Sextet for Piano & Wind Quintet in B flat Major, Op.6
Ludwig Thuille (1861-1907) was born in the then Austrian town of Bozen located in the South Tirol (now in Italy and called Bolzano. His remarkable talent for music was recognized at an early age. After a stint at the Innsbruck School of Music, Thuille studied with Josef Rheinberger at the Bavarian Royal Conservatory in Munich. Thuille befriended Richard Strauss when he was ten and they remained friends for the rest of Thuille's life. Strauss' influence on Thuille's music was certainly as great as that of Rheinberger. The last part of his life, Thuille spent as a music professor and composer, achieving considerable fame for his operas. He was the founder of the so-called New Munich School of composition. Among his many students was Ernest Bloch. Thuille wrote in most genres and often turned to chamber music.
The Sextet was composed in 1888. Strauss was instrumental in arranging for the premiere performance and held a high opinion of the work. In four movements, it begins with an atmospheric and engaging Allegro moderato. The huge movement begins softly with a horn solo bringing forth a melody of nobility, of almost heroic quality. But the music is genial and relaxed, creating no sense of urgency, but rather of well-being. The Larghetto which follows also begins with a horn solo. The main theme is somber and dignified. The very effective third movement, entitled Gavotte, Andante-quasi allegretto, in no way harks back to the baroque. dance. Instead we have a charming and somewhat haunting dance that brings to mind puppets. The middle section is much livelier. The finale, Vivace, is an exciting romp, full of high spirits and lovely melodies.
We also offer Theodor Blumer's Sextet, Paul Juon's Divertimento, Albert Roussel's Divertissiment and Hans Huber's Sextet for this same instrumental combination. They make finely contrasing companion works.