Are Musical Themes different from Written Themes?

There I sat at this concert of classical music and opera. It was the symphony that interested me – Don Juan by Richard Strauss.

Here’s what I was able to make out. Each section had one or two main themes. They were both stated at different times in their entirety. Then another tertiary theme came in for a short while. Themes one and two played games with the third. The original theme interrupted the tertiary in bits and pieces. The secondary did the same thing. After a while the original was brought back again, faster or slower than the first time. The original theme was also bantered about by each section of the orchestra.

Can this idea be useful in writing? Can we have two themes play with each other and a third, the common connection between them all? Has anyone tried this?

Please comment. I am here to learn.

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