Richard Strauss. Macbeth, op. 23, 2. und 3. Fassung (synoptische Edition). Herausgegeben von Stefan Schenk und Walter Werbeck. (Richard Strauss Werke: Kritische Ausgabe, Serie III: Symphonien und Tondichtungen, Band 4.) Vienna: Verlag Dr. Richard Strauss, 2016. [Contents, p. vii; pref. in Ger., Eng., p. ix-x; introd. in Ger., Eng., p. xixix; facsim., p. xxi; score, p. 2-184; crit. report in Ger., Eng., p. 187-211; abbrevs. and sigla in Ger., Eng., p. 212. ISMN 979-0-001-16444-3; ISBN 978-3-7957-1178-8; pub. no. RSW 304. 280. [euro]]
At long last, just before the seventieth anniversary of his death in 1949, Richard Strauss gets his critical edition. The massive and, thus far, wellexecuted Kritische Ausgabe will prove to be a milestone in the history of Strauss research. We are just at the beginning, for the first two volumes have been issued: the composer's first tone poem, Macbeth (1888-91), and the early lieder, opp. 10-29. This colossal undertaking involves a consortium of several publishers--Boosey & Hawkes, Peters, Schott, and the Richard Strauss Verlag--and is sponsored by the University of Munich, the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities, and the Richard Strauss Institute.
The project committee consists of its chair, Hartmut Schick (professor of musicology at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitat), Bernd Edelman (lecturer in music at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitat), Claudia Heine (research associate of the Richard Strauss Edition), Wolfgang Horn (professor of musicology at the University of Regensburg), Jurgen May (former assistant director of the RSI), and Giselher Schubert (a founding editor of the Hindemith Edition and former head of the Hindemith Institute). The board of advisors is made up of Ulrich Conrad (professor of musicology at the University of Wurzburg), Hendrik Birus (vice president of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities), Andreas Krause (Schott), Bernhard Pfau (Furstner), Helmut Pfotenhauer (professor of literature at the University of Wurzburg), Walter Werbeck (professor emeritus of musicology at the University of Greifswald), and Christian Wolf (former director of the Richard Strauss Institute).
Richard Strauss (1864-1949) was the most prolific German composer of his time, having composed a dozen symphonic works, fifteen operas, over two hundred songs, numerous pieces for woodwinds, concert overtures, concertos, ballet music, chamber music, and even film music. The Kritische Ausgabe organizes this oeuvre into six series:
Series I Stage Works Vol. 1 Guntram Vol. 2 Feuersnot Vol. 3 Salome Vol. 4 Elektra Vol. 5 Der Rosenkavalier Vol. 6 Ariadne auf Naxos (first and second versions) Vol. 7 Josephs Legende Vol. 8 Die Frau ohne Schatten Vol. 9 Schlagobers Vol. 10 Intermezzo Vol. 11 Die agyptische Helana Vol. 12 Arabella Vol. 13 Die schweigsame Frau Vol. 14 Friedenstag Vol. 15 Daphne Vol. 16 Die Liebe derDanae Vol. 17 Capriccio Vol. 18 Schauspielmusik Series II Lieder and Gesange for Single Voice Vol. 1 Early Lieder for Voice and Piano Vol. 2 Lieder for Voice and Piano (Opp. 10-29) Vol. 3 Lieder and Songs for Voice and Piano (Opp. 31-45) Vol. 4 Lieder for Voice and Piano (Opp. 46-56) Vol. 5 Lieder and Songs for Voice and Piano (Opp. 66-68) Vol. 6 Orchestral Lieder and Songs (Opp. 44 and 51) Vol. 7 Three Hymns (Op. 71); Four Last Songs (WoO 150) Vol. 8 Strauss Orchestrated Songs I Vol. 9 Strauss Orchestrated Songs 11 Series III Symphonies and Tone Poems Vol. 1 Symphony in D Minor Vol. 2 Symphony in F Minor Vol. 3 Aus Italien Vol.4 Macbeth (second and third versions) Vol. 5 Don Juan Vol. 6 Tod und Verklarung Vol. 7 Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche Vol. 8 Also sprach Zarathustra Vol.9 Don Quixote Vol. 10 Ein Heldenleben Vol. 11 Symphonia domestica Vol. 12 Eine Alpensinfonie Series IV Smaller Orchestral Pieces and Works for Winds Vol. 1 Overtures Vol. 2 Festive Music, Fanfares, Marches, and Waltzes Vol. 3 Serenade for Winds in E-flat Major; Suite in B-flat Major Vol.4 Sonatina for Sixteen Winds Series V Concertos Vol. 1 Early Instrumental Concertos and Concert Pieces Vol. 2 Parergon zur Symphonia domes- tica for Piano and Orchestra; Panathenaenzug for Piano and Orchestra Vol. 3 Late Instrumental Concertos Series VI Chamber Music Vol. 1 Chamber Music for Strings Vol. 2 Works for String Quartet Vol. 3 Chamber Music for Three Instruments Vol. 4 Works for String Instrument and Piano Vol. 5 Works for Wind Instrument and Piano
The two current volumes are from series II, volume 2 (lieder for voice and piano, opp. 10-29), and series III, volume 3 (Macbeth, 1888-91, his first tone poem).
Strauss's major career as a composer of lieder spanned the later decades of the nineteenth century and the early decades of the twentieth, a time when the lied underwent important transformations. His more than two hundred songs reflect these changes, from the early lieder, which are firmly in the German romantic tradition, to the later orchestral Gesange, which show the influence of opera. Nonetheless, most were composed before the turn of the century, during which period separate phases may be distinguished. The youthful songs of the 1870s and 1880s are grounded in an early-nineteenth-century style, whether strophic or through-composed and ballad-like, and were intended mainly for family soirees.
But 1885 marked a substantial breakthrough for Strauss as a lieder composer. During this first year of independence from his family, when he moved to Meiningen to serve as assistant to Hans von Billow, he wrote his opus 10 songs, the first works that reveal a sense of musical maturity, predating the famed Don Juan (1889) and Salome (1905). These include several mainstays of the recital repertory, such as Zueignung and Allerseelen. These poems, by Hermann von Gilm, a poet who is today virtually unknown, unleashed an unprecedented lyrical-poetic spirit in the composer, and over the next six years he produced a lieder opus nearly annually (opp. 15, 17, 19, 21, 22, and 26). All texts were by lesser-known poets like Glim who flourished around the middle of the nineteenth century, such as Adolf Friedrich von Schack and Felix Dahn. Strauss did not so much require poems of high literary quality as texts with striking expressive images or situations that could ignite his young imagination. There was another vital catalyst as well: the singer Pauline de Ahna. Indeed, the three-year lull in lieder composing after 1891 was broken by the important op. 27 (Ruhe, meine Seele!, Cacilie, Heimliche Aufforderung, and Morgen!), written in celebration of their marriage in 1894. Richard and Pauline performed lieder recitals all over the world, and their programming readily demonstrates that, unlike other composers, Strauss usually did not intend any particular opus to be performed as a unit.
It was because of de Ahna's hands-on relationship with Strauss, who considered her to be his greatest interpreter, that the Richard Strauss Edition consulted her own annotated printed copies of the vocal scores, along with autographs and first and other important editions. Her commentary includes performance markings (breathing, articulations, etc.), changes in the musical text (such as dynamics), and altered notes or even corrections. The editor has wisely decided, however, that such markings should not be incorporated in the edition itself, but rather represented in boldface type between angle brackets.
With the appearance of series II, volume 2, one small but important issue has finally been resolved respecting the op. 22 Madchenblumen songs, namely the story of its "editor," Otis Bardwell Boise, listed as such in the original Muller von Asow catalog. These songs were, as Strauss openly admitted, difficult, and he did not expect them to sell well. He told his old friend Eugen Spitzweg, of Aibl Verlag, that he would thus offer them to Furstner--his first dealing with the new publisher, who suggested that they be offered simultaneously to the United States, where pirated foreign publications were common. To make this legal, the songs would have to be issued in German and English, as well as contain some minor changes undertaken by Boise. Curiously, these changes were never restored to the original, even in the first German edition, and are presented in the original for the first time in the Kritische Ausgabe.
Macbeth is not only Strauss's first tone poem, but, from an editorial standpoint, his most complex, having undergone several revisions. Walter Werbeck outlines these issues in his helpful preface. Both he and his assistant editor, Stefan Schenk, have also edited Don Juan, published in 2017.
Strauss's road to these tone poems may have been inevitable, but it had a somewhat patchy start, from the two symphonies in D minor and F minor, respectively, to the "Symphonic Fantasy" in four movements Aus Italien. Strauss initially completed his first real tone poem, Macbeth, in 1888, then went on to create two other versions--more than any of his other works. The first he undertook in deference to von Billow, who complained about the ending, a triumphal march for Macduff. Beethoven's Egmont Overture, the conductor told Strauss, "could very well conclude with the triumphal march of Egmont, but a symphonic poem on Macbeth could not end with the triumph of Macduff!" (p. xiii). The revised ending produced a second version by 7 February 1888, and from this version he made a reduction for four hands (which is not dated and is the only autograph of this version; it is now included in the edition as a historical document). This second version had its premiere on 8 October 1890, and neither Strauss nor his friends and close colleagues were satisfied. A third revision was undertaken, in which he sought to restrain inner voices and highlight principal themes, and completed on 4 March 1891. It was first performed on 29 February 1892, and was the only version Strauss considered valid. Yet, by this time, Don Juan and Tod und Verklarung had already premiered, and to great acclaim. Werbeck remarks that after Macbeth's 1892 premiere, Strauss showed little interest in it. Indeed, as late as 1947, when Strauss visited London, he tried to dissuade Sir Thomas Beecham from performing the "unrewarding" (undankbare) work.
Macbeth remains problematic. Despite the revisions, both structural and orchestrational, Macbeth still falls well short of the later tone poems in its sonic clarity. It never found a firm place in the late-nineteenth-century symphonic repertoire, owing both to its lack of thematic cogency and to an unconvincing pacing of its musical events, deficiencies so masterfully remedied in the two tone poems that immediately followed, Don Juan and Tod und Verklarung. Indeed, it is hard to believe that Don Juan, with its concision, brilliance, and evocative thematic language, was composed within a year of the last version of Macbeth.
Nota bene: Simultaneously under way is a free online platform for the Kritische Ausgabe, which really sets this edition apart from most others (www.richard-strauss-ausgabe.de, accessed 31 August 2018). It contains, of course, ongoing Kritische Berichte, which will be constantly updated and corrected, but also document collections--letters, reviews, contracts, and other records--which are especially important for the stage and vocal works. There will be synoptic comparisons of texts used in the vocal scores and in future issues of the operas. Upon distribution of, for example, Elektra, scholars will have at their disposal both Hofmannsthal's play and Strauss's edited and abridged text, items for which, in 1988, this scholar had to travel to Germany.
Indeed, as I near retirement, this extensive, important endeavor seems too good to be true, and it will doubtless outlive me even if they stick to their ambitious twenty-five-year plan, which is already off schedule. All the greater pity that it did not begin sooner, for there is no technical reason that it should not have; the critical editions of Mahler, Schoenberg, Berg, Janacek, Hindemith, and others certainly did. The reason is largely political.
Strauss committed two errors for which he and his legacy paid a price: beginning in 1934 he served eighteen months as president of the Reichsmusikkammer (he was then fired for his lack of cooperation), and he composed "affirmative," tonal music. When we consider musical culture during the Third Reich, political discussions are unavoidable, and Strauss is a necessary part of this discourse. Hitler politicized the arts in Germany to an unprecedented degree during his twelve-year regime, and, after the war, the well-meaning desire by some Germans to "correct" or even "depoliticize" the arts has proved awkward, hypocritical, and illusory. As E. M. Butler observed as early as 1935: "the Germans cherish a hopeless passion for the absolute, under whatever name and whatever guise they imagine it" (Butler, The Tyranny of Greece over Germany: A Study of the Influence Exercised by Greek Art and Poetry over the Great German Writers of the Eighteenth, Nineteenth, and Twentieth Centuries [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1935; reprint, 2011], 1). Thus, the pendulum of fascism--when refusing the Nazi salute could land you in prison--swung back swiftly in peacetime, when making that same gesture could land you in the same spot.
The Nazi regime may have published a list of "degenerate" composers in 1938, but after the war there was arguably a correspondingly potent unwritten list of musical undesirables, and Strauss was on it. He made for an easy scapegoat in Germany, allowing music commentators--who sought a moral higher ground--to eat their Wagnerian cake and have it too. In a uniquely German postwar paradox, for Wagner the political man and Wagner the composer was allowed a separation that was denied Strauss, an atheist who cared nothing for either Wagner's metaphysics or his racial theories. (A page in the program of the 1951 Bayreuth Festival reopening highlighted this alleged separation stating: "Here there is [only] Art," a line from Die Meistersinger.)
The anti-Semitic, nationalist Wagner, though not a Nazi, was too big to fail as a German cultural icon, and he remained an integral part of its musicological discourse. Not surprisingly, his critical edition was created decades before Strauss's. The universities that so quickly had embraced the National Socialist regime (their book burnings began within months of the new government) rejected Nazi ideology post-surrender with equal vehemence and speed. The University of Munich (see Butler's "passion for the absolute") rejected Strauss as an official part of its curriculum after the war. It should be added that the autonomous Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities--which has boasted such legendary names as Goethe, Max Planck, and Albert Einstein--waved off such autonomy during the Third Reich. By the time of the book burnings, Einstein, a Jew, was no longer a member of the academy.
Yet things were no better in the United States during its similarly draconian period of high modernism. Joseph Kerman, a noted Wagnerian, decried Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier as being "false through and through [and] insincere in every gesture" (Kerman, Opera as Drama [New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1956], 262). He found a degeneracy in Strauss's music that spread unwanted bacteria, a chilling echo of the rhetoric of a Third Reich vanquished only eleven years earlier. This was the scene when I entered Strauss scholarship, accepting the fact that there were no Strauss scholars teaching at leading universities in the United States (my advisor was the doyen of J. S. Bach scholarship, Christoph Wolf). But, as a credulous young musicologist, I was sure that in Strauss's homeland there was an infrastructure of Strauss scholars at universities and institutes who could help direct the course of my training. I was wrong. The composer was ignored in official German musicological circles, including his own Vaterstadt.
Forty years ago, when I began my Strauss studies, I learned that to study Strauss one first met at the home of Franz Trenner, a Strauss expert who earned a living through public school music teaching, and whose systematic establishment of the modern catalog of Strauss's works was done at his own expense. (I was proud to first employ my late friend's numerical system in the works list of the Richard Strauss New Grove entry of 2000). He self-funded not only the cataloging (Richard Strauss: Werkverzeichnis [Vienna: Doblinger, 1985]) but also his 826-page Richard Strauss: Chronik zu Leben und Werk (Vienna: Richard Strauss Verlag, 2003). For American musicologists, he was the gatekeeper of sorts for Alice Strauss and her Garmisch villa housing the Strauss archive, which she put together singlehandedly, though with Trenner's advice. He also put people in touch with Reinhold Schlotterer, a nonhabilitated senior instructor at the University of Munich whose unofficial Strauss Arbeitsgruppe met in the evenings in his office.
Soon after my appointment to Duke University in 1986, I came to realize that if a real international musicological discourse were to be established, it would not be in what was then West Germany, for there was no institutional interest in Strauss. Thus, I decided to organize a conference in the United States, and, thanks to the United States government in the form of a generous gift from the National Endowment for the Humanities, I was able to invite leading scholars from the United States, Germany, and Austria.
The NEH grant was a Marshall Plan of sorts for Strauss research, and Schlotterer was grateful, though openly embarrassed that such an international event first took place in Durham, North Carolina, and not Munich. (Schlotterer made this assertion to his students in summer 1991 at a meeting of his Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitat Arbeitsgruppe, which I attended.) This 1990 conference and a Strauss conference-festival that I co-organized in 1992 with Leon Botstein at Bard College produced two books of the same year totaling seventeen essays (Richard Strauss: New Perspectives on the Composer and His Work, ed. Bryan Gilliam [Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1992]; and Richard Strauss and His World, ed. Bryan Gilliam [Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1992]). They began a potent Strauss discourse that ultimately reached German shores, where a Strauss conference was finally held in Munich in 1999 (Richard Strauss und die Moderne: Bericht iiber das Internationale Symposium Milnchen, 21. bis 23. Juli 1999, ed. Bernd Edelmann, Birgit Lodes, and Reinhold Schlotterer, Veroffentlichungen der Richard-Strauss-Gesellschaft, Miinchen, Bd. 17 [Berlin: Henschel, 2001]).
If the above narrative seems self-indulgent, it is because most of what was achieved by American scholarship in the past seems to have been forgotten in present-day Germany. It was frankly disappointing that an essay on Strauss musicology in the Richard Strauss Handbuch (2014) ignored, among other things, both that groundbreaking 1990 conference and its book of eleven essays (Wolfgang Rathert, "Richard Strauss und die Musikwissenschaft," in Richard Strauss Handbuch, ed. Walter Werbeck [Stuttgart: Metzler; Kassel: Barenreiter, 2014], 531-45).
The new Strauss Edition has an editorial board and board of advisors of significant renown; yet, remarkably, only a small portion are specialists in Strauss, and the makeup of the board reflects a disregard of the American input outlined above. This situation is unfortunate, for Strauss research in the Anglo-American sphere is very much alive; over the past twenty years Anglo-American dissertations have outnumbered those by Germans approximately two to one. Given the enormous scope of the Strauss Kritische Ausgabe, there is a lot of work that it could share if the editors wanted to accelerate its publication. To be fair, this regrettable state of affairs is not at all the doing of the editor-in-chief, Hartmut Schick; rather, of higher institutions. With the choice of appointing people with scholarly expertise versus editorial know-how, these institutions chose the latter, as if it were a zero-sum game.
I applaud the Strauss Kritische Ausgabe for its imaginative, strenuous editorial methods and vision. Each musical genre presents unique editorial challenges, but (as a Strauss opera specialist) I warn the board that editorial issues will become notably more problematic (and likely will further slow the project down) as they approach the stage works. Already delayed, the Salome volume, expertly edited by Claudia Heine, promises to be excellent, and will consist of two parts: the original edition and the French edition that used Oscar Wilde's original text (in consultation with Romain Rolland), along with Strauss's reorchestration of Salome for a Dresden performance in 1930 (better highlighting the major singing roles, it is appended to this second volume). But I hasten to reiterate Butler's observation of the Teutonic attraction to absolutes; Strauss was once hands-off to an academy that now embraces him--though he had already been embraced in the United States. I urge the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities to re-examine their subject, one of the most internationally renowned composers of his time, and reach out to non-Germans who can both help speed the process and give the project more international breadth.