Richard Strauss: Ein Heldenleben (A Hero’s Life)
Ein Heldenlaben in English is “a hero’s life,” and it is self-referential. Strauss received criticism for this upon the work’s premiere: critics noted how the tone poem was “a monstrous act of egotism,” and perhaps they were onto something. Even the composer said the work was intended to fill a void in the repertoire the size of Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony, and it’s even set in the same key as the Eroica, E-flat Major. Ein Heldenlaben was completed in 1898, composed for a massive orchestra, including 4 oboes, 8 horns, 5 trumpets and 2 harps... just to name a few of the augmented sections. The third part of the work, “The Hero’s Companion,” is represented a stunning solo for violin. And yes, our hero’s companion in Ein Heldenlaben is a musical depiction of Richard Strauss’s wife. It’s our Evening Masterwork tonight at 7 on Classical WSMR.