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Richard Strauss

Richard Strauss

Till Eulenspiegel-Einmal Anders! (arr. Hasenöhrl)

After a musical upbringing shaped by his father’s conservative tastes, a whole new world opened up for Richard Strauss when he began working as the conducting assistant to Hans von Bülow at the Meiningen Court Orchestra in 1885. Guided by his new friend Alexander Ritter, a violinist in the orchestra (and nephew-in-law of Wagner), Strauss devoured the music of Wagner and Liszt. Ritter encouraged Strauss to try writing a “symphonic poem,” to use Liszt’s term for a programmatic orchestral work in a single movement, and Strauss ended up writing four such works between 1886 and 1889.

After a hiatus, Strauss returned in 1894 to the genre that he preferred to call Tondichtung, or “tone poem.” His next subject was Till Eulenspiegel, a trickster character from German folklore. Strauss did not follow a strict program outline when he composed Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks, but he did point to certain vignettes from the folklore, including Till riding through the market and tipping over the carts, Till flirting with the ladies and Till impersonating a priest.

The most explicit character in the tone poem is the trickster himself, represented by a jocular horn theme. Another recurring motive, introduced by the clarinet, suggests Till’s peals of laughter as various pranks ensue. These instrumental characterizations remain intact in the abbreviated quintet arrangement created in 1954 by the Viennese composer Franz Hasenöhrl (1885–1970), who gave his version a suitably silly title that translates as Till Eulenspiegel – Differently, for once!

Aaron Grad ©2018

Amy Beach

Amy Beach

Theme and Variations for Flute and String Quartet

Antonín Dvořák

Antonín Dvořák

Quintet for Two Violins, Two Violas, and Cello, American

About This Program

Approximate length 2:00

Fans of chamber music will delight in this concert featuring three quintets of winds and strings alike. Franz Hasenöhrl's arrangement of Richard Strauss’ immensely popular tone poem Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks cleverly distills the large-scale orchestral work to its essence. The work is based on medieval German folk tales about a practical joker whose exploits range from pranks in the marketplace to revenge on upper-class society. A paragon of the American Romantic style, Amy Beach's Theme and Variations uses the melody of her earlier written song An Indian Lullaby. Closing out the program is Antonín Dvořák’s American Quintet, written during his summer in Spillville Iowa.