Milestones in Music - Guilty Pleasures: Richard Strauss @ 150

ANU School of Music 2014 Public Lecture Series - Milestones in Music

Guilty Pleasures: Richard Strauss @ 150

The music Richard Strauss composed was not only supremely well-crafted and tuneful, it also committed the unpardonable sin of being enormously popular. Mass appeal and intellectual and artistic integrity, it seems, were already irreconcilable concepts by the late nineteenth century. The mere fact of his popularity has remained a cause for critical suspicion ever since.

While Strauss could hardly be described as a ‘neglected composer’, this lecture argues that by failing to appreciate the depth of Strauss’s intellect we have nevertheless grossly underestimated the significance of his musical achievements. A superb practitioner he might have been, but he also possessed both the ability and the motivation to reflect seriously on his art. After the rise and subsequent collapse of the Third Reich (and his dalliances with the regime) he had no choice but to do so, as witnessed by his late masterpiece Metamorphosen (1945).

A graduate of the University of Melbourne, Peter Tregear undertook doctoral studies at King’s College, University of Cambridge, where he was also a choral scholar. In 2000, after an initial appointment as a Lecturer to the music department of the University of Queensland, he was appointed a Fellow of Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge where he was a Lecturer and Director of Music as well as maintaining an active performing career as a singer and conductor. Performance highlights include leading a critically acclaimed UK stage premiere of Max Brand’s opera Maschinist Hopkins at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in 2001. In 2006 Peter was invited to return to Australia to take up the position of Dean of Trinity College, Melbourne; he also continued to teach at the University of Melbourne and the Australian National Academy of Music, and perform with both Victorian Opera and Melbourne Opera. In 2007 with Gert Reifarth he established the innovative opera company IOpera for which he conducted a new edition of Anna Amalia's Erwin und Elmire for the Ekhof-Festival in Gotha, Germany, as well as the Australian premiere of Rothschild's violin, and a new production of The Emperor of Atlantis. He also regularly appears with the Consort of Melbourne, which he founded and co-directs with Warren Trevelyan-Jones, and with whom he has collaborated with the Kronos Quartet among others, and the Choir of London. He was awarded the Sir Charles Mackerras Conducting Prize in 2003, and a Green Room Award for Best Opera Conductor in 2009.

In November 2010 Peter was appointed Executive Director of the Academy of Performing Arts, Monash University, and in August 2012 he was appointed to the School of Music of the Australian National University. His academic work is broadly concerned with how music relates to its historical and cultural context, and how we can best understand and exploit the links between music as an object of intellectual inquiry and music as creative practice. He has particular interests in Australian music history and in the musical culture of the Weimar republic, in particular the generation of musicians whose careers and lives were ruined by the rise of Fascism in Europe. He has published widely in leading academic journals nationally and internationally, as well as being a frequent author and public presenter for groups such as the Australian Chamber Orchestra and Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. Peter is also a regular music correspondent for The Melbourne Review and the founding Chair of the AMF Australia Foundation, which supports the education of young Australian musicians in Australia and overseas. His most recent book., Ernst Krenek and the Politics of Musical Style, was published in July 2013.