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DREAM SEQUENCE, Op. 224 by ERNST KRENEK (Austria, 1900 – 1991)

[#253] May 27, 2024

1975/76 | Wind Band | Grade 6 | 10’ – 15’ | Tone poem

Austrian composer and conductor Ernst Krenek

Dream Sequence, Op. 224 by Austrian composer and conductor Ernst Krenek is our Composition of the Week.

Dream Sequence was commissioned by the American College Band Directors National Association in 1975, with David Whitwell as president and Robert Reynolds as project chairman.

The premiere performance took place in Baltimore, USA, on November 3, 1977, by the Baylor University Wind Ensemble with Richard Floyd conducting.

Dream Sequence is written in 4 movements, Nightmare, Pleasant Dreams, Puzzle and Dream about flying; and has a duration of 17 minutes.

The instrumentation is rather unusual and very large. Using for example 9 saxophones (2 altos, 2 tenor, 3 baryton and 2 bass), as well as 4 trumpets and 4 cornets. Despite this fact, and with careful study of the score, the piece is playable with a smaller instrumentation, since many of the voices are doubled.

Dream Sequence is available at Universal Edition.


Ernst Krenek studied in Vienna and in Berlin with Franz Schreker before working in several German opera houses as conductor. During World War I, Krenek was drafted into the Austrian army, but he was stationed in Vienna, allowing him to go on with his musical studies. In 1922 he met Alma Mahler, wife of the late Gustav Mahler, and her daughter, Anna, whom he married in 1924. That marriage ended in divorce before its first anniversary.


His journalism was banned, and his music was targeted in Germany by the Nazi Party beginning in 1933. On March 6, one day after elections in which the Nazis gained control of the Reichstag, Krenek's incidental music to Goethe's “Triumph der Empfindsamkeit” was withdrawn in Mannheim, and eventually pressure was brought to bear on the Vienna State Opera, which cancelled the commissioned premiere of Karl V. The jazz imitations of “Jonny spielt auf” were included in the 1938 Degenerate art exhibition in Munich. Nonetheless, despite protests by conservatives and the fledgling Nazi party, that work was a great success in Krenek's lifetime, playing all over Europe.


In 1938 Krenek moved to the United States of America, where he taught music at various universities, including Hamline University in Saint Paul, Minnesota, from 1942-1947. He became an American citizen in 1945. His students included George Perle, Robert Erickson, Halim El-Dabh, Will Ogdon, Thomas Nee, and Richard Maxfield.


Krenek explored atonality and other modern styles and wrote several books, including Music Here and Now (1939), a study of Johannes Ockeghem (1953), and Horizons Circled: Reflections on my Music (1974).


Krenek’s compositions are quite eclectic, a reflection of the diverse influences he was exposed to throughout his career. His music spans five distinct periods: atonal (1921-1923), Neo-classic (1924-1926), Romantic (1926-1931), twelve-tone (1931-1956), and serial (after 1957). Krenek completed over 200 works, including 20 operas, 7 string quartets, 5 symphonies, and a variety of instrumental, vocal, electronic, and film scores.



Other works for winds include:


·      Drei lustige Märsche (1926)

·      Intrada, for winds and timpani (1927)

·      Divertissement, for Saloon orchestra (1929)

·      Kleine Blasmusik (1931)

·      Wind quintet (1952)

·      Pentagramm, wind quintet (1952)

·      Alpbach Quintett, for wind quintet and percussion (1962)



More on Ernst Krenek








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