Music with Ease > Classical Music > Concert Guide: Turn of the 20th Century > Tod und Verklärung - Richard Strauss
Tod und Verklärung
"Tod und Veklarung" ("Death and Transfiguration") was written in 1890 and first performed at Eisenach in June of the same year. The composer has given the clue to its meaning in a poem by Alexander Ritter, printed on the flyleaf of the score, though, singularly enough, the poem was written after the author had heard the music. The poem describes the sleep of a sick man "who a moment since with death wildly, desperately has struggled"; the renewal of the struggle, life and death wrestling for supremacy and silence again; the delirium in which the events of his life pass in review in the mind of the sufferer; then the final struggle, followed by the transfiguration, in which he triumphs over death. The opening of the musical description is a Largo, low toned in color and restless, but with occasional melodious episodes. It is followed by strangely discordant passages evidently intended to represent the renewal of the struggle, but at this point the music assumes a more melodious character as the memories of youth come back. In the final struggle the musical fury begins again, growing more and more indefinite and discordant until the end comes and the din ceases. The transfiguration music which closes the work is extremely impressive and full of that majestic beauty which is at Strauss' command -- when he elects to display it.