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Richard Strauss Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks

Richard Strauss

Richard Strauss (1864–1949) was a German composer of the late Romantic and early
modern era. Strauss was born into a musical family and composed his first piece of music
aged six. He was very famous for his operas and symphonic poems.

Richard Strauss composed Also Sprach Zarathustra .

The introduction, entitled Sunrise, was used in the
movie 2001: A Space Odyssey.

The Romantic era was a time of interest in nature, history,

legends, literature and even the super-natural. There was a
revolt against the structures and rules of the Classical era.
Composers explored tonality and styles to tell their stories.

Romantic Era: 1780 – 1910

Modern Era: 1910 to present
Till Eulenspiegel, the story

Till Eulenspiegel is the name of a young boy in a fairy story written in 1511.
No-one knows if Till really existed, but in the legend he was born in Germany in a small
village and was a trickster, or someone who played practical jokes on the people in his
village. The adults in the village did not like his practical jokes and when things had gone
too far, Till was arrested, tried and sentenced to death.

Very famous writers and collectors of fairy tales were the Brothers Grimm.
Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm collected and published hundreds of such stories including
Hansel and Gretel, Snow White, Tom Thumb and The Frog King.

A fairy tale or fairy story is a short story which began in Europe hundreds of years ago.
The stories were often about dwarves, elves, fairies, giants, mermaids or witches.

The stories were often violent even though they were meant for children. This was
because the stories were told to children to teach them the difference between right and
wrong and the importance of consequences for bad behaviour or bad people.
Till Eulenspiegel - The opening

The music opens with a motif that has become known as the once upon a time phrase.

The theme is first played by the violins.

Means comfortably or in no rush in German.

This phrase announces to the audience that the story has begun and it also appears later in
the music between stories to represent the calm before Till starts playing practical jokes

Theme: A theme is a tune or melody which has an important place in a piece of music
Phrase: A phrase is like a musical sentence
Till Eulenspiegel’s theme

Till Eulenspeigel has his own theme or motif. The theme is played by the french horn, and
when the horn completes the phrase the whole orchestra plays two notes which
represents the boy laughing.

Bass clef:
The melody French Horn.
changes from
the treble clef to
the bass clef for
the last three
notes of the
Arpeggio uses only the 1st, 3rd and theme.
5th notes of the scale. The three notes
This is an descending arpeggio in are lower in
the key of C major. sound than the
previous notes.
Till’s merry pranks

The clarinet plays the theme representing Till’s laughter to introduce the story of his
practical jokes on his community.

Till rides his horse through the

town market upsetting all the
market stalls, spilling food and He pokes fun at
goods everywhere. people he meets
including his
teachers and the
church minister.
He chases the girls!

He rides away on his horse but everyone in the village is angry with him.

Clarinet: The clarinet is a member of the woodwind family

Till is caught!

The first theme reappears as Till is riding away. He is thinking that what he has done is
Suddenly the music changes. Till has been caught and brought to the judge!
To teach Till a lesson, they send him to trial and then sentence Till to death (remember the
story was created in 1511 to teach children a lesson).

The orchestra plays a funeral march as Till is marched to the gallows in the town square.
All the time Till is trying to joke is way out of the situation.

Do the people of the village teach Till a lesson and let him off with a warning?

There is a drum roll, the clarinet screams to represent Till’s scream and the strings pluck
their strings representing sharp sounds of the gallows…

Listen and Watch:

Richard Strauss Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks
The Ending – Does Till survive?

But then…the once upon a time theme reappears and Till’s laughter is heard as the
woodwind and brass instruments trill while the violins play a running phrase.
Then the orchestra plays the two note motif, very loudly, to complete the story.
Trill – rapid alternating between 2 notes.

Running phrase in the strings.

Two note motif representing laughter.

Clarinet: A clarinet is a member of the woodwind family.

Rondo Form

Rondo form has a theme (Section A) that begins the work then reappears between
different new themes (Sections B, C, D etc.).

Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks has been composed in Rondo form. Each story of his
practical jokes has a different melody (B,C,D) and they are joined together by a repeating
theme (A).
Rondo form: A B A C A D A
or A B A C A B A
A song which has a chorus (A) that is placed between different verses (B,C) could be
considered as being in rondo form.
A song usually starts with a verse (B) and then introduces the chorus (A), whereas music
composed for orchestras usually begins with the A section.

Listen and Watch:

Mozart Horn Concerto No.4 4th movement is in rondo form
Australian Curriculum – Music
Elements of Foundation Years Years Years Years
Music to Year 2 3 and 4 5 and 6 7 and 8 9 and 10
Beat and rhythm Tempo changes Compound metre Time signature Regular and irregular
Rhythm Fast/slow ostinato Rhythmic devices - time subdivision
Long/short anacrusis, triplet, duplet
syncopation, ties and motif, augmentation/
pause diminution
High/low Pentatonic patterns Major scales Minor scales Tonal centres,
Pitch Pitch direction Melodic shape Pitch sequences, Key and key signatures Modulation
Pitch matching Intervals arpeggio, riff, Major/minor chords Consonance/ dissonance
Unison Treble clef and staff Bass clef Ledger lines Chromaticism

Forte, piano Dynamic gradations Staccato, legato Dynamic gradations Rubato, vibrato,
Dynamics & pp to ff accent Articulations relevant ornamentation
Expression Legato & staccato to style

Introduction Question & answer Theme, motif Repetition and Motivic development
Form and Same/different, echo Repeat signs Phrase contrast Sonata form
Structure patterns, repetition
Verse, chorus, round
Binary (AB) form
Ternary (ABA) form
Rondo (ABACA) form
Theme and Variation
Verse chorus, bridge
Interlude, cadenza

How sound is produced Recognise orchestral Acoustic and Identify instruments

Timbre Every voice and instruments by sound electronic sounds by name and sound
instrument has its own in isolations and in Voice and Recognise production
sound combination instrument types instrumental groups
Melody Patterns occurring Contrast within Layers of sound and Horizontal/vertical
Texture Accompaniment simultaneously layers of sound their role. Unison, layers
Drone homo/polyphonic countermelody
Creating sounds using
Creating voice and instruments

Playing instruments in Rhythms Playing and reading Sing and play in two or
Performing groups melodic and more parts
rhythmic excerpts

Moving to beat and Respond to the stories Historical context Awareness of

Responding rhythms ensemble