"Vier letzte Lieder" (Four Last Songs)

Strauss´s "Four Last Songs" once again summarize his high-minded ambitions on the terrain of the orchestral song, which he had discontinuously but arduously conquered throughout the course of his life. While his contemporary and antipode Gusstav Mahler concluded his life´s work with a totally moving renunciation of his ever more brittle idea of a "world-spanning" symphony, Strauss took refuge in what has remained merely fragments of touching vocalises from the workshop of a virtuoso. Originally several more "last songs" with texts by Hesse and Eichendorff had been planned, but Strauss only completed these four. At the posthumous world première, which Kirsten Flagstad sang and Wilhelm Furtwängler conducted, they were performed in another order than the one in which they had been published: the title and order of the songs originated with Strauss´s publisher.