Strauss, Richard


1940 ALS expressing sympathies to the wife and family of a deceased friend



Autograph ID: 7082
Condition: Good, somelight toning overall
Description: “(1864-1949) German composer, conductor, pianist, and violinist. He and Mahler, represent the late flowering of German Romanticism after Wagner. His began composing at age 6. His output encompassed nearly every type of classical composition form, but he achieved his greatest success with tone poems and operas. His 1st acclaimed tone poem was “Don Juan” (1889), followed by “Death and Transfiguration” (1890), “Till Eugenspiegel’s Merry Pranks” (1895), “Also Sprach Zarathrusta (1896, popularized by Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 film “2001: A Space Odyssey”), “Don Quixote” (1897), etc. His 1st international hit opera was “Salome” (1905), followed by “Elektra” (1909), “Der Rosenkavalier” (1911), “Ariadne auf Naxos” (1912, rev. 1916), etc. Other works incl. lieder (especially his “Four Last Songs”), 2 symphonies and instrumental works. A major conductor in Western Europe and the Americas, his compositions became orchestral and operatic repertoire standards. Strauss was 68 when the Nazis took power. He never joined the Party and avoided Nazi forms of greeting. He initially cooperated with the early Nazi regime in the hope that Hitler would promote German art and culture. Strauss’s need to protect his Jewish daughter-in-law and Jewish grandchildren also motivated his behavior, with his desire to preserve and conduct music of banned composers like Mahler and Debussy. Because of his eminence, in Nov. 1933 he was appointed president of the new “Reichsmusikkammer”, the Reich Music Chamber. He accepted the job but was apolitical, eventually untenable. Also in 1933, he replaced Toscanini as director of the Bayreuth Festival after Toscanini resigned in protest of the Nazi regime. Strauss continued work on a comic opera, “Die schweigsame Frau”, with his Jewish friend and librettist Stefan Zweig. At its 1935 premiere, he insisted Zweig’s name appear on the billing to the Nazis’ ire. Hitler and Goebbels avoided the opera which had 3 performances,
later banned. When the Gestapo intercepted a 1935 letter to Zweig, Hitler fired Strauss as Reichsmusikkammer president, but the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games used his “Olympische Hymne” composed in 1934. His 1st staged work with librettist Joseph Gregor was in 1938 when Germany was preparing for war. “Friedenstag” (“Peace Day”), a 1-act opera, was a hymn to peace, a thinly veiled criticism of the Third Reich. After outbreak of war in 1939, productions ceased. In April 1945, he was apprehended by US soldiers at his Garmisch estate, his bank accounts were frozen and many assets seized. He left for Switzerland in Oct. 1945. In 1947 he made his last international tour, present during a complete staging of “Elektra” by the BBC in London. In June 1948 he was cleared by a Munich denazification tribunal.

ALS on his “Richard Strauss/Garmisch” personal notecard, October 15 1940, in German, translated as: “With deepest sorrow about the passing of my dearest friend Lazare, I send you, Madam, the expression of my warmest sympathy, which I beg also to convey to your children. I shall always keep the fondest memories of your husband.””
Type: Letter

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