Wind Music

Two Symphonic works for Wind

Richard Strauss

New editions  by Tony Turrill

2Fl./2Ob/C Cl./2Cl./B.Hn/Bass Cl./2Bsn/Contra/4Hn

(I provide alternative parts for the C clarinet and the basset horn)


         No.1 Sonatina for wind             No.2. Symphony for wind

        from an invalids workshop                  from a happy workshop

Strauss wrote four major works for wind. The first a serenade composed as a 16 year old schoolboy, then 3 years later in 1884 a more substantial suite in 4 movements. Both were for double woodwind, contra and four horns. In 1900, on hearing them again he commented that the balance between the woodwind and 4 horns was impossible. He waited another forty three years and then in his eightieth year, almost certainly inspired by Mozart’s Grand Partita, the sublime 13 wind serenade, Strauss started a third major work for a group very similar to Mozart’s.  Mozart  used a four clarinet choir in the 13 wind to balance two horns. Although 4 horns are present  Mozart only once very briefly uses  more than a pair at any one time. Strauss added two flutes and taking full advantage of modern technology, extended the range of the clarinet choir by replacing one of Mozart’s basset horns with a bass clarinet. He then started writing an andante and minuet for 2 flutes./2 oboes/4 clarinets ( 2in A, a Bhn & a Bass Cl also in A.)/ 2 Bsn/Contra and only 2 Hns).  His balance problems were solved.

However he  completed the work by framing the andante/minuet with two more movements of symphonic proportions.  Despite his own comments on the “impossible balance” he couldn’t resist adding two more Horns and added the very bright C clarinet. This gave him a five clarinet choir at the core of his ensemble with a range of a full five octaves that together with the power of 20th century instruments were to prove were well capable of balancing the four horns, especially when he brought to bear 60 years’ experience of composition since his early 19th century serenade

He also had a group of sixteen very individual instruments that separately and in a variety of combinations were capable of presenting different voices in a very complex score and judging by the result he set about enjoying the opportunity to the full. To quote John Warrak in the introduction to the Netherland Wind recording  “both he and his wife were in poor health and distressed by the war withdrew to Vienna where he could relax by conducting a group of wind musicians. He confessed he had no new things to say but he could take an old man’s pleasure in fashioning music for those who want it”  He described the result as a sonatina written while convalescing and hence christened “from an invalids workshop” first performed towards the end of the war, in 1944

Two years later saw the performance of a second major work for the same combination. This time it featured four movements, lasted around 40 minutes and fully justified the title of a Symphony for Wind.  The second work he christened as “Frolighe Werksatt” from a “Happy workshop” to celebrate his return to full health. On the title page he acknowledged his debt to Mozart “To Mozart’s undying spirit at the close of a lifetime filled with gratitude”

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To hear extracts from them or if you prefer complete “performances” generated from each movement of the sibelius scores;-

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Although if you really want to hear a live well balanced performance from 16 individual musicians there are some splendid recordings available that will catch all the nuances much better. I prefer the Neherland Wind conducted by Edo de Waart although as they say “other CDs are available”, there is also a wide choice on Spotify

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