As much a controversy and countless consideration there has been, Richard Strauss’s permanence on a pantheon of composers remains undeniable. How can it be otherwise, when one hears the soaring heights of his Alpensinfonie or tastes the decadent rejoicements of Der Rosenkavalier? He remains a man that embodies a time and its attitudes, perhaps in all its spectrum of grandeur and failings. And it is precisely such manifestation capable of producing such a profound sense of transcendence and exploration of tonal symbolism and harmonic contexts, rendering much more than mere sentiment or idealization, but a evoking the true spirit of classicism and absolute beauty, in both an aesthetical and spiritual sense.
Richard Strauss did not eat much, but he did so with great satisfaction. He despised long drawn out banquets but he knew how to appreciate fine foods and meals. (“I starve at ‘lunch’ and ‘dinner’). However, Strauss preferred home cooking over all else. He meticulously noted down recipes that appealed to him and gave them to Pauline and the loyal housekeeper Anni. He also wrote down lists of what to buy and how to prepare certain dishes.
His favourite desserts were Anni’s vanilla biscuits, “Punsch-torte” and rose hip preserve (the only jam that is honoured in his “Intermezzo”.) (source)
To celebrate his birthday, I decided on his favorite, the Austrian Punsch-torte, accompanied by a cup (or rather, several ones) of strong coffee in a quite autumnal day, while listening to the somber and delicate qualities of his Ophelialieder.
My intention in Josephlegende was to revive the dance. The dance, the mother of the arts, standing, as it were, like a mediator between them. The dance as an expression of the dramatic, but not only of the dramatic. The modern variant of the dance, in which it is nothing but rhythmic or paraphrased action, only too frequently leads us away from the essence of the genuine, purely inspirational, form of the dance dedicated to movement and to absolute beauty, i.e. the ballet. It was this that I intended to rejuvenate…Dance as drama and dance as – dance. We must not loose the sense of the purely graceful just as, analogously, in the realm of music the element of absolute beauty must never be neglected in favor of the characteristic, programmatic and elemental.
On The Legend of Joseph.
It embodies: moral purification through one’s own strength, liberation through work, worship of eternal, glorious Nature.
On his Alpensinfonie.