Concert Notes

Eduard Strauss’ “Bahn frei!”

Notes by TŌN horn player Tori Boell

Clear the Track!
Eduard Strauss’ delightful composition Bahn frei! (which roughly translates to “Clear the Track!”) sets a tone of boundless energy and vivacity. Premiered in 1869, this work is an exemplary display of Strauss’ mastery of the polka schnell genre. A member of the Strauss musical dynasty (and brother to fellow composers Josef Strauss and Johann Strauss II), Eduard upheld the family’s musical traditions of creating engaging and exuberant melodies that continue to enchant and engage audiences today.

The Music
This spirited polka captures the essence of 19th-century Vienna’s bustling social life and celebration of music and dance. From it’s opening bars, the piece bursts forth with vivacious enthusiasm, propelled by the brisk tempo and 2/4 time that characterizes the polka. As the piece unfolds, Strauss creates a jovial and joyful dance between the melody (carried by the woodwinds and the violins) and supportive structural lines (carried by the brass and the rest of the strings). The orchestra in its entirety seems to jump in unison into the next melody. This celebration is guided by the horns into the Trio section. Not dissimilar to the opening themes, the flutes and violins once again lead orchestra and audience into another catchy and memorable melody, once again inviting listeners (and performers) to dance along to music that begs to be participated in. With a final reprise of the opening melodies, everyone is once again swept away into a final vivacious dance to the finish.

A Beloved Gem
Bahn frei! remains a beloved gem within the Strauss family repertoire, reminding us of the power of music to evoke feelings of happiness and camaraderie. Strauss’ composition continues to invite orchestras worldwide to embrace the spirit of Viennese tradition and celebrate the joyous essence of life through music.