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

Grieg - Introduction

A pioneer and a master of the national music school of his native Norway, Edvard Grieg, a composer with no forerunners and no continuators, invents charming and original ways to bring about the folk music tradition and the myths of the land that saw him born, with the formed classical European harmony.

His works are full of lyricism and romantic mood. The velvety melodies born of his fertile imagination are often intertwined with the masculine, rough rhythms of the dances of the Norwegian land, causing with contrast the emergence of highly seductive sonic grids.

Although he did not test his powers in the larger, massive forms of symphony and opera, he convinced with his musical testimony that he is a great craftsman, both symphonic and vocal writing. The poetry of his musical discourse is imbued with the drips of his love for Norwegian nature and Norwegian tradition. Throughout his life he has been a loyal and devoted lover of a land - no matter how many times he abandoned it soon turned to it - and a woman whom he never abandoned.

For this woman, the soprano Nina Hagerup, the companion of his life, he also composed his wonderful songs, exuberant in their tenderness, heartbreaking in their erotic dialectic. Unknown to many, these songs by Grieg benefited with memorable performances during 1993, the year of the 150th anniversary of his birth. These songs reveal spontaneity of inspiration and immense sensitivity, characteristics that are found in all the works of the composer.

(George Monemvasitis)