Cultural Cocktail Hour
The tumultuous love life of Richard Strauss- part deux- Strauss versus Stransky
Since so many of my readers enjoyed reading about Richard Strauss’s unusual engagement to the libretto-throwing singer Pauline De Ahna: Strange Love: the berserk engagement of Richard Strauss
we will now continue onto his roller coaster marriage.
Due to a letter mix-up, his wife Pauline de Ahna filed for divorce.
In his book, Richard Strauss, Tim Ashley reports that while Strauss was working in England, his wife opened a letter from a female opera fan. The fan mentioned looking for a composer at Union Bar and asked for opera tickets. The harmless letter caused Mrs. Strauss to foam at the mouth. She contacted an attorney, telegraphed Strauss (who was working in England) to let him know that she was filing for divorce, demanded to draw their life savings from a bank, and prepared to vacate their apartment.
Strauss telegraphed his wife that he had no clue as to the identity of the opera fan nor had he ever been to Union Bar.
It turned out the confused woman had asked an Italian tenor for the name of Czech composer Josef Stransky. Tim Ashley revealed that the Italian had mispronounced Stransky as “Strausky,” and hence, the confusion began.When the mix-up was revealed, Pauline eventually withdrew her plans for divorce.
Photo, Left- Richard Strauss and the eye-scratching Pauline De Ahna!
Although the event left Strauss with a headache, it also left him with an opera: “Intermezzo” which he composed about his wife’s accusation.
Mrs. Strauss’ jealous streak continued into her eighties. In his biography, Richard Strauss, An Intimate Portrait, Kurt Wilhem revealed that an elderly Pauline exclaimed, “I would scratch the eyes out of any hussy who was after my Richard.”