The Four Last Songs. Music and Chaos.

A cadenza shrill and sharp

Pizzicato from the harp

Andante and legato

Swan song from the cello.


Clefs, chords and counterpoint

From fiery exposition to development

Magnificent muti-tonal orchestration

Tumultuous recapitulation.


Finally four last songs

Lamenting loss,  lyrical and forlorn

Musical maverick Strauss is gone

The garden mourns.


© Alison Jean Hankinson

This is for Real Toads, where the theme is Chaos. Bjorn talked of physics and mathematics, and it brought me round to music. Music is very mathematical and can be very precise and beauty and precision is borne from weaving together many delicate strands. It reminded me of two great twentieth-century composers who pushed music to its chaotic and mathematical limits. Alban Berg and Richard Strauss. Alban Berg’s Violin concerto is a masterpiece of mathematical precision, but  I opted for Richard Strauss’s Four Last Songs. The final line is from these and is the first line of September, written by Hermann Hesse.

These are my late September images…







Author: alisonhankinson

Walking tall whenever I can.

16 thoughts on “The Four Last Songs. Music and Chaos.”

  1. Music of the spheres: our precise imagining. our calculated yearning. It’s an added bonus for poets that the Srauss piece is sung — a human voice there, flinging wide into the chaos of the modern. I’m not deeply read in the history, but wasn’t Strauss of a fin-de-siecle temperament, waltzing wild toward the void? A chaos, held gorgeously together … anyway, great read.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There were 2 Strauss, this one was Richard Strauss, the waltzing one was Johann. Richard Strauss wrote magnificent huge operas, he fought hard to keep his daughter in law Alice and his grandchildren out of the concentration camps as they were Jewish.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yikes, apologies for the error – again, I’m lightly read – I just listened to a version with Jessye Norman and the Holocaust backdrop sure puts this at a frightening height.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow Alison! You are so right about music and you have expressed it so beautifully! I love:
    ‘Swan song from the cello’, one of my favourite instruments, which I think always sounds mournful – reminds me of Truly, Madly, Deeply, when Alan Rickman, as Jamie, plays Bach.

    Liked by 1 person

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