Otto Luening




Testo tratto dall'autobiografia

The Odyssey

of an American Composer

Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, 1980

pp. 175 - 176


When Richard Strauss conducted at the Tonhalle, Busoni and Strauss and friends met at the Bahnhof Enge restaurant after the concert for the usual refreshments, which meant champagne and pheasant. I was one of the younger generation allowed to listen to the great men talk. In this period there was a great «back to Mozart» movement led by composers as diverse as Strauss, Weingartner, Busoni, and Wolf-Ferrari.
On one evening, Strauss asserted that opera had moved as far as it could along the lines of post-Wagnerian orchestral sizes and libretto lengths. We needed to reduce the means, he said, to get back to the Mozartian orchestra, to use only moderately large casts. Instead of overdeveloped, pseudosymphonic passages, we should restore the set pieces - arias, duets, trios, ensembles - and the recitatives to their rightful places in opera in order to bring clarity to the musical and dramatic ideas. He spoke of Mozartian melodic writing and finished by saying, «Yes, we must go back to Mozart.»
His remarks were followed by a resounding silence. Eventually Busoni sayd drily, «It took a long time to discover this, Dr. Strauss».
The two men were not on speaking terms for five years.