The Big Brother re-run lost out to Richard Strauss' Metamorophosen this morning in the pre-work entertainment stakes. A no-brainer? Sadly not in an age when even the most respected intelects are considered frumpy if they don't admit to snatching a slice of cultural tripe in between their Ezra Pound and their Tennessee Williams (those Sezer comments on your Oxenholme piece weren't lost on me James).
So what's the problem with Richard Strauss? Well, there isn't one really, but The Problem with Richard Strauss is a better title than just Richard Strauss isn't it? Some people do say there's a problem with him, and accuse him of being a Nazi collaborator. In truth, Strauss just got on with his life under the Nazis, and as that life progressed, felt horrified and deeply sadenned that he had done just that. Many others did it too - emotionally tortured by their lack of defiance and seeming ignorance. I began to wonder what I would have done in 1940s Germany - but at that point the toast popped up so thankfully I didn't have to pursue that one.
There was one staggeringly effective moment of defiance from Strauss. Metamorphosen - A Study for Strings was the composer's elegy for the country he once loved and that he saw being torn apart by Nazism. Nice of him isn't it? 'Never mind what you're doing to all those jews, but for God's sake don't shut the opera house'. Well, that's the shortsighted view. In reality, if you really want to know how tragic Strauss viewed the progression of Nazism, you only have to listen to Metamorphosen. It's a work that shows the deepest pain and the deepest sense of humanity. It's a gesture of compact humility from perhaps the greatest large-scale orchestrator who has ever lived. It's a monumental struggle - which life itself is. Especially when you realise you've run out of milk and will have to wait until you get to work for that cup of tea.