The Philharmonia and Strauss: A Brief History

Richard Strauss and his compositions have featured prominently throughout the history of the Philharmonia Orchestra. Here we chart some of our most important performances.


First Richard Strauss piece performed
Don Juan - Alceo Galliera conductor | 20 August 1946 (Columbia recording)

Richard Strauss conducts the Philharmonia Orchestra
19 October 1947 @ Royal Albert Hall – Richard Strauss conductor; Alfred Blumen piano
STRAUSS Don Juan; Sinfonia Domestica; Rondo Burlesque; Rosenkavalier Waltzes (Symphonic Version 1946)

Von Karajan Philharmonia concert debut
11 April 1948 @ Royal Albert Hall - Herbert von Karajan conductor
STRAUSS Don Juan (opening work)

Four Last Songs première *
22 May 1950 @ Royal Albert Hall – Wilhelm Furtwängler conductor; Kirsten Flagstad soprano

1964 Centenary Celebrations
16 January 1964 – Karl Bohm conductor; Elisabeth Schwarzkopf soprano
STRAUSS Don Juan; Closing scene from Capriccio; Ein Heldenleben

Last public appearance of Philharmonia Orchestra/End of Walter Legge Era
7 September 1964 – Norman del Marr conductor; Rudolf Firkusny piano; Marijke van der Lugt soprano (BBC Prom @ Royal Albert Hall) Programme ended with:
STRAUSS Elektra's Monologue, Dance of the Seven Veils, Closing Scene from Salome

Most performed

  • Don Juan x 94; Till Eulenspiegel x 48; Tod und Verklarung x 41
  • Four Last Songs x 32; Ein Heldenleben x 22;
  • Alpine Symphony x 3 (last performed by PO 12 September 1989)


Christoph von Dohnanyi

  • Winner of Richard Strauss Prize (1950s)
  • Burleske – 1st recording with PO (1962)
  • 1st PO R. Strauss concerts – 20 Oct 1997 (DMH) | 21 Oct 1997 (RFH)

Lorin Maazel

  • Also sprach - 1st recording with PO (1963)~
  • 1st PO R. Strauss concerts – 27 Jan 1963 (RFH) Four Last Songs (w/ Elisabeth Schwarzkopf)

Philippe Jordan

  • Performed Ein Heldenleben with PO @ Edinburgh International Festival (2005)

Philharmonia Recordings

*Don Juan; Sinfonia Domestica; Rondo Burlesque; Rosenkavalier Waltzes – Strauss conductor (1947) 
*Four Last Songs – Furtwängler conductor (1950)
Don Juan; Dance of the Seven Veils; Till Eulenspiegels – Otto Klemperer conductor (1960) 
Metamorphosen – Otto Klemperer conductor (1961)
Till Eulenspiegels/Also sprach Zarathustra – Lorin Maazel conductor (1962) ~
Metamorphosen – Sir John Barbirolli conductor (1967)
Also sprach Zarathustra; Don Quixote – Victorin Djong Yu conductor (1994)
Salome – Charles Mackerras conductor (2008)
Till Eulenspiegels/Ein Heldenleben – Christoph von Dohnanyi conductor (2009)

Most recorded works include Also sprach Zarathustra, of which there are four recordings - 1962 (Maazel), 1983 (Pretre), 1989 (Bychkov), 1994 (Yu).

Facts about Richard Strauss

  • Richard Strauss's father, Franz, was a professional horn player
  • Started composing at the age of six - first symphony composition performed aged 17

Quotations from Richard Strauss

  • ‘Never look at the trombones. You'll only encourage them’
  • ‘The human voice is the most beautiful instrument of all, but it is the most difficult to play’
  • ‘I may not be a first-rate composer, but I am a first-class second-rate composer’