Zarathustra as Superman: reading the Nietzschean narrative in Also Sprach Zarathustra

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Joseph L. Arno (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Adam Ricci

Abstract: The subtitle to Richard Strauss's Also Sprach Zarathustra reads "Tondichtung (frei nach Freidrich Nietzsche)" ("Tone poem freely after Nietzsche"). But to what extent does the tone poem expresses Nietzschean philosophy? A statement by Strauss himself rejects a Nietzschean meaning for the tone poem. I believe that there is a closer connection between the tone poem and Nietzsche's work of the same name. Some tone poems, such as Strauss's Ein Heldenleben tell a very specific narrative but others, such as Smetana's A ceskych luhu a háju, are more vague. What kind of narrative is told in Also Sprach Zarathustra? I will demonstrate through analysis that a more direct reading of Nietzsche provides a clearer narrative than that provided by other scholars. To understand the portrayal of Nietzschean philosophy in the tone poem I will include a discussion of musical narrative and how it relates to tone poems in general. One question that will be addressed is if Also Sprach Zarathustra is unique as a tone poem about philosophy. I will then discuss aspects of Nietzschean philosophy as they pertain to this tone poem. Finally I will analyze Also Sprach Zarathustra using select sections of the tone poem to answer to what extent the Nietzschean narrative is reflected in the tone poem. My analysis will illustrate a closer connection than other scholars, and will also show that the narrative is a blend of Nietzschean and Schopenhauerian philosophy. Through thematic and harmonic analysis, I will trace the narrative in Also Sprach Zarathustra.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2014
Friedrich Nietzsche, Nietzschean philosophy, Tone poem, Schopenhauerian philosophy
Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm, $d 1844-1900. $t Also sprach Zarathustra
Strauss, Richard, $d 1864-1949. $t Also sprach Zarathustra
Symphonic poems $x Analysis, appreciation
Music and philosophy

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