With a well-earned reputation as a composer and conductor, Strauss raised the expressiveness of the tone poem to new heights. Among his first works in this genre were Aus Italien, Macbeth, Don Juan, and Tod und Verklärung. In 1895, Strauss premiered his witty Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche, “a masterpiece on every level, as a programmatic description of the rogue’s pranks in detail, as a generalized portrait of a scamp, or as an example of musical humour,” (The New Grove Dictionary). Followed by the tone poem Don Quixote, Strauss, after 1900, turned to opera, producing such enduring works as Ariadne auf Naxos, Salome, Elektra and Der Rosenkavalier.
Strauss playing cards
Our letter is written from his villa in Garmisch which Strauss built with the proceeds of his successful work Salome and mentions Skat, Germany’s “official” card game and a favorite of Strauss. “Strauss’ passion for Skat had a serious underlying cause. He once confessed that there was not a moment in the day when he was not thinking of music in some way or another. He was almost tormented by it. Playing Skat was the only time he escaped from music. The need only increased as he grew older,” (Richard Strauss: Man, Musician, Enigma, Kennedy).
The proprietor of a large clothing store in Berlin, Levin was a patron of the arts and hosted a musical salon frequented by Max Reinhardt, Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Strauss and others.
Written on a correspondence card. Scattered foxing and staining. The ink postmark on the verso has ever so slightly bled through to be barely visible on the recto; in fine condition.