“Tod und Verklärung” (Death and Transfiguration), Op. 24, is a tone poem for large orchestra by Richard Strauss. Strauss began composition in the late summer of 1888 and completed the work on November 18, 1889. The work is dedicated to the composer’s friend Friedrich Rosch.
Unusual for a composer of 25 years of age, the music depicts the death of an artist. At Strauss’s request, this was described in a poem by the composer’s friend Alexander Ritter as an interpretation of Death and Transfiguration, after it was composed. As the man lies dying, thoughts of his life pass through his head: his childhood innocence, the struggles of his manhood, the attainment of his worldly goals; and at the end, he receives the longed-for transfiguration “from the infinite reaches of heaven”.
There are four parts (with Ritter’s poetic thoughts condensed):
1. Largo (The sick man, near death)
2. Allegro molto agitato (The battle between life and death offers no respite to the man)
3. Meno mosso (The dying man’s life passes before him)
4. Moderato (The sought-after transfiguration)