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Biography

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Overview (3)

Date of Birth 11 June 1864Munich, Bavaria, Germany
Date of Death 8 September 1949Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Bavaria, Germany
Birth NameRichard Georg Strauss

Mini Bio (1)

Richard Strauss was a German composer best known for symphonic poem 'Also sprach Zarathustra' (Thus Spoke Zarathustra, 1896) used as the music score in 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) by director Stanley Kubrik.

He was born Richard Georg Strauss on June 11, 1864, in Munich, Bavaria (now Germany). His father, named Franz Strauss, was the principal horn player at the Royal Opera in Munich. Young Strauss was taught music by his father. He wrote his first composition at the age of 6. From the age of 10 he studied music theory and orchestration with an assistant conductor of the Munich Court Orchestra. He was also attending orchestral rehearsals. In 1874 Strauss heard operas by Richard Wagner, but his father did not share his son's interest and forbade him to study Wagner's music until the age of 16.

Strauss studied philosophy and art history at Munich University, then at Berlin University. In 1885 he replaced Hans von Bulow as the principal conductor of the Munich Orchestra. Strauss emerged from under his father's influence when he met Alexander Ritter, a composer, and the husband of one of the nieces of Richard Wagner. He abandoned his father's conservative style and began writing symphonic tone poems. In 1894, Strauss married soprano singer Pauline Maria de Ahna. She was famous for being dominant and ill-tempered, but she was also a source of inspiration to Strauss, resulting in the preferred use of the soprano voice in his compositions.

The image of Richard Strauss and his music was abused by the Nazi propaganda machine, to a point of damaging the composer's posthumous reputation. Richard Strauss was trapped in Nazi Germany just as the Russian intellectuals were under Stalin in the Soviet regime. Strauss' name and music was used by the Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels, who appointed Strauss, without his consent, to the State Music Bureau, as a mask on the ugly regime. Strauss was commissioned to write the Olympic Hymn for the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. His cautious apolitical position was the only way to survive and to protect his daughter-in-law Alice, who was Jewish.

In 1935 Strauss was fired from his job at the State Music Bureau. He refused to remove from the playbill the name of his friend and opera librettist, the writer Stefan Zweig, who was Jewish. Later Gestapo intercepted a letter from Strauss to Zweig, where Strauss condemned the Nazis. Strauss' daughter-in-law Alice was placed under the house arrest in 1938. In 1942 Strauss managed to move his Jewish relatives to Vienna. There Alice and Strauss's son were later again arrested and imprisoned for two nights. Only Strauss' personal effort saved them. They were returned under house arrest until the end of the Second World War.

Richard Strauss died on September 8, 1949, in Garmish-Partenkirchen, Germany at the age of 85. Strauss' symphonic poem 'Also sprach Zarathustra' (Thus Spoke Zarathustra, 1896) was recorded under the baton of Herbert von Karajan and was used as the music score in '2001: A Space Odyssey' by director Stanley Kubrik, as well as in many other films.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Steve Shelokhonov

Spouse (1)

Pauline de Ahna (11 September 1894 - 8 September 1949) (his death) (1 child)

Trivia (8)

He refined and perfected the "symphonic poem", a new musical form invented by Franz Liszt. It is usually a one-movement piece inspired by an extramusical idea or famous literary work. While Liszt and other composers wrote symphonic poems lasting only about ten or 15 minutes, Strauss' longest symphonic poems last as long as 40 minutes. Among his most famous are "Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks", "Don Juan", "Don Quixote" and "Thus Spake Zarathustra".
He wrote what was considered the most shocking opera up to that time-- "Salome", based on Oscar Wilde's play. It contains a scene in which the evil and depraved Salome is sexually aroused by the decapitated head of John the Baptist.
Accepted the sponsorship of the Nazi Party during World War II.
He was apparently somewhat naive about the Nazis. He fought to retain the services of Jewish poet Stefan Zweig, and refused to obey the Nazis' policies on anything, despite having accepted their sponsorship. He was under constant threat of house arrest because of this.
His opera, "Die schweigsame Frau", was banned during World War II because it had a libretto by Jewish poet Stefan Zweig.
His most famous movement "Also Sprach Zarathustra" is about 40 minutes long; the portion used in 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) was the beginning of the piece, which is known as "Sunrise" or "Dawn".
Five days after the Allies had landed on D-Day, Hitler sent Strauss a congratulatory 'Happy Birthday' telegram, celebrating his 80th birthday.
Pictured on an Austrian 62c commemorative postage stamp, issued 11 June 2014, the 150th anniversary of his birth.

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