Strauss Portraits

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01Portraits Day20120507

For Portraits Day, Donald Macleod is joined by Professor Julian Johnson from Royal Holloway, University of London, to reflect on how self portraiture is represented by Richard Strauss's music. While Strauss as the hero of "Ein Heldenleben" encouraged some healthy debate when it was first heard in 1899, other works are more direct in their association. Dedicated to his wife and his son, Sinfonia domestica details a day in the life of the Strauss family, including its most intimate moments. While critics of the day found it vulgar, the public loved it, and Strauss was unashamedly unapologetic. He told journalists in 1921 that the work was among his favourites, since it showed him and his opinions most clearly.

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Donald Macleod introduces music by Strauss written for his wife, Pauline de Ahna.

Donald Macleod examines the extraordinary partnership Richard Strauss enjoyed with the soprano, Pauline de Ahna. The couple were married for over fifty years, despite her fiery temper and unreasonable demands, although given her frequent outbursts, to some of their contemporaries at least, it was difficult to understand why. What's indisputable is the amount of music Pauline inspired, and Strauss's ability to write music of incomparable beauty for the soprano voice.

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Donald Macleod explores Strauss's remarkable partnership with Hugo von Hofmannsthal.

Donald Macleod and guest Professor Julian Johnson from Royal Holloway, University of London, explore Richard Strauss's remarkable partnership with the Austrian poet and dramatist, Hugo von Hofmannsthal. After Elektra, the pair went on to work on a further five operas, among them Ariadne auf Naxos and their most popular collaboration, Der Rosenkavalier.

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Donald Macleod considers the difficulties of the post-war climate for Richard Strauss.

Like many in the artistic community, the aftermath of the second world war was a period of introspection and practical difficulty for Richard Strauss. Having remained in Germany during the war, due to his dealings with the Nazi party, when hostilities ceased, he found himself under investigation. As he looked on his beloved country and the destruction of the opera houses he'd worked in over many years, he felt he was witness to the destruction of 2000 years of German culture. With Donald Macleod and guest Professor Julian Johnson from Royal Holloway, University of London.