Richard Strauss's Orchestral Music and the German Intellectual Tradition

Richard Strauss's Orchestral Music and the German Intellectual Tradition

The Philosophical Roots of Musical Modernism
Youmans, Charles
Distribution: World
Publication date: 07/07/2005
Format: Hardback 85 b&w illus.
ISBN: 978-0-253-34573-8
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The young Richard Strauss was almost exclusively an orchestral composer. Yet, the year 1903 brought a significant break from orchestral writing, and Strauss then shifted his focus to opera for the next four decades. In the aftermath of the Second World War he returned to orchestral music, having first served and then been summarily dismissed by the Third Reich. Despite its enduring appeal among concert audiences, and the intriguing pattern of his compositional career, Richard Strauss's orchestral music has yet to receive the scholarly consideration it deserves.

Richard Strauss's Orchestral Music and the German Intellectual Tradition breaks new ground in Straussian studies. Youmans provides a provocative investigation of Strauss's private intellectual life and its impact on the brilliant music he created during the formation of his worldview. The composer's works have traditionally been viewed as a product of high German Romanticism, yet Youmans demonstrates that Strauss's entire body of orchestral music can be read as a history of his struggle with specific intellectual-historical concerns. Exploring the significant influences of Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Goethe, and Wagner on the young composer, Youmans insightfully establishes that the cultural convictions and preconceptions which grounded the composer's artistic choices in fact provided him with the philosophical and musical materials that formed the basis of an early modernism. Through this grounding, the mature Strauss succeeded in opening up a new aesthetic frontier devoted to optimism, physicality, and the visual.

Author Bio

Charles Youmans is Assistant Professor of Musicology at Penn State University.

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Table of Contents

Intellectual History and Artistic Production: The Case of Richard Strauss
Part I. The Private Intellectual Context of Strauss's Early Career
1. "The Conversion": Strauss and Wagnerism
2. Music and the "Denial of the Will": Schopenhauer in Strauss's Life and Work
3. Strauss's Nietzsche
4. Goethe and the Development of Strauss's Mature Worldview
Part II. Orchestral Composition as Philosophical Critique
5. The First Cycle of Tone Poems: Genesis of a Critical Musical Technique
6. Eulenspiegel, Zarathustra, Quixote, Strauss: Crystallization of a Persona
7. Absolute Music, Twentieth-Century Aesthetics, and the Symphonies of
Richard Strauss
Works Cited