Enoch Arden (Strauss)
Richard Strauss wrote Enoch Arden for the actor Ernst von Possart, who in 1896 had assisted him in obtaining the post of Chief Conductor at the Bavarian State Opera. He wrote it while engaged in composing Don Quixote and finished it in February 1897. Strauss and Possart toured together widely with the melodrama, in a German translation by Adolf Strodtmann.
It was well received by audiences and Strauss' reputation was enhanced more by it than by his symphonic poems. The following year Strauss capitalised on its success by writing Das Schloss am Meere (The Castle by the Sea) to words by Ludwig Uhland.
The work has been described as falling within the genre of incidental music. It consists mainly of brief interludes indicative of changes of time and setting, as well as moments of punctuation and commentary. Each of the two parts is introduced by a prelude and concludes with a postlude. Strauss uses leitmotifs to identify each of the characters: Enoch Arden (a chordal sequence in E flat), Annie Lee (a rising figure in G), Philip Ray (a melody in E), the sea (G minor). He does not develop these into melodies as such, but uses them statically. There are long passages where the piano is silent.
Because of the sparse nature of the music, performances of Enoch Arden are largely dependent on the speaker rather than the pianist. Criticisms of the piece as a musical work per se do not do it justice, as it was never intended to be primarily a piece of music but a dramatic presentation with musical accompaniment.
Enoch Arden was popular in its day, but slipped into obscurity when fashions changed and recitations, declamations and melodramas came to be considered passé. In recent years the work has attracted some notable names in both the speaker's role, including Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Jon Vickers, Michael York, Claude Rains, Benjamin Luxon and Patrick Stewart, and the pianist's role, including Glenn Gould, Emanuel Ax, and Marc-André Hamelin.
The British actor Andrew Sachs (best known for his role as Manuel in Fawlty Towers) and the Australian pianist Victor Sangiorgio have toured with a two-man show called "Life after Fawlty", which included Strauss's Enoch Arden.
Enoch Arden was first recorded by Claude Rains and Glenn Gould in 1962. The recording was nominated for the 1963 Grammy Awards in the category of Best Documentary or Spoken Word Recording (Other than Comedy).
Later recordings include:
- Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (mid-1960s)
- Hans-Reinhard Müller and Carl Seemann (1978)
- Gert Westphal and John Buttrick (1984)
- Elisabet Woska and Begonia Uriarte (1986; live recording; the first recording with a female narrator)
- Jean-Paul Fouchécourt and Christian Ivaldi (1991)
- Mac Morgan and William Ransom (1995)
- Jon Vickers and Marc-André Hamelin (1998; Vickers’ debut recording as a speaker)
- Paul Schmidt and Yvar Mikhashoff (1999)
- Michael York and John Bell Young (2002)
- Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Burkhard Kehring (2003)
- Michael Ducarel and Martin Cousin (2003)
- Laura Marinoni and Pietro De Luigi (2004; the first recording in Italian).
- David Ripley and Chad R. Bowles (2006)
- Benjamin Luxon and Frederick Moyer (2007)
- Patrick Stewart and Emanuel Ax (2007)
- La Jolla Music Society
- Music Web International
- Michael Ducarel
- James Pritchett: Richard Strauss: Melodramas
- Audiophile Audition
- Audiophile Audition
- The Guardian, 1 July 2005
- The Victorian Web: Richard Strauss’s Enoch Arden
- LyndaRonan Personal Management
- Thornbury Arts Festival 2001
- John Buttrick
- All Music
- VAI Audio
- Pietro De Luigi
- Frederick Moyer, Pianist