About this Piece
This wee jeu d’esprit is the principal – perhaps sole – claim to fame of the Austrian Franz Hasenöhrl (whose name, it should be noted, translates as “little rabbit ears”). He composed under a pseudonym, Franz Höhrl, but under his real name, bravely one might say, taught composition for many years at Vienna's University of Music. His masterpiece, and seemingly only published work, is this clever deconstruction of Richard Strauss’ tone poem Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks, Op. 28 (1895).
Hasenöhrl took the celebrated musical rendering of some adventures of the eponymous medieval trickster-prankster-borderline gangster and distilled what is already the most compact of Strauss’ tone poems further, from 15 minutes to approximately eight – to what might be regarded as its essence – while shrinking the composer’s vast orchestral apparatus to a mere five players: violin, double-bass, clarinet, bassoon, and horn. He called his jolly travesty Till Eulenspiegel – einmal anders! (i.e., “another way,” – or, “for once differently”) adding the description Grotesque musicale. First performed in 1954, it has since proven to be the delight of mixed-instrument chamber ensembles and their audiences, including listeners who, perhaps including the arranger, find the original threadbare from overuse.
N.B. There is actually a famous (in scientific circles) Hasenöhrl, Fritz – a relation, one must assume: an early 20th-century Austrian physicist.
– Herbert Glass