The composer Richard Strauss, born on June 11th 1864 in Munich, was one of the most multi-faceted musical personalities of the late 19th and early to mid-20th centuries. While his early works were couched in traditional classic forms and genres, in his middle creative period Strauss developed – in an approach to Liszt’s symphonic poems and the æsthetic positions of the "new Germans” – an advanced, even avant-garde musical language, in which the usual forms and genres gradually took a back seat to his individual concepts. This became clear in his symphonic poems "Don Juan", "Tod und Verklärung" ("Death and Transfiguration"), "Also sprach Zarathustra" ("Thus Spoke Zarathustra") or "Ein Heldenleben" ("A Hero’s Life"), in which he created scores in free association with their literary inspiration in a style marked by his typical wealth of tonal colors. In the operatic field Strauss brought Wagner’s technique of interwoven Leitmotivs to a highly expressive final climactic point with his Salome and Elektra. In his later works, Strauss’s moved away from his former bold avant-gardism in favor of a meticulous artistic conservatism. This return to tradition was interpreted by representatives of a more progressive musical æsthetic as Strauss’s betrayal of his own ideas.
Richard Strauss died on September 8th 1949 in Garmisch-Partenkirchen.