Sunday, February 22, 2015

Richard Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra

The problem with cliches is that they distil the most easily memorable and discard 90% that remains.  In the case of Strauss' Also spracht Zarathustra, the cliche is here:

So what does the cliche leave behind?  Lots.

To start with, Strauss composed this as a tone poem, inspired by Friedrich Nietzsche's novel of the same name.  The score included the text of "Zarathustra's Prologue" from Nietzsche, which is worth a read to get the feel of the German mysticism of the day (1896).

The music above is only the beginning of the piece, more properly called Einleitung, oder Sonnenaufgang (Introduction, or Sunrise); actually, Stanley Kubrick caught this mood very well indeed.  But it's only the opening 90 seconds of a 30 minute piece, which is a delight.

The cliche of Strauss himself was that he was a Nazi, and in fact Hitler's favorite opretaist.  This isn't true.  In fact, Josef Goebels (Propaganda and Culture Minister) considered him decadent and partly jewish.  Strauss survived the war, and conducted one of the first HiFi versions of this, available on the Vanguard label.

Bootnote: Kubrick also included a Strauss Waltz in 2001: A Space Opera.  It was by Josef Strauss, not Richard Strauss.


Guffaw in AZ said...

Incredible music!

Thanks for the reminder.


libertyman said...

Must be the drugs, as the Strauss who wrote the Blue Danube was Johann.

I am glad you included the rest of Also Sprach Zarathustra.

It is wonderful to have our music class back on Sundays!