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ClassicsOnline Home » STRAUSS I, J.: Edition - Vol. 10
In a career that spanned a period from the 1820s until his death in 1849, the older Johann Strauss established an unrivalled position for himself among composers and performers of dance music in Vienna. His own achievements were continued by his three sons, ensuring the name of Strauss was inextricably identified with the musical pleasures of nineteenth-century Vienna. The works featured on this recording date from the 1830s, when Strauss was pre-eminent in the ballrooms of Biedermeier Vienna. Among the musical delights of this tenth volume are the popular Coronation Waltz, described by a local critic as ‘radiating pure electricity... without a drop of heavy Rhine wine’, Home Country Sounds with its fine horn solo sounding out like a sad call from afar to the beloved homeland, and the brilliant Vienna Carnival Quadrille, written in response to the new dance craze transplanted from Paris to Vienna.
Johann Strauss I Edition, Vol. 10
[Track 1] Künstler-Ball-Tänze (Artists' Ball Dances), Walzer, Op. 94
On 17 January 1837 an artists' ball was held at The Golden Pear in the Vienna suburb of Landstrasse. Johann Strauss, who was in charge of the ball music, presented his latest waltz, composed specially for this festival, under the title Es lebe die Kunst! (Long live art!). The critic Franz Wiest, who a few years later was to quip "Good night, Lanner! Good evening Strauss the Father! Good morning, Strauss the Son!", did not go too deeply into the work, but made a plea for more harmony between the artists, such as they had shown at the ball to the sounds of Strauss's Muse. In fact he presided over an almost unbridgeable gap between the formalism of the Academy of Visual Arts and the greater naturalist tendencies of the Nazarenes. With the title Es lebe Kunst! Strauss had hit on a diplomatically clever choice; in the printed edition, however, the work was renamed and known thereafter as Künstler-Ball-Tänze. In the dedication a little error crept in: the waltz should have been dedicated not to the Society of Visual Arts (which did not exist) but to the Society of Visual Artists.
[Track 2] Cotillons nach Motiven der Oper Die Hugenotten (Cotillons on motifs from the opera The Huguenots), Op. 92
When a new opera had a Vienna première, the leaders of the many dance ensembles in the city took all imaginable pains to be able to provide their public as quickly as possible with compositions that were compiled from melodies from the new work. Strauss had almost always a nose for this, yet sometimes he overshot the mark, as happened in the case of The Huguenots of Giacomo Meyebeer. The first performance of Strauss's Cotillons on motifs from this opera was given on 12 January 1837 at The Golden Pear, while it was fully two and a half years before The Huguenots was staged in Vienna in a textually and musically greatly altered version. Strauss had underestimated the working of the censor, who balked at the opera's treatment of the conflict between Catholics and Protestants in sixteenth-century France and, with his demand for a comprehensive toning down, brought about the delay of the first performance. Thus Strauss was not able to profit from the presence of the opera in the musical life of Vienna, yet there remained for him the merit of being one of the first to have made Vienna music-lovers familiar with the opera's melodies.
[Track 3] Die Nachtwandler (The Sleepwalkers), Walzer, Op. 88
"The first waltz is a Tadolini sigh, in 3/4; in the third, where the violins ascend to dizzying heights, a sleepwalker is seen climbing up on the roof; the coda is the waking from a dream, the measured breathing of somnambulism; after the coda the waltzing couple of sleepwalkers go back from the salon into the garden to the remains of the chicken and Weidling, then the sleepwalking stops; with the waiter's bill everyone wakes up from that sleepwalking." So does a contemporary commentator describe the musical novelty at the ball on 23 March 1836 at Donmayer's Casino and its effect on the public. Weidling is a wine from the Klosterneuburg district; Eugenia Tadolini was a celebrated performer in the title rôle of Bellini's La sonnambula. This and similar commentaries persuaded Strauss to make it clear that his waltz had nothing to do with the opera. Rather it took its name from the motto of the ball, billed as 'Ball in the Moon', inspired by the latest discoveries of the British astronomer John Frederick William Herschel.
[Track 4] Beliebte Sperl-Polka (Popular Sperl Polka), Op. 133
Already at the beginning of the 1840s in the entertainment business attractive titles were taken from series of events. At the Sperl on Thursdays during Carnival, so-called Fortune Balls were held. For Saturdays, 'Popular Rococo Balls' were announced and it was with such an event that the leading Vienna establishment opened the season on 8 January 1842. At the same time an extension on the first floor was inaugurated, which promised the very large number of guests increased pleasure in dancing. Strauss, who since autumn 1829 had had his stronghold at the Sperl, wrote for this occasion a new polka, named after the establishment. After Sperl Festival Waltzes, Op. 30, his first composition for the place, and Sperl Galop, Op. 42, in 1831, this was the third work he had named after the establishment to which he owed so much. When the polka appeared in print it had the title Popular Sperl Polka, the adjective taken by Strauss and his publisher Haslinger from the ball advertisements.
[Track 5] Erinnerung an Deutschland (Reminiscence of Germany), Walzer, Op. 87
On 10 February 1836 Strauss organized a benefit ball for himself. Its motto, "Carnival on the ground floor and the first floor" was taken from a play by Johann Nestroy that, under the title On the ground floor and the first floor or The Whims of Luck, was first performed on 24 September 1835 at the Theater an der Wien. Two days before the benefit there appeared in the Theater Zeitung, a publication always well disposed to Strauss, an announcement of the festival, with the following on the choice of title: "Nestroy's representation has aroused such a sensation that the novelty is to be noted as a winner by most stage directors. The establishments at the Sperl are now arranged with two ball-rooms, of which one is on the ground floor, the other on the first!" With the waltz novelty for this occasion, Reminiscence of Germany, Strauss advertised his own activities. Here he wanted to remind the public of the unreported concert tour of a whole orchestra that he had undertaken with his musicians in the autumn of 1835, a successful three-month tour to Munich, Wiesbaden, Frankfurt and Nuremberg.
[Track 6] Jubel-Quadrille (Anniversary Quadrille), Op. 130
The custom of celebrating a birthday once a year was first introduced in recent times by Protestant countries. In the nineteenth century Catholics instead celebrated their name-days. If a name was particularly often found in the population, such as Anna or Katharina, the relevant festivities took on the character of a popular celebration. During the reign of Emperor Ferdinand the Feast of St Anne (26 July) took on special importance because of his wife, Maria Anna. In 1841 on the eve of the Empress's name-day in the park in front of the Cortische Coffee-House, where he usually gathered a particularly festive public, Strauss played his Anniversary Quadrille for the first time, a composition written specially for the occasion. The work, according to the Strauss biographer Frank Miller, "is a very lively, rapid, scurrying span of musical delights. This work is marked by esprit and joie de vivre from the first to the last bar and is musically far above the usual run of occasional quadrilles."
[Track 7] Heimath-Klänge (Home Country Sounds), Op. 84
Before Strauss made reference to his triumphs abroad in his waltz sequence Reminiscence of Germany (track 5), he had found it appropriate to affirm his own roots with the Viennese public. Home Country Sounds is the title of the waltz that he first performed at the Sperl on 26 January at the society ball for the best of the benefit organizations for the blind. The title of the first edition for piano was decorated with a banner with the words: "There is only one Empire capital! There is only one Vienna!, winged words from the magic opera Aline, or Vienna in another World by Adolf Bäuerle (text) and Wenzel Müller (music). At the time it was not necessary to point out to those who heard it that Strauss had worked the relevant melody into his new waltz, shortly before the end of the coda. The critics were enthusiastic: "Especially fine as compositions are the introduction and the first and third waltzes, in which the fine horn solo sounds out like a sad call from afar to the beloved country. Throughout the work, however, the Viennese in Strauss shows through, how, parted from what he loves, he longs for his Tower of St Stephen's, his love and his Sperl. Yes, it cannot be denied that this waltz has deeper elegiac points in the cheerful sequence of dances."
[Track 8] Original Parade-Marsch (Original Parade March), Op. 102
The Corpus Christi procession in Vienna long represented the high-point of the festivals of the church year; in the time of the monarchy the imperial family also took part. Since the middle of the eighteenth century bands accompanied the procession, which started from St Stephen's Cathedral. In the Biedermeier period this was one of the duties of the two Vienna Citizens' Regiments. The conductors of these, fulfilling only ceremonial functions, a relic of the Napoleonic era, were, from 1833, Johann Strauss and Joseph Lanner. Although Strauss in 1838 at Corpus Christi, which fell on 14th June, found himself in England in the course of a fourteen-month tour of Western Europe, he did not forget his obligations at home. The Vienna Library in the City Hall preserves a score written in a copyist's hand on thick, small-format paper and dated London, 28 May 1838, of a Strauss march not more precisely indicated; creases suggest that the manuscript was sent through the post. In fact this is the Original Parade March that reached Vienna in time and was played by the first Vienna Citizens' Regiment at the Corpus Christi procession in the absence of its usual conductor.
[Track 9] Krönungs-Walzer (Coronation Waltz), Op. 91
In autumn 1836 Strauss set out on his tour of Germany from Prague. He had gone there with his musicians at the beginning of September, in order to arrange the music on the 4th and 9th of the month for the court balls held in connection with the coronation of the Emperor Ferdinand and his wife Maria Anna as King and Queen of Bohemia. In 1835 Ferdinand had succeeded his father Franz on the throne. The programme of the court ball has not survived, which leaves room for speculation; Strauss could have played his Coronation Waltz on either of these occasions. The Vienna first performance, at any rate, took place immediately after Strauss's return from Germany, on 8 January 1837 at The Golden Pear. The Theater Zeitung announced, not without patriotic undertones: "The new Coronation Waltz that Strauss produced today for the first time, again radiates pure electricity in 3/4, with not a drop of heavy wine from the Rheinland introduced, every bar is a Bouteille Jaqueson." It shows the popularity of this work that Beethoven's pupil Carl Czerny, even before the appearance of the first edition, brought out a paraphrase under the title Improvisation or Fantasy and Variation on the Coronation Waltz of Johann Strauss.
[Track 10] Wiener Carnevals-Quadrille (Vienna Carnival Quadrille), Op. 124
So great was the delight in dancing in Biedermeier Vienna that the entertainment establishments were scarcely able to cope with the rush of young dancers in spite of extensions and the pressure of competition from new enterprises. To control the jostling on the dance-floor the manager of the Sperl, Georg Scherzer, decided in the 1840 Carnival to introduce, as an experiment, an exclusive ball with the number of guests limited to five hundred and aimed at the higher level of Vienna society. The first of these, arranged for 21 January under the title Comité Ball, had to be furnished with greatest brilliance. Even the invitation tickets were printed in gold letters and Strauss, of course, saw to the dance music. On the programme were no less than six quadrilles, the new fashionable dance transplanted by Strauss from Paris to Vienna. A single novelty of the evening formed the climax, the Vienna Carnival Quadrille, which, with its brilliant instrumentation even put its French predecessors in the shade. Strauss set great store by the statement that he had used in it exclusively "original motifs" and not, as was then the custom, melodies from a popular opera or the like.
English version by Keith Anderson
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STRAUSS I, J.: Edition - Vol. 10