Don Juan: Strauss’ Blazing Storm of Pleasure

It may be the most brazenly self-confident music ever written. Richard Strauss’ tone poem, Don Juan, opens with a sudden, blazing flash of raw energy- a bravado-filled upward flourish. It sets the stage for a soaring theme in the strings, which gives us a visceral sense of upward sweep and catapulting forward motion. It’s a melody which never worries about flying too close to the sun. The musicologist Carl Dahlhaus described the “breakaway mood” of these …

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