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Classical 101

"A Hero's Life" by Richard Strauss on Symphony @ 7

Strauss with his wife, Pauline, and their son, 1910.

Richard Strauss's large symphonic poem Ein Heldenleben (A Hero's Life) is the featured work in a new release on the next Symphony @ 7, Thursday evening at 7 pm on Classical 101.  Daniel Barenboim leads the Berlin State Orchestra in a live concert recording made in the year of Strauss's 150th anniversary.

Whether it's a self-aggrandizing musical portrait or a more universal depiction of a life of heroic struggle has been debated since Ein Heldenleben premiered in 1898.  Strauss denied the former and yet seemed to give credence to that interpretation by putting many quotations from his own earlier compositions into this work.  Regardless, it's a grand symphonic statement with its opulent orchestral writing and Late-Romantic expressiveness.

Ein Heldenleben is divided into six sections and begins with, "The Hero's Theme," a four minute introduction followed by, "The Hero's Adversaries," said to represent Strauss's critics harping away at him.  Then follows what is, in effect, a slow movement, "The Hero's Companion," believed to be a musical portrait of Strauss's wife Pauline.  "The Hero's Battlefield," represents the struggles of achievement, and, "The Hero's Works of Peace," quotes extensively from Strauss's earlier compositions.  Finally, "The Hero's Retreat from the World and Fulfillment."

Before the Strauss, I'll begin the hour with the not-often-heard Polonaise Brillante of Carl Maria von Weber arranged for piano and orchestra by Franz Liszt.   Join me Thursday evening for some "Heroic" music on Symphony @ 7 on Classical 101.