Piotr IliTch TchaïkovskY
Concerto for violin in D major op. 35
Ein Heldenleben, (A Heros Life) Symphonic Poem op. 40
Both composers often speak of themselves in their works. Whilst Tchaikovsky described his discomfort with life by entrusting his most secret thoughts to music, Richard Strauss liked to show off the pleasures of his own life, not hesitating to depict himself as a hero, a sportsman or in his everyday world, which he set to music.
It was on the shores of Lake Geneva, in Clarens, that the Russian composer took refuge to escape the sham marriage that had traumatised him. There he composed the Violin Concerto in D major, which, like many masterpieces, was misunderstood before it gained worldwide recognition.
Ein Heldenleben (literally A Hero's Life) is an allegory of human existence seen through the Nietzschean prism of self-determination in a hostile world. The description of the hero here is synonymous with the artist and resonates as a kind of self-portrait in which humour and self-recrimination are not excluded. Anyone can hear traces of a certain megalomania - or is it simply Richard Strauss' admission of powerlessness as he rightly declared to Romain Rolland that he was neither a hero nor a man suited to battle. Who knows?