In February 1935, Austrian Stefan Zweig (1881-1942), commonly regarded as the most translated German language author of his time, wrote to German composer Richard Strauss (1864-1949), “One day, your letters, your decisions, will belong to all mankind.” (Richard Strauss and Stefan Zweig, A confidential matter: the letters of Richard Strauss and Stefan Zweig, 1935-1935, trans. Max Knight. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1977, 67.) Having recently completed the libretto for Strauss’s opera “Die schweigsame Frau”, this solemn admonition was a response to Strauss’s suggestion that, due to political developments, the two might do well to continue their artistic collaborations in secret. Aware of the impending jeopardy in which his association with Zweig – a Jewish writer with a now-dangerously high profile – was sure to place him, Strauss …
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