When: Thu., Sept. 25, 8 p.m., Fri., Sept. 26, 6:30 p.m. and Sun., Sept. 28, 2 p.m. 2014
Few works from the early modernist classical repertoire are as ingrained in pop culture as Richard Strauss’ 1896 tone poem Also sprach Zarathustra, which Stanley Kubrick wisely placed in the opening sequence of his 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey. Strauss’ piece takes its name from Friedrich Nietzsche’s novel of the same name. Beyond its familiar introduction theme — which is thought to represent the creation of what Nietzsche dubbed the Übermensch — each of the half-hour piece’s nine sections speak thrillingly in conversation with aspects of the book’s philosophic inquiry. The San Francisco Symphony, under the guidance of longtime director Michael Tilson Thomas, presents Also sprach Zarathustra at Davies Symphony Hall (201 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco) alongside two other works featured in 2001: Lux Aeterna, György Ligeti’s composition for sixteen singers, and Johann Strauss’ waltz By the Beautiful Blue Danube. Also included in the program are short works by the composers Charles Ives and Lukas Foss.