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

Gershwin - An American in Paris

In the 1920s Paris exerted great charm on many Americans, particularly writers, artists and musicians.

George Gershwin and his fellow songwriter Cole Porter didn't escape its charm. The latter wrote several songs praising the city, while Gershwin composed his most ambitious orchestral work for Paris - An American in Paris.

It was first presented at New York's Carnegie Hall in 1928, by the famous Walter Johannes Damrosch's direction.

Twenty years later the play inspired a great musical film, starring Gene Kelly.

A symphonic poem

This work is a "symphonic poem", which recalls images and sounds from Paris, according to Gershwin's personal experiences.

A small vivid melody played by violins, with subtle harmonies on the substrate, introduces the American visitor. The piercing sound of the old horns of the Parisian taxis intensifies the sense of the noise of the boulevards. A quiet, thoughtful section, with finer harmonies in wood instruments and strings, invokes a sense of the city, perhaps a night under the starry sky.

The music rediscovers the rhythm, before Gershwin introduces another of his delightful melodies. A polite rhythmic figure, played first by a trumpet solo, in an obvious blues style.

A new, carefree melody also played by a solo trumpet, eventually takes the music back to the lively opening theme and them to the apparent ending of the "sad note".