Strauss – Also sprach Zarathustra


A piece I would like to see live, but haven’t so far. It is most famous for its beginning: a monumental chord progression that slowly reveals itself in all its glory. The power of popular culture on full view here: the piece has been used for space related images ever since Stanley Kubrick used it in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Since the whole piece is actually a tone poem about the philosophical novel of the same name by Friedrich Nietzsche, one might argue that that meaning is added later.

The book was published in four volumes about ten years earlier. The tone poem follows some of the themes in the book, and some of these convey the philosophical meaning in musical trickery. Judging from my limited understanding of musical theory this is mostly done by playing the game of musical expectations. A chord is like a question, that needs to be answered by another chord.

The result is a beautiful and rich musical piece that actually deserves some more attention than just the first part. On Spotify, the opening has 260K listeners when I checked. Everything that follows doesn’t make it past the 2K listeners.

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