- 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
- 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"Richard Strauss
"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"Richard Strauss
"I made music under the Kaiser, and under Ebert. I'll survive under this one as well"Richard Strauss
"In November of 1933, the minister Goebbels nominated me president of the Reichsmusikkammer without obtaining my prior agreement. I was not consulted"Richard Strauss
"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"Richard Strauss
"It is better to conduct with the ear instead of with the arm: the rest follows automatically"Richard Strauss
"Conducting is, after all, a difficult business - one has to be seventy years of age to realise this fully"Richard Strauss
"As for the Rosenkavalier waltzes - how could I have done those without a thought of the laughing genius of Vienna"Richard Strauss
"The human voice is the most beautiful instrument of all, but the most difficult to play"Richard Strauss
"Ideas, like young wine, should be put in storage and taken up again only after they have been allowed to ferment and to ripen"Richard Strauss
"If you think that the brass is not blowing loud enough, mute it by a couple of degrees"Richard Strauss
"Remember you are making music not to amuse yourself but to delight the audience"Richard Strauss
"I am the last mountain of a large mountain range. After me come the flatlands"Richard Strauss
"Be a good boy, forget Moses" [said in a letter to the librettist Stefan Zweig]"Richard Strauss
"Don't perspire while conducting - only the audience should get warm"Richard Strauss
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Richard Strauss Biography
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 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. While life under the Kaiser was proving troublesome it was a walk in the park in comparison with what was coming under the Adolf Hitler inspired Nazi Germany.
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.
Strauss lasted 2 years as the overseer of music in Germany before Joseph Goebbels grew weary of his 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, this is my compilation of 15 of the best Richard Strauss quotes.
Quotes About Richard Strauss
In 1902 the Hungarian composer Béla Bartók was impressed to say:
"I was aroused as by a flash of lightning by the first Budapest performance of 'Also Sprach Zarathustra'. It contained the seeds for a new life. I started composing again"
The composer Gustav Mahler enthused:
"Salome again made an extraordinary impression on me. It is entirely a work of genius, very powerful and decidedly one of the most important things that our age has produced"
The author George Bernard Shaw was not so impressed:
"Strauss, the new conductor, seemed a hopeless failure; he kept the band as smooth, and also inane, as a linen collar; and his tempi, except for the occasional gallop in the wrong place, were for the most part insufferably slow. We all sat wishing we had not come, and that Strauss had never been born"
The Russian conductor Igor Stravinsky made this observation of Strauss:
"I watched him at rehearsals and admired the way he conducted. Every corrective remark he made was exact: his ears and his musicianship were impregnable"
The Italian conductor Arturo Toscanini was famously quoted as saying:
"To Richard Strauss, the composer, I take off my hat. To Richard Strauss, the man, I put it on again"
The Austrian composer Arnold Schoenberg mused that his works could be eternal:
"I believe that he will remain one of the characteristic and outstanding figures in musical history. Works like Salome, Elektra and Intermezzo, and others will not perish"