On November 19, 1942, the Russians began a pincer-shaped large-scale offensive in Stalingrad in the northwest and south of the city. Only three days later the attack led to the confinement of the entire 6th Army as well as parts of the 4th Army. At this time Strauss spent the winter in Vienna. In 1942 the trumpet choir of the city of Vienna asked him to write a piece for them. It was a famous ensemble consisting of the brass section of the three Vienna Symphony Orchestras and comprising twelve trumpets, eight trombones, two tubas, timpani and percussion.
So while some fought for their survival, the city of Vienna celebrated a triumphant festival. On 9 April 1943, the “Festmusik für die Stadt Wien” for brass was premiered with the Vienna Trumpet Choir.
Strauss divided these forces for his piece almost evenly into two choirs, but excluded percussion. The work begins with the main motif, which mixes with a fanfare-like call, with both choirs reacting to each other. The second choir presents a more martial version of the theme, which is further developed in its dialogue. A second nostalgic motif, reminiscent of “Der Rosenkavalier”, leads to a brilliant section. A short crescendo leads to a recapitulation of the first motif. In the last section, the two choirs are combined in a choral summary of the themes, which ends with an exciting coda.
Now, of course, one can take a critical view of works from this period. But one must not ignore the musical power of Richard Strauss. On the occasion of the 70th anniversary of his death – he died on 8 September 1949 in Garmisch-Partenkirchen – we would like to draw special attention to his festive music, which can be performed here and there for a festive occasion. An explanatory text critical of the time can explain the tragic connections.
Festmusik der Stadt Wien Anyone who is surprised that there are editions with a duration of about two minutes and one with 12 minutes should note that the short works include the fanfare from the Festmusik, while the long work includes the entire composition.
Other wind orchestra works
Works for orchestra/chamber orchestra
Compositions for Ensemble
Compositions for Choir