A friend had an extra ticket to Renee Fleming’s opening with the Utah Symphony tonight, so I get to see her live for the first time! Richard Strauss’ Four Last Songs are on the program, some of my absolute favorites. Here’s “September” from the cycle:

September (Hermann Hesse)

The garden mourns.
The flowers fill with cold rain.
Summer shivers
in the chill of its dying domain.

Yet summer smiles, enraptured
by the garden’s dreamy aphasia
as gold, drop by drop, falls
from the tall acacia.

With a final glance at the roses–
too weak to care, it longs for peace–
then, with darkness wherever it gazes,
summer slips into sleep.

(Translation via )

In college, the professor focused more on how these were Strauss’ swan song, finished when he was 85–but Strauss was 68 when Hitler came to power; he lived through the war and political maneuvering.  You can hear so much relief in the music that it’s all over.