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At the Summit from "Eine Alpensinfonie"

From Wind Repertory Project
Richard Strauss

Richard Strauss (arr. Miller)


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General Info

Year: 1915 /
Duration: c. 8:00
Difficulty: VI (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Manuscript


Instrumentation

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Errata

None discovered thus far.


Program Notes

An Alpine Symphony (Eine Alpensinfonie), Op. 64, is a tone poem written by German composer Richard Strauss in 1915. Though labelled as a symphony by the composer, this piece forgoes the conventions of the traditional multi-movement symphony and consists of twenty-two continuous sections of music. The story of An Alpine Symphony depicts the experiences of eleven hours (from twilight just before dawn to the following nightfall) spent climbing an Alpine mountain. An Alpine Symphony is one of Strauss's largest non-operatic works in terms of performing forces: the score calls for about 125 players in total. A typical performance usually lasts around 50 minutes.

This piece was the last symphonic poem written by Strauss, a genre which gained the composer popularity in the late 1880s and 1890s with works such as Don Juan (1888), Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks (1895), Also Sprach Zarathustra (1896), Don Quixote (1897), and A Hero's Life (1897–98). By the time of An Alpine Symphony's composition, however, Strauss had turned his attention away from the genre of tone poems and had become well-established as one of the period's greatest operatic composers.

Though one of Strauss's lesser-performed works (for a number of reasons, including the great number of musicians required), the piece is popular enough that in 1981 a recording of An Alpine Symphony made with Herbert von Karajan conducting the Berlin Philharmonic became the first compact disc ever to be pressed.

- Program Note from Wikipedia


German composer/conductor Richard Strauss (1864-1949) was one of the most prominent and influential musicians of the late Romantic and early modern era. As well as being a prolific composer of operas and lieder, he is widely credited with pioneering the form of the orchestral tone poem, a highly virtuosic and often programmatic work that is generally contained in one single movement. Among his best-known pieces in this genre are Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks, Death and Transfiguration and Also Sprach Zarathustra (which was famously put to use as the opening theme in Stanley Kubrik’s 2001, A Space Odyssey).

The very last of these tone poems was Eine Alpensinfonie Strauss’ original concept of this work was as a traditional four-movement symphony. However, after many false starts and revisions, it was completed in 1915 as a tone poem of 22 uninterrupted scenes, depicting a single day (from dawn to nightfall) of mountain climbing. The result is a monumental and sweeping orchestral tour-de-force; it is tone-painting on a truly grand scale. Strauss employs vertiginous diving passages of two octaves or more to evoke stunning valleys, and one can envision fierce struggle in the grinding, note-by-note ascent to the peak, where at last the horn section signals ultimate triumph.

U.S. Nav Band trombonist and arranger David Miller selected three of these scenes to transcribe: Auf dem Gletscher (On the Glacier), Gefahrvolle Augenblicke (Perilous Moments) and Auf dem Gipfel (At the Summit). Miller’s treatment captures the depth and tremendous scope of Strauss’s work, and presents the ensemble with an array of musical and technical challenges. This arrangement was undertaken in part to pay tribute to Miller’s colleague, retired Senior Chief Musician Mike Cizek, bass trombonist with the Concert Band for 26 years, and was premiered on Cizek’s final concert with the band in December 2010.

-Program Note by Andrew Skaggs for the U.S. Navy Band


Commercial Discography

None discovered thus far.


State Ratings

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Performances

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Works for Winds by this Composer


References