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Richard Strauss: Man, Musician, Enigma (英語) ペーパーバック – 2006/11/2
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This book re-evaluates a figure whom the author considers to be the greatest composer of the twentieth century. Kennedy deals fully with Strauss's life as leading composer and national figure in the Third Reich, during which he was both fêted and cold-shouldered by the authorities. In putting this period into perspective he draws heavily on hitherto ignored material, including Strauss's own letters and diaries. In addition he reveals much about Strauss's long, happy but tempestuous marriage to the soprano Pauline de Ahna as well as tracing the important relationships to his librettists Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Stefan Zweig, Joseph Gregor and Clemens Krauss. Kennedy reassesses the man and the music, revealing a picture of a level-headed, practical and extremely versatile musician - a great conductor as well as a great composer.
'Mr Kennedy's new biography of Strauss is certain to become the standard work, shaping the interpretations of a whole generation of Strauss's scholars (and ordinary music lovers) to come.' Sunday Telegraph
'One of the many merits of this excellently researched book is that it pinpoints the centrality to Strauss of his family life … It is worth reading … not only for its jaunty style, but also for the integrity with which it provides even discreditable information about its protagonist.' Gerald Kaufman, Daily Telegraph
'Although Kennedy refrains from detailed musical analysis, he is always interesting, if sometimes controversial, in his evaluation of Strauss's most important works and evangelical on behalf of his lesser known ones … Kennedy's book is an important and absorbing contribution to the continuing Strauss debate.' Hugh Canning, Sunday Times
'Michael Kennedy has written a fine work, which I believe will be the benchmark for all future biographies of Richard Strauss.' Literary Review
'Written in an elegantly accessible style, this is the most valuable book on Strauss and his music to have appeared in English.' Charles Osborne, BBC Music Magazine
'… his is one of the best balanced and most intelligent presentations of a composer's work I have ever encountered.' The Observer
'This is a highly enjoyable book. Kennedy gives a sensitive and judicious account of Strauss's life …' The Musical Times
'… majestic and beautifully written study … Here is a major contribution to musical literature at the highest level.' Musical Opinion
'… his abiding love of the subject and his gift for sane human judgements persistently edge us closer to the truth of the enigma that was Strauss.' Gramaphone
'… by virtue of his thoroughness and passion for the subject, Kennedy has given us even cause to celebrate Strauss …' Opera News
'Lord Harewood, the former chairman of English National Opera, reckons Kennedy's 'measured, accurate and penetrating championing' of Strauss to be his finest achievment, 'Strauss was, in some quarters, reviled, and Michael corrected that. He's not just a critic, but an excellent historian'.' The Sunday Telegraph
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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!
Kennedy observes that "Religion played no part in his upbringing." By 1892, "he had read Nietzsche's works and had been particularly attracted by 'his polemic against Christianity.'" As Strauss's character Guntram said, "My God speaks to me through myself." It is not surprising, therefore, that Strauss would attempt to set Nietzsche's "Thus Sprach Zarathustra" to music.
Controversial not only for writing operas such as "Salome," "(T)he German press denounced him for conducting two afternoon concerts in a New York department store (in 1904) ... Such conduct was 'a prostitution of art.' Strauss replied that the concerts had been given in artistic conditions and, anyway, it was no disgrace to earn money." Kennedy notes that "Strauss's output, large though it was, diminished between 1916 and about 1940 ... No wonder the world of music regarded him by then as almost a fossil."
Of course, Strauss's most controversial actions concern with the Nazi Party came to power. For example, in 1933 Joseph Goebbels appointed Strauss to the post of President of the State Music Bureau. Kennedy explains this thusly: "It was not only that Strauss believed nothing was more important than art: he simply did not recognize the conflict, a symptom of a blinkered mentality as a court composer. He kept his nose in the score and ignored the raised voices in the next room." But Strauss was not by any stretch an anti-Semite: "He acknowledged the help and inspiration he had received from Jews, adding that his own most malicious enemies had been Aryans."
Kennedy gives a summation: "If his music lacks mystical and spiritual depth---and it does, except for one late work---it has worldly, human rapture and insight, realism, and humor." Kennedy's fine biography is well-worth reading for anyone who wants to know more about the man or his music.
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.