Strauss – Suite from Der Rosenkavalier AV 145 op. 59

by Max Derrickson

Richard Strauss   1846 – 1949

Suite from Der Rosenkavalier AV 145 op. 59

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In opera, Strauss’ first two attempts failed badly.  But in 1905, Strauss succeeded magnificently with Salome.  Based on a play by Oscar Wilde, it is about the woman of the bible that demanded John the Baptist’s head on a silver platter.  The opera caused a sensation, but not only over its theme.  In this opera, Strauss learned to meld his tone poem drama with voice in the operatic setting. Following this success was Elektra, of the Greek-Freudian parable, and this work stepped even farther past the lines that once defined tonal harmony.

It is indeed wild, and extraordinarily dense music.  Though the work was received well, the disturbing and realistic content of the libretto and its (thematically fitting) insane harmonies, seemed to break the ears of some of the music world, and earned Strauss the moniker of an “Awful Modernist.”

In December of 1911 in Dresden, Strauss’ opera Der Rosenkavalier was premiered, and became one of his greatest successes.  It also stepped away from the modernistic style of Salome and Elektra, giving a bit more tonal balance to the listener.  Mind you, it is still
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Der Rosenkavalier is set in Vienna in the early 1740’s in the very fashionable and romantic playground of royalty and bourgeois.  Affairs and dowries are thwarted, scandal and intrigue abound,  while young, true love between the Cavalier (Count Rofrano) and Sophie
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Early after Der Rosenkavalier’s success, the opera’s publisher began providing its own suites
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It is comprised of songs and themes lifted directly out of the opera, with very little differences, save a 26 bar coda (based on one of the waltz themes) which was composed for the suite.