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Four Last SongsAging and Creativity in Verdi, Strauss, Messiaen, and Britten$

Linda Hutcheon and Michael Hutcheon

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780226255590

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226255620.001.0001

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Richard Strauss (1864–1949)

Richard Strauss (1864–1949)

A Life Review In Music

Chapter:
(p.42) Chapter Four Richard Strauss (1864–1949)
Source:
Four Last Songs
Author(s):

Linda Hutcheon

Michael Hutcheon

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226255620.003.0004

Abstract and Keywords

The death of his librettist Hofmannsthal, his fraught relationship with the Nazi regime, and the wartime destruction of the German musical culture he treasured made Richard Strauss’s last years difficult ones. In the middle of World War II, he completed his last opera, Capriccio, a self-reflexive opera about opera, musically recapitulating the history of the form and placing his own work within it. The seemingly escapist work is presented here as the start of the composer’s musical “life review” in which the increasingly isolated and aging Strauss looked inward and began an ongoing retrospective self-study to review and assess his musical legacy. Facing ill health, social stigma, and financial distress, he fell into a period of depression. Encouraged to return to writing songs, he composed the (posthumously named) Vier letzte Lieder which, critics agree, represent an “Indian Summer” of creativity. Their autumnal mood and themes suggest an acceptance of age and death, and the enriched, traditional diatonic and chromatic tonality that he had used and refreshed from work to work here came to its apogee with the elegant soaring lyrical melodies and the rich vocal color that are uniquely his own.

Keywords:   Richard Strauss, Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Nazi, Capriccio, late style, Indian summer, Vier Letzte Lieder, World War II

As the conduit through which our past is channeled to the present, the aged are of critical importance to society, at least to the one that wants to remember its past.

—James J. Dowd, “The Old Person as Stranger”

In 1900 the thirty-six-year-old Richard Strauss bravely defended Verdi’s Falstaff against the accusation of the German Kaiser Wilhelm II that the Italian’s last opera was a “detestable thing.” “Your Majesty,” he protested, “one must bear in mind that Verdi is eighty years old, and it is a splendid thing, after having created Il trovatore and Aida, to renew oneself again at the age of eighty, to create a work like Falstaff, which has genius in it.” The kaiser simply replied: “I hope that when you’re eighty you’ll write better music.”1

As it happened, when Strauss himself turned eighty, he had just finished what would be his own last operatic work, Capriccio, a neobaroque opera about … opera. The trouble was that this work premiered in Munich in 1942, in the middle of World War II. To later critics, any decision about whether this work might or might not be superior to Verdi’s was preempted by its seeming inappropriateness or even triviality in the historical context of the moment. The last two decades of Strauss’s life—he died in 1949 at the age of eighty-five—were deeply troubled years for Germany, with the rise of National Socialism, the war, and its aftermath. The reception of Strauss’s work has been inseparable from his own problematic relationship to the historical events of these years, as we shall see. However, we want to argue that the last works must also be considered in relation not just to this political history but also to his creative history as a specifically German composer writing at a time when music was changing radically. (p.43) His entire sense of himself as an artist depended upon this context. His broader sense of himself as a person, however, came from his family. The fact that both of these—his musical reputation and members of his immediate family—came under threat in the last decades of his life must be taken into account in considering the late works.

Career Narratives Versus Creativity Narratives

However varied their positions on his political involvement, the many biographies of Strauss all construct a life narrative of a child prodigy who rose to national and international fame through his tone poems before switching to opera in his thirties.2 The subsequent story they all tell is a familiar artistic one of a creative rise followed by decline, yet ending with a glorious Indian summer. The difficulty is that there is little agreement on where either the decline or the Indian summer actually begins. For some, his genius starts to fade as early as 1911 with Der Rosenkavalier, when he left behind the modernist experimentation of Salome and Elektra;3 for others, it is in 1929, with the death of Hugo von Hofmannsthal, his librettist for twenty years.4 In a similarly confusing fashion, in some of these narratives, the redeeming Indian summer is said to begin as early as Daphne or Die Liebe der Danae, that is, in the mid-to late 1930s;5 in others, it is only with his appropriately labeled Vier letzte Lieder (Four Last Songs) in other words, at the very end of his life in the late 1940s. But these are all career narratives, not necessarily narratives about creativity.

If an artist were to continue working as productively and consistently as Strauss did, he or she would certainly be continuing to be creative. The conflicting evaluations and disagreements over the quality of the last works may have more to do with other things than the compositions themselves. It is no accident, in other words, that those various suggested dates of decline are coincident with either musical modernism’s ascendency or Strauss’s complicated involvement with the National Socialist regime. Musically, Strauss continued to compose, essentially using the same harmonic and melodic language he always had—and that was precisely the problem for anyone assessing the work from the perspective of musical modernism. Politically, his fraught interactions with the government were open to the interpretation of complicity and therefore to censure. In creative terms, however, Strauss matured early and continued to be “Strauss” throughout his later life.6

By the age of thirty-four Strauss had both made his name as a conductor (p.44) and had also written those tone poems that had established his international reputation. When he then turned to opera, as we have seen, he dedicated his first effort, Guntram (1894), to Verdi, writing to him: “I can find no words to describe the impression made on me by the extraordinary beauty of Falstaff. Consider my dedication as thanks for this reawakening of your genius.”7 But both Guntram, for which he had served as his own librettist, and his next effort, Feuersnot (1901), for which he trusted a friend’s libretto, were not really successes, in part because of their texts. He himself always admitted that he needed to be inspired by words before he could write music for them. It was only in 1905, with Salome, that he found the right libretto and made his mark as an opera composer. His adaptation of Hedwig Lachmann’s translation of Oscar Wilde’s sensational play Salomé was a smash hit. Strauss’s dramatic use of musical dissonance, chromaticism, and even tonal ambiguity in this work was a major musical shift for him, one he would extend even further in his next opera, an adaptation of Hofmannsthal’s play Elektra (1909). This turned out to be Strauss’s brief moment of avant-garde glory, especially in the eyes of those viewing the work later through the lenses of a dominant modernist aesthetic: Theodor Adorno asserted that one “seemingly wildly pieced-together” scene in it “probably marks a high point he never again equaled.”8 The opera’s daring musical score was considered cutting-edge and seen by some as the height of Strauss’s creativity. It was new; it was progressive. Modernist ideology heartily approved of these two early operas of Strauss—not for their manifest craft, but for their musical and dramatic novelty.

While Elektra marked the beginning of a long and fruitful collaboration with the Austrian Hofmannsthal, the librettist he had been looking for, it also led to a major change—but not in the right direction, at least for modernist ears. Much to the critics’ dismay and the general public’s delight, the pair’s new opera, Der Rosenkavalier (1911), did not continue in the radical vein (musically or dramatically) of the last two but instead moved back to the eighteenth century in its subject matter and to a more traditional musical style. Over the next twenty years Strauss and Hofmannsthal would continue in this same manner, together creating Ariadne auf Naxos (1916), Die Frau ohne Schatten (1919), Die ägyptische Helena (1928), and Arabella. The last was composed between 1929 and 1932 but did not premiere until 1933, four years after the librettist’s sudden death at the age of fifty-five.

Losing Hofmannsthal led to a crisis in the composer’s life. He himself was sixty-five years old at the time, an age that was officially deemed elderly in the Germany of those years. (In 1889 the chancellor, Otto von (p.45) Bismarck, had created the first old-age pension system for industrial and agrarian workers, artisans, and servants; his designation of the pensionable age as sixty-five at a time when the life expectancy of Prussians was forty-five meant that sixty-five was definitely a marker of “old age” in the German public’s eye.) However, at this point in his life, Strauss was still the most prominent living German composer and had absolutely no intention of stopping composing. But he knew from experience that he needed a librettist—a good one.9 The year was 1929, and the Germany he had known all his life was changing rapidly: the National Socialists were already a political force to be reckoned with, and by 1933 Hitler would be in power. But in the career narrative of many postwar critics, Hofmannsthal’s death marks the beginning of Strauss’s artistic “decline.” As one put it strongly in 1967, “His decline was precipitous and prolonged, so precipitous indeed that his case is almost unique in the history of music.”10 However, the reasons for this judgment have less to do with the quality of the work Strauss produced from then on than with his perceived role in the musical life of Germany during the Nazi regime.

The National Socialist Years

In 1933 a very complicated relationship between the composer and the National Socialists began. Strauss accepted the invitation to be the president of the government’s newly founded musical oversight body, the Reichsmusikkammer. He had high, if naive (and perhaps opportunistic), hopes that the German nationalism espoused by the Nazis could be of benefit to German art, especially to German composers like himself. A year later he would write: “I have, in fact, been able to accomplish some fruitful things and prevent some misfortune.”11 The truth was that, while no innocent, and deeply contemptuous about politics in general,12 Strauss seems to have filtered what he saw happening around him in Germany through a complex mixture of arrogance, self-interest, idealism, and as events progressed, the need to protect his family. In the same year that he accepted the presidency, a year during which laws forbidding Jews to hold positions in musical organizations were enacted by the regime, Strauss also agreed to replace the Jewish conductor Bruno Walter in a concert in March 1933 with the Philharmonic Orchestra in Berlin—for the good of the orchestra, he said. Since he also stepped in that year when the antifascist Arturo Toscanini quit the Bayreuth Festival in protest, Strauss was inevitably seen as complicit with the Nazis.

These were the same years in which Strauss was casting about desperately (p.46) for a new librettist. His first choice was the well-known Austrian writer Stefan Zweig, with whom he went on to create Die schweigsame Frau, which premiered in 1935. Strauss’s refusal to obey the Nazi edict and take the Jewish Zweig’s name off the program and publicity materials led to the abrupt closing of the piece after only four performances. Zweig, more politically astute, perhaps, than Strauss, then said that he would no longer collaborate publicly with the composer, both to protect Strauss’s (and his own) reputation and in solidarity with other banned Jewish artists.13 In a passionate attempt to dissuade him from withdrawing, Strauss wrote a strong letter to Zweig attacking the Nazis’ anti-Semitic policies. Unfortunately for both, the Gestapo intercepted the letter.14 As a result, Strauss was immediately relieved of the Reichsmusikkammer presidency. Though he was now persona non grata in the eyes of the regime, he nevertheless was still the foremost (and most performed) living German composer, so the Nazis continued to use him as a public figure whenever it suited them.15 And Strauss allowed himself to be used, in part so that his works would continue to be performed, and in part, as we shall see, for family reasons. But he was never a Nazi or an anti-Semite. In 1935 he wrote in his notebooks that he considered the “Jew baiting” of the Reich Minister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, as “a disgrace to German honor, as evidence of incompetence, the basest weapon of untalented, lazy mediocrity against a higher intelligence and greater talent.”16 Although Strauss agreed to compose and conduct the Olympische Hymne for the 1936 Berlin Olympics, Goebbels tellingly wrote in his diary at this time: “Unfortunately we still need him, but one day we shall have our own music and then we shall have no further need of this decadent neurotic.”17

Strauss’s professional woes during the 1930s continued on other fronts. He had written to Zweig that, if he abandoned the composer, Strauss would have to “lead from now on the life of an ailing, unemployed retiree.”18 Yet he did find another librettist, though the match was never a good one. With the theater historian Josef Gregor he created Friedenstag, which premiered in 1938. After considerable initial success, this too was shelved by the Nazis after war broke out, in this case because of its pacifist message. Strauss’s family situation also changed dramatically in these years, and for a man whose sense of personhood was based not only in his work but also in his family, this was the beginning of an extremely difficult time. His Jewish daughter-in-law, Alice, and therefore his two beloved grandsons, came under threat. Strauss actively worked on their behalf, sometimes writing sycophantic letters to the Nazi authorities that make (p.47) the modern reader cringe. On Kristallnacht, 9–10 November 1938, an arrest warrant was issued for Alice, but she was away, hidden in a Düsseldorf clinic. Upon her return to the Strauss home in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, she was put under curfew and her personal papers were confiscated. On that same Kristallnacht, Strauss’s two grandsons were beaten up, taken to the public square, and forced to spit upon Jews who had been gathered there.19 The threat to the safety of his family was a real one and would preoccupy the composer until the end of the war.

Yet Strauss continued to compose. His next, not entirely happy collaborations with Gregor yielded Daphne, which also premiered in 1938, and Die Liebe der Danae. The outline for this latter opera had been drafted by Hofmannsthal back in 1920, but Strauss composed the music between 1938 and 1940. He was determined to withhold it from production until after the war, but in 1944 he was persuaded by the conductor Clemens Krauss to permit its premiere at the Salzburg Festival in celebration of the composer’s eightieth birthday. However, before that could take place, Goebbels ordered the closure of all festivals, and specifically the one in Salzburg, and so only one dress rehearsal of the opera was allowed. Then the theaters of the German states were closed by order of the government.

Modernism and the Reception of the Late Works

None of these late operatic works have found a secure place in the standard repertoire, and their timing is obviously in part to blame. While the operas composed before these were already popular with the public, the historical moment and the composer’s political disfavor muted any impact they could have had at the time of their composition and premiere. None got much play at all. While Daphne has recently come to be more accepted, there is another reason for the later mustering of these works in evidence of Strauss’s “decline”: they had not changed. They were not innovative, and they certainly were not considered modernist. Strauss was still the consummate craftsman and traditionalist he had always been (except for the Salome/Elektra moment)—and that was the problem. Given the ideology of modernism that academic postwar music critics consciously or unconsciously adopted, not to change—not to progress—was tantamount to decline. As Ezra Pound memorably and canonically put that ideology: “Make it new.” Strauss did not. In a modernist musical climate heavily influenced by the work of the Second Viennese School (whose avant-garde credentials were assured by their being banned by the Nazis as degenerate), (p.48) Strauss was out of musicological fashion (though not public appreciation). As early as 1914 Arnold Schoenberg had written of Strauss: “He is no longer of the slightest artistic interest to me, and whatever I might once have learned from him, I am thankful to say I have misunderstood. … I have inwardly rejected Strauss.”20 While Strauss too deliberately recalled earlier musical periods in his operas, this practice had very little in common with Stravinsky’s contemporaneous neo-classical form of modernism either. The composer of Salome and Elektra had once been considered radical, but for the next thirty years he had “regressed” in modernist eyes. In the 1920s “Strauss had generally been written off by influential critics in Germany, Britain and America as no longer a composer holding out any progressive interest. He belonged to the past.”21

In short, Strauss simply remained Strauss; but the musical world changed, and Strauss did not like the changes, scorning the avant-garde experimentation that surrounded him. As early as 1911 he saw the direction in which Schoenberg was heading and wrote: “I think he’d do better to shovel snow instead of scribbling on music-paper.” But this wasn’t simply a single attack on a younger composer whom he had once supported: he once asked Paul Hindemith why he wrote atonally when he had real talent.22

Strauss’s unaltering persistence made him seem to some “an extinct volcano, an arch-conservative living off his own fat, composing by numbers”23—and that meant decline, the “fading of his genius into a combination of talent and technique.”24 But talent and technique should not, perhaps, be written off quite so readily: indeed, following in the footsteps of Glenn Gould, Edward W. Said has argued that Strauss defies any existing models of historical evolution in his continuing virtuosity. Said felt that Strauss’s late works offered “a third revision of the tonal system” after Wagner and Schoenberg.25 But Strauss, again, in a way just went on being Strauss—which for him meant being an important (and consistent) composer continuing the long German musical tradition he venerated.26 No anguished modernist, no poor but passionate bohemian artist, the bourgeois, business-savvy composer was out of step with the times.27

The Musical Life Review, Part I: Capriccio

By the opening years of World War II, then, things had begun to go badly for Strauss personally and politically. In that light, what are we to make of his next work, the opera about opera, Capriccio? Strauss composed it in his late seventies, in the middle of a war he could not ignore. For precisely this (p.49) reason—its timing—it is a work that has been seen by many as escapist. But it is also possible that, given his difficult professional and life circumstances in 1940–41, the increasingly isolated Strauss deliberately chose to begin something very inward-looking and personal, and perhaps very necessary at this point—in effect, an ongoing, retrospective artistic “life review” of his career as a composer. Here we want to adapt the concept of the life review, first outlined by Robert Butler in 1963 as the practice of older people who, through active reminiscence, come to evaluate their lives as a whole as a way of achieving psychic reintegration.28 We want to suggest, instead, an artistic (rather than psychological) version of that practice whereby the older composer engages in compositional memory work in order to review and assess his artistic legacy. In this way, both the continuities of his late work with what came before and the great variety of genres and moods of the late music that he composed in his last years can be accounted for, without falling into the contradictorily evaluative traps of biographical career models of either decline or Indian summer. With Capriccio, it was his operatic career in particular that would come under review in this new operatic genre, which he called a Konversationsstück für Musik (conversation piece for music)—that is, a very theoretically self-conscious work of antitheater on the topic of the nature of opera itself.29 This was the culmination of Strauss’s Verdian experiments, which had begun in the Prologue of Ariadne auf Naxos, to develop a new conversational style somewhere between aria and recitative, one that has been seen as his major contribution to the art of opera.30

Developed with the aid of the conductor Clemens Krauss, the opera’s eighteenth-century plot, such as it is, centers around that century’s particular question,31 one that still obsessed Strauss: which is most important to the art form—words or music? Set outside Paris in 1777, just before the French Revolution was to overthrow the ancien régime, it tells the story of the Countess Madeleine, who is being courted by the poet Olivier and the composer Flamand, both seeking to win her love with their respective arts. With the impresario and director LaRoche, the guardian of theatrical tradition, drama enters the words/music debate. This is a very “talky” opera: these three characters open the work with an extended debate about the value of specific composers and librettists. This theme is then picked up by the Countess and her brother when they enter. It is not hard to see what this discussion is really about: this is what Strauss himself thought about opera and its history. And LaRoche’s views certainly echo those of Strauss, beset by the changes he too lamented in the new avant-garde music of modernism: “Ich bewahre das Gute, das wir besitzen, / die Kunst (p.50) unsrer Väter halte ich hoch. / Voll Pietät hüte ich das Alte” (I preserve the good that is ours, / hold high the art of our fathers. / Reverently I preserve the old).32 Like the older Strauss, perhaps, all LaRoche sees around him are “blasse Ästheten” (pale aesthetes) who ridicule the old but create nothing new: “Die heutige Jugend—/ sie hat keine Ehrfurcht! / … Einer trost-losen Zukunft / gehen sie entgegen! / Lachend—in ihrem Unverstand!” (Present-day youth—they have no respect. They are heading for a hopeless future. Laughing—in their ignorance!).33 We can also see the composer’s own views echoed in the defense of music as the language of the soul, voiced by the Countess.34 As she articulates music’s power: “Dunkle Träume wecken sie—unaussprechlich—/ Ein Meer von Empfindingung—beglückend schön!” (It awakens dark dreams—ineffable—/ A sea of awareness—entrancingly beautiful!).35

One of the amusing things about the opera’s self-reflexivity is that despite the seemingly unoperatic nature of the characters’ long and trenchant critique of the excesses of Italian opera and praise of Gluck’s corrective operatic reforms, their debate about music, poetry, and drama ends with the Countess commissioning a three-way collaboration in the form of an opera on this very topic. And, of course, it will be the opera we are witnessing. We already know that neither the composer nor the poet will win the love of the Countess; neither music nor words will triumph. The Countess prefigured this result early in the piece when she said that making such a choice would mean only loss (“denn hier zu wählen, hiesse verlieren”). For her, words make music, and music speaks: “Worte klingen, Töne sprechen.”36

Strauss’s musical life review does not only take place in the opera’s story line, however. It also occurs in the music itself, for the composer quotes himself throughout the piece. When possible subjects for the birthday celebration work are discussed, those of earlier Strauss operas are mentioned, such as Ariadne auf Naxos and Daphne—and the orchestra duly and not un-ironically quotes them.37 But here, in this most self-conscious of works, Strauss is citing himself in the context of quotations from other opera composers: Gluck, Piccinni, Rameau, Rossini, Donizetti, Verdi, and Wagner—that is, in the context of a major operatic tradition.38 Strauss had always indulged in quoting himself, as well as many other composers, and he did so especially in works that were autobiographical in some way or that he (or others) saw as summational: the last tone poem, Ein Heldenleben (1899), where he cited all but one of his preceding tone poems,39 and the very personal Sinfonia Domestica (1904) and Intermezzo (1926), among others.40 Like these works, Capriccio is as close as Strauss (p.51) ever came to achieving what he told Hofmannsthal he had always wanted to do: “to put myself to music.”41 Not merely citational, these references represent, within their new setting, a placing of himself and his music (self-consciously and often ironically) within the specific context of other opera composers and their works. Rather than seeing such references as anachronistic, archaic, or nostalgic,42 therefore, we see them as part of his musical life review process, undertaken at a particularly vulnerable moment in his late life. If, as one critic negatively put it, “shadowy ghosts of phrases from earlier Strauss stage works stalk the music,”43 they stalk with a purpose: the review of a life’s work in the specific genre of opera.

As mentioned earlier, this opera about opera has been seen as escapist, as out of tune with the times—the war years, during which it was written and first performed—though it is also true that it was very well received by the public at the time.44 It may be escapist,45 but we also see it as part of the older composer’s reviewing and affirming his position on the complexity of the art form he had been engaged with for over forty years. He thought the end of the opera was “the best conclusion of my life’s theatrical work,” adding: “One can, after all, only leave one last will and testament.”46 Strauss’s sense of personhood was deeply bound up with his identity as a composer—and therefore with his reputation and his position within the German musical tradition. For some critics, this was a form of Kunstegoismus—artistic egoism—that would make him indifferent (or naive) to all kinds of politics, even during the war.47 As what Michael Kater has called an “aesthetocrat,” Strauss cared mostly about art, especially his art. Capriccio was certainly deeply introspective and personal. He later wrote to Krauss, who had been both his librettist and the conductor of the Munich premiere, that he considered this to be his Schluss, the good and worthy end of a long operatic career.48 Many have agreed, seeing it (as they had Verdi’s Falstaff) as a “recapitulation, a summation, a farewell.”49

A farewell to opera, perhaps; but not to music, for Strauss would continue to compose. He did finish Capriccio at the same age Verdi was when he completed his last opera, and not surprisingly, given Strauss’s admiration of Verdi’s late work, Capriccio has tangible links to the Italian composer that are more than historical accident. For example, one of the German opera’s last lines echoes Verdi’s final fugue on the words “Tutto nel mondo è burla” (Everything in the world is a joke): “Die ganze Welt ist närrisch” (The whole world is foolish)—to which the librettists add, “alles spielt Theater” (all play at theater).50 When Strauss began composing the opera, he wrote to Krauss that he wanted to write a theatrical fugue (and he would), because even “the good Verdi” couldn’t resist writing one.51 But it was also (p.52) the critics and biographers who could not resist linking the late Verdi and the late Strauss, either in their seeming rejuvenation at almost eighty or in what was considered their “serene detachment” and thus their last operas’ perceived “mixture of exhilaration and unbearable poignancy.”52

Personhood Under Threat

Verdi’s last years were rather different from Strauss’s, however. The Nazi threat to Strauss’s daughter-in-law continued, though he did manage to have his grandsons exempted from having their passports stamped with their Jewish identity. Alice, however, was refused any such exemption from the Nuremberg Racial Laws. In 1943 she and Strauss’s son, Franz, were arrested in Vienna and questioned. Thanks to Strauss’s efforts and with the intervention of a number of people, including the Nazi governor, Baldur von Schirach—the son of a theater director and composer—they were set free. Back in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, another warrant for Alice’s arrest was issued in 1944 but was never served. Her family was not so fortunate: many did not survive the war, despite Strauss’s personal attempt to intervene at the Theresienstadt concentration camp. There is no doubt that in these years Strauss frequently relied for protection and assistance in dealing with the regime upon his personal connections with high-ranking Nazis, such as Schirach and another longtime admirer, Hans Frank, the infamous governor of Poland who would be condemned to death at the Nuremberg trials.

When Strauss turned eighty in June 1944, there were very few of the official German celebrations that had greeted his seventieth birthday, before he fell out of favor with the Nazis. A few months later, when Goebbels formally closed all the theaters, Strauss wrote: “My life’s work is in ruins. I shall never again hear my operas.”53 The blow to his sense of personhood that this realization meant was likely one of the major contributing causes to the depression into which Strauss then fell. The terrible destruction of the Allied bombing raids on Germany in these years brought home to Strauss the ruin of his beloved German culture, symbolized by the physical loss of the German and Austrian opera houses. When the Munich Nationaltheater was hit, Strauss wrote to a friend: “There is no consolation and, at my age, no hope.”54

Obviously Strauss’s stated motivations and activities—things that reveal, for us, at least part of his sense of personhood—were even more inwardly focused during his depression. His identification with his role as the provider for his family was almost as strong as his professional identity. (p.53) With the theaters closed and his operas not being performed, his personal economic situation worsened. But he was also a compulsive worker and had always despaired when he did not have a new project in hand. One thing he did to keep himself occupied and, as he said, to keep himself from thinking about other things was to copy out old scores in order to provide sellable articles for his family’s financial security.55 Adding to these economic, professional, and political family worries were concerns for his physical health as he aged. His letters attest to problems with hearing and eyesight. Having given up smoking only at the age of seventy-five, he was “audibly asthmatic,”56 we are told. But as a composer, though depressed, he continued to work, writing a goodly number of pieces in these years.

The Musical Life Review, Part II: The Final Works

His continuing musical life review process may have been another reason for this continuing creativity. Revealingly, after the operatic summation that was Capriccio, Strauss went back to composing in forms he had not visited since his youth, writing, for example, two sonatinas for winds in 1943–45. His Second Horn Concerto of 1942 followed the one he had composed for his father to play back in 1882–83; it was even written in the same key (E-flat). Later critics would see in this work a revivification of the composer’s talent. “In sheer youthfulness,” wrote one, “it is hardly less remarkable than Verdi’s Falstaff,” finding it hard to believe that it was composed by “a depressed old man living in fear and disgrace from the authorities of a war-beleaguered country.”57 In fact, Strauss was simply continuing to be Strauss, and simply resuming his musical life review. To some, however, this meant that while still, in his old age, able to manipulate the concerto form with “ease and originality,” he nevertheless belonged to a bygone era.58

But this musical critique was not the only kind of attack Strauss had to face in these years. What some see as a kind of return to the tone poem, Metamorphosen, a movingly mournful piece for twenty-three solo strings, would turn out to be the most politically problematic of these late works.59 Written at the end of the war as a commission for the Zurich Collegium Musicum, it has been read by some as program music because of both its citation (or transformation) of a measure of the funeral march from Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony and the inscription under it, “In Memoriam.” However, seen as another part of Strauss’s musical life review, Metamorphosen is an elegiac recollection of his own earlier work—with (p.54) its citations of Also sprach Zarathustra, Ariadne auf Naxos, and Feuersnot60—as well as a meditation on the musical tradition out of which it came, signaled here by quotations from not only Beethoven but also Wagner.61 As with Capriccio, his own works are not simply cited here; this time the references are situated or embedded in that larger German musical context in which Strauss felt his works belonged. Though his words are intended as a critique, Michael P. Steinberg is right when he says: “The work is about the past and about what kind of perspective on the past one’s sense of history provides.”62 The title points to the role this piece plays in Strauss’s life review: it comes from a poem in Goethe’s Zahme Xenien, which Strauss wrote out in full amongst the pages of sketches for the piece. Goethe used the term Metamorphosen “in his old age when he contemplated works which had occupied his mind for a long period of time and compared them with the evolution of plant life, with seed growing into full flower, dying and reverting to seed.”63 But the composer of Daphne would also have had Ovid’s Metamorphoses in mind, with all their mythological transformations, which had always fascinated him.

As Strauss’s musical life review continued and the composer kept returning to his compositional roots, his critics noted something new that they found in his work, something they did not hesitate to call his late style: a reduced orchestration and therefore a new transparency, a chambermusic effect that made it all sound more Mozartian than (the usual) Wagnerian.64 For some this was a refinement; for others it signaled a kind of musical shrinkage or shriveling.65 What all agree on, however, is that his last works are characterized not by new or bold invention but rather by the “wise exploitation of all his creative experiences.”66 In other words, once again, Strauss continued to be Strauss.

Depression and Creativity

In the last months of the war the Strauss family returned to Garmisch-Partenkirchen to escape the bombing in Vienna. With the armistice and the arrival of American troops in Garmisch came both positive and negative new encounters. One of the soldiers to arrive at Strauss’s door was John de Lancie, oboist in the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, for whom Strauss would go on to write his Oboe Concerto. He was also visited and interviewed by a certain Mr. Brown. In reality, “Mr. Brown” was the son of Thomas Mann, Klaus Mann, who had never forgotten (or forgiven) that Strauss had signed the declaration of protest against his father’s 1933 speech on Wagner as “un-German”—a document that convinced the (p.55) writer to leave Germany. Klaus Mann’s subsequent publications about this encounter did much to vilify Strauss in American eyes. Accompanied by a photo of the elderly composer with the caption “His heart beat in Nazi time” and describing him as “an old opportunist who heiled Hitler,” the first article, which appeared on 29 May 1945 in the American forces publication Stars and Stripes, insisted that Strauss was not the least bit senile and went on to portray him throughout as a “selfish old man” who was thoroughly compromised by his association with the National Socialists. Mann’s longer article in Esquire in January 1946 was even more condescending and condemning: “If it hadn’t been for the master’s age, I might have told him a few nasty things,” he wrote. Finding Strauss “shockingly selfish and naïve,” he labels him a “genius without any moral consciousness.”67 Needless to say, the personal and political complexities of the elderly composer’s decision to stay in Germany during the war years were never taken into account.

This blow to Strauss’s reputation was yet another of the pressures on his sense of personhood during the early postwar years. Whereas he had once suffered disfavor under the National Socialist regime, he was now being called a Nazi and would be subjected to intense scrutiny and critique until his denazification trial in 1948. Released from one set of worries about his family by the end of the war, he now had to face an entirely new set, with his integrity under attack and his economic situation worsening. His assets were frozen and his royalties appropriated by the Allied Property Control; there were to be no new performances of his work in the defeated countries. In October 1945 he and his wife left their increasingly hard postwar existence in Garmisch for Switzerland, but their arrival in that country was attacked in the anti-German Swiss press. Since the elderly couple had no money, a large number of Strauss’s scores were put into the hotel safe as security against payment of the bill; they had to be assisted financially by his publisher in order to survive. Despite these distractions and his continuing depression, the workaholic Strauss continued to compose in these years—and thus continued his musical life review, now adapting his earlier operatic and ballet works into the Rosenkavalier Suite (1945), the Capriccio Suite for Keyboard (1946), and the Fantasia from “Die Frau ohne Schatten” (1946). What has been seen as his “generally retrospective outlook” at this time is arguably both a part of his life review process and an economic necessity:68 while his operas may not have been able to be performed, perhaps shorter orchestral versions of them would and could be.

Strauss consistently downplayed the artistic importance of his late (p.56) works after the testament and Schluss of Capriccio, writing to a friend: “The music that I go on scribbling for the benefit of my heirs, exercises for my wrists … has no significance whatsoever from the standpoint of musical history. … I do it only to dispel the boredom of idle hours.”69 The much-praised Second Horn Concerto, for instance, is what he called, in a letter to Karl Böhm, Späne aus der Alterswerkstatt—shavings from the old-age workshop.70 This denigration of his “wrist exercises” might, however, be yet another sign of his ongoing depression at the time. Even in October 1947, when invited to England for a festival of his works, Strauss could only respond to a reporter who asked him what he was going to do next with the phlegmatic “Well, die.”71 Even the musical and financial success of the London trip did not lift his spirits, as he returned to face those official denazification hearings triggered by his two years as president of the Reichsmusikkammer.

The year 1947 also marked another politically motivated blow to Strauss’s reputation when a Dutch newspaper attacked him on the occasion of the Amsterdam premiere of Metamorphosen. Since Beethoven had intended to dedicate his Eroica Symphony to Napoleon (before his disillusionment with him), Strauss’s brief echoing of the funeral march from it was also read politically, as was his handwritten inscription under it of “In Memoriam”: these were interpreted as a personal mourning of the end of Hitler and the Nazi regime. This article was reprinted in Switzerland and circulated widely, to the detriment of Strauss’s reputation. Many came to his defense, however, arguing, very differently, that the Beethoven echo and the “In Memoriam” signaled the composer’s understandable grief for the destruction of the opera houses he so treasured—Munich, Dresden, Vienna, Weimar, Berlin—and, beyond that, the great German musical culture that had bred him.72 Strauss himself referred in his private diaries to “the twelve-year reign of bestiality, ignorance, and anti-culture under the greatest of criminals, during which Germany’s two thousand years of cultural evolution met its doom.”73 Yet many continued to believe that Metamorphosen was either an apologia for Strauss’s initial involvement with (and complacency about) the regime or a confession, an atonement for “guilt and responsibility.”74 Not surprisingly in this situation, the aging and ailing Strauss’s depression continued.

Just as Boito tempted Verdi into Falstaff by offering him something different in his old age, so Clemens Krauss tried (but failed) to engage Strauss in a project to write an oratorio on Noah’s flood: “Now that you are slowly approaching Noah’s age the analogy lies near: you too have made an Ark with your music, in which we can save all the good spirits of (p.57) our art from the flood of atonality.”75 Echoing Verdi’s fear of the Germanic flood of Wagnerism in his time, this modernist “flood of atonality” has been seen as yet another factor in Strauss’s depression, concerned as he was about both his own musical reputation and “the future of German music in the light of the quickening advance of non-tonal aesthetics.”76 Schoenberg, Hindemith, and Ernst Krenek were all, for Strauss, mere “placers of notes.”77 There is no doubt that he would have liked to see atonality banished from his musical world—an attitude he shared, alas, with the National Socialists. As early as 1935 he had drawn up his own list of the ideal opera repertoire, and absent from the list were those that would later be labeled as “degenerate” by the regime. Even at the end of the war, his ideal list would not change.78

In an attempt to relieve his depression, Strauss had earlier begun working his way through all the writings of Goethe—for consolation, inspiration, and perhaps escape. Strauss certainly perceived Goethean parallels with his own life course, writing to a friend: “I am quietly working away for myself (following Goethe’s sublime example).”79 Strauss felt that both he and Goethe had been hardworking artists and lonely protectors of the German tradition.80 Both had lived long and active lives in ages filled with new ideas. And both went from being revolutionaries to being seen as reactionaries, while just carrying on “in their own fashion.”81 A few years later Strauss would quote to Willi Schuh a letter Goethe had written just a few days before his death: “Confusing conclusions about confusing deeds dominate the world, and I have nothing more pressing to do than if possible to increase that which remains and is left to me and to keep my originality in hand.”82 Strauss’s personal interest in this assertion implies much about his response to his historical times and to his own creativity in his older age.

But not even reading Goethe could relieve his depression as he awaited the decision of the denazification tribunal. He desperately needed to get back to work to distract himself from what a friend called his “end-of-the-world mood.”83 His son Franz suggested that he write some songs. This made sense, since Strauss had written songs throughout his composing life. Having earlier read the poem “Im Abendrot,” by Joseph von Eichendorff, he felt it had special meaning for him and so set it to music. Then, finally, in June 1948, just before Strauss’s eighty-fourth birthday, came the eight-page denazification document that cleared the composer of any incrimination, stating: “He rejected any form of racist policies in art and therefore distanced himself increasingly from influential members of the party who sought to influence art in the sense of Nazi ideology.” It also (p.58) cited the once damning SS report to the Ministry of Propaganda: “It is well known of Strauss that even in the year 1935 he avoided the German greeting in public and had contacts with Jewish circles at home and abroad.”84

Strauss’S Four Last Songs

Upon this announcement, a relieved Strauss returned to the idea of writing more songs. He had been given a copy of the poems of Hermann Hesse the year before, and proceeded to set three of them: “Frühling,” “September,” and “Beim Schlafengehen.”85 It was not until after his death that these four songs would be grouped together by Ernst Roth, chief editor of the publishing house of Boosey & Hawkes, and given the title of Four Last Songs. All four are written for soprano voice and orchestra, with prominent horn parts—again markers of Strauss’s musical life review in their clear references to his wife, the soprano Pauline de Ahne, and his father, Franz, the principal horn of the Munich Court Orchestra for almost fifty years.

Whatever date is given to the start of Strauss’s Indian summer, everyone agrees that these four orchestral songs are its culmination. Even his harshest critics see in them “renewed creative freshness” and “a resurgence of Strauss’s talent”86—a talent that, arguably, had always been there. We would argue further that these songs are also the culmination of his musical life review. Again, citation—of himself, set within his beloved German tradition—is one of his major means of signaling the review. For example, in “Beim Schlafengehen,” he quotes the Adagio from Beethoven’s String Quartet op. 59 no. 1; even more poignant, however, is the rapt violin solo, reminiscent of both Rosenkavalier and Ariadne auf Naxos, but in fact a direct citation from Strauss’s own first opera, Guntram.87 In “Im Abendrot” he echoes, sixty years later, a motif from Tod und Verklärung (Death and Transfiguration) on the horn, as the soprano sings the word “Tod” (death). And, tellingly, the earlier work’s echo feels stylistically appropriate in this latest of works too, precisely because Strauss’s style shows so much continuity over the decades.88

The words of these chosen songs are significant in themselves for what they suggest about Strauss’s state of mind at the time. Though the text concerns the arrival of spring, even “Frühling” opens “in dämmrigen Grüften” (in shadowy crypts),89 matching the “brooding, dark tonal organization” of the piece, which is strangely autumnal.90 But with “September” begins a series of images of fatigue, age, and death—of seasons, of the day, of lives. The song ends with summer slowly closing its weary eyes: “Langsam tut er die müdgewordnen Augen zu.”91 “Beim Schlafengehen” (p.59) (“On Going to Sleep”) welcomes night and a deathlike sleep that allows the unfettered soul to soar freely (“die Seele unbewacht will in freien Flügen schweben”).92 And, most movingly, in “Im Abendrot” a weary couple, after a life of “Not und Freude” (sorrow and joy),93 seeks rest from wandering. Images of sunset and sleep signal “weiter, stiller Friede” (vast, tranquil peace),94 as the final line questions: “Ist dies etwa der Tod?” (Is this perhaps death?).95 Changing the poet’s original “das” to “dies”—“that” to “this”—Strauss makes the immediacy of the end more powerful and personal. What has been called the music’s “rich nostalgic mellifluousness” contributes to that personal impact.96

In other words, the poems suggest an acceptance of age and death that has been taken as a sign of the lifting of the composer’s depression. Whether the writing of the songs was in itself therapeutic, or whether their thematic resonance of fatigue and dying helped him to accept his fate, is ultimately unknowable—despite the many confident, if also sentimental, assertions that he clearly identified with the emotions expressed in the pieces. While the songs do reveal a certain serene “resignation to the inescapable,”97 they also mark the completion of Strauss’s musical life review. One of his biographers, Michael Kennedy, sees in these songs a “reaffirmation of the glories of tonality, a demonstration of how much new music could still be found in the traditional diatonic and chromatic styles.”98 Less kindly, perhaps, others have seen them, with their soaring melodies, as “the last representatives of [the] nineteenth-century German Romantic Orchestral Lied”—although written in 1948.99 Either way, the songs have been interpreted by all as movingly autobiographical, as a personal testament to his life—and, we would add, specifically to his life in music. Strauss may still have been Strauss, but he saved some of his best for last.100 That these songs became canonical in the classical repertoire after Strauss’s death is testimony to the enduring power and popularity of his music even through the rise (and fall) of Schoenbergian modernism: audiences always responded positively to the lushness and emotional directness of Strauss’s music in a way that they never did to the astringency and intellectual hermeticism of that particular kind of modernism.

The integration that his life review allowed was musical, but for Strauss, music was a large part of his identity. The appropriately named biographical film Ein Leben für die Musik (A Life for Music), made in the last summer of his life, shows a sturdy-looking eighty-five-year-old Strauss at the piano playing the transformation music from Daphne (1937)—perhaps a final message or a desired wish for an easeful end. Before long the failing Strauss would be confined to his bed. He still received friends and (p.60) shared with them his continuing thoughts about opera’s future—and his works’ place in it. As he lay on his deathbed, the composer remarked to his daughter-in-law that dying was just as he had imagined it in Tod und Verklärung.101 More than just an anecdote befitting a composer’s end, this comment may mark a final step in his life review. Back in 1894, when he was thirty years old, he had described the program of that tone poem in these prescient terms:

the dying hours of a man who had striven towards the highest idealistic aims, maybe indeed those of an artist … [when] his thoughts wander through his past life; his childhood passes before him, the time of his youth with its strivings and passions and then, as the pains already begin to return, there appears to him the fruit of his life’s path, the conception, the ideal which he has sought to realize, to present artistically, but which he has not been able to complete, since it is not for man to be able to accomplish such things. The hour of death approaches, the soul leaves the body in order to find gloriously achieved in everlasting space those things which could not be fulfilled here below.102

It was only a week before his death that Strauss would echo these very words in a late conversation with a friend: “There is so much I would still have to do—but I believe that some of what I wanted and have begun has fallen on fertile ground.”103 Strauss’s operas are still on the stage today, so he was, in one sense, not wrong—audiences would provide that fertile ground through their happy acceptance of his consistent and highly skilled version of traditional tonal compositional practice. However, for the postwar critics, as we have seen, his compositions would have no place in the modernist world of atonality and serialism. This, however, is the world that Olivier Messiaen would inherit—even if he came to find it sterile. And he would respond with his own idiosyncratic form of late modernism.

Notes:

(1.) Journal of Romain Rolland, 1 March 1900, quoted in Richard Strauss–Romain Rolland Correspondence, ed. Rollo Myers (London: Calder & Boyars, 1968), 124–25.

(2.) For more on the conflicting biographies, see Kimberly F. Canton, Amelia De-Falco, Katherine R. Larson, and Helmut Reichenbächer, “Politics, Creativity, and the Aging Artist: Narrativising Richard Strauss’s Last Years,” Life Writing 6, no. 2 (2009): 211–27.

(3.) E.g., Norman Del Mar, Richard Strauss: A Critical Commentary on His Life and Works (London: Barrie and Rockcliff, 1962–72), 1:418.

(4.) E.g., Tim Ashley, Richard Strauss (London: Phaidon Press, 1999); George Richard Marek, Richard Strauss: The Life of a Non-Hero (London: Gollancz, 1967); and Michael Walter, Richard Strauss und seine Zeit (Laaber: Laaber Verlag, 2000), 348.

(p.123) (5.) Ashley, Richard Strauss, 179–80; Heinrich Kralik, Richard Strauss: Weltbürger der Musik (Wollzeilen Verlag, 1963), 323; Michael Kennedy, Richard Strauss: Man, Musician, Enigma (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 318 and 354; and Charles Osborne, The Complete Operas of Richard Strauss (London: Michael O’Mara, 1988), 223–24.

(6.) Aubrey S. Garlington Jr., “Richard Strauss’s Vier letzte Lieder: The Ultimate opus ultimum,” Musical Quarterly 73, no. 1 (1989): 82. Others agree: Osborne, Complete Operas, 15; Del Mar, Richard Strauss: A Critical Commentary, 3:475, sees him as “almost mummified” in the pre- 1914 musical world.

(8.) “Richard Strauss. Born June 11, 1864,” Part 2, trans. Samuel Weber and Shierry Weber, Perspectives of New Music 2 (1966): 114.

(9.) See appendix to Richard Strauss and Stefan Zweig, A Confidential Matter: The Letters of Richard Strauss and Stefan Zweig, 1931–1935, trans. Max Knight (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1977), 108.

(11.) Strauss and Zweig, A Confidential Matter, 38. See, for a more negative take on this, Michael Meyer, The Politics of Music in the Third Reich (New York: Peter Lang, 1991), 109–10.

(12.) His letters to Zweig are clear on this; see also Kurt Wilhelm, Richard Strauss: An Intimate Portrait (London: Thames & Hudson, 1989), 9, 292. On his noninnocence, see Ashley, Richard Strauss, 10; in contrast to those who see him as naive (Ernst Krause, Richard Strauss: The Man and His Work, trans. John Coombs [London: Collet’s, 1955], 66; Bryan Gilliam, The Life of Richard Strauss [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999], chapter 5), apolitical (Kralik, Richard Strauss: Weltbürger der Musik), or misguidedly political (Alan Jefferson, Richard Strauss [London: Macmillan, 1975], 51).

(13.) See Albrecht Riethmüller, “Stefan Zweig and the Fall of the Reich Music Chamber President, Richard Strauss,” in Music and Nazism: Art under Tyranny, 1933–1945, ed. Michael H. Kater and Albrecht Riethmüller (Laaber: Laaber, 2003), 283.

(15.) See Erik Levi, Music in the Third Reich (London: Macmillan, 1994), 217–18. It was his orchestral music that was the most performed, however; his operas were less popular in terms of numbers of productions than those of Wagner, Verdi, Puccini, Mozart, and Lortzing (192).

(17.) Kennedy, Richard Strauss: Man, Music, Enigma, 293. For more on these years, see Michael Kater, The Twisted Muse: Musicians and Their Music in the Third Reich (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997), and especially Gerhard Splitt, Richard Strauss, 1933–1935: Ästhetik und Musikpolitik zu Beginn der nationalsozialistischen Herrschaft (Pfaffenweiler: Centaurus Verlagsgesellschaft, 1987).

(19.) Ibid., 316.

(20.) Ibid., 173.

(p.124) (21.) Ibid., 231.

(22.) Ibid., 216.

(23.) This is the negative view as summarized in ibid., 4 —which he challenges in his very positive biography.

(24.) Del Mar, Richard Strauss: A Critical Commentary, 1:418. Del Mar, however, dates this decline from 1911 and blames Hofmannsthal for it.

(25.) Said, introduction to Donald Mitchell, The Language of Modern Music (London: Faber, 1993), 11.

(26.) Leon Botstein also sees an underlying aesthetic coherence in all Strauss’s career; Botstein, “The Enigmas of Richard Strauss: A Revisionist View,” in Richard Strauss and His World, ed. Bryan Gilliam (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992), 3–32. The same is true of Franz Grasberger, Richard Strauss: Hohe Kunst, erfülltes Leben [mit Noten und Abbildungen] (Vienna: Rosenbaum, 1965); and James L. Zychowicz, “The Late Operas of Richard Strauss,” in The Richard Strauss Companion, ed. Mark-Daniel Schmid (Westport: Praeger, 2003), 293.

(28.) Robert N. Butler, “The Life Review: An Interpretation of Reminiscence in the Aged,” Psychiatry 26 (1963): 65–76.

(29.) David Murray, “Capriccio,” in New Grove Dictionary of Opera, ed. Stanley Sadie (London: Macmillan, 1992), 1:721.

(31.) Mozart’s Der Schauspieldirektor (1786) and Salieri’s Prima la musica e poi le parole (1786) are both on this theme.

(32.) Richard Strauss, Capriccio: Ein Konversationsstück für Musik in einem Aufzug, Op. 85, libretto by Clemens Krauss and Richard Strauss (Mainz: B. Schott’s Söhne, 1942), 68. All translations here and elsewhere are our own literal ones.

(34.) Schuh, quoted in Ute Jung-Kaiser, “Zum ‘musikalischen Testament’ von Richard Strauss,” in Der kulturpädagogische Auftrag der Musik im 20. Jahrhundert, ed. Ute Jung-Kaiser (Regensburg: Bosse, 1991), 100.

(36.) Ibid., respectively 20 and 36.

(38.) See O. Erhardt, “The Later Operatic Works of Richard Strauss,” Tempo, n.s., 12 (1949): 30; and Zychowicz, “The Late Operas,” 294.

(42.) See Erhardt, “The Later Operatic Works,” 30; Jung-Kaiser, “Zum ‘musikalischen Testament,” 109; and H. F. Redlich, “‘Prima la musica … ?’: A Ruminative Comment on Richard Strauss’ Final Opera,” Music Review 24 (1963): 189.

(44.) See Kennedy, Richard Strauss: Man, Music, Enigma, 339; Matthew Boyden, Richard Strauss (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1999), 340; and Jung-Kaiser, “Zum ‘musikalischen Testament,’” 109.

(45.) We should, however, recall Strauss’s admonitory words to Hofmannsthal after World War I: “[operatic] tragedy in the future, after this war, strikes me at present as rather idiotic and childish.” Kennedy, Richard Strauss: Man, Music, Enigma, 194.

(46.) Willi Schuh, “Richard Strauss at Eighty,” trans. Susan Gillespie, in Gilliam, Richard Strauss and His World, 293.

(47.) Walter Thomas, Richard Strauss und seine Zeitgenossen (Munich: A. Langen G. Müller, 1964), 333–34.

(48.) 15 September 1946, in Krause, Richard Strauss: Gestalt und Werk, 3rd ed. (1955; Leipzig: Breitkopf, 1983), 557. Nevertheless, in both 1945 and 1947 he suggested ideas to his librettist, Gregor, for new operas. None of these was ever actually composed. See Zychowicz, “The Late Operas,” 297.

(49.) John Simon, “Testament,” Opera News 62, no. 10 (31 January 1998): 8.

(51.) See Günther Brosche, ed., Richard Strauss–Clemens Krauss: Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe (Tutzing: Hans Schneider, 1997), 240.

(53.) Kennedy, Richard Strauss: Man, Music, Enigma, 359; and Birgit Lodes, “Richard Strauss’ Skizzen zu den ‘Metamorphosen’ und ihre Beziehung zu ‘Trauer von München,’” Die Musikforschung 47, no. 3 (1994): 243 n. 22.

(55.) Ibid., 359.

(59.) For a full and revealing discussion of this attack, see Canton, DeFalco, Larson, and Reichenbächer, “Politics.”

(61.) Many have noted references to Tristan und Isolde: Del Mar, Richard Strauss: A Critical Commentary, 3:437.

(62.) “Richard Strauss and the Question,” in Gilliam, Richard Strauss and His World, 183. For him, it is “a belated and inadequate confrontation with self and history” (186).

(65.) Respectively, Kennedy, Richard Strauss: Man, Musician, Enigma, 193–94; Steinberg, “Richard Strauss,” 182; and Adorno, “Richard Strauss,” 124.

(67.) Klaus Mann, “Three German Masters,” Esquire (January 1946): 198.

(68.) Timothy L. Jackson, “Ruhe, meine Seele! and the Letzte Orchesterlieder,” in Gilliam, Richard Strauss and His World, 90.

(69.) Strauss to Schuh in 1943, quoted in Wilhelm, Richard Strauss: An Intimate Portrait, 257.

(71.) Michael Kater, Musicians of the Nazi Era: Eight Portraits (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000), 263.

(73.) Strauss quoted in Gilliam, The Life, 174 and Kennedy, Richard Strauss: Man, Music, Enigma, 361 (unpublished, from the Richard Strauss Archiv in Garmisch).

(74.) Boyden, Richard Strauss, 355; see also Jackson, “Ruhe, meine Seele!,” 200; and Wilfried Brennecke, “Die Metamorphosen-Werke von Richard Strauss und Paul Hindemith,” Schweizerische Musikzeitung 103 (1963): 131.

(75.) Del Mar, Richard Strauss: A Critical Commentary, 3:469; and Susan Wanless, Vier letzte Lieder: Four Last Songs (Leeds: Mayflower, 1984), 51.

(77.) Kennedy, Richard Strauss: Man, Music, Enigma, 382. While Strauss has been seen by Botstein as prefiguring postmodernism in his love of parody and ironic citation, if this is true the composer somehow skipped right over modernism.

(78.) Jung-Kaiser, “Zum ‘musikalischen Testament,’” 95–98, on both the 1935 document and the later 1945 letter to Karl Böhm, in which he lists the works worthy of being in a “museum” of opera.

(80.) Charles Youmans, “The Development of Richard Strauss’s Worldview,” in The Richard Strauss Companion, ed. Mark-Daniel Schmid (Westport: Praeger, 2003), 69.

(82.) Ibid., 293.

(85.) As many have pointed out, Strauss worked on two other songs at this time. In June 1948 he orchestrated an earlier song, “Ruhe, meine Seele!,” which would fit well with these four, and wrote another, “Malven,” in November 1948 as a gift for the singer Maria Jeritza.

(87.) Rosenkavalier and Ariadne auf Naxos: see Jefferson, Richard Strauss, 91–92. Guntram: see Boyden, Richard Strauss, 364.

(88.) Jefferson, Richard Strauss, 956; Roland Tenschert, “Richard Strauss’ Schwanengesang: Vier letzte Lieder für Sopran und Orchester,” Oesterreichische Musikzeitschrift 5, nos. 10–11 (1950): 266.

(89.) Richard Strauss, Vier letzte Lieder (London: Boosey and Hawkes, 1950), 7–8.

(92.) Ibid., 39–40.

(93.) Ibid., 47.

(94.) Ibid., 51–52.

(95.) Ibid., 53–54.

(97.) Alan Jefferson, The Lieder of Richard Strauss (London: Cassell, 1971), 94.

(99.) Jane Elizabeth Strickert, “Richard Strauss’ Vier letzte Lieder: An Analytical Study” (Ann Arbor: UMI, 1975), iv.

(100.) Strauss, sadly, never heard the songs performed; they premiered in London in 1950.

(103.) Rudolf Hartmann, “The Last Visit with Richard Strauss,” trans. Susan Gillespie, in Gilliam, Richard Strauss and His World, 390.