Richard Strauss (1864-1949)
Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks(1895)
By the turn of the 20th century, Richard Strauss was considered to be the cutting edge of musical modernism. Through the innovations of Wagner and Liszt, the “absolute” formal music of the symphony gave way to multi-dimensional music drama and then the symphonic tone poem as the leading Romantics sought to express the extra-musical world in program music. Strauss took up the cause pursing this “music of the future” following his own dictum that “new ideas must seek new forms” and elevated the art of the single-movement tone poem to a new pinnacle. His brilliant orchestrations nearly shocked with their vivid realism boldly depicting subject matter previously considered beyond the realm of instrumental music alone: Don Juan, Nietzsche’s Superman, Don Quixote, and the crude practical jokes of a medieval prankster.
Till Eulenspiegel is a colorful figure of Northern European folklore, a vagabond trickster that exposes the vice, hypocrisy and folly throughout society by pranking his fellow man. (more…)