RICHARD STRAUSS (1864-1949)
DON QUIXOTE, OP. 35
Duration: ca: 42 minutes
If Richard Strauss written an autobiography, he
might have called it My Brilliant Career. He was,
after all, an enormous talent (with an ego to
match) whose sensuous – and often bombastic
– storytelling symphonies and operatic shockers
commanded the stages of Europe for three decades.
He continued the legacy of Franz Liszt by taking the
tone poem to new heights, and made quite a racket
along the way. You don’t need to be inside a concert
hall to enjoy Strauss; his music can be heard a mile
After the success of Don Juan in 1889, Strauss was
crowned the heir to Wagner, and from then on was
more or less unstoppable, giving us Death and
Transfiguration, Der Rosenkavalier, A Hero’s Life, Till
Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks, Salome, Symphonia
Domestica, Elektra, Don Quixote, and Thus Spoke
Zarathustra – the opening theme immortalized in
the 1968 movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. By the 1920s,
Strauss was not only the most famous composer
alive, but the wealthiest.
Don Quixote is based on the famed novel by Miguel
de Cervantes and subtitled Fantastic Variations
on a Theme of Knightly Character, and features
extensive solos for cello, viola and clarinet. It’s also
an ambiguous form in being a musical narrative
of Cervantes’ tale, a theme and variations, and a
concerto. Here, Strauss breaks from traditional
sonata form and casts his music as a set of 10
parts that depict the adventures of the two main
characters, Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. (Note
that this work and Beethoven’s Eroica, also on
tonight’s program, both contain 10 variations on a
Here’s a summary of each episode – which range
from comic to symbolic – following the introduction
and Knightly Character theme:
I. Inspired by Dulcinea, the object of Don Quixote’s
affection, the main character and his sidekick,
THE FLORIDA OR 48 CHESTRA | 2019-2020
Sancho Panza, set off on a journey of heroic virtue.
They battle a field of windmills, which Quixote
believes are evil giants.
II. Quixote faces another adversary, this time a flock
of sheep, (descriptively portrayed by bleating brass).
III. Quixote and Panza discuss the merits of being
IV. The two draw swords against a group pilgrims
carrying a statue of the Madonna, which Quixote
believes are thugs kidnapping a maiden.
V. Quixote dreams of Dulcinea.
VI. Panza presents a peasant girl to Quixote as his
own version of Dulcinea, but Quixote offends her.
VII. The duo flies through the air on their spirited
horses, complete with the sound of a wind machine.
VIII. Both nearly drown when their boat goes over
IX. Quixote, again confused, mistakes a pair of
priests for magicians
X. A compassionate friend challenges Quixote to a
jousting match under the condition he give up his
folly and return home.
Epilogue. Exhausted from his journey, Quixote dies,
ending his madness in exchange for peace, with the
solo cello echoing his last breath.
LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
SYMPHONY NO. 3, EROICA (retouched by
Duration: ca: 50 minutes
Why would anyone tamper with the score of
Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 and expect a better
result? Somebody did, and what you’re about to
hear is a rare performance of this famous symphony
in, well, Gustav Mahler’s clothes.
Mahler – the brilliant conductor and composer who
died in 1911 in Vienna – believed Beethoven could
use a little help from a friend, so he “retouched’’
the Third, Fifth, Seven and Ninth symphonies and the
Coriolan Overture. But for what reason? Haven’tJH
these magnificent creations stood the test of time?
That’s part of Mahler’s logic – time. From the early
19th century when Beethoven composed these