Strauss’ Death and Transfiguration

Considerable time has passed since I last listened to the amazing composition titled “Tod Und Verklaerung” by Richard Strauss.


While Strauss lived from 1864 and died in 1949, this composition was written in 1889, when Strauss was 25 years old.

The music depicts the death of an artist. At Strauss’s request, this was described in a poem by the composer’s friend Alexander Ritter as an interpretation of Death and Transfiguration: As the man lies dying, thoughts of his life pass through his head: his childhood innocence, the struggles of his manhood, the attainment of his worldly goals; and at the end, he receives the longed-for transformation “from the infinite reaches of heaven”.

As is so typical of Strauss, this is gorgeous orchestral music, and yes, it does have very sad moments in it.

Just listen to a section of this work, as performed by Daniel Harding conducting the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra:

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