Lot 193
  • 193

Strauss, Richard

150,000 - 200,000 GBP
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  • Strauss, Richard
  • Autograph working manuscript of 'Frühling', the first of the Vier letzte Lieder, [Four Last Songs], signed and inscribed over the music: "Frühling (Hermann Hesse) Richard Strauss"
  • paper
the short score notated on systems of four or five staves each, three systems per page, in dark brown ink, with deletions and alterations, and with, at the end of the manuscript, an autograph dedication to Willi Schuh in blue ink ("Dr Willi Schuh gedwidmet und Gattin, DRichard Strauss, Montreux 13. 11 48")

4 pages, oblong 4to (c.25 x 33.8cm), 14-stave paper by Hug & Co, no.17, loosely contained in a calf-backed green stencilled folder, Montreux, 20 June 1948


Müller von Asow, III, 1332-1337 (WoO 150); Trenner 296/I, pp.346-349. S. Wanless, Richard Strauss. Vier letzte Lieder: Four Last Songs 1984).

Catalogue Note


Strauss's Four Last Songs are among his supreme achievements, and arguably the apotheosis of the Romantic orchestral song. They are indeed his last significant work.

This is not a piano arrangement of 'Frühling', but the working manuscript for the original orchestral version.  A vocal score was not prepared by Strauss himself, but by Max Wollf and published posthumously in 1950.   The luxuriant accompaniment is notated here on up to four staves, and is of course much more representative of Strauss's musical textures than Wolff's arrangement.   Nevertheless there are a few details which do not seem to be reflected in Strauss's eventual orchestration, for example three bars after the change to 9/8 ("Etwas ruhiger").

As Strauss's final masterpiece, the Four Last Songs are permeated with a strong valedictory flavour, reflecting his choice of poems. "Nowhere is there a sense of either heroism of bitterness.  The mood of the poems complements perfectly the feelings of an old and tired man, aware of his impending death, yet calmly resigned to the inescapable, the inevitable" (Wanless).  The soprano voice dominates 'Frühling' and has the widest tessitura of any of the Four Last Songs; it is also more independent of the accompaniment than the other songs.  The accompaniment is very detailed, with the inner parts "enunciating beautifully curved melodic lines" (as Strauss put it in the Introduction to his edition of Berlioz's Treatise on Orchestration), eventually requiring the use of divided violas and cellos.

There are no indications of instrumentation here, even though Strauss must have intended an orchestral accompaniment from the outset.  He completed the orchestration in Pontresina (near St Moritz), on 18 July 1948 (that manuscript is in the Richard Strauss Archive in Garmisch).  He never heard a public performance of the Four Last Songs; they were first given at the Royal Albert Hall in London on 22 May 1950, with Kirsten Flagstad and Wilhelm Furtwängler.