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Name of Work

Strauss, Richard (1864-1949)
Till Eulenspiegel - Einmal Anders (Another Way), Op.28 (2007)

Till Eulenspiegel - Einmal Anders


Nov 18, 2007

Larry Combs, Clarinet
Dennis Michel, Bassoon
Gail Williams, Horn
Jasmine Lin, Violin
Peter Lloyd, Double bass

Nov 19, 2007

Larry Combs, Clarinet
Dennis Michel, Bassoon
Gail Williams, Horn
Jasmine Lin, Violin
Peter Lloyd, Double bass

STRAUSS-Till Eulenspiegel -- Einmal Anders, Op. 28

"Arranged as a Frolic" by Franz Hasenöhrl (1885-1970)

Composed in 1894-1895; arranged in 1954.

Orchestral version premiered on November 5, 1895 in Cologne, conducted by Franz Wüllner.

Till Eulenspiegel was a well-known character of German folklore, a "rude mechanical" born in Brunswick in 1283, according to the account of 1515 by a Franciscan monk, Thomas Murner. So popular were the tales of Till that they were soon translated into a half dozen languages, including English, and fully twenty editions of his adventures had been published in French by the beginning of the 18th century. New York Philharmonic program annotator Olin Downes wrote of this impish character, "Till, they say, was a wandering mechanic who lived by his wits, turning up in every town and city. He made himself out to be whatever the situation required -- butcher, baker, wheelwright, joiner, monk, or learned metaphysician. He was a lord of misrule, a liar and villain, whose joy it was to plague honest folk and play foul jests upon them. He pillaged the rich, but often helped the poor.... For Till is freedom and fantasy; his is the gallant, mocking warfare of the One against the Many and the tyranny of accepted things. He is Puck and Rabelais, and [he inspired] quicksilver in Strauss' music."

The performance of an opera based on the Till legends by the forgotten Wagnerite Cyrill Kistler in Würzburg in 1889 first piqued Richard Strauss' interest in the subject. Strauss began sketching a libretto for a projected opera about Till by June 1893, but his lack of talent at poetry and the failure of his first opera, Guntram, the following May discouraged him from further work on the plan. When he returned to the subject several months later, the opera had become a tone poem. The work scored an immediate triumph at its premiere, and was soon being performed around the world.

"Eulenspiegel" in German means "owl-mirror," and it is generally agreed that the name of this legendary rascal, who both embodies and exploits human foibles, alludes to a German proverb: "Man sees his own faults as little as an owl recognizes his ugliness by looking into a mirror."

When asked to elucidate his music, Strauss wrote to Franz Wüllner, the conductor of the premiere, "By way of helping listeners to a better understanding, it seems sufficient to point out the two Eulenspiegel motives, which, in the most manifold disguises, moods, and situations, pervade the whole up to the catastrophe, when, after he has been condemned to death, Till is strung up to the gibbet."

The two motives that Strauss mentioned occur immediately at the beginning of the work -- the "once upon a time" phrase played at the violin and the bounding horn theme. Strauss, a master of thematic manipulation, spun most of the melodic threads of his tone poem from these two ideas.

In 1954, the Austrian composer Franz Hasenöhrl published a greatly truncated chamber version of Strauss' tone poem, "a frolic" he called it, for violin, clarinet, horn, bassoon and double bass as Till Eulenspiegel -- Einmal Anders ("Another Way"). Hasenöhrl studied composition at the Vienna Conservatory with Robert Fuchs and musicology with Guido Adler, who supervised his doctoral dissertation on the piano works of Carl Czerny. Hasenöhrl taught at the Conservatory from 1938 until 1959.

His original compositions include three symphonies, concertos for piano, violin and viola, chamber, piano and choral works, and songs. Strauss himself, incidentally, may well have been pleased with Hasenöhrl's pint-sized version of his tone poem, since he was notorious for rushing through performances when he had a train to catch or a game of whist with the stagehands waiting to be finished.

Program Notes written by Dr. Richard E. Rodda

Performance date: November 18 & 19, 2007

Performance Audio