Richard Strauss was the German composer who survived the wrath of the Kaiser and the catholic church who both slammed his opera Salome as well as living through the predicament of despising the Nazis yet being prepared to sacrifice his reputation for a greater personal cause. Strauss had a Jewish daughter in law so when the Nazi propaganda machine requested him to head the Reichsmusikkammer in 1933 he decided he would take up the post to see if he could do some good for talented German musicians whilst using his influence to protect his family. There was more to his thinking because his publisher was a Jew and some of his writers were also Jewish not to mention him having 2 Jewish grandchildren, so he had ample motivation to stay in Germany to protect his family and friends. He lasted 2 years as the overseer of music in Germany before Joseph Goebbels grew weary of Strauss's lack of antisemitism and relieved him of his duties via a forced resignation. The Nazis still liked his music though so he still had some influence which he used to limited effect in an attempt to keep the Jewish side of his in laws family alive during the Nazi regimes reign of terror. Although his daughter in law Alice and the grandchildren survived, the fate of Alices side of the family was not so lucky, Strauss even drove to the gates of the Czech concentration camp trying to gain their freedom but it was not to be as they all perished. Goebbels was famously quoted as saying about Strauss: "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". Equally Strauss was embittered by Goebbels as he once recalled: "I consider the Jew-baiting by Goebbels a disgrace to German honour". The fine line between passive resistance and collaboration has never been clear, it is easy to understand any father trying protect his family by sacrificing his own integrity which is essentially what Richard Strauss did. History does seem to be softening the Nazi collaborator story and time is slowly restoring his name back to where it should be solely judged in the field of music in which he undoubtedly excelled. Moral issues aside, here is my compilation of 12 of the best Richard Strauss quotes.
- Mini Bio
- Name: Richard Georg Strauss
- Born: 11th June 1864, Munich, Kingdom of Bavaria
- Died: 8th September 1949, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, West Germany
- Occupation: Composer and conductor
- Famous for: His symphonic tone poem 'Also sprach Zarathustra' that was used in the soundtrack to Stanley Kubricks 1968 movie 2001 Space Odyssey
- Inspired by: Richard Wagner and Alexander Ritter
- Admired by: Hermann Göring commander-in-chief of the Luftwaffe
- Detested by: Joseph Goebbels the Reich Minister of Propaganda
- Scandal: Strauss caused uproar when his 1905 Oscar Wilde inspired opera called Salome was banned in many cities across the world. The ban misfired and actually fueled the opera to be a success with people flocking to see it in venues that allowed it to be shown
- Alma mater: Royal school of music Munich and Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich
- Trivia: His pragmatic apolitical approach helped him survive the Nazi years where he accepted their sponsorship but rallied against them to save his Jewish friends and relatives. He was under constant threat during this time so his resolve in the face of fascist activities that revolted him is quite remarkable
"Never look at the trombones. You'll only encourage them"
"The most terrible period of human history is at an end, the twelve year reign of bestiality, ignorance and anti-culture under the greatest criminals, during which Germany's 2000 years of cultural evolution met its doom"
"I made music under the Kaiser, and under Ebert. I'll survive under this one as well"
"In November of 1933, the minister Goebbels nominated me president of the Reichsmusikkammer without obtaining my prior agreement. I was not consulted"
"Do you suppose Mozart was consciously 'Aryan' when he composed? I recognise only two types of people: Those who have talent and those who have none"
"It is better to conduct with the ear instead of with the arm: the rest follows automatically"
"Conducting is, after all, a difficult business - one has to be seventy years of age to realise this fully"
"As for the Rosenkavalier waltzes - how could I have done those without a thought of the laughing genius of Vienna"
"The human voice is the most beautiful instrument of all, but the most difficult to play"
"Ideas, like young wine, should be put in storage and taken up again only after they have been allowed to ferment and to ripen"
"If you think that the brass is not blowing loud enough, mute it by a couple of degrees"
"Don't perspire while conducting - only the audience should get warm"