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

Ravel - Le Tombeau de Couperin

Ravel has been an expert in combination of new and old musical forms. In "Le Tombeau de Couperin" he perfects his technique for extremely personal reasons.

Maurice Ravel drew inspiration from the music of the past and from his childhood hearings. In Le Tombeau de Couperin (The Tomb of Couperin), he uses his talent to express his personal despair at the loss of many of his close friends during the Great War of 1914-18.

The composer had personally experienced the horrors of life in the trenches and realized that war had permanently changed the face of the world. In Le Tombeau de Couperin, which he composed between 1914-17, he returns to the happy moments of a permanently lost past.

The title refers honorably to the death of the French composer François Couperin (1668-1733), although Ravel clarified that the work was more of a general expression of respect for 18th-century French music. Some parts of the six-part work - each dedicated to a friend killed in the war - are written in the characteristic, polite style of the 18th century. In the orchestral variation, Ravel introduces a musette - a variation of the 18th-century ascaulus - into the project's Menuet, to enhance plausibility.

Cover of the first printed edition 
designed by Ravel himself
Looking to the future 

Le Tombeau de Couperin is not, however, a lament for the lost past. Several of the six parts of the project are vivid and looking to the future. In particular, Prelude and Menuet bring old dance forms to life, while the third, Forlane, is serene and bold.

The play, originally written for piano, was orchestrated by Ravel in 1919. The orchestral variation reinforces the emotions of the original work, with tender and moving dialogues between strings and wooden pnests.

Ravel himself described The Tomb of Couperin as a memorial for all the French lost in the Great War.