Johann Straus II - Vergnügungszug (Pleasure Train), op. 281

Johann Strauss II , known for his waltzes and lively compositions, had a unique approach to his creative process. He consistently sought contemporary and relevant themes to serve as the driving force behind his new musical compositions. This approach ensured that his work remained fresh and connected with the audiences of his time.  One notable instance of this creative approach was the composition of this polka, composed in 1864. This piece of music was specifically crafted for a summer concert held in the picturesque Russian town of Pavlovsk. It's fascinating to note that Strauss drew inspiration for this composition from the world around him. In this case, he found it in the emerging technology of the time, namely, the steam locomotive. The composition itself is a testament to Strauss's ability to capture the essence and energy of the subject matter. The rhythm of this dance piece mirrors the rhythmic chugging and movements of the old-fashioned steam trains that were prevale

Hector Berlioz - Les Francs-juges ("The Free Judges" or "The Judges of the Secret Court"), op. 3

Berlioz excruciatingly edited his operas to be accepted by the Paris audience.

Berlioz's music is primarily an expression of emotions, often at the expense of the "classical" form. He wanted his audience to experience the emotions he felt when he composed his works, rather than being impressed by the craftsmanship of his style. The result is an incredible and unique freedom of expression.

Les Francs-juges (translated as "The Free Judges" or "The Judges of the Secret Court") wanted it to be his greatest work. Berlioz began composing it when he was just 23 years old and spent many years of preparing it, constantly reviewing it to be accepted in the Paris operas. In the end, by accepting being defeated, he has fragmented his work. The introduction is the most extensive part of what's left.

The introduction does not lag behind in imposing or youthful momentum from the origina. He retains the eerie power of the terrible story of hero Lenor and his corrupt uncle, who plans to steal his throne and his beloved Amelie. Lenor is summoned to the undercover judges to hear his conviction, but is saved at the right time by the faithful Amelie accompanied by a group of trusted warriors.

Agony and premonition

Berlioz successfully conveys a sense of awe in the opening stages, as the slow rythm pace produces an atmosphere of suspense and emotion. The music creates an extremely convincing picture of the scoured judges preparing to deliver their harsh verdict.

The play is an exquisite example of Berlioz's psychosis with complex orchestrations. It combines a range of different melodies and rhythmic shapes to instantly create a set of emotions. A light, fast pace, for example, fools the listener that Lenor is safe, while sharp, menacing notes and otherworldly trombones interrupt creating tension.

For the dramatic intensity in his intrumental compositions, Berlioz is not hapless about the fascination that the opera exerted on him. In most of his music, as here, he uses the repetition of rhythms and small themes to present specific characters of feelings - a popular invention of 19th century opera - and it is the conflict between them that gives life to his music.