Strauss and Brahms

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On October 16, 2010 at 8:00 pm I attended the “Strauss & Brahms” concert by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra at the Woodruff Arts Center. The program consisted of three compositions, each which received the longest standing applause from an audience that I have ever witnessed.

The first piece performed was On the Beautiful Blue Danube, Waltzes, Opus 314 by Johann Strauss, composed in 1867 during the late Romantic era. This piece is similar and different from Fredric Chopin’s Mazurka in B-flat that we studied in class. Similarities include both are dance music in triple meter and are in major key attributing to their mostly bright and cheerful mood, though the Blue Danube is also more romantic. Differences are the type of dance music, the Mazurka we studied being shorter in length with a heavy accent on the second or third beat of each measure, and the Waltz being almost quadruple in length with a heavy accent on the first beat as is customary. In addition, Strauss would reintroduce themes with very little if no variation, whereas Chopin would use various variations of the theme as well as contrast.

The second composition performed was the Concerto for Violin and Orchestra by Alan Berg with the famous violinist Julian Rachlin as the featured soloist. I understood the piece to be program music right away when the conductor gave us a brief narrative or story on which the music was based. Composed in 1935 during the Expressionism period, the music is similar to the style of the time in that it focuses more on representing the emotional experiences of Manon Gropius (whom the piece is about) rather than representing her physical characteristics or physical experiences and such. The concerto is divided into two movements, each which are divided into two sections. In movement one in the Andante section, the music is played in sonata form with the last three sections in ternary form (A-B-A) before transitioning into the Allegretto section, which is more...
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