Archives For Richard Strauss

May Day, May Day

May 3, 2020 — 43 Comments

Preparing for rain,
Felt safe under the brolly.
Did not predict wind!
C. Hoather & G. Todica

As April was ending and Summer approaches, I find that under the current lock-down one day starts to merge with the next. For us, having our Friday Balcony Concerts for our friends and neighbours has helped to give George and me a definite end to each week and something to work towards, which has been so important for us both to remain focused.

Last Friday just before our concert, at around 17:20 we began our set-up.  We sellotaped our back-up camera to the plant pot frame because the live stream failed in week four and placed a stand ready to hold my iPhone to live-stream the 6th Balcony Concert, when the weather took an unexpected turn. I was in the kitchen at the time, cleaning dishes calmly, when George shouted from the other room “OH NO, RAIN!” We dashed out without a moment to spare, to protect the camera and keyboard at all costs! Within minutes we started to prepare for the worst and we dug out all of the brollies in our home. We experimented with different contraptions built from what we had in our flat, settling for the unlikely marriage of clothes hanger stands, graduation scroll holder (thanks RCS) and umbrellas (oh, the things you can create last minute when you apply a little improvisation and plenty of duct tape).

As the clocks struck 18:00, all seemed well. So, we began and managed to keep performing despite the weather’s mood swings. If you haven’t time to watch the full concert and you’d like a giggle, jump to my Mary Poppins wannabe moment around 13 minutes in!

Repertoire this week:

Let it Go (Disney – Frozen) a personal favourite of George’s young nephew Marcu

Nella Fantasia (Ennio Morricone)

Muttertändelei (R. Strauss)

Schlagende Herzen (R. Strauss)

Mein Herr Marquis – (J. Strauss – Die Fledermaus)

This was the first time I’d ever sung ‘Let It Go’ and ‘Mein Herr Marquis’ which I’ve been working on for a couple of weeks, so I hope that you enjoy them.

Just before the lock-down George’s friend helped us out by building a couple of IKEA flat-pack cupboards to help store all of our music books, sheet music and scores in.  However, the third cupboard which was due to be delivered just as we found ourselves entering lock-down, was put on hold.  This week it finally arrived and so we decided to try and put it up ourselves.  I discovered how to use a drill and the importance of following instructions (or not LOL).  Finally, the last cupboard is now up and attached safely to the wall even though I did have to unwind the screw and put in a raw plug – who even knew such a thing existed, thanks Dad, I even put in an automatic light and push to open thingymabobs and I am feeling very proud of my achievement (with a little help from George of course)!

Freundliche-Vision-Blog

I have written previously about Richard Strauss on my blog as I find many of his songs to be full of romance and the beauty to be found within loving relationships. With Valentine’s Day approaching this Saturday I thought I would take the opportunity to share another of Strauss’s songs with you.

“Freundliche Vision” (a welcome vision or a friendly vision)

This was recorded last year on Valentine’s Day, February 14th 2014 in Bury Parish church accompanied by Russell Lomas.

The inspiration for this song came from a poem written by Otto Julius Bierbaum (1865 – 1910). The poem was one of five works by Bierbaum that Richard Strauss set to music in 1918 for his song cycle Opus 48.

The poems/songs were:

Freundliche Vision
Ich Schwebe
Kling!
Winterweihe
Winterliebe

Richard_Strauss

Richard Strauss

 

The songs were testaments to love; the emotions, feelings, sensations and excitement that you experience when you share your life with someone special to you.

These were the words from the original poem:

Nicht im Schlafe hab’ ich das geträumt,
Hell am Tage sah ich’s schön vor mir:
Eine Wiese voller Margeritten;
Tief ein weißes Haus in grünen Büschen;
Götterbilder leuchten aus dem Laube.
Und ich geh’ mit Einer, die mich lieb hat,
Ruhigen Gemütes in die Kühle
Dieses weißen Hauses, in den Frieden,
Der voll Schönheit wartet, daß wir kommen.

Otto Bierbaum

I found this beautiful translation of the poem into English by Constance Bache (1846 – 1903) which I hope will give you an idea of the emotion to be found in the original text.

cottage

Not in slumber did the dream arise,
But in day’s broad light I saw it all:
Just a meadow full of budding daisies,
And a sunny house half hid in foliage;
Forms divine are lurking in the thicket.
And I walk with her whose love I cherish;
Tranquillity we enjoy the coolness
Of this sheltered cottage, full of beauty,
Full of peace that waiteth on our coming.
And I go with her whom I cherish
To the peace and the beauty

Constance Bache

Constance Bache was herself a pianist and composer who studied at the Munich Conservatoire in Germany but following an injury to her right hand she returned to England and along with her teaching she translated many German and Russian songs into English.

Constance-Bache

Other Examples Of Songs Translated Into English By Constance Bache

 

These beautiful songs and their sentiments are a great way to lift your spirits especially as Valentine’s Day approaches. These poems paint emotive images of love between kindred spirits.

 

I have been researching “Der Ring des Nibelungen” the cycle of four operas by German composer Richard Wagner and have been enthralled by them.

Richard Wagner

Richard Wagner

I have always enjoyed studying German song especially Lieder, German art songs from the 19th century romantic period.  I find the interplay between the pianist and the singer captivating as each depends on the other in a way that can be quite unique to this genre of music.

One of my favourite composers of Lied, the German word for song, is Richard Strauss and I find myself getting emotionally drawn in to his songs.  Richard Strauss was born in Munich, Germany on the 11th June 1864.  Having a father that was a principal horn player at the Munich Court Opera ensured a passionate music education which resulted in Strauss completing his first composition at the age of 6.

Richard Strauss Aged 22

Richard Strauss Aged 22

In 1874 at the age of 10 he was introduced to the operas of Wagner and though the works were frowned upon at the time by his father they would go on to have a profound influence on Strauss’s work.

Following a brief period at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich where he studied Philosophy and Art History he left to take up his first conducting position.  He was taken under the wing of the renowned German conductor Hans von Bulow at the Meiningen orchestra.  At the age of just 21 Strauss went on to become the principal conductor of the Meiningen orchestra when Hans von Bulow resigned in 1885.

Pauline de Anna Strauss

Pauline de Anna Strauss

Richard Strauss married Pauline de Anna in September 1894 who was acclaimed to be the inspiration of many of his works.  I think that it is these emotions in his pieces that help me to connect with them.  “Zueignung” meaning  ‘Dedication’ is a beautiful song composed by Strauss, it is taken from a poem by Hermann von Gilm zu Rosenegg which Strauss lovingly set to music.

Ja, du weißt es, teure Seele,
Daß ich fern von dir mich quäle,
Liebe macht die Herzen krank,
Habe Dank.

[Hielt ich nicht]1, der Freiheit Zecher,
Hoch den Amethysten-Becher,
Und du segnetest den Trank,
Habe Dank.

Und beschworst darin die Bösen,
Bis ich, was ich nie gewesen,
[Heilig an das Herz]2 dir sank,
Habe Dank.

The translation provided by Lawrence Snyder :

Yes, you know it, dearest soul,
How I suffer far from you,
Love makes the heart sick,
Have thanks.

Once I, drinker of freedom,
Held high the amethyst beaker,
And you blessed the drink,
Have thanks.

And you exorcised the evils in it,
Until I, as I had never been before,
Blessed, blessed sank upon your heart,
Have thanks.

This is a video of my performance of this beautiful song from the “Voice of The Future” competition at the Llangollen International Eisteddfod in the summer of 2014. I also managed to record this to go on my album “Canzoni D’Amore”. The header photo of George Todica and me was taken by my Nana the day before the grand finale in Llangollen.

Richard Strauss  Time Magazine 1938

Richard Strauss Time Magazine 1938

Strauss was a prolific composer and wrote many works including solo instrument and orchestra, fabulous Lieder and several Operas until his death in September 1949. I cannot wait to explore more of his repertoire in the years to come including some of his most famous opera roles like that of Salome.

Richard_Strauss-Woche,_festival_poster,_1910_by_Ludwig_Hohlwein

Richard Strauss – Salome Poster – 1910

If you are familiar with any of his works I would love to read what you think and if you have any suggestions regarding songs of his that I could explore then I would appreciate to hear from you :).