Richard Strauss – Also sprach Zarathustra, Op. 30
Also sprach Zarathustra, Op. 30 (Thus Spoke Zarathustra or Thus Spake Zarathustra) is a tone poem by Richard Strauss, composed during 1896 and inspired by Friedrich Nietzsche’s philosophical treatise of the same name.
The piece is divided into nine sections played with only three definite pauses. Strauss named the sections after selected chapters of the Nietzsche’s book:
1. “Einleitung” (Introduction): according to the interpretations, it should represent the Creation or the coming of the new age of the Overman and so, because of its evocative and declaimed aspect, it is led back to the Overman’s motto.
2. “Von den Hinterweltlern” (Of the Hereaftergo’ers): here the brass quote the gregorian cento “Credo in unum Deum” or “I believe in one God” to represent faith at the top synthesis.
3. “Von der großen Sehnsucht” (Of the Great Longing): maybe it represents the age of “Sturm und Drang”; here there’s a liturgical quotation from “Magnificat”.
4. “Von den Freuden und Leidenschaften” (Of the Joys and Passions): the word to the strings, at the top tension; the trombones expose the theme of “Taedium Vitae”.
5. “Das Grablied” (The Grave-Song): part where the strings prevail.
6. “Von der Wissenschaft” (Of Science): it is a fugue whose subject all only the twelve notes to represent scientism, positivism and maybe, to ridicule the rising dodecaphony.
7. “Der Genesende” (The Convalescent): it completes the tension of the previous movement, then, after a rough pause determined by a rip of the strings in the bass register, it starts again from the mystery to go to the atmosphere of the following movement.
8. “Das Tanzlied” (The Dance Song): the theme of “Taedium Vitae” is taken again trasfigured in a waltz.
9. “Nachtwandlerlied” (Song of the Night Wanderer): coda where the finale is suspended avoiding the cadence on the tonic.
Paintings by J.M.W. Turner and Caspar Friedrich.
Conductor: Georg Solti & Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
Quoted from YouTube
Featured image: Composer Richard Strauss in an engraved portrait by Ferdinand Schmutzer (1922), detail