Richard Strauss and His Turbulent World - Lourdes University Richard Strauss and His Turbulent World - Lourdes University

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Richard Strauss and His Turbulent World

September 20, 2021 @ 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Dr. Christopher Williams

3:30 – 5:00 pm, Mondays

Sept. 20 – Oct. 4 (3 weeks)

Class exclusively online

The music of Bavarian composer Richard Strauss (1864-1949) has been a sensation of the concert hall and opera house ever since it was first created. Most classical music fans are familiar with the handful of tone poems he wrote before the turn of the century –not least the opening “sunrise” fanfare of his Also sprach Zarathustra made famous by the 1969 movie 2001: A Space Odyssey– and at least three of his operas written after the turn of the century. But less widely known are the details of his life, his role in support of his fellow artists, his work as a conductor, and the political tight rope he walked in his autumn years. American audiences have tended to favor the music of his friend Gustav Mahler, but Strauss’s music was better known during his lifetime and he was seen as a standard bearer for musical modernism and orchestral virtuosity, at least before the more radical experiments of 20th century music occurred on his watch. As famous as his music was, he has arguably been underestimated, and much of his work after World War I has been comparatively neglected. Over three classes, students will explore how a composer who called himself “a first-class second-rate composer,” composed not one but two heroic works plus an opera based on his own life, and claimed to be able “to depict a spoon in music”. The tone poems will be discussed in the first class; his shocking and beloved operas SalomeElektra, and Der Rosenkavalier in the second; his thirty-year “Indian summer” in the third, and all against the backdrop of two world wars and a rapidly changing cultural landscape.

Dr. Christopher Williams holds a Ph.D. in Music History and Literature from the University of California at Berkeley, and has taught at the University of Toledo, Bowling Green State University, the Universität Salzburg, and in the joint program of the Cleveland Institute of Music and Case Western Reserve University. He is considered an expert on the music of Fin-de-siècle Vienna.

For more information, contact Lifelong Learning Coordinator Dr. Laura Megeath at or 419-824-3707.


September 20, 2021
3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
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