The desire to play Ein Heldenleben on the piano is somewhat strange. Indeed, the intention to expand yourself up to the power of 120 people, performing together, may seem to be too…daring, narcissistic, or even self-destructive. And there is not enough explanation for the so obvious question of “why bother?”, unless you instantly start listening to the piece.
A life model, Ein Heldenleben is an example everyone would hope to be able to associate him- or herself with. It is something which attracts you with its radiance, closely related to real life. With an endless love for life, with all stages of existence a human being would go through, with its battles, passions, enemies, possessions, creations and an understanding that one day all of this ends. And how! In a sense, this piece is a musical representation of a life ideal.
With Ein Heldenleben Richard Strauss follows a mystical thread that connects the most moving and glorious works of music ever written. Mozart’s Magic Flute Overture, Beethoven’s “Eroica” and Emperor Concerto, Mahler’s 8th Symphony, Bruckner’s 4th and Scherzo from 8th, Sibelius’ 5th Symphony, etc… All of these works are shining with the piercing and elevating key of E flat major – a key that speaks to you as if the heavens are opening in front of you in all their glory, acceptance and transfiguration. Ein Heldenleben is an amplified version of all of that. It blows your mind away, it captures your spirit and keeps it in a place where you are the center of the Universe. And that makes it irresistible.