REGISTER NOW AND GET
• 5 FREE tracks! • 101 tracks for $9.99
ClassicsOnline Home » STRAUSS II, J.: Edition - Vol. 7
The Johann Strauss Edition
Johann Strauss II, the most famous and
enduringly successful of 19th-century light music composers, was born in Vienna
on 25 October 1825. Building upon the firm musical foundations laid by his
father, Johann Strauss I (1804-1849) and Joseph Lanner (1801-1843), the younger
Johann (along with his brothers, Josef and Eduard) achieved so high a
development of the classical Viennese waltz that it became as much a feature of
the concert hall as of the ballroom. For more than half a century Johann II
captivated not only Vienna but also the whole of Europe and America with his
abundantly tuneful waltzes, polkas, quadrilles and marches. The thrice-married
'Waltz King' later turned his attention to the composition of operetta, and
completed 16 stage works besides more than 500 orchestral compositions –
including the most famous of all waltzes, The Blue Danube (1867). Johann
Strauss II died in Vienna on 3 June 1899.
The Marco Polo Strauss Edition is a
milestone in recording history, presenting, for the first time ever, the entire
orchestral output of the 'Waltz King'. Despite their supremely high standard of
musical invention, the majority of the compositions have never before been
commercially recorded and have been painstakingly assembled from archives
around the world. All performances featured in this series are complete and,
wherever possible, the works are played in their original instrumentation as
conceived by the 'master orchestrator' himself, Johann Strauss II.
Zeitgeister, Walzer (Spirits of the Age,
Waltz) op. 25
Images depicting some of the 'spirits of
the age' – amongst thern a paddle-steamer and steam-train, a ballroorn scene
and even 'Father Time' hirnself – appear on the ornately illustrated cover of
the first piano edition of Johann II's waltz Zeitgeister. The title page
also features a scene outside Dommayer's Casino in Hietzing, with two ladies
looking at a poster advertising a performance at the establishment by the
younger Johann Strauss. Clearly discernible on the poster are the letters
"ZEI" – presumably the first three characters of the name
ZEITGEISTER, the waltz which Johann played for the first time at his benefit
evening in Dommayer's Casino on 23 February 1846. The reviewer for Der Wanderer
declared the new work "a credit to the whole waltz genre, and perhaps the
pride of Strauss Son's waltzes".
Bachus-Polka (Bacchus Polka) op. 38
While Bacchus (Dionysus), the classical
god of wine and revelry, inspired the elder Johann Strauss to just two
compositions – the Champagner-Galoppe (Op. 8) and the Champagner-Walzer
(Op. 14) – his eldest son was to turn to this theme for the titles of several
of his dance works.
The latter's jolly Bachus-Polka was heard
for the first time at a 'Festival in the Halls of Bacchus', held in the
Sträussel-Säle of the Josefstädter-Theater building on 2 February 1847. The
printed edition of this polka actually calls for the members of the orchestra
to sing the praises of the 'monarch of the vine': "Bachus, Bachus tra la
la la" and "Der Bachus lebe hoch I" (Long live Bacchus!),
although their choral refrain is omitted from this present recording.
Odeon-Quadrille op. 29
With the opening of the immense Odeon
ballroom in the Viennese suburb of Leopoldstadt on 8 January 1845, the largest
and most fashionable dance establishment built during the Biedermeier period
came into being. With dimensions of 144 metres by 33 metres, its length
approximated to the height of St Stephen's Cathedral, Vienna. Naturally Johann
Strauss Father was engaged with his orchestra to play at the official opening
festivity, and for it wrote his Odeon-Tänze, Walzer (Op. 172). The
younger Johann made a brief guest appearance at this establishment on 13 July
of the following year, occasioning his specially-composed Odeon-Quadrille.
The Odeon's huge 'ball-arena' could
accommodate up to 8,000 persons and an orchestra of 80 players. Yet, in common
with the newer luxury entertainment establishments of the period, its clientèle
were no longer drawn from mixed society: in the mid- to late 1840's the vast
majority of the Viennese population could no longer afford such pleasures. The
glory of the Odeon was, in any case, to be short-lived: on 28 October 1848 it
was burned to the ground by Polish soldiers during the bloody days of the Revolution,
and was never rebuilt.
Schnee-Glöckchen, Walzer (Snow-drops,
Waltz) op. 143
There is much of the delicacy of the tiny
bell-shaped snow-drop in the waltz Strauss named after the flower, especially
evident in the cello introduction and in the slow unfurling of the opening
waltz. The newspaper Der Wanderer considered that this waltz "can
be compared with the best of the late Father Strauss".
Johann composed this lovely work for a
Russian Embassy dinner given at the "Sperl" ballroom on 2 December 1853,
but did not perform it publicly until the 1854 Vienna Carnival when he
introduced it at his benefit ball in the Sofienbad-Saal on 13 February. The
"Sperl" banquet was given in honour of her Excellency Frau Maria von
Kaiergis, née Countess Nesselrode (1823-74), daughter of the Russian diplomat
and foreign minister Count Karl Nesselrode, and Strauss also dedicated his
waltz to her.
Neuhauser-Polka (Neuhaus Polka) op. 137
Only after completing his busy schedule of
commitments in the Carnival and spring of 1853 did Johann accede to the urgings
of his doctors to undertake a convalescent holiday. After entrusting the
direction of the Strauss Orchestra to his reticent younger brother, Josef,
Johann departed Vienna on 25 July, travelling first to Bad Gastein, near
Salzburg. From there he made his way to the Lower Styrian spa resort of Bad
Neuhaus bei Cilli (today Celje, Yugoslavia), where he remained until
On 18 September Bäuerle's Theaterzeitung
announced: "This afternoon in Unger's Casino [in the Viennese suburb of
Hernals] Herr Kapellmeister Strauss, completely restored after his illness,
will conduct his orchestra again for the first time. The use of the baths in
Neuhaus and Gastein has given the well-loved waltz composer new strength".
Strauss took this opportunity to greet his adoring public with two new
compositions, the Wiedersehen-Polka (op. 142) and the Neuhauser-Polka.
A lithograph of the Neuhaus sanatorium, in its mountainous setting, adorns the
title page of the first piano edition of the latter work.
Kron-Marsch (Crown March) op. 139
On 8 September 1853 the Hungarian
Coronation Crown of St Stephen was discovered near the frontier town of Crsova
(now in Romania), having been lost since the suppression of the 1849 Hungarian
uprising by the combined forces of Austria and Russia. The Austrian cultural
historian, Professor Franz Mailer, notes that the crown's re-discovery was
viewed by observers as a clear indication of a stabilisation in the political
situation within the Habsburg monarchy.
Johann Strauss was swift to mark the
occasion with his stirring Kron-Marsch, which derives a good deal of
local colour from its use of Hungarian national melodies. The work was played
for the first time at the composer's benefit concert in the Vienna Volksgarten
on 9 October 1853.
Ballg'schichten, Walzer (Tales of the
Ball, Waltz) op. 150
The insistent melodies of Strauss's Ballg'schichten
Walzer resounded for the first time at the composer's own benefit ball in
the Sperl on 27 February 1854. The work is interesting, for in it Johann
returns to the genial style of his earlier works in three-quarter-time, after
his recent flirtation with the new orchestral styles of Wagner and Meyerbeer
which influenced his two preceding waltzes of 1854, Schallwellen and Novellen.
F. Berndt's beautifully lithographed title
page illustration for the first piano edition of Ballg'schichten humorously
depicts various scenes from a ball, the dance music for which is being
performed by goblins. The first edition wrongly gives the opus number as 151,
an error corrected on subsequent printings.
Furioso-Polka (Quasi Galopp) op. 260
The title page illustration on the first
piano edition of Johann's Furioso-Polka (quasi Galopp) perfectly
captures the mood of this fiendishly exacting novelty with its rapid
modulations, alternating between major and minor keys: two demons are pictured
stretching a rope across a dance floor, intent on tripping up the frantically
Although Johann Strauss the Elder wrote a Furioso-Galopp
(1839), based largely on Liszt's Grand Galop Chromatique, Johann
II's thrilling Furioso-Polka is an entirely original composition.
Strauss conducted it for the first time at a benefit concert for his orchestra
on 14 September 1861 (= 2 September, Russian calendar) during that year's
concert season in Pavlovsk, although the work appears to have excited no
particular attention there. The Viennese première of the piece followed on 17
November 1861 in the Sofienbad-Saal, after the composer's return from Russia.
Deutscher Krieger-Marsch (German
Soldiers, March) op. 284
The tuneful Deutscher Krieger-Marsch would
certainly be cited by those who maintain that Austrian military marches are
often more suited to the smooth parquet of the dance floor than the rough
terrain of the battlefield. Nevertheless, in common with a great many Strauss
family compositions, the provenance of Johann's march lies in the world of
January 1864 saw the issuing of an
ultimatum to Denmark by Austria and Prussia, who had allied over the vexed
question of Schleswig-Holstein. Denmark remained defiant, and after declaring
war on her the Austrian and Prussian forces crossed the River Eider on 1
February and advanced towards the Jutland Peninsula. Johann Strauss celebrated
this military alliance in his Deutscher Krieger-Marsch, which he
presented for the first time at a concert in the Vienna Volksgarten on 28
February. Some thirty-five years later Adolf Müller junior, and librettists
Victor Léon and Leo Stein, were to take this march and transform it into the
Entrance of the Countesses in Ac t 2 of their pastiche-operetta, Wiener Blut
Colonnen, Walzer (Columns, Waltz) op. 262
During the 1862 'Carnival campaign' Johann
Strauss II remained victorious over Vienna's ballrooms with a series of fine
compositions in three-quarter-time, among them the waltz Colonnen. The
work, dedicated to the students of law at Vienna University, was written for
their ball held in the Sofienbad-Saal on 4 February that year.
Colonnen also proved popular with Russian
audiences when Johann, and later Josef, gave concerts at Pavlovsk during 1862.
Indeed, after Johann returned to Vienna that Augustto get married, Josef was
able to inform his own wife that Colonnen, alone of all Johann's latest
waltzes, was proving a success for their Russian publisher, Büttner.
Kriegers Liebchen, Polka-Mazurka
(Soldier's Sweetheart, Polka-Mazurka) op. 379
The polka-mazurka Kriegers Liebchen
was one of five separate orchestral dances which Strauss fashioned from themes
in his operetta Prinz Methusalem [Premiere: Carl-Theater, Vienna, 3 January
Since Johann was in Paris during October
1877 preparing for the opening night of his operetta La Tzigane – a
musically and textually reworked version of Die Fledermaus – it fell to
the composer's youngest brother, Eduard, to feature the first performance of
Kriegers Liebchen in the programme of his concert in the Vienna Musikverein on
7 October. The polka-mazurka derives its title and its principal melodies from a
couplet sung in Act 3 by Sergeant-Major Spadi.
Nordseebilder, Walzer (North Sea Pictures,
Waltz ) op. 390
Johann's waltz Nordseebilder is
very much the mature companion-piece to his earlier musical 'seascape', Wellen
und Wogen, Walzer Op. 141 of 1852 (Volume 6).
On his doctors' advice Strauss took
holidays by the North Sea during the summers of 1878 and 1879, on both
occasions in the company of his second wife, Angelika (1850-1919). The couple
visited the North Frisian island of Föhr, and in 1879 stayed in a small house
in Wyk, the island's capital, where Johann again feit moved to capture the
contrasting moods of the North Sea in a musical composition. The result was the
waltz Nordseebilder, which Viennese audiences first heard when Eduard Strauss,
the composer's youngest brother, conducted it at his concert in the Musikverein
on 16 November 1879. The Fremdenblatt noted enthusiastically of this
performance: "The waltz, which strings together the most enticing
melodies, was received with great applause and had to be repeated four
Programme notes © 1989 Peter Kemp. The
Johann Strauss Society of Great Britain.
The author is indebted to Professor Franz
Mailer for his assistance in the preparation of these notes.
Polish State Philharmonic
The Polish State Philharmonic was formed
in the Silesian city of Katowicze in 1945, one of the first orchestras to be
established in the post-war period. Since then it has assumed an important
position giving concerts in Katowicze and the principal cities of this heavily
industrialised region of Poland. The orchestra has visited England, Austria,
West Germany, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, France, Italy and the
Soviet Union and has taken part in a number of major music festivals.
Conductors appearing with the orchestra include Kyril Kondrashin, Hermann
Abendroth, Gennady Rozhdestvensky and Carlo Zecchi, and soloists of the
eminence of Sviatoslav Richter, Emil Gilels, Artur Rubinstein, Maurizio
Pollini, Henryk Szeryng and David Oistrakh.
Oliver Dohnányi was born in 1955 and
studied the violin, composition and conducting at the Bratislava Conservatory,
in the Slovakian capital, pursuing further studies in Prague under Václav
Neumann and others, and in Vienna under Otmar Suitner. He graduated in 1980 but
had already established himself as artistic director of the Charles University
Art Ensemble and the Canticorum lubilo chamber ensemble in Prague. He has won
distinction in various competitions, including the Respighi Competition in
Italy and international competitions in Budapest and Prague. From 1979 to 1986
Oliver Dohnányi was conductor of the Czech Radio Symphony Orchestra in
Bratislava and has appeared with major orchestras there, in Prague and in
Hungary, as well as with the West Berlin Symphony Orchestra, and since 1986 has
been principal conductor of the opera of the Slovak National Theatre. In
addition to work with the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra, he has appeared as a
guest conductor in the concert hall and in opera in France, Italy, Austria, the
USSR, Cuba, East Germany, Bulgaria, Switzerland and elsewhere.
Last Albums Viewed
STRAUSS II, J.: Edition - Vol. 7