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Music with Ease > Classical Music > Concert Guide: Turn of the 20th Century > Macbeth. Op. 23. - Richard Strauss


Macbeth. Op. 23.

Richard Strauss
(1864-1949)



Although "Macbeth" was the first tone poem composed by Strauss, its opus number follows that of "Don Juan." Contrary to his usual custom, the composer has furnished no key to its contents except the title and occasional hints in the score. He evidently did not intend a setting of the drama, but rather musical portraits of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, and these portraits, it must be confessed, are presented in the loudest of colors. After a motive which runs through the whole work, given out by the violins, the personal motive of Macbeth appears. It is accompanied by a counter theme and leads to a third theme, the meaning of which is left to the imagination. This prepares the way for a vigorous passage in flutes and clarinets which the score annotation intimates is the Lady Macbeth motive. The motive soon yields to a more passionate one given out by the violins. This, when thoroughly developed, gives place again to the Lady Macbeth motive. The latter, however, makes but a brief reappearance and is succeeded by a sweet and very gracious melody by the violins, which at last joins itself to another of somewhat similar character, the two progressing through unique development to the close.





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