He is known for the orchestral tone poems that fill his early years, a number of operas, many of which are still regularly performed, and lieder (songs).
Frequently heard tone poems include:
- Don Juan (1889)
- Tod und Verklärung (Death and Transfiguration) (1888–89)
- Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche (Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks (1895)
- Also sprach Zarathustra (1896) Its introduction was used in the opening scene of "2001, a Space Odyssey"
- Don Quixote (1898) (For cello and orchestra)
- Ein Heldenleben (A Hero's Life)(1899)
- Symphonia Domestica (Domestic Symphony), Op. 53 (1904)
- Eine Alpensinfonie (An Alpine Symphony), (1915) (His largest orchestral work - a musical interpretation of a day-trip up a mountain, beginning with a superb dawn).
His operas (many of which are famous vehicles for the female voice) include:
- Salome (1905) (from the play by Oscar Wilde)
- Elektra (1909
- Der Rosenkavalier, (The Knight of the Rose) (1910) (The closest he came to writing a "Viennese" style opera like his (unrelated) namesakes - waltz and all)
- Ariadne auf Naxos, (1912)
- Die Frau ohne Schatten, (The Woman without a Shadow) (1918)
- Intermezzo (1923)
- Arabella (1932)
- Capriccio (1941)
- "Morgan!" (Morning)
- "Zueignung" (Dedication)
- "Frühling", "September", "Beim Schlafengehen" and "Im Abendrot", which make up "Vier letzte Lieder", or "Four Last Songs".