Monday, April 22nd is Earth Day, and with that in mind we will be celebrating the planet with music written by a composer who was a real nature lover; Joachim Raff.

Raff wrote eleven symphonies and six of them are inspired by nature in some respect. In fact the last four symphonies, the eighth through to the eleventh are devoted to the seasons. The 8th Spring, 9th Summer, 10th Autumn, and 11th Winter.

Tune in at 1pm to celebrate the earth through Raff’s marvelous nature themed symphonies.

Monday, April 22: Symphony No.3 in F major Im Walde [In the Forest] Op.153 (1869)

Published: 1871, Kistner. Premiere: 17 April 1870, Weimar.

  • Part 1 - Am Tage. Eindrücke und Empfindungen [Daytime. Impressions & Feelings]. I. Allegro.
  • Part 2 – In der Dämmerung [In the Twilight]:
  •    A. Träumerie [Reverie]: II. Largo.
  •    B. Tanz der Dryaden [Dance of the Dryads]: III. Allegro assai.
  • Part 3 – Nachts. Stilles Weben der Nacht im Walde. Einzug und Auszug der Wilden Jagd mit Frau Holle (Hulda) und Wotan. Anbruch des Tages [At Night. Night Weaves Silently Through the Forest. Arrival and Departure of the Wild Hunt, with Frau Holle (Hulda) and Wotan. Daybreak]: IV. Allegro.

When Raff wrote his third symphony he was I his late 40’s. He had spent a couple of years working as assistant to Franz Liszt and helping Liszt orchestrate some of his orchestral works.

When the third symphony was premiered in Weimar, many considered it to be Raff’s masterpiece, up until that point.

Raff envisioned the symphony as having three parts; the first movement making up part 1, the second and third movements making up part 2 and the final movement making up part 3.

Tuesday, April 23: Symphony No.7 in B flat major In den Alpen [In the Alps] Op.201 (1875).

Published: 1876, Seitz. Premiere: 30 December 1875, Wiesbaden.

  • I. Wanderung im Hochgebirg [A Walk in the Mountains]: Andante—Allegro.
  • II. In der Herberge [At the Inn]: Andante quasi Allegro.
  • III. Am See [By the Lake]: Larghetto.
  • IV. Beim Schwingfest: Abschied [At the Wrestling Contest; Farewell]: Allegro.

The seventh symphony is scored for what was considered a large orchestra at the time. It’s written for pairs of flutes, oboes, clarinets, bassoons and trumpets, four horns, three trombones, timpani and triangle, and strings.

The symphony is heavily inspired by Raff’s experiences walking in the Swiss Alps as a child. Raff would regularly go for long walks to find refuge in nature from the abuse he suffered both at the hands of his father and his school teachers.

Throughout the symphony Raff recreates the sound and sights he heard and saw as a child in the majesty of the Alps. The seventh symphony is a masterpiece of orchestration. It is said to be one of the pieces that inspired Richard Strauss to compose his monumental Eine Apensinfonie.

Wednesday April 24: Symphony No.9 in E minor Im Sommer [In Summer] Op.208 (1878)

Published: 1879, Siegel. Premiere: 2 March 1879, Wiesbaden.

  • Part 1 - Ein heißer Tag [A Hot Day]: I. Allegro.
  • Part 2 - Die Jagd der Elfen. Versammlung der Elfen; Oberon und Titania; die Jagd; Rückkehr der Elfen mit Oberon und Titania [The Hunt of the Elves. Gathering of the Elves; Oberon and Titania; the Hunt; Return of the Elves with Oberon and Titania]: II. Allegro.
  • Part 3 - A. Ekloge [Eclogue]: III. Larghetto.
  • Part 3 - B. Zum Erntekranz [The Harvest Wreath]: IV. Allegro.

The ninth symphony is scored for a more classical sized orchestra. Raff wrote the ninth in a very approachable and attractive style, drawing on themes from literature; notably Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Like the third symphony, Raff envisioned the ninth as having three parts. The first movement makes up part 1, the second movement makes part 2 and the third and fourth movements make up part 3.

Thursday, April 25: Symphony No.10 in F minor Zur Herbstzeit [To Autumn] Op.213 (1879-80)

Published: 1882, Siegel (posthumous). Premiere (original version): 12 November 1880, Wiesbaden; (revised version: 18 November 1881, Wiesbaden). After the première, the original 3rd movement was replaced by a new one.

  • I. Eindrücke und Empfindungen [Impressions and Feelings]: Allegro moderato.
  • II. Gespenster-Reigen [Ghostly Round-Dance]: Allegro.
  • III. Elegie [Elegy]: Adagio.
  • IV. Die Jagd der Menschen. (Auszug—Rast—Jagd—Hallali—Rückkehr) [Men Hunting. (Departure—Rest—Hunt—In at the Kill—Return)]: Allegro.

The tenth symphony sets the mood right from the beginning. In the first movement, Raff depicts the mists of an early Autumn morning, and the yellowing of the trees. One of the more striking movements of the symphony is the third. It is in this movement where Raff writes a stunningly beautiful elegy for the passing year.

Friday, April 26: Symphony No.11 in A minor Der Winter [Winter] Op.214 (1876).

Published: 1883, Siegel (posthumous, “revised and edited” by Max Erdmannsdörfer). Premiere: 21 February 1883, Wiesbaden. Composed immediately before Symphony No.8 (see above), the reason the work was set aside is not known.

  • I. Der erste Schnee [The First Snow]: Allegro.
  • II. Allegretto.
  • III. Am Kamin [By the Stove]: Larghetto.
  • IV. Karneval [Carnival]: Allegro.

The eleventh symphony of Raff was left unfinished at the time of Raff’s Death. The score was eventually prepared for publication by Max Erdmannsdörfer.

The symphony is scored for a large orchestra consisting of pairs of flutes, oboes, clarinets and bassoons, with four horns, two trumpets, three trombones, timpani, triangle and strings.

Raff makes use of the large orchestra to depict a cold winter day in the first movement. A blustery storm occurs in the second movement, only dispelled by the appearance of trumpets. With the third movement raff brings the listener from the cold of winter and allows us to sit by the stove and war m up. The final movement is a depiction of a very joyous winter carnival. That is full of cheerful celebration.

Tune in at 1pm to rejoice in nature with the symphonies of Raff!

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