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ClassicsOnline Home » STRAUSS I, J.: Edition - Vol. 11
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. Several of the works on this recording were written during Strauss' 1837-1838 fourteen-month tour of Western Europe with his orchestra. They include his celebrated Paris Waltz, which quotes the revolutionary Marseillaise, still unmistakeable in waltz rhythm and banned in Strauss' own country, and Homage to Queen Victoria of England, which concludes with God Save the Queen played in waltz rhythm, and was performed at the opening state ball at Buckingham Palace on the occasion of the Queen's accession to the throne.
By David Denton
Johann Strauss Snr • Edition • Vol. 11
[Track 1] Eisenbahn-Lust-Walzer (Railway Pleasure Waltzes), Op. 89
On 13 November 1837, the Kaiser Ferdinand Nordbahn became the first continental steam railway to make a trial run. This took place on the line between Vienna and Deutsch-Wagram; just two months later it was running to a timetable. As is generally known, however, coming events cast their shadow. Johann Strauss the elder had already arranged a summer gala on 18 July 1836 at The Golden Pear on what was then a road in a Viennese suburb; the occasion was given the title Buntes aus der Zeit (Topical Miscellany) and it was here that his Eisenbahn-Lust-Walzer had their first performance. Strauss transcribed the noises made by the new means of transport in the introduction and coda of the work, and also at various points throughout each of the five waltzes. For the occasion he had the set designer at the Leopoldstadt Theatre, Michael Mayr, produce a scenery set over thirty metres in length depicting a vision of a railway journey. The new waltz collection was presented as a midnight interlude and was so well received that it had to be repeated four times.
[Track 2] Brüssler Spitzen (Brussels Lace), Walzer, Op. 95
In the autumn of 1836, Strauss travelled through Prague, as well as a number of towns in Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium on his third major tour. He was reunited with his Viennese public at The Golden Pear in time for the beginning of Shrovetide on 7 January the following year; Strauss did not celebrate his "official" return until the last day of the same month at the same inn. This event bore the title Heimkehr aus der Fremde (Homecoming from foreign lands) followed by the somewhat clumsy adage: Kehrt einer aus der Fremde heim, So komm er nicht mit leeren Händen, Vor allem bedenk' er die Damen fein Mit freundlichen Erinnerungsspenden (When a man returns home from foreign parts, may he not do so empty-handed, but above all let him present kind remembrances to the fine ladies). Strauss came appropriately prepared with a sequence entitled Brüssler Spitzen. The work's title suggests that the composer had introduced the waltzes as early as December 1836 out of deference to the local audience at one of his concerts in the Belgian capital. The Brussels newspapers usually reported the running order of Strauss's concerts in detail but lack a corresponding reference in this instance.
[Track 3] Ball-Racketen (Ball Rockets), Walzer, Op. 96
On 26 June 1837, Strauss arranged a summer gala with the title Das Stell'Dich ein im Tempel der Nacht (Rendezvous in the Temple of the Night) at the Casino belonging to Ferdinand Dommayer next to the grounds of Schönbrunn Palace. The highpoint of the event was the première of the sequence of waltzes Walzerfeuerwerk oder Ballraketen (Waltz Firework or Ball Rockets). The five individual waltzes are entitled: Stelldichein (Rendezvous), Ländliche Freuden (Delights of the Countryside), Liebes-Sternchen (Love Starlets), Sprühende Tanzlust (Sparkling Joy of the Dance) and Vergiss mein nicht (Forget-me-not); the coda bears the slogan Der Ball im Feuer (The Ball in the Fire) and, after a repeat of the most important preceding themes, the work ends with a musical allusion to a firework. The first edition, for pianoforte, appeared in August and included illustrations of the five waltz titles on the title page; from then on, the title of the work was simply given as Ball-Racketen. It came with a dedication to Ahmed Fethi Pasha, the Imperial Ottoman ambassador in Vienna: Strauss had performed the music at one of his balls in January 1837, shortly after returning from his tour of Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium.
[Track 4] Pilger am Rhein (Pilgrims on the Rhine), Walzer, Op. 98
To cover the considerable expense of travel and upkeep of his orchestra, Strauss made use of every opportunity to perform in public with his musicians while on tour. During the return journey from Belgium to Vienna in December 1836, he stopped off in Bonn and provided the music for the ball held on the nineteenth of the month by the Prussian chamberlain Franz Egon, Baron von Fürstenberg-Stammheim. In spite of the strains of travelling, Strauss still found time to appear before the ball's host with the Pilger am Rhein waltzes, which were dedicated to him and had been written specially for the occasion. The work opens with the folksong 'Wenn ich ein Vöglein wär'', (If I were a little bird) quoted in the wind and appearing here as a pilgrim's song. The view of the Rhine illustrated on the title page in the first edition of the piano version, which, incidentally, did not appear until October the following year, brings together the old and the new. A ruined castle, houses and a flock of musical pilgrims are shown on the left bank with a factory on the right bank while a steamboat can be seen in mid-river.
[Track 5] Bankett-Tänze (Banquet Dances), Walzer, Op. 99
On 21 August 1837, at the end of the summer season, Strauss organized a gala at The Golden Pear with the title Das Bankett im Paradiese (The Banquet in Paradise). The scenery was reminiscent of the Middle Ages, a point taken up by the reviewer in his assessment of Strauss's Bankett-Tänze, which were first performed during the celebration: "The first waltz throws down the gauntlet in a fearless challenge to the entire world of Viennese dance; although the others are full of élan and vitality, just as everything that Strauss writes does, we have nevertheless recognised these friendly warriors despite their lowered vizors." The new waltzes in A major were given a single encore; for Strauss, who was used to better, this was not exactly a resounding success. Perhaps this fact contributed to the composer later describing A major as his "key of failure" and one that he then largely avoided. At any rate, the party proved such a success overall that another was given a week later.
[Track 6] Paris, Waltzer, Op. 101
On 1 November 1837 Strauss gave his celebrated Paris début performance before the assembled great figures of French music. The ensuing success opened all the doors of the capital on the Seine for him. Strauss was quick to forge links with such leading local dance musicians as Musard and Dufresne with a view to winning their audiences for himself and to becoming acquainted with the characteristically Parisian manner of music-making at first hand. In the New Year, Strauss performed together with Dufresne in a series of eighteen masked balls at the Salle Honoré; at one of these occasions, on 14 January, the Pariswaltz series received its first performance in acknowledgement of the public who had so enthusiastically adopted him. The work is dedicated to the Duchess of Orléans and, in the coda, Strauss quotes the Marseillaise, which is still unmistakeable in waltz rhythm; the tune had been banned at the Bourbon restoration, but was, however, tolerated under the reigning monarch of the time, the "Citizen King", Louis-Philippe. Although this revolutionary song was still not permitted in Strauss's home country, his publisher Haslinger nevertheless succeeded in publishing the new sequence of waltzes without intervention from the censors.
[Track 7] Huldigung der Königin Victoria von Großbritannien
(Homage to Queen Victoria of Great Britain), Walzer, Op. 103
Strauss could soon have enjoyed prolonged success of his achievements in France had the forthcoming coronation of Princess Victoria as Queen of England in April 1837 not drawn him across the channel. His début concert in London was poorly attended owing to the high admission charges, but the enormously favourable critics consequently ensured full houses. In addition, Strauss was admitted to the grand houses of the nobility and finally, on 10 May 1838, was invited to provide the music for the opening state ball on the occasion of Queen Victoria's accession to the throne; this court celebration was also the first major entertainment to be held in the newly renovated Buckingham Palace. Strauss naturally had a new work ready for the occasion, namely the sequence of waltzes: Hommage à la Reine de la Grande Bretagne. The introduction opens with a fanfare which fits the words "Cheer to the Queen – Victoria!", followed by Thomas Arne's Rule, Britannia; and in conclusion, God Save the Queen played in waltz rhythm crowns the coda. Strauss sent a score of the work to Vienna where it was published one month after the first English edition, with the title Huldigung der Königin Victoria von Grossbritannien.
[Track 8] Freuden-Grüsse (Cheerful Greetings), Walzer, Op. 105
Shortly before Christmas 1838, Strauss returned with his orchestra from their tour of Western Europe that had lasted over fourteen months. They were not left unaffected by the strain, particularly the person of the musical director; he was brought home seriously ill, and there was even concern for his life. The home audience was all the more delighted when he appeared before them again for the first time on 13 January 1839: Ueberall gut – in der Heimath am besten (Good everywhere – best at home) read the motto for the ball that Strauss organised at the Sperl, where he presented an entirely new series of waltzes entitled Freuden-Grüsse alongside some of the novelties he had composed while on tour. Having acknowledged Strauss with a minute-long ovation at his appearance, the enthusiastic audience then encored the new work three times. One journalist summarised the event: "Herr Strauss has had such a triumph that doubtless can scarcely have been experienced before by a composer in his genre."
[Track 9] Exotische Pflanzen (Exotic Plants), Walzer, Op. 109
Strauss was absolutely determined to regain the ground he had lost to his competitors as a result of his fourteen-month absence from Vienna, first and foremost from Joseph Lanner. His efforts were aimed primarily at his former stronghold, the Sperl, which was also the most prestigious Viennese inn to provide entertainment. This was where he gave his most magnificent gala parties, those at which he introduced his most recent creations. Inspired by findings made on the major voyages of discovery at the time, Strauss gave a ball at the Sperl entitled Die geographische Blütenlese oder: Seine Lieblings-Blüthe (A Geographical Florilegium or: His Favourite Flowers) on 5 February 1839, three weeks after his triumphal return. The review of the first performance states: "His new waltzes entitled 'Exotic Plants' are most certainly perennials and will spread the same fragrance as they have exuded here wherever they are transplanted in Europe." The title page of the first edition for pianoforte illustrated with tropical plants was even produced in two colours, in black and in green.
English version by Neil Coleman
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STRAUSS I, J.: Edition - Vol. 11