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

Franz Liszt - Hungarian Rhapsody No.14 (Fantasia on Hungarian Folk Melodies)

Portrait of Franz Liszt with
Hungarian national costume.
In 1852, while living in Weimar, Franz Liszt developed one of the Hungarian Rhapsodies he had composed for piano, into the Hungarian Fantasy for piano and orchestra. The folk music that Liszt uses here is actually more influenced by Gypsy music than by the dances and songs of the Mayars, which are the real music of his native country Hungary.

The full title of Liszt's Hungarian Fantasy, Fantasia on Hungarian Folk Melodies, is rather incorrect. Almost all of the themes Liszt uses come from the gypsy orchestras he listened to in Vienna, but these musicians often played melodies adapted by other composers. Liszt knew little about the music of the Mayars, the tribe that had travelled from Asia in the old days to eventually settle in Hungary.

Those who revealed the ancient songs and dances of the Mayars as the true national Hungarian music were two composers younger than Liszt, Bella Bartok and Zoltan Kontoyi.

Nevertheless, Liszt offered a lot by focusing attention on the richness of popular music, highlighting the momentum, color and emotion of this folk music in his work and especially in this Fantasia.

The music begins in a melancholy mood, with the horns and bassoons playing in a minor tone. The melody is a adaptation of a Hungarian folk song "Mohac's Field".

After a few virtuoso passages, piano and orchestra again present the purpose, this time in a major tone. Some gypsy-style melodies appear with an additional reference to the opening tune. A quiet inoculated (interlude) prepares the most exciting theme - piano and orchestra gallop towards the end, with a final reminder of the original melody of the Hungarian folk song "Mohac's Field".