Second Concerto for Horn and Orchestra, Op. 86 by Richard Strauss


INSTRUMENTATION: Horn and Orchestra
PUBLISHER: 1942, 1950 by Hawkes & Sons (London) Ltd., currently Boosey & Hawkes
COST: ~$34.00
Movement 1: Allegro — 205 measures, approx. 8m30s
Movement 2: Andante con moto — 72 measures, approx. 5m15s
Movement 3: Rondo — 337 measures, approx. 5m30s
CAN BE FOUND ON IMSLP: Manuscript and score.
YOUTUBE: Radek Barborák
SPOTIFY: Dennis Brain, Dennis Brain
iTUNES: Marie-Luise Neunecker, Strauss/Britten
GRADE/DIFFICULTY (1 easy, 6 very difficult): 5.5
RANGE (horn pitch in Eb)*:
MUSC 5036 - 2021C.Horn Annotated Bibs - Johnston35
*Old Notation Bass Clef

Richard Strauss (1864 – 1949) left a gaping hole in his chamber works for horn from 1883 to 1941 – his Andante for horn and piano (thought to be the second movement of a sonata that never came to light) being the only notable exception. This is not to say he did not write for horn, his symphonic tone poems Till Eulenspiegel, Ein Heldenleben, and Don Juan kept his love of the horn in the spotlight. His father, Franz Strauss (principal horn of the Royal Bavarian Court Orchestra), had left an indelible impression on his young compositional career by providing formal training with a classical slant and also providing the young Strauss with a fantastic aural canvas of beautiful horn playing. Verne Reynolds is quoted saying, “Just as the first horn concerto lets us see the composer as a superbly gifted youth of eighteen in 1822, the second horn concerto allows us a view of the seventy-eight year old composer in 1942.” Karl Böhm led the Vienna Philharmonic at the Salzburg Festival when the work was performed in August 1943 with Gottfried von Frieberg on horn.

The first page of the concerto has only two bars of rest. The Allegro is a flowing cascade of never ending melodic material similar to that of Der Rosenkaviler or Ein Heldenleben due to the tone-poem like scoring and storytelling requiring a tremendous amount of endurance, musicality, and technical fluidity. The first movement moves straight into the second movement presenting an aria format with forward movement due to the 6/8 feel. William Mann asserts that, “the Andante begins with a surprising though not inexplicable reminiscence of Berlioz, but continues in Strauss’s most characteristic manner – one phrase of the melody is doubtless unconscious quotation from Die Frau ohne Schatten.’ The each segment of the Rondo theme starts on either beat 2 or beat 5, and never on beats 1 or 6. This device is extremely reminiscent of his melancholy Till Eulenspiegel melody giving the soloist an opportunity create rhythmic energy through longer phrases rather than depending on 1 and 4. The soloist must be both docile and powerful due to the extreme range and acrobatic articulations required by Strauss. One can look no further than the historical recordings made by Dennis Brain and the Philharmonia Orchestra.