Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Graydon, Philip. "'Rückkehr in die Heimat': Postwar Cultural Politics and the 1924 Reworking of Beethoven's Die Ruinen von Athen by Richard Strauss and Hugo von Hofmannsthal." The Musical Quarterly 88 (Winter 2005): 630-71.

Richard Strauss and Hugo von Hofmannsthal’s 1924 “reform and modernization” of Beethoven’s Die Ruinen von Athen invokes the mythology of Beethoven and classical Greece as ideals that need to be restored in post-war German culture. Before Ruinen, Strauss and Hofmannsthal had collaborated on numerous ballet projects, blending Hofmannsthal’s philosophy of dance as regeneration and Strauss’s connection of dance with nostalgia. The collaborators’ reworked Ruinen von Athen developed as an amalgamation of Beethoven’s 1801 ballet Die Geschöpfe des Prometheus and incidental music for the play Die Ruinen von Athen, two works about the loss of art and culture. Strauss’s largest compositional contribution to the project comes in the melodrama, in which Strauss quotes Beethoven’s Third and Fifth Symphonies. The melodrama presents Beethoven as interpreted by Strauss, who emphasizes a heroic, Nietzschean interpretation of Beethoven. Strauss explored similar ideas of metaphysical longing in earlier works such as Eine Alpensinfonie, and the philosophical underpinnings of these works and Ruinen continued to be relevant throughout Strauss’s career. Despite its commercial failure, Die Ruinen von Athen represents an important aspect of Strauss’s artistic philosophy, calling for the rebirth of German culture in the spirit of Beethoven and ancient Greece.

Works: Richard Strauss and Hugo von Hofmannsthal: Die Ruinen von Athen (636-653)

Sources: Beethoven: Die Geschöpfe des Prometheus, Op. 43 (637-39), Die Ruinen von Athen, Op. 113 (637-39), Symphony No. 3 in E-Flat Major, Op. 55 (637-39, 645-53), Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, Op. 67 (637-39, 645-53)

Index Classifications: 1900s

Contributed by: Matthew Van Vleet

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Musical Borrowing and Reworking - - 2024
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