Richard Strauss Apline Symphony
Posted by Geoff Diggines on December 13, 2016, 10:47 am
Edited by board administrator December 13, 2016, 3:14 pm
Recently the Alpine Symphony has come back into favour among the critical fraternity and elsewhere. Some critics have even bemoaned the fact that it was once dismissed as little more than inflated Austrian Travel PR music. Even a great Strauss conductor like Fritz Reiner, after a couple of early performances, deleted it from his repertoire. Another eminent Strauss conductor Sir Thomas Beecham was all for substantial cuts which 'few would notice'. It is worth remembering that the 'New Objectivity' (Neue Sachlichkeit) initiated in the German Weimar period, set itself against all such inflated excess and decadence. Composers like Schoenberg, Krenek, Hindemith, Kurt Weill, Eisler, among others, were in the forefront here. Also such literary/philosophical and theatrical figures such as Brecht, Karl Kraus, Adorno, Frank Wedekind, and Walter Benjamin, not to mention painters like George Grosz and Otto Dix and Max Beckmann. The Alpine Symphony here, in its hollow bombast, is more akin to those dreadful Mountain films of Leni Riefenstahl, Hitler's favourite film director, around the same time. All the above (not Riefensthal) were acutely aware of their of contexts; the barbarities of WW1, and the development of Fascism/Nazism, much noted by Thomas Mann. In this most dramatic and dangerous historical context all the composer of Der Rosenkavalier could come up with was an over - blown, over-long piece of crude musical onomatopoeia, which says a lot about his politics! Incidentally, Strauss here in a quite arbitrary manner, plagiarises from Bruch's wonderful Violin Concerto No. 2 Op.44. |
In arguably equally dangerous times, contra the Weimar critical spirit, all our own 'critical' fraternity can offer is a kind of bland eclecticism which is seemingly incapable of distinguishing the good from the bad, and very bad!