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Marble Surface

Philipp Fahrbach II

Kukuk, Polka, Op. 124

Arr. CPE Strauss

00:00 / 04:21

My orchestration of this polka by Philipp Fahrbach II.

The seems to be a disagreement amongst composers as to the sound of the cuckoo. Most seem to go for a minor third (e.g. Johann Strauss II, Im Krapfenwald’l, Op 336) or major third (e.g. Beethoven, Sixth Symphony, Op. 68). Mahler (First Symphony) goes for a Perfect Fourth but changes his mind by the time of Des Knaben Wunderhorn. Fahrbach, uniquely I think, chooses a major second. Personal experience would suggest somewhere between a major and minor third in the absence of a Well Tempered Cuckoo. Strauss had no choice as he used an imitation cuckoo call. He had no choice but to write the polka in B major (ugh!) to fit the cuckoo.

Strangely enough, this piece is in B major too! Not ripping off Strauss, surely.

Both composers were writing novelty pieces. I’m sure neither spent a great deal of time and effort writing them. The difference in quality between the two is self evident. The Fahrbach is pretty and professionally written, like hundreds of other polkas of the period. The Strauss would be in my top 10.

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