STRAUSS Richard - An early sketch for a Waltz
Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949)Autograph Musical Quotation Signed (“Richard Strauss”), 60 bars of music, annotated at the top “Walzer”.
1¾ pages folio, in pencil, n.p., dated at top “15.7.49”
A very interesting sketch which appears to have made its way, in a somewhat different form, into one of Strauss’ most popular operas, Der Rosenkavalier.
The manuscript was given to the Austrian composer Erich Wolfgang Korngold as a memento by Franz Strauss after his father Richard’s death in 1949. The gift is described in some detail in Brendan G. Carroll’s biography of Korngold, The Last Prodigy.
Korngold, a young musical prodigy before the war, had visited Strauss at Garmisch with his father as a young man. Even in his youth, Korngold’s work was admired by both Strauss and Mahler. He moved to the United States in the 1930s where he found work composing film music such as the score for Max Reinhardt’s Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Adventures of Robin Hood, both still highly regarded today. Upon his returned to Germany after the war, he tried to visit Strauss, but was told that Strauss, now 85, was too ill to receive him, and indeed Strauss died shortly thereafter.
Korngold subsequently went to present his condolences to the family, where Franz Strauss offered him one of his father’s musical manuscripts as a memento. The rest of the story was related to Carroll by Korngold’s son, Georg, and is best told in his words:-
“Dr. Strauss . . . went over to a large chest, pulling the top drawer. Inside were dozens of pages of music, sketches . . . Before his father’s death, his son had got him to sign and date everything. . . he invited my father to select something.
. . . my father picked up a four-page manuscript and asked if he could have it. Dr. Strauss . . . said “oh, of course” . . . my mother and I knew that my father would not have picked just anything . . . My father . . . showed what appeared to be a very old manuscript . . . He explained that it was the famous waltz melody from Der Rosenkavalier but harmonized very simply . . . He believed that it was Strauss’ first sketch of this melody . . . and from the age of the paper and the style of notation, it must have been written about 1908. . .”
It may be that Georg Korngold’s memory was slightly incorrect when he said that it was a four-page manuscript, as this one is simply two sides of one sheet, yet appears to be complete.
The paper is browned, and Strauss’ signature is now faint, though still clearly visible.
Provenance: by descent through the Korngold family.
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