contents of a work, such as 
the New York Philharmonic Society, which, under your 
leadership, stands in the first rank. It is therefore all the 
more important for me that the Philharmonic Society 
should not refuse my Italian Fantasie. 

Under these circumstances, honored sir, you will readily 
understand how cheerfully I recalled your very kind promise 
of two years ago. Billow has accepted it for his concerts 
in Berlin and Hamburg next season, and has expressed him- 
self most strongly in its favor. It is not quite so long as 
the F minor symphony. With the latter I have had pro- 
digious luck, and it has now been played eleven times. . . , 

You are already aware that I have been for the last two 
years conductor at the Hof Theatre here. I like the posi- 
tion very much, as it allows me time for my composition. 

His request, it is needless to say, was granted. 
Thomas brought out the new work the following 
March. He was the first, too, to introduce to an 
American audience some of the later and more impor- 
tant of Strauss's tone poems. 



In February, 1904, Strauss crossed the Atlantic 
to take part in four festival concerts given in his honor 
by the Wetzler Symphony Orchestra, an organization 
under the direction of Hermann Hans Wetzler, who 
had the support of a millionaire. These concerts 
were given on February 27, March 3, 9, 21. Wetzler 
himself led the opening number, Zarathustra, while 
Strauss conducted his Heldenleben. The vocal soloist 
was David Bispham, who sang Die Ulme zur Hirsau, 
Nachtgang, and Lied des Steinklopfers. 

At the second concert, Wetzler conducted Don Juan, 
and Strauss himself Don Quixote and Death and Trans- 
figuration, besides four of his songs with orchestra; 
Rosenband, Liebeshymnus, Morgen, and Cacilie, the 
vocalist being his wife, Frau Strauss-de-Ahna. 

Frau Strauss was also the soloist at the third concert, 
her songs being Meinem Kinde, Muttertandelei, Wie- 
genlied (these three with orchestra) and the following 
four with piano: Allerwelen, Befreit, Susser Mai, 
Kling. The orchestral numbers were Don Quixote 
and Eulenspiegel, under the composer's direction. 

The biggest trump was reserved for the final concert : 
the first performance anywhere of the Sinfonia Domes- 
tica, under Strauss, who also conducted Don Juan 
and Zarathustra. No soloist. 

It is interesting to note that of the fourteen songs 
given at these concerts, seven were with orchestra. 
All of the fourteen were well calculated to give the audi- 
ences a favorable impression of his gifts as a song- 
writer. The Serenade is conspicuously absent. 


It cannot be said that this festival was a brilliant 
success, notwithstanding the cooperation of the com- 
poser and his wife. The press for the most part was 
hostile; so much so that when, a little later, Strauss 
came across a faultfinder in Chicago, he asked : "Are 
you perhaps from New York?" 

No doubt, some of us did not appreciate at its full 
value the opportunity to hear Strauss conduct seven 
of his principal works. Whatever one may think 
of their value, he certainly conducted them with a 
brilliant virtuosity no one else has equalled in them. 
The orchestra, though not the best in New York, 
was a good one ; yet fifteen rehearsals of the Domestica 
were held before the composer was satisfied. 

Now began a chase which must have severely tried 
the vitality of Strauss, used though he was to such 
exertions. In, a month he gave twenty-one concerts 
in different cities, with nearly as many orchestras.. 
Altogether, his tour (with his wife) comprised thirty- 
five concerts and nearly as many dinners in their honor. 
They were happiest in Chicago, for there Theodore 
Thomas gave them a royal welcome. Four months 
before they had left Europe for this tour, Thomas had 
invited them to come to Chicago. In his reply, dated 
October 18, 1903, Strauss said : "In thanking you for 
your charming invitation, I take pleasure in appoint- 
ing April 1 and 2 as the dates when I shall make 
the personal acquaintance of your famous orchestra. 
How happy I shall be, after twenty years, to take you, 
who were the first to make my works known in America, 
by the hand, and to thank you for all that you have 
done for my art since I had the pleasure, in my old 
home, to play for you my F minor Symphony at that 


In his reply, Thomas said : " It will be an ever memo- 
rable satisfaction to both myself and the orchestra to 
show to the greatest musician now living and one of 
the greatest pioneers of all times, our love and respect 
for his genius and knowledge. The name of Richard 
Strauss is one to conjure with in our audience, and I 
am delighted, dear sir, that during your visit you 
will find yourself surrounded by friends and admirers 

Before Strauss arrived in Chicago, Thomas pre- 
pared the program thoroughly, the result being that 
the composer saw no need for more than one rehearsal 
under his own b&ton. At its close he made the follow- 
ing address, as recorded by Mrs. Thomas : 

Gentlemen : I came here in the pleasant expectation of 
finding a superior orchestra, but you have far surpassed my 
expectations, and I can say to you that I am delighted to 
know you as an orchestra of artists in whom beauty of tone, 
technical perfection, and discipline are found in the highest 
degree. I know that this is due to your, by me, most highly 
revered Meister, Theodore Thomas, whom I have known 
for twenty years, and whom it gives me inexpressible pleas- 
ure to meet again here in his own workroom. Gentlemen, 
such a rehearsal as that which we have held this morning 
is no labor, but a great pleasure, and I thank you all for the 
hearty good-will you have shown towards me. 

When the concert came, Mrs. Thomas relates, the Audi- 
torium was crowded from floor to ceiling with thousands 
of music lovers, and as Thomas led the great composer on 
to the stage, this vast concourse of people rose to their 
feet, cheering and applauding, while the orchestra blazoned 
forth a rousing tusch of welcome. It was a splendid tribute 
of appreciation, and naturally inspired Strauss to his best 
effort. No one who had the good fortune to hear that 
concert will ever forget the exquisite beauty of the whole 




An interesting episode occurred on Strauss's return 
to New York. On April 16 and 18 he gave two after- 
noon concerts at John Wanamaker's for which he was 
paid one thousand dollars. His enemies, both in Amer- 
ica and Europe, made a great ado over this, declaring 
it little short of scandalous that a musician of his rank 
should appear at a department-store concert. The 
Berlin Signale was particularly incensed at this affront 
to the majesty of art. 

To those familiar with the facts, this storm in a tea- 
kettle was amusing. Before accepting this offer, 
Strauss had satisfied himself that the Wanamaker 
Auditorium provided opportunity for high-class per- 
formances and was, in every way, just as respectable 
a place for a musician to appear in as Carnegie Hall 
or the Metropolitan Opera House. 

John Wanamaker is a merchant prince who has spent 
hundreds of thousands in New York and Philadelphia 
in providing free musical entertainment for his cus- 
tomers or any one else who chooses to attend his daily 
entertainments. These concerts are of course given 
for advertising purposes, but is advertising a crime? 
Do not musicians advertise as well as merchants? 
High-class artists appear at many of these concerts, 
which are heard annually by more than a quarter of 
a million persons, among whom they spread a love and 
understanding of music. Opportunities are provided 
for young artists to get before the public, and for a 
number of years these entertainments have been under 
the management of a favorably known American com- 


poser, Alexander Russell, now also Professor of Music 
at Princeton University. Surely there was no reason 
why Strauss should have refused the chance to add 
an honest one thousand dollars to his bank account. As 
he remarked in a contribution concerning this matter 
to the Allgemeine Musik-Zeitung (April 20, 1904) : 
"True art ennobles any hall, and earning money in 
a decent way for wife and child is no disgrace even 
for an artist." 


A much more violent tempest was that which arose 
in 1907 and swept Salome from the stage of the Metro- 
politan Opera House. In the history of that famous 
institution this is a unique episode. 

Heinrich Conried was at that time manager of the 
Metropolitan. He knew of the tremendous success 
of Salome abroad, a success which caused it to be per- 
formed in three years in more than fifty European 
cities. Surely, he reasoned, it would provide a profit- 
able sensation for New York too. 

Some amusing references to his correspondence 
with Strauss are included in the "Life of Conried" 
by Montrose J. Moses* In a letter to Geraldine 
Farrar, Conried said : "In case I should come to terms 
with Richard Strauss he asks at present ridiculously 
high terms I would be much obliged to have you 
create Salome, which will very likely be done about 
the middle of February." 

A few days later he wrote again to ask Miss 
Farrar if she was willing to sing Butterfly. "It 
seems, 5 * he added, "I cannot come to terms with 


Strauss about Salome. He wants the earth and a small 
piece besides/* 

Miss Farrar having the good sense to see that such 
a part would not improve her voice, Conried sounded 
other singers. Then he wrote to Strauss, to make 
him understand that his claims were excessive, 

I am willing, he declared, to pay you the highest author's 
royalty that I can give you, provided you yourself direct 
the first performance. I am willing to grant you an evening's 
salary of $500 a salary which has never been paid an 
opera director anywhere in the world. . . . You want five 
Salome performances for the second season, with an even- 
ing's salary of $750. If you direct a performance in the 
second year, perhaps it will be worth that, in case Salome is 
a success the first year which you take for granted and 
which I most sincerely wish. If, however, my audiences, 
despite all the greatness of your work, dislike the opera, 
in what a situation would I find myself then ? 

When, finally, satisfactory arrangements had been 
made, Conried became so interested in the outcome 
that, as his biographer relates, some of the rehearsals 
were conducted at his bedside when he was ill. Al- 
ready the papers were printing cartoons, and articles 
for and against, and Conried was also denounced in 
some of the pulpits. As a rival manager remarked to 
him: "Lucky man! Your show advertises itself!" 

On January 22,' 1907, the first performance was 
given, under the masterly direction of Alfred Hertz, 
and with a cast including Fremstad as Salome, Burrian 
as Herod, Van Rooy as Jokanaan, Andreas Dippel 
as Narraboth, Albert Reiss as the First Jew, Adolf 
Mlihlmann as First Soldier. It was given outside 
the subscription, and the receipts exceeded $22,000, 
which went into the manager's pocket, as this was 
his annual "benefit night." 


The impression the opera made on the audience was 
thus described by W. P. Eaton in the Tribune : "Many 
voices were hushed as the crowd passed out into the 
night, many faces were white almost as those at the 
rail of a ship. Many women were silent, and men 
spoke as if a bad dream were on them. , * . The grip 
of a strange horror or disgust was on the majority. 
It was significant that the usual applause was lacking. 
It was scattered and brief/ 5 Mr. Krehbiel added to 
this remark that "a large proportion of the audience 
left the audience-room at the beginning of the bestial 
apostrophe to the head of the Baptist. 5 * 

Two days after the first performance, the Directors 
/of the Metropolitan Opera and Real Estate Company 
j requested Mr. Conried to withdraw Salome, under 
\ Section 3 of the lease of the house. The resolutions 
!sent to him declared that the Directors "consider that 
'the performance of Salome is objectionable and det- 
rimental to the best interests of the Metropolitan 
* Opera House. They therefore protest against any 
repetition of this opera." 

In a long reply, Conried called attention to the 
facts that Salome was being performed everywhere 
in Europe ; that it was acknowledged a musical master- 
work, "probably the greatest which musical genius 
has produced in this generation"; that most people 
go to an opera for the music and not the libretto; 
that in Salome the only religious personage is John 
the Baptist, who is "treated with dignity and rever- 
ence" ; that the bringing of the head upon the stage 
followed all European precedent, but that he had ar- 
ranged that, in future performances, "it should be 
entirely hidden from the view of the audience; that 
he had received letters from many persons, among 


them several clergymen, who expressed admiration 
of this work." 

Some of the directors supported Conried's plea, 
but the majority-vote was adverse, and Salome was 
banished from the sacred precincts of the Metro- 
politan Opera House, J. Pierpont Morgan paying the 
loss resulting from this action. 

A few performances of Salome in some other theater 
were planned by Conried, but presently he dropped 
that project, and the opera was heard no more till 
Hammerstein revived it. 

New York was by no means the only city that 
objected to this opera. Some of its details, as pre- 
viously noted, had to be modified before the Royal 
Opera in Berlin accepted it. In London, Salome 
had to deliver her apostrophe to a tray that had no 
head in it ; and it was said that only the Queen's inter- 
ference prevented the censor from forbidding the opera 


To Alfred Hertz, who so ably conducted the opera 
at the Metropolitan, I owe a few anecdotes relating 
to it. One of them he got from Rudolf Berger, who 
sang the part of Jokanaan at the hundredth perform- 
ance of this opera in Berlin. 

Berger was always very much annoyed that during 
his most beautiful passage, which he has to sing down 
in the well, Herodias sings on the stage in an absolutely 
different key, and, as he put it, spoiled his beautiful 
cantilena ; so he asked Strauss before that performance 
if he would not allow him for once to sing this passage 


alone. Strauss thought it over for a moment and then 
he said: "I really think I have irritated the public 
often enough with this awkward passage of Herodias, 
so we might leave it out to-day." Berger was delighted 
and did his best to sing his passage better than ever. 
After the performance, he went beaming up to Strauss 
and said: "Wasn't it much nicer?" But Strauss 
answered : "Maybe you liked it better, but we will 
do it the old way hereafter all the same." 

At a rehearsal for wind instruments alone, held by 
Hertz at the Metropolitan, the players had to stop 
during the scene of the Jews "because of the funny 
noises the muted brass was making. The players 
laughed so much over them that I had to wait quite 
.a few minutes before we all could go on again. At 
the first rehearsals many, especially the older members 
of th<e orchestra, were seriously bothered by the terrific 
difficulties which, as some of the musicians put it, 
Strauss evidently wrote 'only to annoy the musicians* ; 
but soon afterwards the orchestra became most enthu- 
siastic, and felt really worse about the discontinuance 
of the performance than the artists." 

Occasionally Strauss, in orchestrating his music, 
writes for the violins notes lower than the lowest they 
can play (G), without giving them time to tune down 
to them. "I asked him his reason for doing so," says 
Hertz, "in view of the fact that it was impossible to 
play those notes. * Well, * he answered, * it is impossible 
to-day, but who knows but that in the future someone 
will make violins which will make these notes possible/ 
Funny enough, a year later, at an exposition of musical 
instruments in Vienna, a violin was exhibited which 
had, in addition to the usual four strings, a low C 
string on which all of these passages would have 


been easy to play. For reasons unknown to me, 
these instruments have not been introduced in any 
orchestra, so far as I know." 


That Heinrich Conried was right in his belief that 
Salome, if he could produce it in some other theater, 
would attract the masses, was shown when Oscar 
Hammerstein included this noisome work in his reper- 
tory during his third season at the Manhattan Opera 
House (1908-1909). The five successes of that season 
(strange assortment) were Donizetti's Lucia, Mas- 
senet's Thefts and Le Jongleur de Notre Dame, Of- 
fenbach's Let Contes d'Hqffmann, each of which had 
seven performances, and Strauss's Salome, which had 
no fewer than ten. 

Encouraged by the favorable reception of Salome, 
Hammerstein added its successor, Elektra, to his 
repertory, on February 1, 1910 somewhat late in 
the season ; but it still achieved seven representations, 
under the direction of De la Fuente, with a cast in- 
cluding Mariette Mazarin as Elektra, Alice Baron 
as Chrysosthemis, Gerville-Reache as Klytemnestra, 
Duffault as Aegisthus and Huberdeau as Orestes. 

Two days previous to the premiere, Hammerstein 
expressed the fear that he had made a mistake in ask- 
ing double the usual prices for seats; but when the 
hour arrived for the curtain to rise, the auditorium 
was crowded. There were evidently not a few Strauss- 
ites in the assemblage, and when the curtain fell, 
the applause was loud and prolonged, so that Hammer- 




stein had reason to cable to the composer that Elektra 
had proved a success in the new world. 

In a letter to the Glasgow Herald I said, in summing up 
the situation, that for the lack of praise from the New 
York critics when the Strauss Festival was held, and 
the insult when Salome was banished, which rankled 
deeply in his breast, Strauss "had his revenge when, 
some time later, the German Liederkranz asked him 
to contribute a few lines for its Goethe Festival Album. 
He took the occasion to accuse Americans of lack of 
talent, inability to appreciate real art, and * hypocrisy, 
the most loathsome of all vices/ 

"But lo, and behold! When Oscar Hammerstein, 
last season, produced Salome, these same untalented, 
unappreciative, and loathsome hypocrites crowded 
the Manhattan Opera House ten times, making the 
Strauss opera the success of the year ! 

"When Elektra had its sensational premiere in 
Dresden, the same Oscar Hammerstein, as a matter 
of course, promptly applied for permission to produce 
it at the Manhattan. Strauss not only complied, 
but, to show his gratitude for the missionary work 
Mr. Hammerstein had done, he charged him only 
$10,000 for the American rights of performance and a 
trifle of $18,000 in advance royalties." 

In business matters, too, Strauss is a virtuoso ! 



New York had to wait three years to hear the first 
performance of Strauss's most successful opera, Der 
Roserikavalier* No doubt it would have been pro- 


duced sooner had Hammerstein, who had fared well 
with Salome and Elektra, remained an impresario. But 
in 1910 he was persuaded to leave this field (for a liberal 
sum) by the directors of the Metropolitan, who had 
found him an inconvenient rival and thorn the oc- 
casion of odious comparisons with their own doings, 
especially in the realm of French opera. 

These directors had no desire to take over from 
Hammerstein the Elektra score, or to revive Salome. 
After the production of Ariadne in Stuttgart, however, 
they showed a disposition to reopen negotiations with 
its composer. When it became evident that Ariadne 
was not a success, even in Germany, this plan was 
abandoned, and the Rosenkavalier was chosen instead. 
This comic opera, to be sure, had been hissed in Milan, 
but in the cities of Germany it had a sensational and 
an enduring success. In London, too, it proved, for a 
time, a huge box-office success. So it was staged at 
the Metropolitan in 1914, and retained its hold on the 
public for several seasons, aided by big casts and 
considerable pruning and toning down of its coarse 
dialogue. Its first conductor in New York was Alfred 
Hertz ; its second, Arthur Bodanzky. 

On November 25, *1916, Strauss once more had his 
name on a Metropolitan program, this time, however, 
only as editor editor of Gluck's Iphigenia in Tauris, 
which on this occasion probably had its first hearing 
in America, though one hundred and thirty-seven 
years old. Doubtless it would not have been heard 
even then had not Strauss, a quarter of a century 
previously, undertaken to modernize it to some extent. 
In doing this, he followed the example of Wagner, 
who, when he was conductor of the Royal Opera in 
Dresden, brought out a revised version of Gluck's 


Iphigenia in Aulis, which, though sixty-six years old, 
had never been heard in that city. Its success was so 
pronounced that Liszt, who at that time conducted 
the opera in Weimar, begged him to make similar 
arrangements of Gluck's Akeste, Orpheus, Armide> and 
Iphigenia in Tauris. 

The Dresden critics, on the other hand, who never 
approved of anything Wagner did, pronounced his 
labors "a waste of time and trouble"; and his French 
biographer, Adolph Jullien, took the narrow, conserv- 
ative stand that Gluck's operas were not so antiquated 
that they needed retouching. Wagner's most impas- 
sioned foe, Doctor Hanslick, for once showed common- 
sense when he wrote that "a critic conveys to the 
reader a greater sense of his own importance if he 
wails over the omission of every little note as an ir- 
reparable loss. But a truer friend and benefactor 
of Gluck is he who, by sacrificing a few minor details, 
helps one of his operas to success, than those purists 
who, from their classical heights, would rather look 
down on its failure." Wagner's additions in the last 
act Hanslick pronounced "masterly traits, which 
enormously increase the dramatic effect without assert- 
ing themselves too independently./' 

Precisely the same thing may be said of Strauss's 
version of the other Iphigenia. With his aid, the last 
act of this opera has been made one of the most thrill- 
ingly dramatic and pathetic scenes ever heard in an 
opera house; a scene unsurpassed by any opera com- 
poser from Mozart to Wagner. It made one forgive 
the dreariness, monotony, and effeteness of much 
that preceded it, and we may thank Mr. Bodanzky 
for providing this tremendous treat for the Metro- 
politan's audiences. 


The first performance of Gluck's opera in this version 
was given at Weimar, Strauss on that occasion trans- 
lated the French text into German with such disre- 
gard of the original accents that even his warmest 
champions, among them Max Steinitzer, rebelled. 
But concerning the musical additions and certain 
transpositions in the score, there can hardly be a 
difference of opinion. If Gluck's last but one and 
generally considered his greatest work is to be in- 
cluded in the modern operatic repertory it can only 
be in Richard Strauss's version. He has done for this 
opera what Liszt wanted Wagner to do for it ; and he 
has done it in the Wagnerian spirit of reverence for 
the original, combined with a desire to make it impress 
modern audiences as it did those of thirteen decades 

Strauss did well to enrich the orchestration here 
and there, for Gluck's colors now seem somewhat 
anemic. He compressed the last two acts into one 
act of two scenes; he omitted some of the recitatives 
and transferred an air sung by Iphigenia from the 
early part of the first act to its close; replaced the 
final air of Orestes by a trio, and made a few more 
minor changes. His masterstroke is at the end, where 
he has taken an air of Orestes as a basis for a trio, 
which is merged with the chorus, and enriched by a 
fullness of orchestration that would have astonished 
Gluck as much as it certainly would have delighted 
him. This refers to the whole of the final scene, which, 
as before stated, is one of the most overwhelmingly 
pathetic climaxes in all dramatic art ; the scene where 
Iphigenia, as Priestess of Diana, is about to dispatch 
the garlanded prisoner, when she discovers at the last 
moment that he is her brother Orestes, and throws 


herself into his arms. This, with the anger of the King, 
who condemns them both to death, and the rescue by 
a force of Greeks, makes a thrilling ending of the 

Once more, on October 23, 1916, a Strauss work 
had its first performance in New York the first, 
in fact, anywhere. 

While Nijinsky, of the Ballet Russe, was a prisoner 
of war in Austria, he conceived the plan of turning 
the orchestral humoresque Till Eulenspiegel into a 
pantomimic ballet. It has been previously noted 
that Strauss at first intended to make the Eulenspiegel 
story the basis of an opera. Luckily he changed his 
mind, for a series of operatic pranks lasting four hours 
would hardly have been as enjoyable as a tone poem 
lasting only eighteen minutes. However, the fact 
that Strauss had in mind an operatic plot, and that, 
in producing his Josefs Legende he collaborated with 
the Ballet Russe in producing a ballet, makes it easy 
to believe that he was entirely in sympathy with the 
plan of combining a scenic background and pantomime 
with his Till music, as presented at the Manhattan 
Opera House. 

The venture was a complete success. The fantastic 
scenery and costumes were designed in Bakstian fashion 
by Robert E. Jones, and Mr. Nijinsky's choreographic 
details went very well with the music, which calls for 
almost as rapid changes as a moving-picture film. 
The pranks and practical jokes of Eulenspiegel were 
cleverly acted by Nijinsky and his associates, who 
duly brought out the fun of the upsetting of things 
in the market place, the courting scene, the episode 
with the philosophers, and finally the tragedy of the 
gallows, which was most picturesque and duly gruesome. 


MAX STEINITZER'S "Richard Strauss", published 
by Schuster and Loeffler (Berlin, 1911) is not only by 
far the most important book on Strauss up to -date 
but is likely to remain the most valuable of all works 
on this composer. Its author has been a friend of 
Strauss ever since childhood ; he has followed his career 
with sympathy and yet critically; he has been inde- 
fatigable in collecting material; and he has had the 
advantage of being able to make extracts from letters 
to and by Strauss which have not yet been issued 
otherwise in book form. 

There are two editions of Steinitzer's biography. 
The second, published in 1914, is a book intended 
for those who, while reading about Strauss and his 
works, do not wish to have their attention distracted 
by references, esthetic disputations, footnotes, and 
other scholarly digressions. But for journalists and 
all others who want information about Strauss for 
literary purposes, the first edition is far more valuable, 
because of these very scholarly digressions and refer- 
ences. There are special chapters on Strauss "As a 
Rogue", "As a Decadent", "As an Artist", "As a 
Man of Business", "As a Butt of Criticism", etc., etc. 
Fortunately, for the special benefit of literary folk, 
the publishers have not allowed the second edition to 
entirely supplant the first, which is still kept in stock. 



Steinitzer is also the author of other books which 
deal with Strauss: "Musikalische Strafpredigten"; 
"Straussiana"; and "Musikgeschichtlicher Atlas." 
Breitkopf and HSrtel published in 1914 a short book 
(64 pages) on Strauss by the same writer, which is a 
good bird's-eye view of his life. 

Arthur Seidl is another personal friend of Strauss 
who has contributed valuable information and comment, 
in his "Straussiana", and in a brochure of thirty-eight 
pages, in collaboration with Wilhelm Klatte. 

Richard Batka's "PersSnlichkeiten " (Heft 16) con- 
tains, besides comments, interesting biographic data. 

Hans von Btilow's "Briefe ", Volumes 6 and 7, in- 
clude spicy references to Strauss. 

Leopold Schmidt, in "Monographien Moderner 
Musiker", has a chapter on Richard Strauss; also 
in "Aus dem Musikleben der Gegenwart", to which 
Strauss himself contributed a preface; Schmidt also 
wrote guides to Ariadne and the Legend of Joseph. 

Eugen Schmitz's "Richard Strauss als Musikdrama- 
tiker" and Erich TJrban's "Strauss contra Wagner** 
are concerned with the operas chiefly. 

Entirely or partly concerned with Strauss are Gustav 
Brecher's "Richard Strauss"; Robert Louis's "Das 
Musikdrama der Gegenwart"; Oscar Bie's "Die 
Kultur " ; Adolf Weissmann's "Berlin als Musikstadt" ; 
PerfalPs "Geschichte der KSniglichen Theater in 
Mtinchen"; Hausegger's "Alexander Ritter" and 
"Aus dem Jenseits des Ktinstlers " ; Oscar Bie's "Die 
Moderne Musik und Richard Strauss." Heft 8, 1905, 
of "Die Musik" (Berlin: Schuster and Loeffler) is de- 
voted chiefly to Strauss. Much valuable information re- 
garding first performances, etc., may be found in Mtiller- 
Reuter's "Lexikon der deutschen Konzert-literatur." 


"Richard Strauss-Woche, Mtinchen", 1910 (Emil 
Gutmann), is a festival program book which includes 
lists of his works and bibliographic data. 

Eduard Hanslick's books: "Ftinf Jahre Musik", 
"Am Ende des Jalirhunderts ", and "Aus Neuer und 
Neuester Zeit", include crushing articles on some 
of the symphonic poems. They were printed originally 
in the Neue Freie Pre$se> of Vienna, which contained 
also, on January 12, 1909, Strauss's personal reminis- 
cences of Hans von Billow, a valuable biographic doc- 

No attempt, apparently, has been made to catalogue 
the countless articles on Strauss in German news- 
papers and magazines. If reprinted in book form 
they would fill many dozens of volumes. The names 
of prominent critics who have written for or against 
Strauss may be found in the first edition of Steinitzer, 
page 127. Prominent among the opponents has been 
the editor of the Signale, August Spanuth, whose 
resentment is probably due largely to the fact that 
idolaters have claimed so much for Strauss that really 
belongs to Liszt. He is thus in the same boat with 
the writer of this American book on Strauss. 

Thematic guides and analyses of the tone poems 
and operas of Strauss are referred to in their proper 
places in this volume. A list of them may be found 
in Number 2756 of the Universal Edition (Aktien- 
gesellschaft, Wien, Leipzig), page 36. 

A Strauss chronology and complete list of his com- 
positions (up to 1910) is included in this same number 
of the Universal Edition, which is edited by Richard 
Specht. It catalogues all the songs in alphabetical 
as well as chronological order, and, under the names 
.of the tone poems and operas, lists are given of 


the arrangements for various instruments* It is tan 
invaluable document and costs only twenty-five 


In English the only volume up to date on Strauss 
is the excellent little monograph of one hundred and 
forty-four pages by Ernest Newman, which, unfor- 
tunately, was published (by John Lane) before Elektra 
and the works following it had been produced. It 
includes a biographic sketch by Alfred Kalish. See 
also Newman's "Musical Studies." 

The list of English books which have noteworthy 
chapters or articles on Strauss includes E. A. Bauhan's 
"Music and Musicians"; P. Niecks's "Programme 
Music"; Fuller Maitiand's "Masters of German 
Music"; Grove's "Dictionary of Music and Musi- 
cians" ; Streatfield's "Modern Music and Musicians." 

American books concerned in part with Strauss 
are Gilman's "Phases of Modern Music"; "Aspects 
of Modern Opera"; "Nature in Music"; and a 
Guide to Salome; James Huneker's "Overtones" and 
"Mezzotints in Modern Music"; H. E. Krehbiel's 
"Chapters of Opera"; W. J. Henderson's "Modern 
Musical Drift"; J. K. Paine's "Famous Composers"; 
Arthur Elson's "Modern Composers of Europe"; 
L. A. Coerne's "Evolution of Modern Orchestration"; 
Gustav 3obb6's "How to Appreciate Music." 

A Bibliography of Straussiana may be found in 
The Musician (Oliver Ditson Company) of February, 

Invaluable to students of Strauss is "Modern Music 
and Drama" (The Boston Book Company), two 
volumes dated 1911 and 1915, which contain references 


to several hundred articles on Strauss in American 
and English magazines and newspapers. There are 
separate lists for the operas, from Guntram to Ariadne. 
Mention may also be made here of a few French 
authors whose chapters on Strauss have been trans- 
lated into English: Romain Rolland ("Musicians of 
To-day"); M.MarnoId (See "Music", Volumes 22 and 
23) ; and Albert Lavignac ("Music and Musicians"). 


A Hero'* Life, 126, 197-5203. 

Abell, A. M., 265, 269, 271. 

Aldrich, R., 207. 

Alpensympkonie, 212-218. 

America: Strauss in, 59, 297-315; 
praised by him, 62; invited to 
return to, 72; letters to Theodore 
Thomas, 297; Strauss festival 
and first performance anywhere 
of the Sinfonia Domestica, 301; 
Wanamaker episode, 304 ; abused 
by him, 311 ; Salome and Elektra 
in, 310-311 ; Iphigenia in Tauris, 
312; Till Eulenspiegel as ballet, 

Anecdotes: Brahms's father and 
his double bass, 6; von Billow 
and Strauss's father, 13; "LUce 
a lioness**, 20; "before I die", * 
27; Strauss on his sickbed, 56; 
interviews, 57-65; "a musical 
Buddha**, 69 ; in quest of a song, 
69; making his guests pay, 71; 
"frivolous conduct*', 73; SchBn- 
berg and Hegel, 106; the prince 
and the trombones, 115; Wagner 
as a borrower from Liszt, 124; 
spoiling a white vest, 125; "you 
are welcome to them*', 127; "a 
Lisztite, too'*, 133; "ugly dogs**, 
133; Mozart and the clarinetist, 
141; scared by the thunder 
machine, 217; drowning the 
voice, 250; animals on the stage, 
250 ; irritating the public, 310. 

Apthorp, W. F., 171. 174. 

Ariadne auj Naxos, 39, 66, 264-272. 

Armstrong, W., 57. 

Arrangements, 262, 292, 320. 

Art for art's sake, 116. 

Aua Italic 17, 22, 23, 151-154, 299. 


Bach, 111. 116-117. 

Ballet Russe, 40, 274, 315. 

Batka, R., 188, 190, 196, 232, 234, 


Baughan, E. A., xii, 196, 320. 
Bayreuth festivals, 3, 11, 57. 
Beecham, T., 251. 
Beethoven, 59, 78, 79, 99, 109, 111, 

117, 140. 

Berlin, 31, 33, 63, 213, 239, 244, 271. 
Berlioz, 78, 81, 109, 110, 113, 114, 

135, 139, 141, 153, 166. 
Bibliography, xv, 317-321. 
Bizet, 139, 182. 

Boston Symphony Orchestra, 130. 
Brahms, 9, 16, 18, 99, 102, 116, 146, 

148, 149, 156, 239, 243. 
Btilow, H. von, 3, 12-19, 25, 44, 

100, 148, 149, 154, 157, 160, 318. 
Burltoke, 19, 150. 

Cacophony, 123, 126, 127, 160. 
Chamber music, 146-151. 
Chicago, 302. 
Chopin, 124, 145. 
Choral works, 292. 
Clarinet family, future of, 137. 
Coloratura, 269. 
Composers, exploited, 51. 
Conductors, 52-56, 12&-1S2. 
Conried, H., 305-308. 
Corder, F., 107. 


Damrosch, L., 130. 

De Ahna, Pauline. See STKAJTSS, 


Death and TraTufiguration, 168-173. 
Debussy, 119, 123, 125. 



Don Juan, 24, 158, 162-168. 
Don Quixote, 190-197. 
Downes, (X> 131. 
Dresden, 255. 
Dukas, P., 216. 
Dvorak, 116, 135, 148, 206. 

Elektra, xiii, 244-254, 310. 

Elgar, 49. 

Elson, A., 318. 

Emotions, expression of, by means of 

instruments, 136-141. 
England and Strauss, 33. See 


Enoch Arden, 291. 
Etude, The, 57. 
Evening Post, New York, 120, 161, 

203, 219, 259, 269. 

Farrar, Geraldine, 303-804. 
Faust, Liszt's, 131, 
Festival Prelude, 218. 
Feuermot, 227-234. 
Floersheim, O., 189. 
Folk-song arrangements, 292. 
Form, musical, 92, 97, 98, 116-117. 
Friedheim, A., 138. 
From Italy. See Aus ITALIEN. 

Oilman, L., 81, 168, 240, 241, 


Gluck, 34, 111, 312. 
Urainger, Percy, xv ; an estimate of 

Strauss, xvii-xxv. 
Grieg, xv, xxiv, 51, 54, 111, 284. 
Guntram, 28, 30, 223-227. 


Hale, P., 131, 173, 208. 
Hammerstein, Oscar, 244, 310. 
Handel, 111, 122. 
Hanslick, E., 167, 178, 181, 198, 313, 

Heckelphone, 113. 

Henderson, W. J., 320. 
Hertz, A., 306, 308, 312. 
Hervey, A., 118. 

Hofmannsthal, H., 256, 265, 266. 
Horn, French, 138-141. 
Humiston, W. H., 215. 
Humperdinck, 48. 

Huneker, J., xiii, 66, 118, 190, 199, 

Invention. See MELODY. 

Italian Fantasy. See Axis ITALIEN. 

Italy, 21, 152. 

Jacob, O. P., 266, 268. 
Josef s-Legende, 273-280. 


Kaiser Wilhelm II, 34, 48. 

Kalish, A., 49, 69, 252, 320. 

Karpath, L., 63. 

Kelley, E. S., 215. 

Kobb4 G., 318. 

Krehbiel, H. E., 174, 242, 307, 820. 

Lavignac, A., 321. 

Legend of Joseph, 273-280. 

Legge, E. H., 22. 

Letters and articles by Strauss, xiii, 

Liszt : revealed to Strauss by Hitter, 
18 ; Strauss in his place at Weimar, 
25 ; Liszt concerts, 26 ; prominent 
on Strauss's programs, 35; tri- 
umphs over enemies, 46 ; "highly 
respectable", 73; a pioneer, 77; 
inspired by Berlioz, 81; his 
aristocratic program music, 82; 
on limitations of music, 82; 
praised by Wagner, 83 ; charm of 
variety, 84; some of his sym- 
phonic poems, 84-87; his chief 
claim to honor, 92; adds a new 
chapter to history of form, 92; 


refuses to worship stuffed fetish, 
94; Wagner recants, 96; eman- 
cipator, 97; his difficult task, 98; 
a master of coherent form, 94, 
100 ; even in his rhapsodies, 100 ; 
his world victory, 101; not a 
polyphonist, 105; never over- 
orchestrates, 108; his new art 
of orchestration, 108-109; a trom- 
bone anecdote, 115 ; as a melodist, 
118; extraordinary influence on 
Wagner, 124; creates a new 
epoch in harmony, 125 ; influence 
on Russian composers, 125 ; whole- 
tone and Hungarian scales, 125; 
his music often bungled, 127; 
as conductor of his own works, 
128; advice to conductors, 128; 
died too soon, 129 ; in New York, 
130; triumph in Boston, 130- 
132 ; why Liszt is dwelt on in this 
book, 132; greatest orchestral 
composer since Beethoven, 134; 
brevity of his symphonic poems, 
134; happy use of instruments, 

London, 33, 69, 233, 251, 261. 

Love and music, 162-163. 


Macbeth, 157-162. 

MacDowell, 80. 

Mahler, 18, 54, 130, 217. 

Maitland, Fuller, 22, 320. 

Mazeppa, 83, 137. 

Melody, 115-119, 120-123, 162. 

Mendelssohn, 7, 80. 

Metropolitan Opera House, 52, 305- 


Mottl, F., 55, 133. 
Mozart, 16, 109, 111, 136, 163. 
Muck, K, 118, 130. 
Mtiller-B-euter, 316. 
Munich, 3, 20, 31, 150, 232. 
Musical America, 63. 
Musical Courier, 265, 271, 278. 
Musical Leader, 69. 
Musical Times, 98, 107. 


Newman, Ernest, xii, xv, 77, 79, 
90, 91, 98, 105, 112, 118, 126, 147, 
153, 159, 166, 196, 202, 211, 212, 
227, 284, 292, 320. 

New York. See AMBBICA.. 

Niecks, R, 82, 172, 320. 

Nietzsche, 180, 182. 

Nijinski, 40, 274, 275, 315. 

Noren, 120. 


Orchestra: operatic, versu* singers, 
52; make-up of Strauss's, 103, 
114; tone-colors, 107; Wagner's 
secret, 110; polyphony, 110; 
mammoth, 114; saxophones, 115; 
violin with five strings, 309. 

Orchestration : polyphony and tone- 
color, 103; from Haydn and 
Beethoven to Liszt and Strauss, 
107-109; eye-music, 106, 261; 
miscalculations, 112; new in- 
struments, 113; Berlioz's treatise 
edited by Strauss, 135-136 ; future 
of, 137; the epoch-making horn, 
139; Wagner's, 110, 139, 241; 
expression of emotions, 136-141; 
idiomatic, 241, 249. 

Osgood, H. 0., 278. 

PaderewsM, 35, 217. 

Paine, J. K., 320. 

Parry, H., 111. 

Parsifal, 11. 

Parsing, 154. 

Pfohl, F., 260. 

Piano pieces by Strauss, 12, 19, 24, 

Pictorial Review, 61. 

Philharmonic Society, New York, 
130, 161, 217, 219, 297. 

Polyphony, 104, 110. 

Program music: 77-142; "a mis- 
demeanor", 78; primitive and 
medieval, 79; modern instru- 
mental, 79 ; Beethoven, Mendels- 



sohn and Schumann, 80; Liszt's 
aristocratic, 82; his symphonic 
poems, 84-87; Strauss's sym- 
phonic puzzles, 88; his method, 
88-92; "tomfoolery", 91; why 
critics want programs, 156. 


Reger, Max, 111, 117. 

Richter, Hans, 133, 148. 

Riemann, Hugo, xi, 100, 125. 

Bitter, A., 18, 56, 169. 

Holland, Romain, 96, 119, 152, 196, 

199, 202, 210, 212, 321. 
Rosenkavalier, Der, 254-264. 
Russell, A., 306. 
Russian composers and Liszt, 125. 

Sachs, W. von, 269. 

Saint-Saens : on Liszt's Faust, 83 ; on 
Mazeppa, 86 ; his own symphonic 
poems, 87 ; on Liszt's historic 
achievement, 92; on the Flying 
Dutchman, 95 ; defines symphonic 
poem, 95; his books, 96; on 
Liszt as orchestral colorist, 108; 
Liszt's melodic fecundity, 118; 
melody and harmony, 123. 

Salome, 37, 113, 234-243, 305. 310. 

Saxophones, 115. 

Schindler, K, 106. 

Schmidt, L., xiii, 278, 282, 318. 

Schmitz, E., 316. 

Scho'nberg, A., 106, 126. 

Schubert," 7, 111, 117, 145, 260, 268. 

Schumann, 80, 98. 

Schumann-Heink, E., 217, 250. 

Seidl, Arthur, 27, 30, 130, 158, 226, 
243, 318. 

Serenade (song), 149, 162, 291, 301. 

Serenade for wind instruments, 12. 

Shaw, G. B., xiii, 274. 

Sinfonia bomestiea, 63, 112, 115, 
203-212, 302. 

Songs of Strauss, 29, 60, 62, 283-294. 

Spanuth, A., 100, 198, 213, 319. 

Specht, R., xii, 145, 819. 

Stanford, C. V., 116. 

Steinitzer, M., 8, 23, 30, 54, 57, 91, 
112, 145, 147, 148, 151, 160, 166, 
173, 196, 198, 199, 226, 255, 273, 
314, 317. 

Stephens, W., 60. 

Stransky, Josef, Dedication, 55, 130, 

Strauss, Franz, 5-7, 13. 

Strauss, Johann, 35, 220. 

Strauss, Pauline, 29, 61. 

Strauss, Richard: Life, Personal 
Traits and Opinions: his esti- 
mate of his chances for immor- 
tality, xiii; interesting to read 
about, xiv; date of birth, 3; 
his mother's family, 5; his 
father, 5; precocious, 7; early 
hatred of Wagner, 10; conver- 
sion, 11; conducts first tune, 13; 
conductor at Meiningen, 14; not 
appreciated in Munich, 20; first 
trip to Italy, 21; a funny error, 
22; amused by hissing, 23; in 
Liszt's place at Weimar, 25; 
"first place to the living", 25; 
opinion on Liszt, 26; trip to 
Egypt and composition of first 
opera, 28; marriage and return 
to Munich, 29 ; conducts in Berlin, 
31 ; well advertised, 31 ; wealthy 
through his own energy, 32 ; why 
Berlin wanted him, 32; concert 
tours, 33; the Kaiser's attitude, 
84; gives modern concerts in 
Berlin, 34; autobiography in 
tones, 36; operatic sensations, 
37; ephemeral successes, 39; 
more surprises, 39; personal 
traits, 42-73; energy, 43; as 
letter writer and editor, 43-45; 
helpful adverse criticism, 45; 
attitude of the public, 46 ; cham- 
pions colleagues, 47; launches 
Hansel and Gretel, 49; forwards 
Elgar, 49; cosmopolitan taste, 
40; president of AUgemeine Mu- 
sikverein, 50; helps to stop 
exploiting of composers, 51; a 



busy conductor, 58; one source 
of his -wealth, 54; appearance 
when conducting, 54 ; no shirker, 
55; as interpreter of his own 
works, 55; how he kept his 
health, 56; cards, 57; interview 
by W. Armstrong, 58; not 
nervous after composing, 58; 
amiable at rehearsal, 60; hia 
home at Garmisch, 61; talks 
while composing, 61; "not a 
proofreader for others", 62; dis- 
likes Berlin, 68; sarcastic, 68; 
treatment of a hostile critic, 64; 
always makes money, 66; makes 
critics pay for seats, 66 ; sketched 
by Huneker, 66; an English 
portrait, 67; his way of conduct- 
ingy 68; general culture, 68; 
closefistedness, 71; sense of 
humor, 72; "frivolous conduct", 
73; on Liszt's poetic treatment 
of orchestra, 109; blows his own 
horn, 109; modesty, 113; why 
used new instruments, 113; an 
advantage over Liszt, 127; cult 
in New York, 180; as a judge, 
182; had the genius to recognize 
Liszt's genius, 134; longing for 
Italy, 152; cannot create in 
winter, 152; a pampered child 
of fortune, 197; venomous critics, 
197; his Salome and EleTctra 
successes, 87, 244; a joke on 
German papers, 254; Dresden 
squabble over Rosenkavalier, 255 ; 
lack of practical sense, 255, 267, 
279; adventures in America, 
297-311; festival in New York, 
301; triumph in Chicago, 802; 
conducts at a department store, 
804; correspondence with Con- 
ried, 805; "wants the earth", 
306; abuses Americans, 311; a 
virtuoso in business matters, 311. 
Strauss, Richard, As a Composer 
and Interpreter : genius or charla- 
tan? xi; dangerous technic, xi; 
discordant critics, xi-xiv; Percy 

Grainger's estimate, xvi-xxv; 
influenced by classical and roman- 
tic composers, 16, 145; turns 
from Brahms to laszt, 16-18; 
conducts in the modern way, 21 ; 
follows Liszt's principles, 26; in 
Wagner's footsteps, 27; as prima 
donna conductor, 52; "with his 
knees", 54; modifications of 
tempo, 54; "objective" conduct- 
ing, 55; composes in the country, 
59; French influences, 67; habits 
in composing, 67; autobiographic 
works, 73; has he surpassed 
Liszt? 77, 101; wants to follow 
Liszt, 88, 166; condemns his 
own method, 89 ; "puzzled to the 
point of insanity", 90; "wild 
charge of formlessness", 98; his 
marvelous mind, 102; tries to 
be simple, 103; master of poly- 
phony, 104; music for the eyes, 
105; surpassed by SchQnberg, 
106; as orchestral colorlst, 107- 
109; tone color and polyphony, 
110; a pupil of Wagner, 113; 
use of new instruments, 113; 
big orchestras, 114; not a great 
melodist, 118; this point judged 
in court, 120; as a harmonist, 
124; ink spots on a white vest, 
126; duration of his tone poems, 
134; in his element, 135; im- 
proves the musicians, 140; dis- 
plays his most secret feelings, 
210; makes instruments speak 
foreign languages, 241; when in- 
teresting, 247; master of the 
horrible, 248 ; lacks gift of tender- 
ness, 248; dance music, 278; as 
a song writer, 283-291; why he 
followed Wolf, 286; how he 
composed his songs, 286; arranges 
folk-songs, 292; edits a Gluck 
opera, 312. 

Strauss, Bichard, Works: See 
under their names; also, under 



Streatfeild, R. A., xii. 

Stuttgart festival, 267. 

Symphonic Poems a new form, 
created by Liszt, 92 ; definition of, 
95; Wagner's admission, 96; 
Strauss compared with Liszt and 
others, 101-102 ; duration of, 134 ; 
Strauss's bridge to, 153. See also 

Symphony in F minor, 297-299. 

Symphony, the, 98. 

Tasso, 85, 172. 

Tchaikovsky, 168. 

Telegraph, London, 252. 

Thalberg, 118. 

Thomas, Theodore, 53, 59, 295- 


Thus Spake Zarathustra, 180-190. 
Till EuLenspiegeVs Merry Pranks, 

119, 173-180. 
Times, London, 119, 233, 254, 267, 


Times, New York, 207. 
Toscanini, A., 52. 
Tribune, New York, 307. 
Tristan and Isolde, 11, 56, 95, 110. 
Truth, London, 261. 

Unpublished works, 145. 
Urban, E., 54, 

Verdi, 138. 

Violin: concerto, 148; 

Voice, the, 8, 250, 269, 270. 


Wagner, Cosima, 3. 

Wagner, Richard: in Munich, 3, 
6; hated by Strauss family, 6, 
9; teaches Btttow, . 14; Dr. 
Hanslick, 45; an "interview", 
57; and Liszt, 95-96, 124; secret 

, of orchestral coloring, 110, 111, 
139; his music bungled, 127; 
use of clarinet, 137; waits long 
for recognition, 197 ; in Strauss's 
first opera, 231 ; idiomatic orches- 
tration, 241; royalties, 255; as 
editor of a Gluck opera, 310. 

Wanamaker episode, 304. - 

Weimar epoch, 25. 

Weingartner, 243. 

Wetzler, H. H., 301. 

Whole-tone scale, 125. 

Wolf, Hugo, 286.