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

Rimsky-Korsakov - The Flight of the Bumblebee

This short music piece of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov was originally written as an add-on for the opera "The Tale of Tsar Saltan". The opera was first presented in Moscow in 1900 with a libretto based on a story by the great Russian poet Pushkin. The "Flight of the Bumblebee" accompanies a scene where the main character - a prince - transforms into a bumblebee.

The unusual nature and pure descriptive qualities of this piece, inspired other musicians to make their own adaptations, usually for solo instruments. The popularity of this piece is in contrast to the rest of the almost forgotten opera music.

A quick descending scale on the piano begins this perfect miniature portrait (in the adaptation for the piano). The opening measures o f the play serve not only as an introduction, but also set the stage - we hear the piano's attempts to mimic the buzz.

From this point, the piano paints a vivid picture of the insect that its flying reminds, as much as no other, of the days of summer.

In the orchestral version, as the play evolves, the melody emerges and sinks and returns to itself, growing in intensity as it moves to the upper limits of the string spectrum. Eventually, the melody climbs to scale, before plunging into a gentle closing pizzicato chord.