- Paperback: 468 pages
- Publisher: Cambridge University Press; Reissue edition (November 2, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0521027748
- ISBN-13: 978-0521027748
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 8 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,034,328 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Richard Strauss: Man, Musician, Enigma Reissue Edition
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
A dramatic coming-of-age story set in the decade after World War II, "Warlight" is the mesmerizing new novel from the best-selling author of "The English Patient." Learn more
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Kennedy's book brings a complex and paradoxical man to life in this book, yet a lot of what he writes is spent trying to explain, perhaps even absolve Strauss's apparent shortcomings in the parts of his life which are most discussed among historians and music lovers, namely the depth of his creativity and his seeming blindness to horrors committed by the Nazi regime from 1933 to 1945 in Germany.
Certainly Strauss's body of work is varied and extensive and much of it has enjoyed enormous popularity over the years. But as Kennedy himself seems to imply, he wrote for the masses, looking with a keen eye for symphonic and operatic "hits." And score them he did with "Electra," "Salome," "Der Rosenkavalier," "Also Sprach Zarathustra, "Ein Heldenleben," "Till Eulenspiegel..," and scores of lieder and other works.
For this reader I was left with the persistent question as to what constitutes "great" art. If staying power is a key ingredient, than Strauss's music is certainly great. Most of his output has great "legs" and will be heard in concert and opera halls for many years to come, just as will Puccini's and Verdi's works.
On the other hand, it is not deep, in the sense of Beethoven, Bruckner, or in particular Mahler, who believed in asking the great philosophic questions in his own art: What it means to be human, where we fit in the cosmos, etc. In a way, Strauss comes off in this book as someone along the lines of a Broadway composer. Detailing his relationship and work with librettist Hugo Hoffmanstall, we see the constant give and take between a poet who wants to confront the larger world and a musician who understands how to fill the seats. It was absolutely fascinating to read.
As for Strauss's activities during the Third Reich, he has popularly lived with the tag of "collaborator" to the Hitler regime, and Kennedy points out that the post-war de-nazification commission ruled that Strauss was not a collaborationist, and I choose to accept its findings. But certainly, Strauss chose not to disturb the waters as Hitler silenced, imprisoned and murdered millions, including artists, as Strauss composed and conducted all over Germany, ever watchful of his royalties and income, and even enlisting the help of well known Nazis as Baldur von Shirach and Hans Frank ("the butcher of Poland") for favors. Kennedy quotes Klaus Mann (the son of Thomas Mann): "[Strauss's] naiveté, his wicked, completely amoral egoism could be, almost, disarming...Frightening is the word. An artist of such sensitivity yet silent when it comes to questions of conscience...A great man, yet without greatness. I cannot help but be frightened of such a phenomenon and find it somewhat distasteful."
In the end, Strauss, who never apologized for a thing after the war was over, remains an enigma for this writer; a man who made incredibly wonderful music and who painted orchestral color with as broad a palette as anyone in musical history yet had personal flaws which will stand out in his story for as long as his music is heard. For me he will always be a "Yes, but..."
Kennedy forces his reader to consider these things. For that, I am appreciative of his book. This is one which should be in the library of ever lover of good music.
Kennedy seems to have slightly more passion for Strauss it turns out than for RVW or Elgar, or at least enough moxy to blow the cover off some well established sacred cows. I know that I was not expecting to read exactly what I read.
If you are even vaguely interested in the music of Strauss or even if you are simply intereted in the history of Germany from 1900 to 1950, then this is a very interesting read.
Very well done!
Unlike most other famed musicians, Strauss remained in Germany during the Nazi era and continued to conduct at the major houses. Yet in Kennedy's revised 1995 edition of Richard Strauss (Simon and Schuster Macmillan), there's nothing in the Index about any of the camps. He shows Strauss grieving horribly after the war when he fully realized what all had been lost of German music and art. He was shaken by the destruction of great opera houses, buildings, and monuments; but again -- no mention by this biographer, nor apparently by the composer in his journals, letters, and conversations, of the terrible toll of human beings who had died in the Nazi camps while the music was, mostly, still going on.
Richard Strauss is equally well known for his operas as for his orchestral tone poems, some of which run to the length of symphonies. He composed 15 operas, from Guntram in 1893 to Capriccio in 1941, and nearly three dozen orchestral pieces. Some of these have become independent orchestral pieces for the concert hall, taken from his operas, like the Dance of the Seven Veils from the opera Salome; or the introductory sextet from Capriccio. He also composed two horn concertos - one at the beginning and the other near the end of his career - as well as concertos for violin and for oboe.
This book serves as the best introduction to Strauss' life and works that I have read. The author, Michael Kennedy, is a journalist who started his career with the British daily newspaper, The Daily Telegraph. He is known for his expertise in writing about the life and work of English composers and performers, several like this book in the series of Master Musicians originally published by Dent in London. Like other books of the series, the first half presents a chronological biography of the composer's life while the second half describes, and to some extent analyses, the music. Again, in the usual format, at the end of the book is a Calendar of events in Strauss' life, a catalogue of works, brief biographical details of other people who were influential in Strauss' life, a brief bibliography and an Index.