100 years ago, on 28 October 1915, Eine Alpensinfonie by Richard Strauss was premiered in Berlin by the Dresden Hofkapelle, conducted by the composer. The critics didn’t particularly like it, some even called it ‘cinema music.’
Strauss’s love of nature greatly influenced this atmospheric composition. For most of his life, Strauss lived in southern Bavaria at the foot of Germany’s highest peak, the Zugspitze. Eine Alpensinfonie portrays the distinct episodes of an alpine trek undertaken by Strauss and friends during which they got lost in a thunderstorm.
Although Strauss labelled the work a symphony, it doesn’t follow the typical conventions of a multi-movement symphony. The work consists of twenty-two continuous sections of music making it technically a tone poem.
Eine Alpensinfonie includes a wide range of instrumental combinations and effects, requiring an orchestra of 123 players. Strauss regarded performing this piece as the equivalent of the challenge of climbing an actual mountain.
Listen to Eine Alpensinfonie, played here by the Dresden Staatskapelle who first premiered this dramatic work on this day 100 years ago!