Death of Christian Strauss, the composer’s Jewish grandson

Dr Christian Strauss, grandson of Richard Strauss, died on February 7 at the age of 87. He was former head of gynaecology and obstetrics at the Garmisch-Partenkirchen hospital in Bavaria.

His mother, Alice, was Jewish. His grandmother, Paula Neumann, was sent to the Theresienstadt concentration camp, where she died.


Dr Christian Strauss once told an Israeli official that he was entitled to citizenship, if he requested it.



Christian Strauss with Christa Ludwig at Strauss Festival in Garmisch


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  • Somebody was hedging his bets!

    On the other hand, the founder of the whole thing could be said to be both Christian and Jewish…

  • Certainly his mother was Jewish, but was he a practicing Jew or did he identify as Jewish?

    Merely stating he could have claimed Israeli citizenship if he had wanted to is hardly a clear declaration of one’s religious faith. And Alice and Franz did name him Christian after all! [Itself perhaps a rather odd choice given his grandfather Richard’s antipathy to Christianity and religious belief in general – something covered in detail in Charles Youman’s interesting book, “Mahler and Strauss: In Dialogue” – and which was a point of contention between Strauss and Mahler].

    • People with one Jewish parent are only half-Jewish. If it is the father, it is the right half; is it the mother, then the left half.

      Comparable identity combinations result from, for instance, parents of different world views. The well-known British poet [redacted] had a devout Christian mother but a father who was a convinced Darwinian. He ended up, to his bitter regret, with an upper half stemming from Adam but a lower half descending from the apes.

    • It is of historical relevance in the light of grandfather Richard’s intermezzo as president of the Reichsmusikkammer.

      “Strauss’s motivations in accepting the post were largely to protect his Jewish daughter-in-law and Jewish grandchildren, and to preserve and conduct the music of banned composers like Mahler, Debussy, and Mendelssohn.”

  • There’s a surprising clip of Richard Strauss playing Eric Satie (one of those exquisite, and forwards looking “pièces Froides”) in the documentary on Salzburg festival. I’m surprised it’s not better circulated. Very deadpan in delivery and most apposite.

  • If Christian Strauss was born in 1932 or 1933 then his parents may have called him”Christian” to try to protect him against antisemitism in Germany. People would be less likely to assume that he was Jewish.

    Things like that as well as things like Jews wearing crosses to protect themselves were common in Europe in that era–anything was done that might help lessen one’s persecution and later increase one’s chances of survival.

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