An Alpine Symphony, Op. 64 (Eine Alpensinfonie in German) is a work by Richard Strauss composed between 1911 and 1915. Rather than a "symphony," it would be more accurate to refer to it as a "symphonic poem", like other compositions by the German master such as Don Juan, Till Eulenspiegel, Also sprach Zarathustra, and Ein Heldenleben. An Alpine Symphony is not composed of movements but of numerous short pieces which, as the title suggests, vividly depict a hike in the Alps undertaken by the composer, an avid mountaineer. And thus one can hear the soundscape of a hunting party, the rustling of foliage, the birdsong…
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As the title suggests, Strauss's Alpine Symphony depicts the sounds of nature in the Alps, a mountain range that has inspired numerous artists with its snow-capped peaks and towering cliffs, evoking aesthetic passions ranging from ecstasy to terror: in other words, the sentiment of the "sublime!" Additionally, it is fascinating to explore another perspective: in its early drafts, Strauss's Eine Alpensinfonie, Op. 64 was originally intended to be subtitled Antichrist in reference to Friedrich Nietzsche's work and as a tribute to Strauss's friend, the composer Gustav Mahler, who had recently passed away. In one of his letters, Richard Strauss wrote: "The death of this aspiring, idealistic, energetic artist [is] a grave loss [...] I am going to call my Alpine Symphony Der Antichrist, considering what it represents: moral purification through one's own strength, liberation through work, the worship of the eternal, splendid nature." This reveals how the two components of the title, Alpine Symphony and Antichrist, came together: in the power of nature, Strauss saw the possibility of a new world. Immerse yourself in the landscapes of this utopian dream! On medici.tv, you will discover some of the finest interpretations of Richard Strauss's Eine Alpensinfonie, Op. 64!