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If we wish to know how well Franz Strauss, the long-time solo hornist of the Munich Royal Court Opera, played his instrument, all we need do is listen to his Concerto for Horn. In the first place, the music sounds quite conservative – and he never made a secret of the fact that he cared not a whit about the musical world of his time. But then there are difficult, virtuosic passages; no wonder Hans von Bülow called the older Strauss the Joseph Joachim of the horn.
The concerto is in one movement. With its dotted rhythms, the introduction in the orchestra suggests a march; the melody could definitely serve as a hymn. As soon as the solo horn takes over the leading role, a gentle, almost nostalgic atmosphere predominates; it returns several times in the course of the piece.
His son Richard Strauss was 18 when he turned to composing a horn concerto; following in his father’s footsteps, he likewise wrote a lyrical piece of music. He composed his second horn concerto in 1942, 60 years later.