Christopher Cook


Richard Strauss’s celebrated remark about setting Act 1 of Hugo von Hofmannsthal’s libretto for Der Rosenkavalier applies equally to many of the songs that Strauss wrote throughout his life. Indeed, his last work at the age of 84 was a song composed just ten months before his death, for a favourite soprano, Maria Jeritza. Only now are we beginning to get the measure of this composer’s contribution to the German lieder tradition.  But the questions remain: were the songs a ‘laboratory for the operas, were they simply money-spinners or were they an opportunity to indulge a personal passion for the Soprano voice?