Born in Munich into a family of musicians, Richard Strauss (1864–1949) began his musical studies at the age of four, began composition studies aged 11 and in 1883 became a protégé of the conductor Hans von Bülow, who encouraged him to study the music of Wagner. Strauss’s early masterpieces include several orchestral tone poems and many songs. Around the end of the 19th century, Strauss turned his attention to opera.
The libretto for Rosenkavalier is by Viennese author and poet Hugo von Hofmannsthal (1874–1929), with whom Strauss collaborated over the course of 20 years in one of the most remarkable partnerships in the history of opera. Hofmannsthal was a sophisticated dramatist, part of the astonishing Viennese intellectual scene of the time, along with Sigmund Freud, Joseph Roth, and Stefan Zweig. Inspiration for the libretto came from novel Les amours du chevalier de Faublas by Louvet de Couvrai and Molière's comedy Monsieur de Pourceaugnac.