Hugo Wolf: Italian Serenade


Completed in 1886, Hugo Wolf’s Italian Serenade is written for string quartet. This short piece of light chamber music was to become an audience favourite in years to come. The music is vivacious and colourful, with Wolf’s range of writing being showcased effectively. 


The Music

Laden with tuneful melodies, Italian Serenade opens with an animated theme. Wolf writes contrapuntally throughout, showing his skill for orchestration and arrangement as the voices weave in and out of each other masterfully. You can hear Wolf’s Viennese Romantic inspirations throughout, but the effect is distinctly his, with the underlying comedic edge shining through. Disorientating swirls of music meet mocking call and response figures to create a carnival of sounds and shapes. Perhaps due to the uniqueness of Italian Serenade, Wolf was never able to write appropriate movements to complement the first, so the work remained as a one-movement piece.

Ⓒ Alex Burns

Happy Reading!

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