One of the greatest orchestral and opera composers of the late-nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Richard Strauss created brilliant tone poems such as Don Juan and Till Eulenspiegels Lustige Streiche that rank among the most performed and studied works in the repertoire. His popular early work, Burleske for Piano and Orchestra, fully displays the remarkable orchestral color and brilliant orchestration so characteristic of his later works.
The German term Burleske translates as "farce," and it constitutes an apt description of this work which abounds in sly humor that lurks beneath an elegant veneer and anticipates the spirited hijinks of Till Eulenspiegel. Completed in 1886 while the 21-year-old Strauss was heavily influenced by the example and music of Brahms, it premiered four years later at a performance by the famous pianist and Liszt pupil Eugen d'Albert. The Lisztian tradition of keyboard gymnastics is amply evidenced in this lively work, which is as popular with performers as it is with audiences.