Richard Strauss is regarded as one of the major symphonic composers of the late Romantic period, who with innovative harmonies and masterful orchestration brought the genre of the “symphonic poem” to perfection. The name of the genre goes back to Franz Liszt. Strauss himself preferred the term “Tondichtung” [tone poem] for his programmatic compositions.
In his programmatic music, Strauss convincingly combined the sound spectrum of a symphonic orchestra with a narrative structure. Written over almost 30 years, his great tone poems were inspired by myths and legends and based on literary works by Shakespeare, Cervantes and Nietzsche. The various non-musical influences gave Strauss’s work a tonal character, making them independent of their models. In a letter to his friend Romain Rolland, Strauss wrote:
“For me, the poetic program is nothing more than the formative occasion for the expression and purely musical development of my feelings – and not, as you believe, merely a musical description of certain processes of life.”
Breitkopf & Härtel has recently added seven of Richard Strauss's nine tone poems to its orchestral library, from the very different early works Don Juan and Tod und Verklärung through Also sprach Zarathustra, which is particularly famous for its opening fanfare, to the monumental Alpensymphonie, which concluded Strauss’s cycle of tone poems in 1915.
The Oboe Concerto and the two Horn Concertos complete the selection of great tone poems that Breitkopf & Härtel presents here in high-quality Urtext editions.
An undisputed master of sound, Strauss demonstrated a deep understanding of the character of each instrument in his compositions. This is reflected in the high esteem for his solo concertos. The two Concertos for Horn and Orchestra, which Strauss wrote at the beginning and the end of his career, are among the most famous and frequently performed solo concertos for this instrument.
Another popular solo concerto written by Strauss was for the oboe: A mere “wrist exercise” for him, it was the result of a chance encounter that Strauss made the most of. Flowing melodies full of joy and echoes of the great composer's oeuvre characterize this musical retrospective in three movements.