Compact Discoveries®
a series of one-hour radio programs
produced, written, hosted, and edited by Fred Flaxman
©2004 and 2007 by Fred Flaxman
Program 59
"Richard Strauss, Orchestrator"

MUSIC: excerpt from R. Strauss: Waltzes from Der Rosenkavalier, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Fritz Reiner [RCA Victor/BMG 09026-68638-2, track 2] [under the following]

Welcome to Compact Discoveries. I'm your guide Fred Flaxman, and during the next hour we're going to explore the music of "Richard Strauss, Orchestrator." I'll play for you my very favorite orchestral music by Richard Strauss beyond the Waltzes from Der Rosenkavalier which you hear in the background right now. These include Don Juan, Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks, and the Burleske for Piano and Orchestra.

MUSIC: R. Strauss: Waltzes from Der Rosenkavalier fades out

Richard Strauss was born in Munich Germany on June 11th, 1864. He died in Bavaria on September 8, 1949. Since he spent the years of World War II in Nazi Germany and never openly criticized the regime, even after the war, his character has been, let's say, under suspicion ever since.

He had wanted to work with the Austrian-Jewish novelist Stefan Zweig in 1933, shortly after the Nazis came to power, but at Zweig's suggestion, accepted a gentile as his librettist instead. And his correspondence and private papers frequently express contempt for the Nazis. On the other hand he accepted from the Nazis the office of President of the Reich's Music Chamber, though he didn't carry out any of the racist proscriptions of the regime. A de-Nazification tribunal formally acquitted Strauss in 1949.

Strauss was clearly devoted to music, not politics, and he excelled as both a conductor and composer. His father was the principal horn player in the Munich court orchestra, and he learned to play instruments from the players in his father's orchestra. That he went on to become a conductor was no surprise. And that intimate association with the orchestra served him well as a composer of orchestral music.

Strauss' tone poem, Don Juan, was first performed when he was 24 years old. It made him famous overnight. He himself conducted the premiere with the orchestra of the Weimar Opera.

Strauss' piece is a portrayal of the character of Don Juan. The women he seduced serve as inspirations for Strauss' musical ideas. Let's hear the work now as performed by the Symphony Orchestra of Bavarian Radio conducted by Lorin Maazel.

MUSIC: Richard Strauss: Don Juan, Symphony Orchestra of Bavarian Radio conducted by Lorin Maazel [RCA BMG 09026-68225-2, track 11] [17:33]

The Symphony Orchestra of Bavarian Radio conducted by Lorin Maazel performed Don Juan by Richard Strauss.

You are listening to Compact Discoveries. I'm your guide, Fred Flaxman, and this hour is devoted to my favorite orchestral works by Richard Strauss.

[optional break not included in total timing]



Next we turn to the delightful 1895 tone poem Til Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks. Til was a German legendary rascal who did all kinds of things to get in trouble, from masquerading in religious robes in order to seduce a woman, to causing panic in a marketplace by invading it on horseback. His various escapades are reflected in this music, which even starts with a "once upon a time"-like theme. At the end he is condemned to death, and sent to the gallows, at least in Strauss' version, indicated by a long drum roll. In this CBS Masterworks compact disc, the Cleveland Orchestra is conducted by Lorin Maazel.

MUSIC: Richard Strauss: Til Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks, Op. 28, Cleveland Orchestra, Lorin Maazel [CBS Masterworks MK 35826, track 2] [15:22]

Til Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks by Richard Strauss. Lorin Maazel conducted the Cleveland Orchestra.

You are listening to Compact Discoveries. I'm your guide, Fred Flaxman, and this hour is devoted to orchestral pieces by Richard Strauss.

[optional break not included in the total timing]



Our final selection is less well-known than Don Juan and Til Eulenspiegel, but it is my personal favorite of the three: the Burleske for Piano and Orchestra. This piece was written when Strauss was only 21. Yet it is his only attempt to write anything approaching a piano concerto.

When Strauss presented the score to the famous conductor Hans von Bülow, the conductor declared: "It is unplayable!" Well, he has been proven wrong many times since then, as he is in this RCA Victor compact disc recording with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by Fritz Reiner and pianist Byron Janis.

MUSIC: Richard Strauss: Burleske, Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by Fritz Reiner; pianist Byron Janis [RCA Victor/BMG 09026-68638-2, track 1] [20:03]

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by Fritz Reiner and pianist Byron Janis performed the Burleske for Piano and Orchestra by a 21-year-old Richard Strauss.

MUSIC: excerpt from R. Strauss: Waltzes from Der Rosenkavalier, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Fritz Reiner [RCA Victor/BMG 09026-68638-2, track 2] under the following:

This is Fred Flaxman hoping that you have enjoyed this hour of Compact Discoveries by Richard Strauss. Your comments are always appreciated. You can reach me through my website, www.compactdiscoveries.com, where you'll find the script and music information for each Compact Discoveries radio program as well as a list of radio stations carrying the series.

Compact Discoveries is a production of Compact Discoveries, Inc., and a presentation of WXEL-FM, West Palm Beach, Florida.

MUSIC: fades out at 57:45

ANNOUNCER: This program was made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Arts -- a great nation deserves great art; and by the Public Radio Exchange Reversioning Project. The Public Radio Exchange is at prx.org.

Program ends at 58:00

 
  2009 Compact Discoveries