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Also sprach Zarathustra, Op. 30 (Eng. Thus Spoke Zarathustra) ( ) is a tone poem by Richard Strauss, composed in 1896 and inspired by Friedrich Nietzsche's philosophical treatise of the same name.
The composer conducted its first performance in Frankfurtmarker. A typical performance lasts half an hour.

The work has been part of the classical repertoire since its introduction in 1896. The introductory fanfare was proposed as a new national anthem for Germany during the Nazi regime. When asked if he would allow the use of his music for this purpose, Strauss declined, saying he could never replace Joseph Haydn's "Deutschlandlied", which remains Germany's anthem. The fanfare has become better known to the general public of recent years due to its use as the key musical motif in Stanley Kubrick's 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey, as the introduction to every show performed by Elvis Presley from 1969 onwards, and first used in sports as the entrance theme of The University of South Carolina's athletic teams. It also appears on The Rugrats Movie and its score.

Professional wrestler Ric Flair starting using the theme as his intro music sometime during the 1980's. Flair would let out his trademark yell "WHOOOOOO" after the fifth note of the theme. This practice was picked up by professional wrestling fans, and can be heard at playings of the theme even outside of professional wrestling. The theme and Ric Flair have become synonymous with each other in the professional wrestling world.

Eumir Deodato's funky version of the song won the 1973 Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance and went to No. 2 in the pop charts in the US, No. 3 in Canada, and No. 7 in the UK. It was subsequently used to great effect in the 1979 film Being There, starring Peter Sellers and Shirley Maclaine. It has also been covered extensively by the rock band Phish in their live performances and included in several of their live releases.


The orchestra consists of the following:


The piece is divided into nine sections played with only three clear breaks. Strauss named the sections after selected chapters in the book:
  1. Einleitung (Introduction), or sunrise (this is the 2001: A Space Odyssey theme)
  2. Von den Hinterweltlern (Of the Backworldsmen)
  3. Von der gro├čen Sehnsucht (Of the Great Longing)
  4. Von den Freuden und Leidenschaften (Of the Joys and Passions)
  5. Das Grablied (The Grave-Song)
  6. Von der Wissenschaft (Of Science)
  7. Der Genesende (The Convalescent)
  8. Das Tanzlied (The Dance Song)
  9. Nachtwandlerlied (Song of the Night Wanderer)

The piece starts with a sustained double low C , 32' pitch, on the double basses, contrabassoon and organ. This leads into the brass fanfare of the Introduction and introduces the "dawn" motif (from "Zarathustra's Prologue", the text of which is included in the printed score) that permeates the structure of the entire work: the motif includes three notes, in intervals of a fifth and octave, as C-G-C (also called the Nature-motif). On its first appearance, the motif is a part of the first five notes of the natural overtone series: octave, octave and fifth, two octaves, two octaves and major third (played as part of a C major chord with the third doubled). The major third is immediately changed to a minor third, which is the first note played in the work (E flat) that is NOT part of the overtone series.

"Of the Backworldsmen" begins with cellos, double-basses and organ pedal before opening up into a lyrical passage for the entire section. The following two sections, "Of the Great Yearning" and "Of Joys and Passions", both introduce motifs that are more chromatic in nature.

"Of Science" features an unusual fugue beginning in the double-basses and cellos, which consists of all twelve notes of the chromatic scale. It is one of the very few sections in the orchestral literature where the basses must play a contra-b (lowest b on a piano).

"The Convalescent" acts as a reprise of the original motif, and climaxes with a massive chord in the entire orchestra.

"The Dance Song" features a very prominent violin solo throughout the section.

The end of the "Song of the Night Wanderer" leaves the piece half resolved, with high flutes, piccolos and violins playing a B major chord, while the lower strings pluck a C.

One of the major compositional themes of the piece is the contrast between the keys of B major, representing humanity, and C major, representing the universe. Although B and C are adjacent notes, these keys are tonally dissimilar: B major uses five sharps, while C major has none.[145264]

World riddle theme

There are two viewpoints about the World riddle theme (a particular sequence of notes in the melody). Some sources denote the fifth/octave intervals (C-G-C (8va)) as the World riddle motif. However, other sources refer to the 2 conflicting keys in the final section as representing the World riddle (C-G-C B-F -B (8va)), with the unresolved harmonic progression being an unfinished or unsolved riddle: the melody does not conclude with a clearly defined tonic note as being either C or B, hence it is unfinished. The ending of the composition has been described:

Neither C major nor B major is established as the tonic at the end of the composition.

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