Rounding Wagner's Mountain: Richard Strauss's Search for Modern German Opera


ACLS Fellowship Program


Music and German Studies


The fifteen operas of Richard Strauss (1864-1949), composed over nearly half a century, remain the greatest German operatic legacy since Wagner. After a generation of operatic decline after Wagner, Strauss offered a compelling response, a "Sonderweg" resulting from an early, intensive engagement with the various Wagnerisms of his day—and a rejection of all of them, save for the technical aspects. The temporal span of these operas includes some of the most important moments in modern German history: from empire to world war, from republic to dictatorship and ruin. This study engages these operas in the dialogues of their times: aesthetic, theoretical, cultural, and political. It is the first musicological treatment of this entire repertoire.