Tod und Verklärung
When the 24-year-old Richard Strauss, assistant conductor in Munich, began the composition of his third tone poem in the summer of 1888, he saw himself close to the aspiration prescribed by his mentor Alexander Ritter: to become the successor of Richard Wagner as a musical dramatist. Strauss had already been working on the text of his first opera Guntram for a year and additionally devoted himself to programmatic orchestral works oriented to the musical language of Liszt and Wagner in order to prepare himself compositionally for his new task. With the aid of Strauss and other musicians including Ludwig Thuille and Friedrich Rösch who had been gathering for “Ritter’s round table” in Munich between 1886 and 1889, Ritter’s intention was to achieve success on a broad front with the New German School following the death of its two protagonists Wagner and Liszt.
We do not know whether Ritter and his supporters jointly planned Strauss’s compositional path towards opera, determined the subjects of his prospective tone poems and considered various strategies of their musical realization, but the influence of this group should not be underestimated. It cannot be ruled out that the number of three tone poems was fixed, as was their sequence of composition, which would progressively achieve its zenith in an increasing orientation to Liszt and Wagner. The circle could possibly have also discussed initial links to literary subjects (Macbeth and Don Juan) and ultimately the abstention from this practice in the third and final tone poem.
The subject of the work, or rather in Strauss’s formulation its “poetic model”, has occasionally been interpreted from an autobiographical aspect. Strauss however did not experience serious illness until May 1891 and once more in June 1892, long after Tod und Verklärung had been composed. Even without an external reason, the material would have been only too attractive for an admirer of Wagner and Liszt like Strauss, not to mention for his mentor Alexander Ritter. The concept of ‘death and transfiguration’ had already played a central role in Liszt’s symphonic poems Tasso and Prometheus.
Vorwort / Preface
Einleitung / Introduction
Faksimiles / Facsimiles
Tod und Verklärung op. 24
Kritischer Bericht / Critical Report
I. Quellenbestandsliste / List of Sources
II. Quellenbeschreibungen / Source Descriptions
III. Quellenbewertung / Source Criticism
IV. Editionsweise und Gestaltung des Notentextes / Editorial Methods and Conventions of Presentation
V. Editorische Eingriffe und Lesarten / Editorial Interventions and Variant Readings
Abkürzungen und Siglen / Abbreviations and Sigla