In praise of Richard Strauss…

One of the great joys of my life has been, and remains, my acquaintance with the music of Richard Strauss.

It’s astonishing how he is able to engage all senses through the sense of hearing, how his music tracks the human psyche, how rich is the ground it provides for creative interaction, listener to performers.

Like Wagner, I was slow to warm to his operas.

At quite an early age, I knew many of the orchestral works, Till Eulenspiegel, Death and Transfiguration, Don Juan.

But Elektra, in the great Solti-Nilsson collaboration that is the must-own version (but you must go beyond it and own more if you can), did nothing for my untrained ears the first time I heard it, on an island in Lake George as a teen visiting relatives or acquaintances.

Ah, but later, in my college years, first came Salome, glorious warp indeed.  And then Elektra.

I just listened yesterday to a snippet at work through headphones, and oh my the intricacy of the orchestration.  What a mad, sane genius the young Strauss was.

He makes me glad to be alive!

Robert Devereaux

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