Why the Dying Richard Strauss Couldn't Get Enough of 'Daphne'
By BRYAN GILLIAM
ON June 11, 1949, his 85th birthday, Richard Strauss performed at his piano for the last time. A camera crew was filming a short documentary on him ("A Life for Music"), and the director asked him to play an excerpt from a long life's work. One's head spins at the possibilities -- more than 200 songs, many tone poems, 15 operas. Would he choose something from "Don Juan" or "Der Rosenkavalier"?
Strauss's selection puzzled everyone in the room except his family. It was a portion of the transformation scene from the opera "Daphne" (1937), which he played repeatedly at home in the months before his death that September.
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