Strauss Vita d’eroe
The majestic Teatro Filarmonico in Verona hosts a memorable concert run to highlight the life and work of Richard Strauss, one of Germany's most outstanding Romantic-era composers. The concerts are billed under the title Strauss Vita d’eroe which literally means the heroic life of Strauss, a man whose career spanned much of both the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, a time of considerable change. The auditorium at the Veronese opera house is ideal for musical performances of Strauss' works given its widely appreciated acoustics.
Each concert programme commences with Don Juan, Op. 20, which Strauss wrote as a tone poem for orchestra. Although the story of Don Juan had appeared in European music before – notably in Mozart's Don Giovanni, among other examples – the Strauss version is somewhat different. This is, in part, because the composer chose to set a more recent telling of the story to music. Strauss used a poem by the Austrian writer Nikolaus Lenau as the source material for his work, a poem that was published posthumously in 1851. The music was first performed in Weimar in 1889 when Strauss was 25. It was an immediate success and marked the young composer out as someone who was subsequently regarded by most music critics of the day to be an outstanding talent.
Strauss' Horn Concerto No. 1, Op. 11, follows. This was written by Strauss when he was even younger, perhaps reflecting the fact that the budding composer was immersed in horn music on an almost daily basis at the time, given that his father served as the principal horn at the Munich Court Orchestra. Strauss chose to format his concerto in three movements which was conventional for this sort of music. However, he took the relatively bold step of linking the first two movements, a move that Felix Mendelssohn had recently championed.
Ein Heldenleben, Op. 40, has been chosen for the concerts' finale. This work, which means A Hero's Life, is also a tone poem. It premiered in 1898 and features many quotations from earlier works written by Strauss. This has led many musicologists to consider that Strauss was writing about a musical hero, perhaps even himself.
With three fascinating pieces of music and a meticulously well-kept venue, these concerts are likely to provide a superb opportunity for those new to the music of Richard Strauss to get to know it better. Fans of the great maestro will, no doubt, be delighted by the rich and varied programme on offer.