Ein Heldenleben

Poor old dragon!

While Don Quixote’s (see the previous post) heroic dragon slaying activity was tilting (at windmills and sheep and pilgrims and monks), the particular ‘dragon’ that the hero (Ein Heldenleben = A Hero’s Life) of Strauss’s next tone poem attempts to slay is an altogether easier(??) but no less pernicious target – music critics. And, since the hero in question is the composer himself, and since he’s been mauled multiple times by more than a few of said critics, it’s hardly surprising that things get a little vituperative (there’s a battle!).

Our brave hero (as in Don Quixote) has a sidekick/helpmeet/companion, but to compare her (because in this work it is a her) to Sancho Panza would be, given the helpmeet’s rather temperamental reputation, to risk severe damage to both limb and life. Her name? Pauline de Ahna (aka Mrs. Strauss) and, again as in Don Quixote, she is given her very own instrument: she’s played (temperamentally) on and by the solo violin.

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