Richard Strauss. Listen to audio:. Richard Strauss lived through two World Wars. And in a sense lived through neither, remaining nearly oblivious, we are led to believe, of the worlds crumbling and realigning about him. Sigmund Freud might never have existed, the demons of modern history only marginally.

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Strauss's Four Last Songs are simply one of the most touchingly beautiful ways for a composer to end his career, says Jane Jones. At the end of a long and successful career, when a composer still has the power to move his audience with a swansong of such sublime beauty that it takes your breath away - well, you know that work is a masterpiece.

Richard Strauss was in his 80s and living in Switzerland at the end of World War II and, although he was increasingly feeble, he was still composing.

She was quite a character with a formidable reputation as the iron rod in that relationship — managing the money and giving her husband just enough to live on! But she was also a successful soprano who performed Strauss's songs to great acclaim. The Eichendorf poem which translates as 'At Sunset' is fittingly the last of the four, with the first three songs all settings of poems by Herman Hesse. The words are all warm, wise and reflective with no hint of religious consolation as death approaches, but rather a deeply felt appreciation of the world before leaving.

It's simply one of the most touchingly beautiful ways for a composer to end his career. September The garden is in mourning.

Cool rain seeps into the flowers. Hands, stop all your work. Brow, forget all your thinking. Come close, and let them fly. Soon it will be time for sleep. See more Strauss Pictures. See more Strauss Album Reviews. Discover Music.

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Metaphysical Sunset: Strauss’s Four Last Songs

In , Strauss was reading the works by Joseph von Eichendorff an early 19 th century Prussian poet , when he came across Im Abendrot At Sunset , a lyrical poem in which an old couple contemplates the end of life together. By , he completed a musical setting of the poem for soprano and orchestra. Intending to make Im Abendrot the conclusion of his final masterpiece, Strauss planned to set four more songs to accompany it; he only lived to complete three, all to poems by his contemporary Hermann Hesse. Strauss left no indication as to the order in which the songs were to be performed although Im Abendrot was undoubtedly last ; his publisher provided the title Four Last Songs and arrived at the logical, satisfying order in which they are most often performed today. With their sophisticated orchestrations, subtle harmonies, and soaring soprano melodies, the Four Last Songs are possibly the most sensually beautiful music in the repertoire. Each song features exquisite word painting.


The Story Behind Strauss' Four Last Songs

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