Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Chadwick Jenkins

Committee Members

Janette Tilley

John Graziano

Scott Burnham

Subject Categories



identity, German American, opera, Richard Strauss, New York City


New York City at the beginning of the twentieth century was growing into its status as one of the world’s great cultural centers. At the same time, across the Atlantic, Richard Strauss was emerging as Germany’s preeminent composer. The city and Strauss, although seemingly unrelated, were more intertwined than it would at first appear. This study examines this connection through a reception history of Strauss’s Salome, Elektra, and Der Rosenkavalier in the city, beginning in 1907 with the New York City premiere of Salome and concluding in 1934 when the opera returned to the Metropolitan’s stage. The reception of Strauss in the city provides a unique vantage point to observe the critical reactions to Strauss by his contemporaries. Removed from Europe, New York City’s critics occupied an important distance from their European compatriots, which provided them with a distinct perspective. Along the way, I also utilize the music of Germany’s most prominent opera composer to examine the German American community, who used music to foster a sense of communal identity. This study focuses on opera, rather than the popular theater, to explore both internal and external attitudes towards German Americans as a cultural and ethnic group. My ultimate goal is threefold: to examine an important moment in New York City’s cultural history, to shine light on an immigrant community that was critical in the formation of the city’s cultural, social, and political identity, yet has now been largely forgotten, and to consider the contemporary attitudes towards a significant twentieth-century musical figure.

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Musicology Commons