Music History Thursday

Hi everyone!

As some of you may know, I’m a music minor and I play the French horn. Because of this, I find myself very fascinated with other horn players throughout history. One of the greatest horn players was Franz Strauss. You may recognize his last name because he was the father of world-famous composer Richard Strauss. Franz Strauss grew up in Bavaria and began playing the horn around the age of seven. At the age of 25, he joined the Bavarian Court Orchestra and later became a professor at the Munich Academy of Music. Strauss also began composing music at a young age, mostly focusing on pieces for the French horn. In addition to these positions, Strauss was also the principal horn for Richard Wagner, although the two greatly disliked each other due to their differing composition styles. Wagner is quoted as saying the following about Strauss: “Strauss is an unbearable, curmudgeonly fellow, but when he plays his horn one can say nothing, for it is so beautiful.” Another story, told by Richard Strauss about an interaction between Wagner and his father is as follows: “Wagner once went past the horn player, who was sitting in his place in moody silence, and said, ‘Always gloomy, these horn players,’ whereupon my father replied ‘We have good reason to be.'” It’s easy to see from these opinions about Strauss how talented he was, when Wagner, who greatly disliked him as a person, is unable to deny his talents as a performer. One of my personal favorite pieces of Strauss’s is his Nocturno op. 7. This is one of two compositions of Strauss on which I am currently working. The other is his Concerto op. 8. In closing, I’ll leave you with a quote from one of Strauss’s students, “He never accepted a fee for his lessons. His main interest was to impart his experience and skill to hornists.”

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