R. Strauss, Opus 67, 1-3, Drei Lieder der Ophelia: Ophelia Set adrift in the Cross-Currents of Interdisciplinary Culture

Arnold Schonberg and Richard Strauss were both prominent European composers who enjoyed considerable success from the time of the early twentieth century until well after World War II. Yet, the discipline of musicology has judged their styles to be so incompatible that it does not even place them in opposition, but assigns them to different historical paradigms: while Schonberg is widely accepted as the paragon of musical Modernism, Strauss is still very much regarded as a relic of nineteenth-century Romanticism (Ross 197). The reasons for Strauss's exclusion from Modernism may be traced to a historical dispute between the two composers early in the century. Schonberg had originally been a pupil of Strauss, but after Strauss refused to conduct one of Schonberg's early attempts at atonal music - Opus 16, Fivepiecesfor orchestra (1909) - on the grounds that the conservative Berlin audiences were not ready for it, their professional association permanently ceased (De Wilde 73). In the decades that followed, Schonberg's growing stature as a progressive composer was reinforced by the numerous critical treatises he wrote in conjunction with his compositional work. These writings were highly prized by Schonberg's disciples, and eventually came to represent a new orthodoxy in Western music. The extent to which Schonberg had sought to distance himself from his former master's aesthetic means that these writings also deprived Strauss's ongoing work of its legitimacy; as a consequence, musicology has generally come to accept the premise that Strauss was a regressive composer (Crawford and Crawford 38).

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Published 1 June 2014 in Volume 29 No. 1-2. Subjects: Hamlet, Interdisciplinary studies, Music, Shakespeare, William, Strauss, Richard.

Cite as: Griffiths, Christian. ‘R. Strauss, Opus 67, 1-3, Drei Lieder der Ophelia: Ophelia Set adrift in the Cross-Currents of Interdisciplinary Culture.’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 29, no. 1-2, 2014. https://doi.org/10.20314/als.05ab08d5df.