It is an iconic image from the first minute of a modern cinematic masterpiece—watching the sun rise over another celestial body in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. A huge part of what creates the dramatic feeling of witnessing the dawning of time is the unforgettable music that accompanies it: those blasting triumphant horns augmented by the metronomic timpani in Richard Strauss’s Also Sprach Zarathustra.
Strauss (pictured) was heavily influenced by Friedrich Nietzsche’s Thus Spake Zarathustra: A Book for All and None when composing his tone poem Also Sprach Zarathustra. He intended his composition to be a piece of artistic exploration that would complement that philosophical masterpiece, as opposed to a musical retelling of the work. In fact, it was Strauss’ design to begin the music with the very dawning of existence, taking the audience on an adventure across space and time up to Nietzsche’s concept of the human “Superman.” Clearly, none of this philosophical and musical interplay was lost on Kubrick.
Just as Also Sprach Zarathustra has been indelibly burned into minds thanks to its association with 2001: A Space Odyssey, another piece on this weekend’s Utah Symphony program also will be familiar to the modern cinematic ear. On The Beautiful Blue Danube—written by Johann “The Waltz King” Strauss II—was notably featured in 2001 as a backing score to the delicate docking dance of spacecraft to space station. Erich Korngold’s musical interpretation of William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing is also featured, and should pair nicely with Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 3 in G Major.