Don Juan (Strauss)  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Don Juan, Op. 20, is a tone poem in E Major for large orchestra written by the German composer Richard Strauss in 1888. It is singled out by Carl Dahlhaus as a "musical symbol of fin-de-siècle modernism", particularly for the "breakaway mood" of its opening bars.

The premiere of Don Juan took place on 11 November 1889 in Weimar where Strauss served as Court Kapellmeister; he conducted the orchestra of the Weimar Opera. The piece, composed when Strauss was only twenty-four years old, became an international success and established his reputation. In comments written two days after the premiere, Strauss said, "Well then – Don Juan had a great success, it sounded wonderful and went very well. It unleashed a storm of applause rather unusual for Weimar."

The Don Juan legend originated in Renaissance-era Spain. Strauss's tone poem is based on Don Juans Ende, a play derived from an unfinished 1844 retelling of the tale by poet Nikolaus Lenau (Nikolaus Franz Niembsch Edler von Strehlenau). Strauss reprinted three excerpts from the play in his score. In Lenau's rendering, Don Juan's promiscuity springs from his determination to find the ideal woman. Despairing of ever finding her, he ultimately surrenders to melancholy and wills his own death.

Performances of the work last around sixteen minutes. The difficulty of the work makes excerpts from Don Juan a staple of orchestral audition lists for many instruments.

Instrumentation

Strauss's Don Juan is scored for 3 flutes (3rd doubling piccolo), 2 oboes, English horn, 2 clarinets in A, 2 bassoons, contrabassoon, 4 horns in E, 3 trumpets in E, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, triangle, cymbals, glockenspiel, harp and strings.

An orchestral score and a score for piano four hands was published by J. Aibl in Leipzig in 1890.





Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Don Juan (Strauss)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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