chapter  8
31 Pages

Richard Strauss: A Lifetime of Lied Composition

WithBarbara A. Petersen

Richard Strauss (1864-1949) composed lieder throughout his long career, from the 14-measure “Weihnachtslied” of December 1870 to his crowning achievement of 1948, the orchestral songs now known as the Vier letzte Lieder.1 His more than two hundred songs stand at the end of the great nineteenth-century German lied tradition. Perhaps because Strauss enjoyed a long composing career and lived nearly to the halfway mark of the twentieth century, he is sometimes viewed less as a nineteenth-century figure than as a transitional or even a twentieth-century one (if, toward the end, something of an anachronism). Yet, three-quarters of his lieder-112 songs published in groups with opus numbers, forty-five early songs, and a handful of occasional pieces-were composed by 1904.