28 Mar 2017

NZSO Elgar & Strauss - Second half

From Music Alive, 8:00 pm on 28 March 2017
European Alps

European Alps Photo: Commons


STRAUSS: An Alpine Symphony.

An Alpine Symphony by Richard Strauss. His last tone poem, and his last symphonic work: cinematic, huge and just under an hour long, depicting a day’s walk in the mountains that Strauss loved so much. He grew up after all in Munich at the foot of the Bavarian alps, and spent much of his childhood in excursions upon them including an adventure much like the one he describes here in which the whole party got lost up a mountain and got totally soaked by a storm on the way down. Later when he was living in Vienna, he went trekking into the Austrian alps whenever he could and by the time he wrote this he’d actually built himself a home with stunning views of the mountains, back in Bavaria. And it wasn’t just a question of the view either – it was his whole philosophy, pantheistic nature worship and a rejection of god, just like his hero, Nietzsche. This symphony was building for a long time, since 1899. In the meantime Mahler had died, and Strauss heartbroken had a go at returning to it to console himself; but nothing much happened until 1914 when he finally had it, all in his mind, and when he got to write it down he did so famously quickly even himself remarking that he was composing it  "just as a cow gives milk" and completing this Herculean orchestration in less than three months. He even more famously said at the premiere, this master composer at the age of 51, that at last he had learned to orchestrate.

It depicts a day climbing in the mountains in 22 continuous movements.

New Zealand Symphony Orchestra conducted by Edo de Waart.

Introduced by Charlotte Wilson.

Recorded 25 March 2017, Michael Fowler Centre, Wellington by RNZ Concert.

Producer: David McCaw

Engineer: Graham Kennedy

  • Indra Hughes introduces An Alpine Symphony