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Strange Love: the berserk engagement of Richard Strauss

by Leticia Marie Sanchez

Some men plan a midnight stroll by the beach. Others a calm picnic under stars…

Richard Strauss‘ engagement to temperamental soprano Pauline de Ahna involved: 1. being shrieked at by a soprano, having a musical score thrown at his head, and ducking flying objects

Elizabeth Lundy, in her book, Secret Lives of Great Composers, reports that after being conducted by Strauss in an opera rehearsal, Miss Diva Pauline went ballistic over a difference of opinion over tempo.

“Pauline threw her score at Strauss’s head…the entire orchestra tiptoed.. so they could listen to the screaming, shrieking, and occasional thuds as objects flew around the room… The musicians announced that in respect for their conductor and in protest of Pauline’s outrageous behavior, they would refuse to participate in any further production in which Fraulein de Ahna had a role.

“That distresses me,” said Strauss, “as I have just become engaged to Fraulein de Ahna.”

[The Secret Lives of Great Composers, 183]

I hope that Strauss threw Miss Pauline a nice derangement, I mean, engagement party.

To the left, Pauline de Ahna, who rather resembles a Viking warrior                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

“Fear my wrath, Strauss If you mess up my tempo, I will kill you.No, I will MARRY You.”

Posted by on July 18th, 2011

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