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

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov - Introduction

He renounced the glory, confidence and adventure guaranteed by the career of the naval officer, Nikolai Andreyevich Rimsky-Korsakov, and was thrown into the adventure of music without hesitation. As an amateur and self-taught musician, the aristocrat started from Tikhvin to settle down as a conscientious professional. He enjoyed every honor that any of his peers would dream of, becoming the most popular, after Tchaikovsky, composer of 19th century Russia.

A member of the famous group of "Five", Rimsky-Korsakov, after his first transcendence and the change of his professional course, had to fight with the academicism and lack of self-confidence that were alive nourished by the sense of non-existent musical education. When he overcame any inhibitions - his love for music helped him a lot - and gained the confidence of musical discourse, he was easily able to exploit his innate gifts.

A master of orchestration and an imaginative creator, he produced a rich musical work in which all the requested components of the place and the era were included.

Although he was a worthy and devoted servant of the Russian National Music School, he did not imprison his imagination in the narrow confines of the fatherland, but he complemented the color scale of the sonic traces with melodic sighs of the East ("Scheherazade") and with rhythmic rituals of the West ("Spanish Capricio").

However, he assimilated with exemplary delicacy every imported or domestic folk sound, so that every phrase of his music screams first the personality of the composer and then its national origin.

(George V. Monemvasitis)