Tuesday, 24 July 2018


*CLICK TO ENLARGE* The Strauss manuscript presently up for auction:
final scene from Die Schweigsame Frau. | Nate D. Sanders Auctions |
Los Angeles auction house Nate D. Sanders Auctions is presently listing for sale an autographed manuscript by Richard Strauss, containing music from the final scene of his 1935 opera 'Die Schweigsame Frau' (The Silent Woman). 

The opera was penned by the composer during his brief tenure as President of the Reichsmusikkammer (Reich Chamber of Music, or, "RMK") during WWII, in conjunction with famed writer Stefan Zweig, who provided the libretto.

The manuscript currently up for auction is autographed by Strauss and contains both marginalia and revisions to the score written in the composer's own hand, which are believed to have been added to the manuscript sometime between c. 1938-42, when Strauss handed the manuscript over to his confidante, the conductor Hans Swarowsky. By this time, Strauss had vacated his post as President of Reichsmusikkammer after a letter written by the composer, which famously rallied against the Reich's regime of promoting nationalistic, politicized music was sent to Zweig, (who was of Jewish descent), and was quickly intercepted by Gestapo Officials.

That letter, dated 17 June, 1935, read (in part):

"Do you believe I am ever, in any of my actions, guided by the thought that I am 'German'? Do you suppose Mozart was consciously 'Aryan' when he composed? I recognize only two types of people: those who have talent and those who have none."

Strauss' tenure as President of the RMK already stood on shaky ground by the time the composer's intimate confessional was discovered by Reich Officials. Reich Chancellor Adolf Hitler and Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels initially championed the composers works - even going so far as to refer to Strauss as "The Most Venerable Tone Master." This adoration, however, would be short-lived: within weeks of Die Schweigsame Frau's premiere in the summer of 1935, under mounting pressure from Alfred Rosenberg, head of the Kampfbund für deutsche Kultur (Militant League for German Culture), discord over the composer's intent to include Zweig's name in the playbill, and the interception of the now infamous letter by Gestapo Officials, Strauss was forced to resign under the auspices of ill health, brought about by "advanced age."

By the time Strauss passed on the manuscript presently up for auction in 1938, 'Die Schweigsame Frau' had been banned across Germany.

This is the second time in two years this fantastic piece of WWII/music history regalia has come up for auction. It was previously listed by London auction house Sotheby's in May 2016.

The starting bid for the manuscript is $15,000 USD.

From Nate D. Sanders Auctions:

“Richard Strauss autograph manuscript signed for the final scene in his 1935 opera ''Die schweigsame Frau'' (''The Silent Woman''), a comedic opera written with librettist Stefan Zweig. Written on three 10.5'' x 14'' pages of bifolium manuscript, Strauss signs ''Richard Strauss'' at the top of the first page, where he also writes ''Schwanengesang'' (''Swan Song'').

Strauss elegantly hand writes the vocal score for bass voice (sung by the lead character ''Sir Morosus'', who here sings ''Wie schon ist doch die musik'', or ''How beautiful music is'') and piano, comprising eighty-six bars on 12-stave paper printed by B. & H. Nr. 5. C., with their watermark. With a few alterations to the words and music, such as ''wunderbar erst wenn sie die Frau'' crossed-out and rewritten, and with score slightly different than published version. Undated but circa 1938 when Strauss gave the manuscript to his friend, conductor Hans Swarowsky. At this time in 1938, the opera was banned in Nazi Germany after only three performances following its premiere in 1935, due to its association with Zweig, who Strauss insisted be credited on the production.

''Die schweigsame Frau'' was one of Strauss' crowning achievements, of which ''The New Grove'' wrote, ''...the character of Sir John Morosus being modeled on that of the Shakespeare-Verdi knight...The clever score is full of 'gems'. Sparking and genuine...'' Manuscript is beautifully presented in a dark green pebbled leather case with gilt titling to front and spine, and with silk moire interiors. Manuscript measures 10.5'' x 14'' and case measures 13'' x 17''. Uniform toning and very small hole to page two from erasure to one word. Overall in very good to near fine condition, an exquisite presentation.”

The Strauss manuscript is listed as Lot 31 at Nate D. Sanders Auctions. Bidding is now open for prospective buyers, with a deadline of 5PM PST this Thursday, July 26th, 2018.

Those interested can place their bids here: https://natedsanders.com/Richard_Strauss_Signed__Handwritten_Musical_Manusc-LOT49836.aspx

Listen below to Morosus' gorgeous Monologue "Wie schön ist doch die Musik" from Richard Strauss' "Die shweigsame Frau." The eminent German Bass-baritone Thomas Quasthoff performs:


For more information on Strauss’ Die Schweigsame Frau, the composer’s relationship with Stefan Zweig, and his tenure as president of the Reichsmusikkammer, visit

Here on Unraveling Musical Myths.

- Rose.

No comments:

Post a Comment