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

Chopin - Introduction

Painting of Chopin's portait

In Aleksander Ford's film "Youth of Chopin" the protagonist embodied a young man with an elaborate appearance, whose eyes looked on and yet were absent from the meeting scene... This young man never smiled, too bad, because it would look like he'd have a nice smile... Ford's film helped me more than my listenings helped me out 20 years ago, sketching composer Chopin.

Shortly afterwards I read another subversive "biographical" novel that troubled me again: he chronicled his contradictory life, presenting him as an unwitting, atrophiedly sensitive guy with eccentrically expresed melancholy. I was at the beginning of my pianist career and all this meant a lot...

Twenty years later, studying through the sources of his works and his life, I believe Chopin was a witty man, low-voiced but dynamic, a lover of beauty, a dreamy Apostle of Poland. No, Chopin was neither an enemy of life nor a victim of it. He allowed himself to become independent from the measure of others, avoided their own regularity.

He lived with his own rubato, what List described so nicely: "Look at the trees, the wind plays with the leaves, makes them flutter, but the tree stays still".

Chopin was a tree that ideally protected a delicate romantic soul and perfectly projected a maximum classic spirit.

(Efi Agrafioti)