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Four Last Songs

-“September,” from Four Last Songs, Richard Strauss (lyrics by Hermann Hesse), performed by Renee Fleming

“Among [Strauss’s] last compositions are the settings for three poems by Hesse (in Four Last Songs).” –Hermann Hesse: A Biography, Volker Michels

For a collection of recordings of “Frühling” (Spring), “September,” and “Beim Schlafengehen” (along with the fourth, “Im Abendrot,” by Joseph von Eichendorff), visit www.vierletztelieder.com.

Steppenwolf – Hugo Wolf


Italian Serenade, Hugo Wolf

“It is the last great music ever written,” said I with the pomposity of a schoolmaster. “Certainly there was Schubert to come. Hugo Wolf also, and I must not forget the poor, lovely Chopin either. You frown, Maestro? Oh, yes, Beethoven – he is wonderful too. But all that – beautiful as it may be – has something rhapsodical about it, something of disintegration.”

Steppenwolf, Hermann Hesse

Steppenwolf – Don Giovanni


-Commendatore scene, Don Giovanni, Mozart (in Amadeus, 1984)

And I heard from the empty spaces within the theater the sound of music, a beautiful and awful music, that music from Don Giovanni that heralds the approach of the guest of stone. With an awful and an iron clang it rang through the ghostly house, coming from the other world, from the immortals.

Steppenwolf, Hermann Hesse

Steppenwolf – Yearning


-“Yearning,” The Californiacs

A new dance, a fox trot, with the title “Yearning,” had swept the world that winter. Once we had heard it we could not have enough of it. We were all soaked in it and intoxicated with it and everyone hummed the melody whenever it was played. I danced without stop and with anyone who came in my way, with quite young girls, with women in their earlier or their later prime, and with those who had sadly passed them both; and with them all I was enraptured – laughing, happy, radiant.

Steppenwolf, Hermann Hesse

Steppenwolf – The Ten Commandments


The Ten Commandments, 1956

I saw Moses, whose hair recalled portraits of Walt Whitman, a splendidly theatrical Moses, wandering through the desert at the head of the Jews, with a dark and fiery eye and a long staff and the stride of a Wotan.* I saw him pray to God at the edge of the Red Sea, and I saw the Red Sea parted to give free passage, a deep road between piled-up mountains of water (the confirmation classes conducted by the clergy to see this religious film could argue without end as to how the film people managed this.

Steppenwolf, Hermann Hesse

*Wotan = Odin

Steppenwolf – Cassations


-“Cassations,” Mozart

The immortals, living their life in timeless space, enraptured, re-fashioned and immersed in a crystalline eternity like ether, and the cool starry brightness and radiant serenity of this world outside the earth – whence was all this so intimately known? As I reflected, passages of Mozart’s Cassations, of Bach’s Well-tempered Clavier came to my mind and it seemed to me that all through this music there was the radiance of this cool starry brightness and the quivering of this clearness of ether.

-Steppenwolf, Hermann Hesse

Steppenwolf – Buxtehude


-“Cantate Domino,” Dietrich Buxtehude

Beneath the lofty Gothic of the church whose netted vaulting swayed with a ghostly life in the play of the sparse lights, I heard pieces by Buxtehude, Pachelbel, Bach and Haydn. I had gone the old beloved way once more.

Steppenwolf, Hermann Hesse

Dietrich Buxtehude was a seventeenth-century Danish-German composer of Baroque organ and vocal music.