Pauline de Ahna

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Pauline de Ahna Strauss, c. 1900

Pauline Maria de Ahna (4 February 1863 – 13 May 1950) was a German operatic soprano and the wife of composer Richard Strauss.


De Ahna was born in Ingolstadt, the daughter of General Adolf de Ahna. She is best known as the wife of Richard Strauss, whom she married on 10 September 1894. His wedding present to her was the four songs of Opus 27: Ruhe, meine Seele!, Cäcilie, Heimliche Aufforderung and "Morgen!".[1] He wrote one operatic role for her, Freihild in Guntram. She retired from the stage in 1906.

De Ahna was famous for being eccentric, snobbish, ill-tempered and outspoken. Strauss described her as "very complex, very feminine, a little perverse, a little coquettish, never like herself, at every minute different from how she had been a moment before". However, the marriage was happy and she was a great source of inspiration to her husband in works up to and including the Four Last Songs. In particular, Strauss portrayed de Ahna both as the hero's companion in Ein Heldenleben and in several sections of Symphonia Domestica. Strauss's opera Intermezzo (Dresden, 1924) provides a thinly veiled portrait of their marriage.

De Ahna outlived her husband, but only by eight months, dying in Garmisch-Partenkirchen in May 1950.

The couple had a son, named (like his paternal grandfather) Franz Strauss (1897–1980).


She was the subject of the one-woman show Die Frau im Schatten by Dame Gwyneth Jones.[2]



  1. ^ Kennedy, Michael (1999). Richard Strauss: Man, Musician, Enigma. Cambridge University Press.
  2. ^ "Richard-Strauss-Tage 2004".