Strauss's song “Frühlingsfeier,” op. 56, no. 5, was originally composed for voice and piano in 1906 and orchestrated in 1933. Its choice of poet—Heinrich Heine—–is unusual in the context of the literary trends and political attitudes in Germany at the contemporaneous moments. “Frühlingsfeier” resembles Strauss's opera Salome in subject matter: female grief for a beautiful man. The corybantic musical style of Strauss's setting is emphasized in its orchestral version, which was intended for the soprano Viorica Ursuleac, who recorded it in 1936.
Strauss's stature as a Lieder composer—despite the popularity of many of his songs—has often been queried. However, what seems on the surface to be a continuation of the late-Romantic tradition is subtly inflected by his poetic decisions and by musical renderings that need to be understood as part of a flexible continuum between versions of the song. Past and present are of less concern than being able to move fluidly between past, present, and future. Such movement opens up the possibility of a less rigid interpretation of Strauss's historical standing that allows his songs to be considered as other than simply regressive.
- © 2017 by the Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved. Please direct all requests for permission to photocopy or reproduce article content through the University of California Press's Reprints and Permissions web page, http://www.ucpress.edu/journals.php?p=reprints.