Ein Heldenleben is structured as one continuous through-composed movement, though Strauss originally conceived the work’s six sections as having their own individual titles. These were never intended to be published, though this has continued to happen, so with the humblest of apologies to Strauss we list these ‘secret’ titles.
The Hero: a musical self-portrait.
The Hero’s Adversaries: Strauss’ portrayal of his enemies, mainly the music critics! The Hero’s Courtship: a portrait of the Hero’s beloved, led by a solo violin.
The Hero’s Battlefield: introduced by trumpet fanfares, the Hero and his beloved do battle with his enemies.
The Hero’s Works of Peace: we hear excerpts from Strauss’ other tone poems.
Finally the piece comes to a close with The Hero’s Retreat from the World and Fulfillment.