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

Handel - Israel in Egypt

Although the Messiah is Handel's most famous oratorio, this highly evocative work contains some of the composer's most dramatic moments. It was written in 1739 and recounts the path of a people of the Bible from failure to victory.

Handel was religious, but unlike his contemporary J.S.Bach, he addresses to the simple feelings of ordinary people rather than their particular spiritual pursuits.

Since its premiere in 1739, "Israel in Egypt" has been a contradictory oratorio. The work is not only a scandalous example of Handel's tendency to "borrow" from other composers (his choral "Egypt was glad" comes from a work for organ by Johann Kerl), but it also had a great failure in Handel's time.

The work consists of two parts: The first is a mournful sequence from another oratorium, Saul. In the second part, the story of Exodus - based on Bible texts - includes some of Handel's most impressive choral parts. The large number of choruses, however, as well as the few parts for solo voice, made the oratorio unpopular at the time of its appearance.

Bringing the drama to life

But what makes the play stand out from most of Handel's contemporary is his ability to bring dramatic scenes to life through music. Unlike operas, the oratories have no plot, costumes or elaborate sets, so the music itself must create vivid dramatic images that will make the stories unforgettable.

In Israel in Egypt, the scourge of frogs and flies is represented by parts of brilliant orchestral writing. Flies bomb through sections for oboe and violin, while music for cellos, bassoons and harpsichords re-create the scourge of frogs. When the Red Sea is divided, moments of triumph are coordinated with drums and trumpets.

The final part of the play recounts how the waves swallowed the Egyptians. A solo voice of a high-rise contrasts with the last chorus, recounting how a horse and its rider disappeared into the sea. The voices of two choirs, four soloists and the entire orchestra interpret with increasing intensity the majestic celebration of the salvation of the Israelites from God.

The play finally gained the public's favor in the 19th century, when Handel's oratories became a feature of the English music scene. The work is often interpreted today by choirs, who treat it as a valuable and enjoyable experience.