Franz Hasenohrl's Till Eulenspiegel Einmal Anders
performed at Staunton Music Festival
August 17, 2017
Trinity Episcopal Church, Staunton, VA
Ian Zook, horn
Antti Tikkanen, violin
Igor Begelman, clarinet
Larisa Gelman, bassoon
Erik Higgins, double bass
video by Stewart Searle
About the Music
Among the oldest trickster legends, one finds the figure of Till Eulenspiegel. The surname translates to “Owl Eyes,” and it is by this name that the character appears in English in Ben Jonson. Based on some historical fact, a man known as Till Eulenspiegel flourished in the early 14th century, living and working as an itinerant laborer and practical joker through all areas of the Holy Roman Empire. Some of his purported tricks are quite crude, of a scatological vein that would delight any third grader. Other jokes took a more moralistic tone and helped to highlight people’s vices and limited intelligence.
Eulenspiegel appears in numerous works of art and literature, perhaps none more well-known in the modern world as the 1893 tone poem for orchestra, Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche (Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks) by Richard Strauss (1864-1949). Strauss’ work plays on the contrast between two themes. The first, assigned to the horn, utilizes a three-fold repetition of a rising gesture played staccato and with continually shifting accents. The sting in the tail is the emphasized D sharp—which should have no place in the context of C major. The second theme is shorter, scored for clarinet, and features a chromatic chord sounding like the musical equivalent of a snide remark. From there, Till is off and running to his next caper.
In the 1950s Franz Hasenöhrl arranged Strauss’ material for just five chamber players: horn and clarinet, of course, along with violin, bassoon, and double bass. Called Till Eulenspiegel einmal anders or Till Eulenspiegel, At Last Differently, the chamber version lasts just half as long as the original. Hasenöhrl taught music at the University of Vienna, though very little else is known about him. This piece may be his only published work, and we have no specific information to ground speculation about why he produced this particular score. The tagline “at last differently” does suggest Hasenöhrl may have been tired of countless performances of this warhorse by full symphony; motivation may be found in trying to distill it down to its essential core.
(c) Jason Stell, 2017
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