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Music with Ease > Classical Music > Concert Guide: Turn of the 20th Century > Don Quixote. Op. 35. - Richard Strauss


Don Quixote. Op. 35.

Richard Strauss
(1864-1949)



"Don Quixote" is absolute program music and program music run wild in which Strauss has well-nigh exhausted the ordinary orchestral effects and invented new ones. It is written in variation form and personal motives are assigned to Don Quixote, in the cello, and to Sancho Panza, in the viola, the first appearing in the appearing in the introduction which describes knightly feeling and the hero's resolve to become a knight. But as Don Quixote pursues his studies of chivalry and realizes the duties as well as the pleasures it entails, he turns out a madman as explained by the most incoherent of dissonances.

His journey now begins and a series of pictures describing his adventures follows, in variation form. It first depicts his attack upon the windmills, the rushing of the air represented in violin trills and strange woodwind effects, and his own downfall in the woodwinds emphasized in the ever-useful kettle drums. In the second he makes his furious onslaught upon the herd of sheep whose frightened bleating is clearly discernible in the muted brasses. The third noisily tells of the dispute of the knight and his squire over chivalry. In the fourth we behold him making his attack upon the pilgrims as they chant their ecclesiastical music, mistaking them for robbers. The fifth and sixth tell of his longings for his Dulcinea and the trick which Sancho plays upon him by pointing out a homely peasant woman as the real object of his raptures. In the seventh occurs the absurd episode of the supposed journey of the Don and his squire through the air, the wind effect being made in harp, kettle drum, flutes, and an ingenious wind machine. The eight, a Barcarole, describes the ride to the enchanted boat, and the ninth his encounter with the two priests. In the tenth he has his last adventure with the Knight of the White Moon, which ends his knightly career. In the Finale his reason returns, but a shiver in the violins tells of his rapidly approaching death. It is followed by strange harmonies, and at last cello marks the end of his follies and of his life.





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