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

Joseph Haydn - String Quartet No. 62 in C major, Op. 76, No. 3 "Emperor"

The lyrics in "Gott, erhalte den Kaiser!" ("God save the Emperor") were written by Lorenz Leopold Haschka. 

The winter of 1797-8 Joseph Haydn composed six String Quartets and dedicated them to the Hungarian count Joseph Georg von Erdődy.
The Quartet No. 62 in C major, Op. 76, No. 3, boasts the nickname Emperor (or Kaiser), because in the second movement is a set of variations on "Gott erhalte Franz den Kaiser" ("God save Emperor Francis"), an anthem he wrote for Emperor Francis II, which later, is the national anthem of Austria-Hungary. This same melody is known to modern listeners for its later use in the German national anthem, the Deutschlandlied, which is used since Austria-Hungary and the Nazi era, known today as "Deutschland uber alles".


Ι. Allegro

The first part, Allegro, although it begins with a pattern of just five notes, the rest of the part is developed from this simple phrase. As in the case of the "Surprise" Symphony, the opening part is repeated and then the development of the music begins. The development contains a very characteristic section, where two violins interpret some nily, almost dance groups accompanied by viola and cello, a reminder of Haydn's love for folk songs and dances. A coda leads to a few slower, more thoughtful musical measures to follow a vivid finish.

ΙΙ. Poco adagio, cantabile

The second part, Poco adagio, is a series of four variations of the melody composed by Haydn on the lyrics of the "Imperial Hymn", written for the Austrian Emperor in 1797. This is the part where the quartet's name is due. 

Variation I is a duet for the two violins, where the one plays the melody, while the other adds decorative shapes. 

In Variation II the cello plays the melody. 

In Variation III the melody is interpreted by the viola with some accompanying harmonies towards the end. 

Variation IV adds more harmonies to the melody, slightly changing its musical character.

ΙΙΙ. Menuetto: Allegro

The third part, Menuetto, includes a small hurried band that share the first violin and cello. The melody of the central "trio" section, played by the first violin, moves very effectively between the minor and major scale.

IV. Presto

The fourth part, Presto, begins with three strong chords in a minor scale, which are succeeded by a concise theme. Once again Haydn masterfully builds on this original material. The part remains mainly in the minor scale until just before the end, when the music returns to its starting point in tonality of C Major, thus sealing the work with a brilliant and categorical note.