Richard Strauss and Garmisch-Partenkirchen

Richard Strauss made Garmisch-Partenkirchen his home for more than 40 years. His country house here, to which he moved in May 1908, became a welcome refuge in between his international commitments and concert tours.

As one of the leading artistic personalities of his time, Strauss was active in important musical centres such as Cologne, Dresden and Vienna.  Home, however, was Garmisch, where he spent predominantly the spring and summer months, enjoying life with his family and finding the peace and quiet for composing.

In June 1906, Richard Strauss, the “Principal Conductor of Prussia”, purchased land in Garmisch.  Two years later, on 30th May 1908, he moved into his new house with his wife Pauline and son Franz.

Strauss obtained the funds necessary for the villa in Garmisch from the sensational success of his opera Salome. The emperor, Wilhelm II, his ultimate employer, was not at all enthusiastic about the scandalous material, and gave his opinion thus: “I’m sorry that Strauss composed Salome. I otherwise like him very much, but with that he will do himself terrible damage.” The composer commented: “As a result of the damage I could build myself the villa in Garmisch!”

The first work that Strauss completed in Garmisch was the opera Elektra.  From then on - with the exception of a few late works written while he was staying in Switzerland – most of his compositions had their origins in his country house in Zoeppritzstraße.

In numerous letters to his wife while on his long concert tours, Strauss referred to the importance of his Garmisch home and his affection for his family.  In a letter from Brussels dated 31 October 1930, he maintained that “the most attractive places are in Austria and Bavaria, and nowhere is the air as good as it is in Garmisch, and nowhere is as pleasant as my own house with my beloved Pauxerl, who tenderly embraces her most devoted R.”

(Source: Christian Wolf, Jürgen May: Bei Richard Strauss in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Photos by Anton Brandl. Prestel, Munich 2008)

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