Serenade for 13 Winds

Richard Strauss, 1864-1949

Richard Strauss

The Serenade for 13 Wind Instruments in Eb, Op. 7 was completed in 1881 or 1882 with the first performance November 27, 1882, in Dresden. It is Scored for 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 4 horns, 2 bassoons, contrabassoon or tuba, and (in the final two bars) doublebass.

In 1863 the horn player Franz Strauss, having lost his first wife and two children in the cholera epidemic of 1853, remarried Josepha Pschorr, daughter of a well-to-do Munich brewer. Only a year later Josepha gave birth to a son, Richard. The father was a strict and inflexible man who detested the works of Wagner, yet he possessed such a high sense of honour that he was renowned for his performances of Wagner's music. But he was also a loving parent and encouraged his son to study music beginning with the piano and violin.

At 6, Richard wrote a Christmas carol and a polka followed by a number of other works which, though immature, allowed the boy to practice the craft of composition. At 8, he was "terrified" by his first opera, Weber's Der Freischütz. By the age of 12 he had written a Festival March which was eventually published as his Opus 1 but only because the cost of printing was subsidized by his wealthy uncle, Georg Pschorr. By the time he had written a second publishable work he had advanced enough that no subsidy was necessary.

The Wind Serenade is also a youthful work as can be seen from the opus number. It was composed around the time Strauss entered the University of Munich, although the exact date is uncertain. Featuring jaunty themes and a relatively simple form, it was the first Strauss piece mature enough to withstand regular performance (although it shows his lack of experience in the use of the double bass to support the final chord, an insertion that is always ignored in performance). The work quickly caught the attention of the prominent conductor Hans von Bülow, who had previously dismissed Strauss' abilities ("We have here to deal not with genius, but with the kind of talent that comes ten a penny" he had sniffed when shown the Op. 3 piano pieces). Bülow not only performed the work, but encouraged the young composer in his efforts, launching him on a career that would carry the flag of 19th-Century Romanticism throughout the first half of the Twentieth Century.

Serenade No. 10 in Bb

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart


The Serenade No. 10 for wind in B flat major, K. 361/370a, is scored for thirteen instruments (twelve winds and string bass). The piece was probably composed in 1781 or 1782 and is often known by the subtitle "Gran Partita", though the title is a misspelling and not in Mozart's hand. It consists of seven movements.

Some prominent authorities (Köchel, Tyson and Edge) suggest that the paper and watermarks of this work prove a composition date of 1781 or 1782. That the work was specially composed for a public concert given by Anton Stadler on March 23, 1784 is less likely, because this performance has no proven connection with the date of composition and only marks an ante quem date. The autograph of this work contains 24 leaves of paper-type 57. Four other compositions that used this paper can be securely dated to 1781. It was shown by Alan Tyson that this fact is sufficiently compelling to presume that K. 361 was composed in 1781. There is no evidence whatsoever that the 24 leaves of this paper-type that appear in the autograph of K. 361 were ever intended for anything other than K. 361, and it is clear from the pattern of paper-usage that K. 361 was the principal project for which Mozart acquired that paper-type. The documentary history also shows that there is an unequivocal reference to wind-band music in Vienna in 1781. The performance of only four movements in 1784 generated the belief that the work was composed in two stages, though this view is now rejected.