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The Ballet Collaborations of Richard Strauss

The Ballet Collaborations of Richard Strauss

Volume: 64
Copyright Date: 2009
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 361
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  • Book Info
    The Ballet Collaborations of Richard Strauss
    Book Description:

    Richard Strauss contributed music to several ballets during his career, collaborating with prominent dance artists of his time. His ballets include an unfinished Die Insel Kythere (The Island of Cythera, 1900), inspired by French Rococo paintings; Josephs

    eISBN: 978-1-58046-714-8
    Subjects: Music

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  5. Introduction: Richard Strauss, Dance, and Ballet
    (pp. 1-10)

    In a letter written on December 12, 1940 to Clemens Krauss, then the director of the Munich Opera, Richard Strauss located “the real essence of dance” in “freedom from the earth’s gravity” (Befreiung von der Erdenschwere).¹ This statement was made during the creation of Strauss’s final ballet, entitled Verklungene Feste: Tanzvisionen aus Zwei Jahrhunderten (Bygone Celebrations: Dance Visions from Two Centuries, 1941) in collaboration with Krauss and the dancer-choreographer team of Pia and Pino Mlakar. In Verklungene Feste, the history of dance is rendered by an allegory that focuses on the transitions from baroque courtly ritual through eighteenth-century pantomimic ballet...

  6. Part One: Becoming a Ballet Composer, 1895–1914

    • Chapter One Strauss en route to Die Insel Kythere (The Isle of Cythera, 1900)
      (pp. 13-45)

      In 1959, the musicologist Willi Schuh published Richard Strauss’s scenario and fragmentary musical sketches for Die Insel Kythere (The Isle of Cythera).¹ The inspiration for this unfinished ballet occurred during the composer’s trip in early 1900 to Paris to conduct two concerts. While in the French capital, Strauss also visited its cultural landmarks, including the Louvre, where he took interest in the French rococo, especially canvases by Jean-Antoine Watteau (1684–1721).² As he had done for his only complete opera to date, Guntram (1894), Strauss himself drafted the three-act libretto to Die Insel Kythere, which remains obscure despite its posthumous...

    • Chapter Two Josephslegende (The Legend of Joseph, 1914), Léonide Massine, and the Music Box Dancer
      (pp. 46-96)

      With premieres in Paris and London by Serge Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, the ballet-pantomime Josephslegende (or La Légende de Joseph)¹ was poised to follow in the footsteps of a series of revolutionary performances choreographed by Michel Fokine. The debut of Josephslegende on May 14, 1914 in Paris was framed on the program by the Ballets Russes premiere of Fokine’s Papillons (originally premiered in St. Petersburg in 1912 with Schumann’s Op. 2 orchestrated by Nicholas Tcherepnine), as well as a revival of Fokine’s wildly popular Schéhérazade, which had debuted in Paris in 1910 during the second saison russe. Behind Josephslegende stood a...

  7. Part Two: “To drive away all cloudy thoughts,” 1919–1941

    • Chapter Three The Strauss–Heinrich Kröller Ballettsoirée (1923) and Interwar Viennese Cultural Politics
      (pp. 99-126)

      Anyone who sets out to write about Richard Strauss during the interwar period has some explaining to do. The 1920s have come to represent the composer’s personal and professional nadir—at least up to that point—one plagued with emotional despondency in the wake of World War I, financial insecurity, and, in the words of Michael Kennedy, a “growing awareness that he and his music were becoming almost grotesquely out of tune with the times.”¹ Crudely glossing on Adorno, whose first critical essay devoted solely to Strauss was published in 1924, one wonders if the composer himself had become aware...

    • Chapter Four Kitsch and Schlagobers (Whipped Cream, 1924)
      (pp. 127-170)

      As discussed in chapter 3, Strauss had been stirred by the Ballets Russes since the time of Josephslegende (1914) and set out to emulate Diaghilev’s enterprise while serving as codirector of the Vienna Staatsoper from 1919 to 1924. Hoping to revamp the Vienna Opera Ballet, the composer recruited the dancer-choreographer Heinrich Kröller to the Austrian capital. There, Kröller brought a number of dance productions to the stage, including Josephslegende (1922), Carnaval (1922), Don Juan (1924), and Die Ruinen von Athen (1924), all of which involved Strauss on some level (see the introduction to chapter 3). Riding the wave of the...

    • Chapter Five Verstrausster Couperin, Verklingender Strauss, Verklungene Feste: Tanzvisionen aus Zwei Jahrhunderten (Bygone Celebrations: Dance Visions from Two Centuries, 1941)
      (pp. 171-216)

      “Truly a celebration for the eyes.” “A dance-conjuration in the spirit of the baroque.” “Sending shivers up the spine.” “One feels strangely moved, indeed shaken.”¹ The impressions of four eyewitnesses, this euphoric litany was inspired by Verklungene Feste: Tanzvisionen aus Zwei Jahrhunderten, which had its premiere at Munich’s Nationaltheater on April 5, 1941. Choreographed by Pia and Pino Mlakar,² Verklungene Feste was comprised of reconstructions of baroque dances from Raoul Auger Feuillet’s monumental Choréographie ou l’art de décrire la danse par caractères, figures et signes démonstratifs (Orchesography or the art of dancing, by characters and demonstrative figures, 1700). The Mlakars...

  8. Epilogue
    (pp. 217-218)

    In her study of the eighteenth-century origins of ballets d’action, Susan Leigh Foster evoked the sculptor as he pines for Pygmalion, comparing this image to “the resurrection of [the] dancing body” that is the task of the dance historian (or of a music historian who studies dance).¹ Indeed, this rich history is generated by dancing and dancers, “the body swayed to music, the brightening glance that the composers themselves witnessed in the course of everyday life and plowed into kinetic memory,” as Marian Smith put it.² It is these memories—of Strauss, of his collaborators, and of his contemporaries—that...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 219-308)
  10. Works Cited and Consulted
    (pp. 309-330)
  11. Index
    (pp. 331-346)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 347-351)