Richard Strauss is considered one of the pioneers of late German Romanticism, whose music combines detailed, large-scale orchestration with an advanced harmonic style. Born in Munich in 1864, Strauss composed his first works at the age of six, and went on to study at the University of Munich. Strauss first achieved critical acclaim with his 1888 tone poem Don Juan, and continued to be successful with a number of his other tone poems such as Death and Transfiguration, Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks, Also sprach Zarathustra, Don Quixote, Ein Heldenleben, Symphonia Domestica, and An Alpine Symphony. His first successful opera, Salome, premiered in 1905 to shocked audiences, but soon became a staple of the genre, and was followed by a number of further opera successes by Strauss.
Strauss’s compositions cover a broad number of genres, and his output over the course of his lifetime covers a huge range of styles. A number of his operatic works such as Salome and Elektra have been praised for their modernism, yet many other of his compositions are in a pastiche style and reminiscent of an earlier era. Some have criticised Strauss for his appointment as Reichsmusikkammer by the Nazi Party, though it is speculated that he accpeted this position so as to save the lives of many of his close family members, who were Jewish. Strauss composed many of his greatest works in the last few years of his life, and died at the age of 88.