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

Mendelssohn - Symphony No. 4, "Italian", in A Major, Op. 90


"The Bay of Naples" by William James Muller
When Mendelssohn visited Naples, he was shocked by the great poverty he saw, but he liked the Neapolitan saltarello dance, on which he based the main theme of his "Italian" Symphony in A Major.

At the urging of his good friend, the German poet Goethe, Mendelssohn made a long journey to Italy in 1830-31. He arrived in October and was berested by the noise and vitality of the country. He visited Venice and then Rome, where he was impressed by a procession of cardinals and a choir at the church of St. Peter's.The echo of that chorus can be heard in the second part of the symphony.

Mendelssohn was shocked by the poverty she saw in Naples, but fascinated by its folk dances. The impetuous saltarello at the end of the symphony is directly influenced by these local folk dances.


Ι. Allegro vivace

The first part, Allegro vivace, begins with a cheerful and energetic outburst that soon subsides. After a transitional part the second theme is introduced. It is a wonderful illuminating piece that in turn prepares the return of the first theme with variations. Then it is repeated with subtle variations. The part ends with a wonderful crescendo and a final bow.

ΙΙ. Andante con moto

The second part, Andante con moto, completely alters the mood. Oboe, bassoons and violas, supported by soft string pizzicatti, introduce a charmed melody. For a moment the melody repeats itself distantly and a glowing theme appears in a major tone to disappear soon after. Variations follow the main theme before finishing the part with a gentle splash of deep strings.

ΙΙΙ. Con moto moderato

The third part, Con moto moderato, is a cute piece reminiscent of a minuet. Here, a sense of mystery is added, when an attractive trio of horns knocks on the door asking to enter. After the trio of horns reappear once again, the main theme of the minuet comes back short and fades, finishing the part.

IV. Saltarello: Presto 

The last part, Saltarello:Presto, is a fast and lively place based on a Neapolitan dance similar to tarantella. Almost immediately the dance begins its frenetic rhythm, at first quietly and then with gradual increase in intensity. Somewhere, the rhythm relaxes, but then the almost infernal swirl of dance reappears in strings and is scanned by the entire orchestra. At the end of the last part, the music returns for a while to the original theme before returning to the dance.