Dale Vail

Trombonist, Composer, Nice Guy

Four Last Songs by Richard Strauss (Vier Letzte Lieder)

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Four Last Songs by Richard Strauss (Vier Letzte Lieder)


Four Last Songs by Richard Strauss (Vier Letzte Lieder) - Arranged for Brass Band and Soprano voice, or other brass soloist.

Playing level : B grade/2nd section

The Four Last Songs, (with the exception of Malven composed later in the same year), are the last complete works to be composed by Richard Strauss. Written in 1948, Strauss was 84, and wrote these for soprano (vocalist) and orchestra.

This work is arranged for soloist and brass band. This work allows for a variety of uses; performing the entirety of the Four Last Songs with a guest soprano vocal soloist, or as a feature work for a solo brass performer.  Individual movements may also be performed, making for a great selection of beautiful slow melodies for concerts, contests, and other events.

Frühling (spring), is the opening song. Frühling is an ecstatic setting of one of Hesse’s most romantic poems, praising the beauties of spring.

September (september), answers the first song Frühling, and instead of celebrating the beauty of the season, contemplates the sun, like the ageing composer, longing to close ‘its great, wearied eyes.

Beim Schlafengehen (going to sleep). This work is a setting of a poem written during the First World War while Hermann Hesse was undergoing an emotional crisis. It expresses the weary soul’s desire to live forever in the ‘magic circle of night’.

Im Abendrot (at gloaming), depicts an elderly couple who have come through life’s joys and sorrows together. Now, with tired eyes, they gaze at the sunset, while overhead two larks – portrayed by gentle flute trills – rise into the darkening sky. ‘Is this perhaps Death?’ they ask, to an echo of the ‘transfiguration’ theme from Tod und Verklärung. 

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