An Alpine Symphony (Eine Alpensinfonie), Op. 64, is a tone poem written by German composer Richard Strauss in 1915.
Though labelled as a symphony by the composer, this piece forgoes the conventions of the traditional multi-movement symphony and consists of twenty-two continuous sections of music.
The story of An Alpine Symphony depicts the experiences of eleven hours (from daybreak just before dawn to the following nightfall) spent climbing an Alpine mountain. An Alpine Symphony is one of Strauss’s largest non-operatic works in terms of performing forces: the score calls for about 125 players in total. A typical performance usually lasts around 50 minutes.
This piece was the last tone poem written by Strauss, a genre which gained the composer popularity in the late 1880s and 1890s with works such as Don Juan (1888), Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks (1895), Also Sprach Zarathustra(1896), Don Quixote (1897), and A Hero’s Life (1897–98). By the time of An Alpine Symphony’s composition, however, Strauss had turned his attention away from the genre of tone poems and had become well-established as one of the period’s greatest operatic composers.