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musicAeterna | Richard Strauss: Metamorphosen, Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 6

Palau de la Música

Barcelona, Spain

Richard Strauss
Metamorphosen, study for 23 solo strings TrV 290, AV 142 (1945)


Pyotr Tchaikovsky
Symphony No. 6 “Pathetic” in h minor, Op. 74 (1893)


musicAeterna orchestra
Conductor Teodor Currentzis


Richard Strauss was composing the symphonic study Metamorphosen in the last months of World War II and finished it in April 1945. This work has become one of Strauss’ later masterpieces. The shock of the Dresden and Munich bombing turned into an elegy in memory of a destroyed culture. In this work, there appear Richard Wagner’s Tristan motif, some hints of Mozart’s and Bach’s motifs, a range of self-references. In the finale Strauss directly quotes the Funeral March from Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 and supplies the theme with a note in the score: In memoriam. These are the “Metamorphoses” intertwining the intonations of sorrow with the motives of hope and enlightenment.


Symphony No. 6 is Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s musical testament. In the Symphony, one hears the composer’s personal psychological drama, and a message to humanity about the eternal confrontation of good and evil, and instrumental passions in the manner of Bach with hidden quotations, and the prophecy of the catastrophes of the times we live in. Tchaikovsky wrote his Sixth Symphony very quickly. He started working on it on February 4, 1893, and by August 19 he had completed the score and prepared the symphony for publication. The first performance took place in Saint Petersburg on October 16, 1893. Nine days later, the composer passed away. The symphony has a secret dedication to Tchaikovsky’s nephew Vladimir Davydov and the title “Pathétique”, which was proposed by the composer’s brother Modest Tchaikovsky. Although Tchaikovsky had shared the hidden programme of his composition with the family, it was never made public and has remained the subject of discussion and acute listening for centuries.


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