Last night I went with a friend to see the McGill Symphony Orchestra here in Montreal perform Richard Strauss’s Alpine Symphony, and I was absolutely blown away. Richard Strauss (1864-1949) composed his 50-minute Alpine Symphony in 1915 as a depiction of the 11-hour experience (from twilight just before dawn to the following nightfall) of climbing an Alpine mountain. In every way a love letter to mother nature, the composition is more of a “tone poem” than a symphony, because the piece forgoes the conventions of the traditional multi-movement symphony, consisting instead of 22 continuous sections. You can listen to it in full above. Although it is one of his most popular pieces, Strauss’s Alpine Symphony is not performed in public very often due to the fact that it required such an enormous orchestra — at least 125 players in total (which explains why it’s most often performed by large university orchestras). On a side note, the composition was the very first music ever to be pressed on a compact disc. For more great stories from the world of classical music be sure to visit Classical Music on FEELguide.