Richard Strauss, along with Gustav Mahler, is part of the German Romanticism movement after Richard Wagner, with new and innovative subtleties of orchestration (the choice of what instruments are used to play which musical lines) which were combined with a sophisticated style of harmonies (how other musical lines combine with the melody). He’s not to be confused with the father-son waltz composers, Johann Sr. and Jr.
Richard Strauss’ best-known works include his operas Der Rosenkavalier, Elektra, Die Frau ohne Schatten, and Salome. He also wrote many lieder (songs) for voice and piano, including “Four Last Songs”, and he wrote many tone poems – descriptive works for orchestra – including “Death and Transfiguration”, “Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks”, Ein Heldenleben, and Also sprach Zarathustra (which you may know as “A Space Odyssey: 2001”).
Also sprach Zarathustra is a work of nine sections, and the opening fanfare is what was used in the Space Odyssey film. It is one of the most powerful and stoic-sounding fanfares written. Nobody knew how to write for the brass section quite like Strauss.
Richard Strauss was born June 11, 1864 in Munich, then the Kingdom of Bavaria, and died September 8, 1949, in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, part of what was then West Germany.