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WQXR Features

Music is a Holy Art: A Richard Strauss Celebration

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Richard Strauss is a difficult artist to classify. During his lifetime he embraced many musical forms and composed in a variety of musical styles. He had only one guiding principle, his firm belief that music is a holy art.

Strauss soprano Deborah Voigt hosts this one-hour radio documentary, presented by WQXR, in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the birth of Richard Strauss. More than 75 musical excerpts interweave with the narrative, which includes an investigation of Strauss’s most famous tone poems and operas, as well as a personal look at the man himself.

Guests in the program include Strauss scholar Bryan Gilliam (Duke University), Michael Tilson Thomas (Music Director, San Francisco Symphony & New World Symphony), Alan Gilbert (Music Director, New York Philharmonic), James Conlon (Music Director, LA Opera), Leon Botstein (Music Director, American Symphony Orchestra & President, Bard College), Strauss expert Paul Thomason and literary excerpts read by James Lurie.

Right: Host Deborah Voigt.

Note: In addition to the one-hour version of this program, there is also a three-part series version. The three-part series includes everything from the one-hour program, plus an additional 45 minutes of material. Here are the segments of the three-part series:

Part 1: Epic Tales Well Told: Strauss's Tone Poems

Strauss first came to international attention writing tone poems, his virtuoso symphonic works that portray stories, characters, and even philosophical ideas. In this first of three segments, we examine the six tone poems Strauss wrote between 1888 and 1898, which include Don Juan, Death & Transfiguration, Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks, Also Sprach Zarathustra, Don Quixote, and Ein Heldenleben ("A Hero's Life"). Listen>

Part 2: Strong Women Dominate Strauss Operas

The operas of Richard Strauss are dominated by female voices, and many of his fifteen operas are named for their female stars. In this second of three segments, we examine the Strauss operas centered around female protagonists, which include Salome, Elektra, Der Rosenkavalier, Ariadne auf Naxos, Die Frau ohne Schatten, Die ägyptische Helena, Arabella, Daphne, Die Liebe der Danae and Capriccio. Listen>

Part 3: The Enigma of Richard Strauss

Richard Strauss was an intensely private man, and many felt he wore a mask in public, never showing his true self. In this final segment of our three-part series, we attempt to pull back the mask and see the man behind it. We learn of Strauss’s early days as a prodigy, go behind the scenes of his unconventional marriage, and shed some light on his controversial association with the Nazis. Listen>

Playlist

Four Last Songs
“Im Abendrot”
Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Kurt Masur
Philips, 000943302
 
Also Sprach Zarathustra, Op. 30
Berlin Philharmonic, Gustavo Dudamel
Deutsche Grammophon, B0018913-02
 
Four Last Songs
“Fruhling”
Jessye Norman, soprano
Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Kurt Masur
Philips, 000943302
 
Ariadne auf Naxos, Op. 60
Anne Sofie von Otter – Composer
Staatskapelle Dresden, Guiseppe Sinopoli
Deutsche Grammophon, 289 471 323-2
 
Don Juan, Op. 20
Cleveland Orchestra, Vladimir Ashkenazy
Decca, 448 714-2
 
Festival Prelude, Op. 61
Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich, David Zinman
Arte Nova Classics, 98495 2
 
Franz Strauss - Nocturno for Horn and Piano, Op. 7
Adam Friedrich, French Horn
Sandor Falvai, Piano
Hungaroton Classic, HCD 31585
 
Schneiderpolka, Op. 1
Orchesterverein Wilde Gung’l, Jaroslav Opela
Koch Schwann, 3-1533-2 H1
 
String Quartet in A major, Op. 2
First movement - Allegro
Sinnhoffer Quartet
Arts Music, 47264-2
 
Concert Overture in C Minor
Orchesterverein Wilde Gung’l, Jaroslav Opela
Koch Schwann, 3-1533-2 H1
 
Wind Serenade in E-flat Major, Op. 7
Andante
Blaser Ensemble Amade, Klaus Rainer Scholl
Arts Music, 47395-2
 
“Zueignung”
Op. 10, #1
Diana Damrau, soprano
Munich Philharmonic, Christian Thielemann
Virgin Classics, 628664 0 8
 
“Allerseelen”
Op. 10, #8
Diana Damrau, soprano
Munich Philharmonic, Christian Thielemann
Virgin Classics, 628664 0 8
 
Horn Concerto #1 in E-flat major, Op. 11
Third movement – Allegretto – Rondo: Allegro
Radovan Vlatkovic, Horn
English Chamber Orchestra, Jeffrey Tate
EMI Classics, 7 64851 2
 
Isolde’s “Liebstod” from Wagner’s Tristan (arranged by Franz Liszt)
Leslie Howard, piano
 
Don Juan, Op. 20
Cleveland Orchestra, Vladimir Ashkenazy
Decca, 448 714-2
 
Death and Transfiguration, Op. 24
The Met Orchestra, James Levine
Deutsche Grammophon, 447 762-2
 
Guntram, Op. 25
Ben Heppner – Guntram
Toronto Symphony, Andrew Davis
CBC SM 5000 Series, 5142
 
Guntram, Op. 25
Leontyne Price – Freihild
New Philharmonia Orchestra, Erich Leinsdorf
BMG Classics, 60398-2
 
Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks, Op. 28
Cleveland Orchestra, Vladimir Ashkenazy
Decca, 448 224-2
 
Also Sprach Zarathustra, Op. 30
Berlin Philharmonic, Gustavo Dudamel
Deutsche Grammophon, B0018913-02
 
“Morgen”
Op. 27, #4
Diana Damrau, soprano
Munich Philharmonic, Christian Thielemann
Virgin Classics, 628664 0 8
 
Symphonic Interludes from Intermezzo
Reisefiber und Walzerszene & Traumerei am Kamin
Berlin Philharmonic, Zubin Mehta
Sony, 47197
 
Salome’s Dance, Op. 54
Scottish National Orchestra, Neeme Jarvi
Chandos, CHAN 8758

Salome, Op. 54 
Cheryl Studer – Salome 
Bryn Terfel - Jochanaan
Horst Hiestermann - Herodes
Deutsche Oper Berlin, Giuseppe Sinopoli 
Deutsche Grammophon, 431 810-2 

Salome, Op. 54
Final Scene
Leontyne Price – Salome
Boston Symphony Orchestra, Erich Leinsdorf
BMG Classics, 60398-2
 
Elektra, Op. 58
Eva Marton – Elektra
Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Wolfgang Sawallisch
EMI Digital, 7 54067 2
 
Der Rosenkavalier Suite, Op. 59
Scottish National Orchestra, Neeme Jarvi
Chandos, CHAN 8758
 
Der Rosenkavalier, Op. 59
Kiri Te Kanawa – The Marschallin
Anne Sofie von Otter – Octavian
Babara Hendricks – Sophie
Kurt Rydl – Baron Ochs
Richard Leech – Italian Singer
Staatskapelle Dresden, Bernard Haitink
EMI Classics, 7 54259 2
 
Arabella, Op. 79
Lisa della Casa – Arabella
Hilde Gueden – Zdenka
George London – Mandryka
Vienna Philharmonic, Sir Georg Solti
Decca, 475 7731
 
Die schweigsame Frau, Op. 80
Potpourri
Munich Radio Orchestra, Pinchas Steinberg
Koch Schwann, 3-6581-2
 
Die Liebe der Danae, Op. 83
Act 3 - Interlude
American Symphony Orchestra, Leon Botstein
Telarc Digital, 80570

Friedenstag, Op. 81 
Bernd Weikl - Commandant 
Sabine Hass - Maria 
Bavarian State Opera, Wolfgang Sawallisch 
Musical Heritage Society, 5159402 

Horn Concerto #2 in E-flat major
Second movement – Andante con moto
Hermann Baumann, Horn
Gewandhaus Orchestra, Leipzig, Kurt Masur
Philips, 412 237-2
 
Sonatine #1 in F Major for 16 winds
“From an Invalid’s Workshop”
Third Movement – Finale: Molto allegro
Blaser Ensemble Amade, Klaus Rainer Scholl
Arts Music, 47395-2
 
Oboe Concerto in D major
Hansjorg Schellenberger, oboe
Berlin Philharmonic, James Levine
Deutsche Grammophon, 429 750-2
 
Metamorphosen, Study for 23 solo strings
Berlin Philharmonic, James Levine
Deutsche Grammophon, 435 883-2
 
Four Last Songs
“Im Abendrot”
Jessye Norman, soprano
Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Kurt Masur
Philips, 000943302
 
Death and Transfiguration, Op. 24
The Met Orchestra, James Levine
Deutsche Grammophon, 447 762-2