Music with Ease > Classical Music > Concert Guide: Turn of the 20th Century > Till Eulenspiegel. Op. 28. - Richard Strauss
Till Eulenspiegel. Op. 28.
"Till Eulenspiegel" was first performed at Cologne, November 5, 1895. the music represents the eccentric career of roving Merry Andrew, the droll tricks he played, and his final expiation upon the gallows for practical jokes which at last became too brutal to be endured. In the old legend of Till, however, he does not come to the gallows, but escapes it by trickery. Strauss, however, ruthlessly sacrifices him in the close with explosive music. The themes in this work typify the hero in various situations, and their development shows the droll tricks which he plays. His ride through the market place and the dismay of the market women as their wares are scattered are accompanied by imitative music. Unctuous themes display him as a clerical imposter and tender passages in the violins, clarinets, and flutes tell of his love episodes. Characteristic music shows him fooling the university doctors. At last ominous tones in the trombones and horns indicate his approaching doom. He pays no attention to them, however, until hollow rolls of the drum announce his arrest. His fear then is clearly indicated. The bassoons, horns, trombones, and tubas unmistakably tell of his death, and his soul takes its flight to twitterings of the flutes. A brief sort of in memoriam episode closes the music, as droll as the tricks of its subject.