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The Cambridge Companion to Richard Strauss

by Charles Youmans

Richard Strauss is a composer much loved among audiences throughout the world, both in the opera house and the concert hall. Despite this popularity, Strauss was for many years ignored by scholars, who considered his commercial success and his continued reliance on the tonal system to be liabilities. However, the past two decades have seen a resurgence of scholarly interest in the composer. This Companion surveys the results, focusing on the principal genres, the social and historical context, and topics perennially controversial over the last century. Chapters cover Strauss's immense operatic output, the electrifying modernism of his tone poems, and his ever-popular Lieder. Controversial topics are explored, including Strauss's relationship to the Third Reich and the sexual dimension of his works. Reintroducing the composer and his music in light of recent research, the volume shows Strauss's artistic personality to be richer and much more complicated than has been previously acknowledged.

Mahler and Strauss: In Dialogue

by Charles Youmans

A rare case among history's great music contemporaries, Gustav Mahler (1860-1911) and Richard Strauss (1864-1949) enjoyed a close friendship until Mahler's death in 1911. Unlike similar musical pairs (Bach and Handel, Haydn and Mozart, Schoenberg and Stravinsky), these two composers may have disagreed on the matters of musical taste and social comportment, but deeply respected one another's artistic talents, freely exchanging advice from the earliest days of professional apprenticeship through the security and aggravations of artistic fame. Using a wealth of documentary material, this book reconstructs the 24-year relationship between Mahler and Strauss through collage--"a meaning that arises from fragments," to borrow Adorno's characterization of Mahler's Sixth Symphony. Fourteen different topics, all of central importance to the life and work of the two composers, provide distinct vantage points from which to view both the professional and personal relationships. Some address musical concerns: Wagnerism, program music, intertextuality, and the craft of conducting. Others treat the connection of music to related disciplines (philosophy, literature), or to matters relevant to artists in general (autobiography, irony). And the most intimate dimensions of life--childhood, marriage, personal character--are the most extensively and colorfully documented, offering an abundance of comparative material. This integrated look at Mahler and Strauss discloses provocative revelations about the two greatest western composers at the turn of the 20th century.

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