Serenade (Strauss)

From Wind Repertory Project
Richard Strauss

Richard Strauss (arr. Frederick Fennell)

This work bears the designation Opus 7.

General Info

Year: 1881 / 1986
Duration: c. 9:45
Difficulty: V (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Ludwig Masters Publications
Cost: $50.00


Full Score
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II
Bassoon I-II
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II
B-flat Contrabass Clarinet
E-flat Horn I-II
B-flat Horn Basso I-II
String Bass


In Score:

  • Bassoon I, m.134, beat 4: G natural should be G flat.

Program Notes

Strauss's Serenade in E-flat, op. 7 echoes the style of a conventional Classical-era chamber piece. As such, players must be prepared to interpret styles and articulations that may not be notated. Audiences will find this work quite accessible, as the orchestration and melodic structures exhibit regularity and Classical predictability. Harmonic progressions faintly suggest the dissonant, chromatic style of [Strauss'] later works [he wrote the Serenade when he was 17]. While less experienced players may acquire a general understanding of chamber performance techniques from this piece, advanced musicians have multiple opportunities to embrace the nuances and intimate musical relationships of this fine work.

- Notes from Great Music for Wind Band

Richard Strauss’s father, Franz, was the principal horn player of the Munich Court Orchestra and was recognized as Germany’s leading virtuoso of the instrument. His mother came from the prominent brewing family of Pschorr. Although he enjoyed a conventional education as a boy, Strauss still devoted most of his time and energy to music. When he left school in 1882, he had already composed more than 140 works. Through his father’s connections, Strauss met the leading musicians of the day, including the conductor Hans von Bulow, who commissioned Strauss’s Suite for 13 Winds in B flat, Op. 4, for the Meiningen Orchestra and invited Strauss to conduct the work’s first performance in Munich in November 1884. Following this successful conducting debut, von Bulow offered Strauss the post of assistant conductor at Meiningen. Had the young Strauss not written his first wind serenade (Op. 7) three years earlier, the success of his Op. 4 (errantly listed before Op. 7 due to its publication date) would likely have been in question, and his career most certainly could have developed along a different path.

Composed in 1881, exactly 100 years after Mozart’s Serenade No. 11 in E flat, the Op. 7 Serenade was, in Strauss’s own words, “nothing more than the respectable work of a music student.” Strauss scored the work for pairs of flutes, oboes, clarinets, and bassoons, along with four horns and contrabassoon (or tuba). Upon hearing a performance of the work in 1900, he would remark, “double woodwinds are impossible against four horns.”

The Serenade premiered in Dresden on November 27, 1882, and has aptly been explained as representing the young Strauss’s filtering and distillation of the influences of Mozart and Mendelssohn into something remarkably original. The contour of the melodies easily identifies the seventeen-year-old as the future composer of works filled with moments of the beautiful lyricism found in Der Rosenkavalier and, especially, his late opera Daphne with its rich wind scoring.

Strauss moves from calm waters one moment to surges of great intensity in the next, and his choice of orchestration throughout the Serenade embodies a depth rarely exhibited by a 17-year-old composer. One particularly notable choice can be found in the recapitulation, which begins with perhaps the most evocatively beautiful moment in the Serenade as the horns play the first theme with great warmth, an eight-bar phrase which surely must have put a smile on his father Franz’s face.

- Program Note by Orange County Wind Symphony concert program, 12 April 2015

This serenade (not Strauss’s first -- there also exists a Serenade in G major for orchestra from his thirteenth year, still in manuscript) dates from 1881 or 1882. Franz Wüllner, who was to conduct the premiere of many Later Strauss orchestral works, led the first performance in Dresden on November 27,1882. It was this work that brought Strauss to the attention of the famous conductor Hans von Bülow, who promptly pulled strings in high places to further the career of this promising young talent.

Strauss, still writing under the influence of classically-oriented German masters like Mendelssohn and Brahms, scored the Serenade for a wind ensemble very similar to that of Mozart’s great Serenade for Thirteen Winds, K. 361: 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 4 horns and a contrabassoon for added richness and bass support. (Mozart’s Serenade requires basset horns in place of flutes and a double bass instead of contrabassoon.) A peculiarity of Strauss’s score is the totally unnecessary addition of a double bass for the last two bars only, merely to re-enforce the tonic pedal.

The ten-minute, single-movement Serenade is in traditional sonata form. Though the formal design may be classical, the nature of the melodic material points the way to the exuberant, wide-ranging themes imbued with passion and soaring lyricism that Strauss would employ in the years just ahead.

- Program Note by Robert Markow


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • University of Toronto (Ont., Can.) Wind Ensemble (Toby Moisey, conductor) - 2 December 2023
  • University of California, Los Angeles, (UCLA) Wind Ensemble (Gary Hill, conductor) – 29 November 2023
  • University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee Wind Ensemble (Thomas Gamboa, conductor) - 20 October 2023
  • University of Miami (Fla.) Frost Wind Ensemble (Robert Carnachan, conductor) - 12 November 2023
  • New Orleans (La.) Chamber Players (Joel Bein, conductor)] - 23 May 2023
  • Yale University (New Haven, Conn.) Concert Band (Thomas Duffy, conductor) - 10 February 2023
  • Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, Md.) Peabody Wind Ensemble (Harland D. Parker, conductor) - 29 September 2022
  • Rutgers University (New Brunswick, N.J.) Wind Ensemble (Dana Mandell, conductor) - 9 October 2021
  • University of Minnesota (Minneapolis) Symphonic Band (Lance Sample, conductor) - 10 June 2021
  • Arizona State University (Tempe) Wind Ensemble (Dylan Suehiro, conductor) - 24 May 2021
  • Indiana University (Bloomington) Chamber Winds (Benjamin Alaniz, conductor) - 4 March 2021
  • Southern Illinois University (Carbondale) Wind Ensemble (Christopher Morehouse, conductor) - 4 March 2021
  • Eastman School of Music (Rochester, N.Y.) Wind Orchestra (David Baker, conductor) - 23 November 2020
  • University of Kansas (Lawrence) Wind Ensemble (Tom Davoren, conductor) - 20 November 2020
  • California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, Wind Ensemble (Christopher J. Woodruff, conductor) – 15 November 2020
  • Southern Methodist University (Dallas, Tx.) Meadows Wind Ensemble (Jack Delaney, conductor) - 13 November 2020
  • University of North Texas (Denton) Wind Studies Chamber Winds (Daniel Cook, conductor) - 18 November 2020
  • Western Illinois University (Macomb) Concert Band (Matt Thomas, conductor) - 28 October 2020
  • James Madison University (Harrisonburg, Va.) Wind Symphony (Allison Satterwhite, conductor) - 2 October 2020

Works for Winds by This Composer