Also sprach Zarathustra, Op. 30 (Thus Spoke Zarathustra or Thus Spake Zarathustra) is a tone poem by Richard Strauss, composed in 1896 and inspired by Friedrich Nietzsche\\\'s philosophical novel of the same name.The composer conducted its first performance on 27 November 1896 in Frankfurt. A typical performance lasts half an hour.
The piece is divided into nine sections played with only three definite pauses. Strauss named the sections after selected chapters of the book:
- Einleitung, oder Sonnenaufgang (Introduction, or Sunrise)
- Von den Hinterweltlern (Of Those in Backwaters)
- Von der großen Sehnsucht (Of the Great Longing)
- Von den Freuden und Leidenschaften (Of Joys and Passions)
- Das Grablied (The Song of the Grave)
- Von der Wissenschaft (Of Science and Learning)
- Der Genesende (The Convalescent)
- Das Tanzlied (The Dance Song)
- Nachtwandlerlied (Song of the Night Wanderer)
The piece starts with a sustained double low C on the double basses, contrabassoon and organ. This transforms into the brass fanfare of the Introduction and introduces the \\\"dawn\\\" motif (from \\\"Zarathustra\\\'s Prologue\\\", the text of which is included in the printed score) that is common throughout the work: the motif includes three notes, in intervals of a fifth and octave, as C–G–C (known also as the Nature-motif).
\\\"Of Those in Backwaters\\\" (or \\\"Of the Forest Dwellers\\\") begins with cellos, double-basses and organ pedal before changing into a lyrical passage for the entire section. The next two sections, \\\"Of the Great Yearning\\\" and \\\"Of Joys and Passions\\\", both introduce motifs that are more chromatic in nature.
\\\"Of Science\\\" features an unusual fugue beginning in the double-basses and cellos, which consists of all twelve notes of the chromatic scale. It is one of the very few sections in the orchestral literature where the basses must play a contra-b (lowest b on a piano).
\\\"The Convalescent\\\" acts as a reprise of the original motif, and ends with the entire orchestra climaxing on a massive chord.
\\\"The Dance Song\\\" features a very prominent violin solo throughout the section.
The end of the \\\"Song of the Night Wanderer\\\" leaves the piece half resolved, with high flutes, piccolos and violins playing a B major chord, while the lower strings pluck a C.
One of the major compositional themes of the piece is the contrast between the keys of B major, representing humanity, and C major, representing the universe. Because B and C are adjacent notes, these keys are tonally dissimilar: B major uses five sharps, while C major has none.
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