Memoirs and Contemporaries

Richard Strauss was quite ahead of his time as a composer, although in a way, he was still a child of his time who was greatly influenced by the contemporaries of his era.  However the famous composer also had a private side.  People who knew Richard Strauss would describe him as a funny man, whose fame never went to his head.  His family gave him stability, but music was always his passion – as well as card games.

Richard Strauss – Grandson: “A totally normal Grandfather“

In the Strauss family home, there was a daily fixed routine:  fixed times for meals, daily walks, and afternoon naps.  Strauss would set extremely high almost unattainable goals for his grandchildren’s education.  However he would still let them interrupt him to go sledding or to play soccer.
“Everything was pretty normal in our family:  Grandfather would sit at his desk;  my brother and I, still as small boys, would storm into his office, pull on his coat tails and shout “Grandpa, come and play!”.  This type of situation was unheard of in most other artistic families – where the atmosphere was “Quiet!! The Maestro is composing”.  This was clearly not the case in our family.
When he was already 65 or 70, although he grumbled, he would still come outside with us and play soccer or go sledding.  We still have a small family film where at the end we all fall off of the sled.  After about 15 minutes, he would then try to “escape the enemy” and return to his office to continue his work.  I only understood the significance of his fame as “The Great Richard Strauss” when I was 18 or 19”.

The Grandmother as the strong woman behind “Strauss”

“This relationship still gets misjudged and pointed remarks a la “Xanthippe” are still made about Grandma.  She was definitely very difficult and eccentric.  However, from around 1500 letters that they wrote each other, one thing was clear:  without his wife, Strauss would never have achieved a third of what he had accomplished in his lifetime.
I believe there is no composer who has ever composed such beautiful dedications to his wife, which are still performed today: "A Hero’s Life", "Sinfonia Domestica” and the opera "Intermezzo", which tells the true story of his married life.”

Fame protects from the US Occupation

“He was a man of 81 years old, and the house in Garmisch could no longer be heated.  Grandma was in poor health.  One morning I saw the occupation troops in our garden and I called up to his office:  “The Americans want to seize our house!” He replied:  “We shall see about that” and he went outside armed with honorary citizenships and honorary doctorates from New York, Michigan, Connecticut and so on. He said to the soldiers: "I am the composer of “Rosenkavalier” and “Salome” and I hope you feel well here in Garmisch." A few of the men truly knew who he was.  In the span of about 30 minutes, one of the   commanding officers put up a sign on our gate saying “off limits”.  Thanks to that sign, our house stayed intact and was protected from occupation and plundering.”

High Expectations for his Grandchildren

“When my brother and I were still very small, our grandfather tried to explain the big operas to us such as “The Ring of the Nibelung” and “Figaro” in the form of fairy tales.  He tried to implant the love of the masterpieces into our hearts.
His expectations and demands on us rascals were not always easy to handle.  He would demand that we read Goethe, Wieland and Shakespeare.  He was incredibly educated.  He would sit every evening in his office and would read one of the 32 volumes of the complete Goethe edition.  He would also read works by Ranke, Napoleon’s Autobiography, works by Gerhart Hauptmann… And he would expect the same from us, which naturally we were not able to do.”
Grandfather Strauss often dedicates himself to the upbringing of his grandchildren.

Fixed Daily Routine in the Strauss Household

“His day would always start in the same way:  around 9 a.m. he would have breakfast in his bedroom.  Our loyal Anni would bring him his coffee and a buttered bread roll “Semmel”.  Then our grandmother would come and they would go for a 45 minute walk - “rain or shine”. “

For Lunch – with clean nails

“Lunch was served at 1pm – it was a sacred moment.  Five minutes early, my brother and I, (with clean hands and nails) would already be seated at the table.  After lunch, he would lie down for half an hour on the sofa in his office.  At around 3 p.m. he would begin to work at his desk again.
At 6 p.m. Grandmother would come and take him for another walk, and at 7 p.m. dinner would be served.  After this, there would be reading or conversation.
He did not have “free time”.  He did however enjoy travelling, but these were cultural trips.  When he was in Paris for a concert, he would already be at the Louvre at 9 a.m., in Vienna at the Art History museum, in London at the Tate gallery etc.  He simply could not be unproductive.”
Richard Strauss, born on November 1, 1927 in Vienna, died on June 2, 2007, was the eldest son of Richard Strauss’ son Franz and his wife Alice.  He was a trained opera director, and dedicated himself to the maintenance and management of his grandfather’s works along with his Gabriele, who was the daughter of the Star Baritone Hans Hotter. 
(Source: "Richard Strauss – a visit to his villa" – Video, September 1999)
Insight into the private family album

Hans Hotter: A modest man with a great deal of humour

As a young singer, the German baritone Hans Hotter benefitted from Strauss’ openness and lightness in his work.  He appreciated the simplicity and friendliness of the famous composer – here he recalls a legendary game of Skat in Garmisch.
He was an individual who did not want to give the impression of being a celebrity; neither in his daily habits nor in his way to dress or to move.
He spoke in an Austrian influenced Munich dialect and had a great deal of humour.  Even in his work, he had a lightness and openness, as well as a friendliness that made people feel at ease and be able to react normally.
(TV-Program "Romantic and Resignation")

“There was never any vanity”

“One has to know, that Strauss was often very impulsive and would sometimes, depending on his mood, say things that one could not take at face value.  When I once had the opportunity to work with him on a few Lieder, he spoke, as he did, in his own way:  “Actually my favourite compositions are my Lieder.”  I am still unsure whether that was a final conclusion on his part.  At least it seemed quite serious. (…)
The valuable information that Strauss gave a young singer growing into a role, his uncomplicated way to tackle issues and solve them,  and all this arising out of an endless source of experience of a youthful 75 year old, was a huge and unforgettable experience for me.
The greatest impression he made on me:  whatever he said or did, happened – with greatest ease.  One never had the impression of being in front of a person who was aware of his own significance or who acted upon it.  There was never any trace of vanity, as with many when faced with the fate of considering oneself above average.”

„Dr. Strauss, Richard, Kapellmeister“

Here is another small indication of how Strauss saw himself primarily as a practising musician rather than as a big composer of his time – which he was.  In the years leading up to the Second World War, when it was still not the fashion for famous people to give out their private telephone numbers, I would read for the first time in a Garmisch Telephone Book:  Dr. Strauss, Richard, Kapellmeister, and not as one would suspect “Composer”.
I still clearly remember that memorable day:  My wife and I had been invited in 1994 by the Strauss couple to their home in Loisachtal, at the bottom of the Zugspitze, for a delicious lunch (something that was not an everyday occurrence during war times)

A Four Hour Lied-Marathon in Garmisch

After the lunch, the Maestro led me into his office, where over the next few hours I witnessed extraordinary happenings.  The Maestro sat down at the piano, where he had already prepared an immense pile of sheet music and Lied volumes.  Over the next four hours, the artist leads me through a series of almost endless still unknown Lieder. With his youthful enthusiasm and momentum, he sang and played straight through without interruption.
He created a colourful palette of nuances and colours and in between the compositions he slipped in deliciously cheerful, intelligent and refreshing commentaries.
Hans Hotter: a frequent guest in the Strauss residence.

A daring and bold Skat-player

On many afternoons and evenings during the Salzburg Festival and in his Villa, I witnessed Strauss’ playful side.  All of us who were admitted to these card game rounds, were able to experience a different side of Strauss.  We got to know him and the game that he was so passionate about, his refined and clever card moves, and also his daring and bold risk-taking ideas. […]
During my holiday I received an invitation from my friend and tenor colleague Franz Klarwein to visit him for a few days at his house in Garmisch.  When Strauss found out about this, he immediately invited us both to his house for a later game of Skat.  And then the most out of the ordinary thing happened:  The Maestro was a bit too risky, “tried to prove himself”, (as one says in Skat) and realised after only three tricks, that he had no chance of winning.
Infuriated, he threw the rest of the cards on the table and uttered words that no doubt very few had ever heard him say:  “You can all kiss my … !”
Einmal während der Urlaubszeit lud mich mein Freund und Tenorkollege Franz Klarwein für ein paar Tage zu sich in sein Garmischer Haus ein. Kaum hatte Strauss das gehört, lud er uns beide in sein Haus zu einem zünftigen Skat. Und da passierte das Ungewöhnliche: Der Meister spielte ein wenig zu riskant, "überreizte" sich, wie man beim Skat sagt, und merkte schon nach drei Stichen, dass er keine Chance mehr hatte, zu gewinnen.
Once during the holidays, my friend and fellow tenor Franz Klarwein invited me to send a few days at his house in Garmisch. As soon as Strauss got wind of this, he invited us both to his house for a proper game of Skat. An unusual thing happened: the Maestro was taking a few too many risks in his play, became overwrought, as you say in Skat, and realized after three turns that he had lost all chance of winning.

Gambling Debts settled behind Pauline’s Back

In this single game, he had lost almost 800 Marks […].  However with his wild energy and determination, as well as his incredible know how, along with a certain portion of luck, Strauss was able to bargain down his loss to us to around 300 Marks.  Just then his wife Pauline entered the room and asked how long the game was going to last.  “Well gentlemen..” said the head of the household in a resigned way “I guess we will end the game” and then mentioned the Skat debt in a whisper: “we will settle this and I will bring it down further.”
We stood up, and Strauss accompanied us into the street without even glancing back in the direction of his house.  Then he put his hand in his back pocket and took out three crumpled one hundred mark notes.  He pressed them into my hand and grunted angrily:  “And now get outta here, disgusting boys!”.
(Source: Hans Hotter, "May was kind to me …". Memoirs, Munich 1996)
Hans Hotter, born on January 19, 1909 in Offenbach am Main, died on December 6, 2004 in Munich.  He was a bass baritone and one of the most significant interpreters of Richard Strauss’ operas and Lieder.  He was also part of the Strauss family:  his daughter Gabriele was married to the Strauss grandson Richard.

Manfred Mautner-Markhof: A Good Loser at Skat

The Austrian industrialist Manfred Mautner-Markhof valued Richard Strauss not only as a friend, but also as a majestic loser at card games.But his memory of Pauline and her understanding of “Elektra", was stronger.
I do not know where this idiocy came from, that Richard Strauss only wanted to win at cards.  I have played many a game, but never with a better loser than Strauss.  We were once both in Nervi where Strauss was conducting the Italian premiere of “Arabella” in Genova.
On one of the days we did not have a third player, so we had to play Pikett.  If you know how to play piquet, then it can be dangerous.  We both knew how to play, but I had won, won, won on that occasion.  Suddenly he said:  “Go. Call the music manager Günzburg in Monte Carlo. I need to speak to him.”
When I finally had Günzburg on the phone, Strauss took the receiver and said:  “I have given it some thought.    I would like to conduct a second concert!”  He spoke in a completely relaxed way without a trace of unpleasantness in his voice.

Pauline is moved to Tears from the Art of her Husband

My wife and I once had the honour of being invited by the Strauss’ and spending one week living in Garmisch.  One afternoon we were having tea with Madame Pauline while Father Strauss was working.  Naturally we were discussing opera and I mentioned that one of the most fabulous scenes in operatic literature is the “recognition scene” in “Elektra”.
Pauline suddenly got up (I naturally did as well) and said:  “Elektra” plays it incorrectly.  She wraps herself around Oreste’s neck like a lover who finds his love; but it is actually only a sister who recognises her brother and she should kneel in front of him.  Watch, I am going to show you.  You are Oreste, I am Elektra.”  I asked quite perplexed “What should I do?” – “nothing. Just stand there.”  She backed away and then slowly began to approach me while humming the melody…. She knelt down – she was 79 years old! – and embraced my knees.
Of course I helped her up and saw that she been so moved by her husband’s art, that she had tears in her eyes.  My own eyes tear up just thinking about it.  This proved to me once again:  without Pauline, Richard would never have become the great man that he was!.
Manfred Mautner-Markhof, born on September 17, 1903 in Vienna.  Died on January 4, 1981 in Vienna.  He was an Austrian industrialist and well known patron of the arts
(Source: Richard Strauss-Pages, Vienna 1980)

Ludwig Thuille, Austrian Composer

Ludwig Thuille (born on November 30, 1861 in Bozen), maintained a close relationship with Richard Strauss as of 1877.  Both composers influenced each other mutually in their artistic development.  Professor Herbert Rosendorfer wrote a long text about the relationship between Strauss and Thuille that can he read and downloaded here.


Strauss, Thuille and “Taillefer”
Richard Strauss’ biographie: A long life torn between success and rebellion

Karl Böhm, Austrian Conductor

Karl Böhm met Richard Strauss while the former was the Director General of Music of the Semper Opera in Dresden.  The two remained friends and colleagues until Strauss’ death.  Strauss credited his “artistic legacy” to Böhm.
The conductor and opera director count as one of the most conscientious and devoted Strauss interpreters of the time.  “Since I attended the rehearsals of the “Rosenkavalier” in Graz as a young boy, I swore by the creations of R. Strauss” wrote Karl Böhm in a letter to Pauline as he received the news about the passing of “my idol”, “the last great master”.

First Encounter at the Premiere of “Arabella” in Hamburg

Böhm conducted his first Strauss work “An Alpine Symphony” in Graz shortly before the start of his appointment in Munich.  His path would lead him through Darmstadt to Hamburg, where he had his first personal encounter with the musician on the occasion of the premiere of “Arabella”.
Böhm became the successor of Fritz Busch (who was disliked by the Nazis) in 1933 as Director General of Music in Dresden.  It was there that he (like his indirect predecessor Ernst von Schuch who was also from Graz) was assigned Strauss premieres:  Böhm launched “The Silent Woman” in 1935 and “Daphne” in 1938.  In 1942 Karl Böhm was appointed State Opera Director for the first time.   The Richard Strauss Cycle, celebrating the 80 years of the great master in 1944, was the high point of his short time in office – right before the general closing of the theatres was announced.

Strauss credits his “artistic legacy” to Böhm

From the early 1930's, Strauss and Böhm kept up a friendly correspondence which continued throughout the War and beyond. In April 1945, Strauss spelled out his "Artistic Legacy" to Böhm in order to support the latter in his "great forthcoming cultural work" - namely, the reconstruction of the Austrian music scene. The conductor was in fact appointed head of the Vienna State Opera in 1955, but held this position only briefly.
Karl Böhm was a life-long friend.
Due to this direct contact, Böhm was the last legitimate Strauss conductor on the international opera and concert stage. He received wide recognition and in a sense justified the dedication written to him by Richard Strauss on the back of his photograph: "To my dear friend and successor..." Böhm's last work dealt with recordings of "Elektra" in June 1981.  He expressed his thanks to the singer Leonie Rysanek with the words: "Gratitude on behalf of R. Strauss and his successor on earth."
The Austrian conductor Karl Böhm was born on August 28, 1894 in Graz and died on August 14, 1981 in Salzburg. During the Nazi period, Böhm was General Manager of the Semper Opera in Dresden. His close relationship with Richard Strauss dates from this time; he was both his friend and the conductor at some of Strauss' premieres.

Hans von Bülow, German star-pianist, conductor and composer

The Wagner enthusiast Hans von Bülow, became Richard Strauss’ teacher in the 1880s and then eventually his mentor.  He not only was a practical influence on Strauss, but also had remarkable artistic influence on the young composer.
Franz Liszt and Richard Wagner were the influencing characters in the life of the internationally acclaimed pianist and conductor Hans von Bülow. He first met Wagner in 1846 and later became one of the biggest interpreters of Wagner’s works.  Bülow perfected his piano skills with Franz Liszt and eventually married the latter’s daughter Cosima in 1857.
In 1864, the year of Strauss’ birth, King Ludwig of Bavaria summoned Bülow to Munich as Kappellmeister where he was responsible for reforming the music schools.  Bülow also oversaw the premiere of Wagner’s "Tristan und Isolde" (1865) and "Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg" (The Master Singers of Nurenberg) (1868).

Cosima leaves Bülow because of Wagner

Despite Bülows admiration for Wagner, the latter showed no appreciation: Cosima separated from Bülow in 1869 to marry Richard Wager.  However the conductor Bülow continued to be an unswerving advocate of Wagner’s musical dramas.
As Richard Strauss would later point out, this made him a “fierce opponent” of Franz Strauss (Richard’s father).  Despite the strong antipathy towards Franz Strauss, Bülow took the young Richard Strauss under his wing, helped him work towards his conductor debut in 1884, and towards his first appointment in Meinigen in 1885.

“A turning point in my career”

Bülow remained a strong example and mentor for Strauss for the next ten years.  He recognised an “exceptional talent” in Strauss.  Strauss wrote about his mentor: “anyone who would hear him play Beethoven, or direct Wagner, or even listen to one of his orchestral rehearsals, would recognise the shining virtues of this artist.  His moving appreciation of my talent, and his influence on the development of my artistic qualities were really the turning point in my career.”
The young Richard is supported by the renowned Hans von Bülow.
Bülow’s way to work and some of his expressions made their mark on Strauss:  “first learn how to read the score of one of Beethoven’s symphonies and then you already have the interpretation”, or:  “the score in your head, and not your head in the score, that’s how it’s done…. Even if you have written it yourself!”.
Unfortunately Bülow was not able to witness his student’s rise to fame as the most influential German composer of his day. He died in February 1894 in Cairo.
Den Aufstieg des begabten Schützlings zum bedeutendsten deutschen Komponisten seiner Zeit hat Bülow nicht mehr erlebt: Er verstirbt im Februar 1894 in Kairo.
Hans Guido Baron von Bülow, born on January 8, 1830 in Dresden, and died on February 12, 1894 in Cairo.  He was an ardent admirer of Richard Wagner, from whom he learned the art of conducting.  From 1883, he became Richard Strauss’ piano teacher and would later also become his mentor.

Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Austrian Writer

Richard Strauss finds his congenial partner in the Austrian writer Hugo von Hofmannsthal.  In almost 25 years of working together, they achieved 10 large works which included   the well-known “Der Rosenkavalier” and also revolutionary pieces such as “Elektra”.
Strauss’ relationship with the Viennese writer, was one of the most significant and productive artistic friendships of all time.  This is documented in several letters that the artists wrote to one another.
 At the beginning of 1900 their first meeting would lead to nothing.  Their thought of a Ballet would never materialise.  However, when Strauss discovered the writer’s drama “Elektra” in 1906, he saw in it an ideal opera and begged Hofmannsthal to “give me the exclusive rights to your work.  Your vision and creativity are so similar to mine.  We are born for each other and will surely create such beautiful works together, if you stay true to me.”
Strauss received the exclusive rights despite the fact that the geniuses had very different personalities. The creative process with the increasingly demanding musician combined with the oversensitive writer, would not run smoothly.

10 exceptional works by the “Wonderteam”

In the 25 years of working together, Strauss and Hofmannsthal managed to create and produce ten exceptional works. (in brackets: year of completion/year of premiere):  "Elektra" (1908 / 1909), "Der Rosenkavalier" (1910 / 1911), "Ariadne on Naxos" (First version 1912), the Ballet "Josephs Legend" (1913 / 1914), "The Woman without a Shadow" (1916 / 1919), "Ariadne on Naxos" (second version: 1916), the comedy with dance " Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme" (1917 /1918), the Beethoven-arrangement "The Ruins of Athens", a Festspiel with a dance and choral ensemble (1924), "The Egyptian Helen" (1928) and the last opera "Arabella" (1932 / 1933), whose completion Hofmannsthal would never be able to witness.
Hugo von Hofmannsthal was “his” writer.

Taking on the Salzburg Festival

The two would work not only as creative geniuses together, but from 1919 they both become members of the Fine Art Council of the Salzburg Festival.  Hofmannsthal was also a significant campaigner for the position of Viennese director.
When Hofmannsthal suffered a heart attack on July 15, 1929, Strauss wrote a letter to his widow which expressed his deep sorrow and sadness:  “No musician has ever found such a helper and patron.  He is irreplaceable to me and to the world of music.”
Hugo von Hofmannsthal (full name: Hugo Laurenz August Hofmann, Edler von Hofmannsthal), was born on Februar 1, 1874 in Vienna.  He died on July 15, 1929 in Rodaun near Vienna.  He was an Austrian writer and co-founder of the Salzburg Festival.  He wrote mainly libretti and dramas including his known one “Jedermann” as well as   poems, stories and political scripts.
A wealth of works as a succession for the world

Maria Jeritza, internationally acclaimed Soprano

According to Richard Strauss, this Czech soprano was “the Primadonna of the Century” and performed in several main roles in the Strauss operas.  In addition, Strauss and Jeritza also had a personal relationship:  after the war, she and her husband would help Strauss out of his financial difficulties
In a humorous dedication (excerpt taken from a passage written in 1948), Strauss summarised what the “Primadonna of the Century” meant to him:  “The most beautiful woman in the world, / noble Empress, / all-powerful Princess, / Mari-adne, Mari-andl – / Maria Jeritza, the gracious…"
The first description needs no explanation.  The last description refers to Maria Jeritza who together with her husband at the time, Irving P. Seery,   helped Strauss solve his financial difficulties.  And the other descriptions refer to all the roles that Maria had played in Strauss’ works.

A Devoted Strauss-Interpreter

Maria played the role of “noble empress” in the premiere of “Woman without a Shadow” (1919); Mariandl is mentioned in the Rosenkavalier; it seems as if her role in Salome and Helene where she gained international fame, were forgotten by Strauss in this dedication written to her.  Jeritza was unfortunately not able to perform at the premiere of the “Egyptian Helen” in Dresden in 1928.  She would later take over the role in Vienna.
The artist created the roles of “Ariadne” twice:  at the Vienna premiere in 1916 and four years earlier at the premiere of “Ariadne” (first version) in Stuttgart.  Strauss discovered the young Czech artist (who at the time, performed with the stage name Mitzi Jedlicka) in Munich at a performance of Offenbach’s “The Beautiful Helena” directed by Max Reinhardt.  He immediately signed her and the director to perform in his new opera in 1912.

“Malven” was only performed after her death

The young singer’s career developed fabulously.  She was assigned to the Vienna Court Opera and aroused the interest of Puccini.  At the time of Richard Strauss’ appointment to office as Artistic Director of the Vienna State Opera in 1919, Jeritza was already a world star.
It was more than just appreciation – Jeritza felt a sense of affection and devotion to Strauss who dedicated the last Lied “Malven” to her in 1948.   “Der geliebten Maria diese letzte Rose” (to the beloved Maria, here is this last rose.” Jeritza treated the autographed manuscript as a private gift and did not let anyone see it until her death. "Mallow" had its premiere in New York in 1985.
Maria Jeritza, was born on October 6, 1887 as Marie Jedličková, and died on July 10, 1982 in Orange, New Jersey. She was an internationally acclaimed soprano.  The Emperor Franz Joseph I brought her to the Vienna State Opera and she later became a member of the Metropolitan Opera in New York.

Clemens Krauss, Austrian Conductor and Opera Director

Ever since Richard Strauss and Clemens Krauss first met at the Vienna Opera in the 1920s, Krauss would increasingly become an esteemed Strauss interpreter.  The intensity of their work together was most evident in the opera “Capriccio”, where Krauss had done the libretto.
It was at a performance of “Salome” in Graz, that the young Kapellmeister Krauss noticed the extraordinary work of Strauss.  In the beginning of the 1922 season, the director of the Vienna State Opera appointed the barely 30 year old Krauss to his theatre.  In 1929, it was thanks to the patronage of Richard Strauss, that Clemens Krauss (at the time director in Frankfurt) was brought back to the Vienna State Opera, but this time as director.
In 1935, Krauss moved to Berlin, in 1937 he became General Director in Munich, and in 1942 by appointment of the Reich Government, he was entrusted with the leadership of the Salzburg Festival as well as the Mozarteum.  During the post war years, the musician and brilliant organiser no longer received appointments to any Vienna directorship positions – a fact which offended him greatly.
He conducted four Strauss opera premieres: "Arabella" (1933), "Peace Day" (1938), "Capriccio" (1942) – all three with his wife Viorica Ursuleac – and "The Love of Danae" (1952). The latter work brought Krauss to the official dress rehearsal of the piece at the Salzburg Festival in 1944 (for which he was responsible).  It is there that the composer was also present.

The Highlight: Working together on „Capriccio”

Krauss was considered   one of the leading Strauss interpreters of the time.  His congenial musicality, and distinctive self-confidence, as well as his deep respect towards Richard Strauss makes it possible for him to develop as not only a “re-creator” but also in some cases as a consultant and colleague of the Maestro.  He even once referred to himself   jokingly as Strauss’ “dramatic advisor”.
Krauss made suggestions for the scenic design in “The Woman without a Shadow”.  He had remarkable influence on the Viennese version of “The Egyptian Helen” (1933) and his suggestions regarding "Arabella” und “Daphne” were well received by Strauss.  The highlight of their work together is without any doubt the maestro’s last opera “Capriccio”.
The question that is raised here as to the primacy of words or music is not only answered by the counter-question of the Countess ("To decide for one?"), but already by the musicality of the librettist and the language fluency skills of the composer.
Die darin gestellte Frage nach dem Primat von Wort oder Musik wird nicht erst durch die Gegenfrage der Gräfin ("Entscheiden für einen?") aufgelöst, sondern schon durch die Musikalität des Textdichters und die Sprachgewandtheit des Tonsetzers.
Clemens Krauss and Richard Strauss are also privately in contact.
Clemens Krauss, was born on March 31, 1893 in Vienna, and died on May 16, 1954 in Mexico City. He was an Austrian conductor and served as director of the Frankfurt Opera   and in the 1930s as director of the Vienna State Opera.  Due to a close relationship with the National Socialist Party, he was appointed General Music Director of the Bavarian state opera in Munich.  His dream to return to Vienna was not permitted.  From 1941 he directed the Salzburg Festival.  In 1945 he was banned from the profession.