Enoch Arden (Strauss)

Enoch Arden, Op. 38, TrV. 181, is a melodrama for narrator and piano, written in 1897 by Richard Strauss setting a German translation of the 1864 poem of the same name by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

Enoch Arden
Melodrama by Richard Strauss
George Goodwin Kilburne Enoch Arden.jpg
"Enoch Arden" (watercolour painting by George Goodwin Kilburne
CatalogueTrV 181
TextAdolf Strodtmann (1829–1879), after Alfred Tennyson's Enoch Arden
ComposedFebruary 1897
DedicationErnst von Possart
ScoringSpoken voice and piano


Richard Strauss wrote Enoch Arden for the actor Ernst von Possart, who in 1896 had assisted him in obtaining the post of Chief Conductor at the Bavarian State Opera. He wrote it while engaged in composing Don Quixote[1] and finished it in February 1897.[1] Strauss and Possart toured together widely with the melodrama, in a German translation by Adolf Strodtmann.[2][3][1]

It was well received by audiences and Strauss's reputation was enhanced more by it than by his symphonic poems.[4] The following year Strauss capitalised on its success by writing Das Schloss am Meere (The Castle by the Sea) to words by Ludwig Uhland.[5]

The work has been described as falling within the genre of incidental music. It consists mainly of brief interludes indicative of changes of time and setting, as well as moments of punctuation and commentary. Each of the two parts is introduced by a prelude and concludes with a postlude.[1] Strauss uses leitmotifs to identify each of the characters: Enoch Arden (a chordal sequence in E flat), Annie Lee (a rising figure in G), Philip Ray (a melody in E),[6] the sea (G minor).[7] He does not develop these into melodies as such, but uses them statically.[3][1] There are long passages where the piano is silent.[1]

Because of the sparse nature of the music, performances of Enoch Arden are largely dependent on the speaker rather than the pianist.[3] Criticisms of the piece as a musical work per se do not do it justice, as it was never intended to be primarily a piece of music but a dramatic presentation with musical accompaniment.

Enoch Arden was popular in its day, but slipped into obscurity when fashions changed and recitations, declamations and melodramas came to be considered passé. In recent years the work has attracted some notable names in both the speaker's role, including Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Jon Vickers, Michael York, Claude Rains, Benjamin Luxon, Patrick Stewart and Gwyneth Jones, and the pianist's role, including Glenn Gould, Jörg Demus, Stephen Hough, Emanuel Ax, and Marc-André Hamelin.


The English opera singer Richard Temple performed the work various times in the early 20th century, including at Steinway Hall in New York.

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau presented the work in German a number of times from 1993.[8] He also recorded the work twice, in the mid-1960s[8] and again in 2003.[9][10]

Michael York has performed the work in English a number of times in Europe and the United States, with different pianists.[11][1]

Conductor Emil de Cou arranged a version for chamber orchestra and narrator. This was performed with the Virginia Chamber Orchestra and actor Gary Sloan in 2010.[12]

The British actor Andrew Sachs (best known for his role as Manuel in Fawlty Towers) and the Australian pianist Victor Sangiorgio have toured with a two-man show called "Life after Fawlty", which included Strauss's Enoch Arden.[13][14]


Enoch Arden was probably first recorded by Erik Rhodes and Gordon Manley sometime in the 1950s. Later Claude Rains and Glenn Gould made the first successful recording in 1962. This was nominated for the 1963 Grammy Awards in the category of Best Documentary or Spoken Word Recording (Other than Comedy).[15]

Later recordings include:

External linksEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f g La Jolla Music Society
  2. ^ Music Web International
  3. ^ a b c Answers.com
  4. ^ "Michael Ducarel". Archived from the original on 2012-03-16. Retrieved 2010-12-11.
  5. ^ James Pritchett: Richard Strauss: Melodramas
  6. ^ Audiophile Audition
  7. ^ Audiophile Audition
  8. ^ a b c mwolf
  9. ^ a b ArkivMusik
  10. ^ a b The Guardian, 1 July 2005
  11. ^ a b c The Victorian Web: Richard Strauss’s Enoch Arden
  12. ^ "Emil de Cou conducts dramatic 'Enoch Arden' by Virginia Chamber Orchestra". Washingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2022-06-11.
  13. ^ "LyndaRonan Personal Management". Archived from the original on 2013-01-26. Retrieved 2012-06-26.
  14. ^ Thornbury Arts Festival 2001 Archived October 17, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ https://www.grammy.com/grammys/artists/claude-rains/17270[bare URL]
  16. ^ John Buttrick
  17. ^ [Music Heritage MHS 912077W]
  18. ^ ArkivMusik
  19. ^ All Music
  20. ^ VAI Audio
  21. ^ ArkivMusik
  22. ^ ArkivMusik
  23. ^ "Frederick Moyer, Pianist". Archived from the original on 2011-07-11. Retrieved 2010-12-11.
  24. ^ Pietro De Luigi
  25. ^ TwoPianists Records, Set TP1039312, CD 4