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Festmusik der Stadt Wien

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Richard Strauss

Richard Strauss

General Info

Year: 1942-43
Duration: c. 11:15
Difficulty: VII (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Boosey & Hawkes
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $84.54


Full Score
Alto Trombone I-II
Tenor Trombone I-II-III
Bass Trombone I-II
Tuba I-II


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

An important work among late Strauss pieces, this work has remained unpublished and is only known for a shortened version made later by the composer himself. During the Second World War, Strauss used to spend the winters in Vienna. In 1942, the Trompetenchor der Stadt Wien (Brass Choir from the City of Vienna) asked him to write a piece for them. This was a famous ensemble made up from the brass players of the three symphony orchestras in Vienna, and comprised twelve trumpets, eight trombones, two tubas, timpani and percussion. Strauss divided these forces almost evenly into two choirs for his piece, but excluded the percussion. The work opens with the main motive intermingled with a fanfare-like call, with both choirs responding to one another. Then, the opening motive takes a lyrical and extended appearance in the voice of a solo trumpet and the first choir. The second choir gives a more martial version of the theme, which is further developed in their dialogue. A second subject with a nostalgic air reminiscent of Der Rosenkavalier leads to a brilliant section in semiquavers, which is followed by a more subdued one with a tint of melancholy. A brief crescendo leads to a recapitulation of the first motive. There is a pause, followed by an allegro proclamation that includes a key intervention of the timpani. The final section presents both choirs united in a chorale recapitulation of the themes, culminating with an exciting coda.

- Program Note by Classical Archives

German composer Richard Georg Strauss finished the score of the Festmusik der Stadt Wien -- Festival Music for the City of Vienna -- on January 14, 1943, at his Viennese home. The score is dedicated to the Vienna City Council, officially in gratitude for having been awarded its Beethoven Prize the previous year. Written for the Vienna Trumpet Corps, the piece was originally scored for ten trumpets, seven trombones (two alto, three tenor, and two bass), two tubas, and timpani. Strauss himself conducted the work's premiere in the Festival Hall of the Vienna Rathaus on April 9, 1943. Ten days later he made a much shorter version of the work known simply as "Vienna Fanfare." The piece we are playing today was arranged for military band by Eric Banks.

- Program Note by James Huff (UTC) (from the program notes of The Claremont Winds, submitted with permission)

Strauss dedicated his Festmusik der Stadt Wien (Festival Music for the City of Vienna) to the Vienna City Council, in appreciation for having been awarded its Beethoven Prize the previous year. He completed the score at his home in Vienna on January14, 1943, and conducted the premiere on April 9 in the Festival Hall of the Vienna Rathaus. His Weiner Fanfare, a much shorter version of the work, was completed 10 days later.

The Beethoven Prize was scarcely the composer’s only reason for gratitude to the city. Increasingly harassed by the Nazis, Strauss had moved his family to Vienna in 1942 from his home in Garmisch, Germany, where he had been deeply worried about the welfare of his Jewish daughter-in-law and two grandsons; in addition, Garmisch was perilously close to Munich, a frequent target of Allied bombing raids. At his house in Vienna, Strauss could rely on the personal protection of Baldur von Schirach. former head of the Hitler Youth and now Vienna’s Gauleiter (governor). A fervent admirer of Strauss’s music, von Schirach aspired to restore Vienna’s cultural supremacy, and his support allowed the elderly Strauss to participate more actively in the city’s musical life. Strauss’s wife, Pauline -- often candid to a fault -- reportedly told von Schirach, “When the war has been lost, we will give you refuge in Garmisch, but as for the rest of the gang...” (Her assurance notwithstanding, after the war von Schirach was convicted of crimes against humanity at the Nuremberg trials and served 20 years in prison.)

Because of the forces required, Festmusik der Stadt Wien receives relatively few live performances. Conceptually it is modeled after the antiphonal works of Giovanni Gabrieli, showcasing two instrumental choirs passing musical material back and forth. The result is an impressive mixture of technical brilliance and timbral beauty.

- Program Note from Northwestern University Symphonic Wind Ensemble concert program, 18 March 2017


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


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Works for Winds by This Composer


  • Strauss, R. Festmusik der Stadt Wien [score]. Boosey & Hawkes Musikverlag: Berlin.