Richard Strauss: a musical magician from Bavaria

Richard Strauss (1864-1949) was a master of modern instrumentation and innovative tone colours. He earned international recognition with operas such as Salome and Elektra, as well as symphonic poems such as An Alpine Symphony and Also sprach Zarathustra.

The son of a Munich musician, Richard Strauss is said to have started composing when he was only six. At the age of 22, he became kapellmeister in Munich and soon rose to fame as a composer. He is commemorated in Munich with a memorial plaque at the house of his birth and the Richard Strauss fountain (Salome fountain) in the pedestrian area.

From 1898 Richard Strauss worked for 20 years as court kapellmeister in Berlin. Today a memorial plaque marks the building on Heerstrasse where he composed the operas The Woman without a Shadow and Ariadne on Naxos.

Besides composing and conducting, Richard Strauss took a very active part in musical life, founding the Berlin Tonkünstler Orchestra and launching GEMA, the musical reproduction rights society, and the Salzburg Festival. He was president of the Reichsmusikkammer from 1933 to 1935. Strauss only half-heartedly distanced himself from the Nazi regime – he composed the music for the opening of the 1936 Olympic Games, for example.

In later life, Strauss moved to Garmisch-Partenkirchen, where he had built a villa in 1908. Today Garmisch remembers Strauss with an annual Strauss Festival and concerts and exhibitions at the Richard Strauss Institute.

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