It’s very unusual for a composer to write only orchestral music for years and then for the rest of his life compose exclusively operas, but Richard Strauss did just that. The work that breaks this pattern however is the Alpensinfonie, which he wrote after his first four great operas. He loved the challenge of composing this highly visual story, but I think that Mahler’s work also influenced him and the death of Mahler I suspect had something to do with it as well.

The notion of a musical trip in the mountains was personal and rather mundane actually, but since I moved to Bavaria I can relate to it very well. I’ve done these trips and that’s exactly how it goes, every step of the way. It’s a simple idea but it gives him a canvas to be – and I say this in a positive way – very eclectic....

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