REGISTER NOW AND GET
• 5 FREE tracks! • 101 tracks for $9.99
ClassicsOnline Home » STRAUSS II, J.: Edition - Vol. 14
The Johann Strauss Edition
Johann Strauss II, the most famous and enduringly successful of 19th-century light music composer, 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, Joseph 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 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.
Geisselhiebe, Polka (Whiplashes, Polka) Op. 60
The younger JOhann Strauss’s pro-Revolutionary sympathies during the 1848 unrest Vienna eventually came to a head on 6 December of the year, when he appeared before the police authorities to answer charges that, three days earlier, he had performed the Marseillaise before an audience at ‘Zum grünen Thor’ in the suburb of Josefstadt. In his successful defence Strauss stated that to have denied the audience’s request could have sparked political upset, and he had therefore reluctantly acquired. He added: “I must request that if a ban these cases is to be applied strictly, then we as musical directors must be protected by a guard from insults and outrages…”. Both before and after his acquittal Johann found his political stance under attack from the Kleine Geisselhiebe (Little Whiplashes) column of the Viennese newspaper Die Geissel (The Whip). Having shrugged of the police charges, Johann responded with alacrity to these attacks at the end of December with his cheerful polka Geisselhiebe. Equally swiftly Strauss’s publisher, Pietro Mechettii, ‘rush-released’ the piano edition of the work , advertisements for which first appeared on 12 January 1849. The Trio section of the polka features snatches from the revolutions songs La Marseillaise and Das Fuchslied as well as mocking laughter from the Lach-Chor (laughing Chorus) in Act 1 of Weber’s opera Der Freischütz.
Ernte-Tänze,Walzer (Harvest Dances Waltz) Op. 45
The Strauss were no strangers to the many church festivals organised in the suburbs of Vienna, and from time to time were called upon to provide dance music for these events. one such celebration was the traditional ‘Brigitta-Kirchtag’, an annual church festival held in Brigittenau, to the north of the inner city. The younger Johann’s contribution to the 1847 festivities was the waltz Ernte-Tänze—incorrectly given on the first piano edition title page as Ernte-Tänze—which the noted Strauss biographer Ernst Decsay (1922) considered as belonging to the young composer’s “experimental waltzes”. Although the waltz wa promised for 25 July—the actual ‘Brigitta-Kirchtag’—Strauss was unavailable, and instead he conducted the work’s première during the second day of celebrations there on 26 July.
Champagner-Polka. Musikalischer Scherz (Champagne Polka. Musical jest) Op. 211
Johann Strauss wrote the bubbling Champagne Polka for his 1858 summer concert season in Pavlovsk, where its first performance took place on 12 August (=31 July, Russian calendar) under the title of Ball-Champagner-Polka. He also performed it in Moscow that year. Shortly after arriving back in Austria, Strauss introduced the Viennese to this novelty piece when he conducted it at a ‘Festival Concert on the safe return from St. Petersburg’, held in the Volksgarten on 21 November 1858.
At this stage of his career Johann was constantly seeking to improve his standing with his with those in positions of rank and influence. Thus he dedicated his Champagne-Polka to Baron Carl Ludwig von Bruck (1798–1860), Austria’s Minister of Finance from 1855 1855 until his suicide in 1860. Strauss obviously took great delight in weaving into the Trio section the refrain from Johann Fuß’s popular tavern-song of the day—“Mir is’s alles an’s, mir is’s alles an’s, Ob i a Geld hab oder kan’s!” (What do I care, what do I care, whether I’ve money or not!).
Phänomene, Walzer (Phenomena, waltz) Op. 193
Rarely is the imaginative artwork adorning much 19th-century piano music put to such dramtic effect as that in W. Tatzelt’s title page illustration for Johann Strauss’s waltz Phänomeme. The sepia lithograph depicts the awesome spectacle of various natural phenomena: a comet, thunderstorm and fork lightning, a volcanic eruption and a waterspout at sea.
Strauss dedicated this waltz to the technical students at Vienna University, and first conducted it on the technical students at Vienna University, and first conducted it on the occasion of their ball in the Sofienband-Saal on 17 February 1857. The choice of title was not lost on the students: a comet of uncommon brilliance had last been observed in 1843, while Vesuvius had displayed volcanic activity as recently as May 1855. Phänomene belongs to that series of waltzes which reflect the composer’s fascination for the avant-garde orchestrations and harmonic styles of Berlioz and Wagner. Moreover, it is apparent that the waltz was played at its première without Introduction and Coda, thus as a pure dance number. Later it became usual at such balls for new repeated did the couples dance to them. In the case of Phänomeme, not until May of that year, during his concert season in Pavlovsk, did Johan score the Introduction and Coda prior to the works’s Vienna publication.
Romanze Nr. 1 in D-moll ( Romance No. 1 D minor) Op. 243
The ‘Waltz King’, Johann Strauss II, enjoyed twelve highly successful concert seasons in Russia, which were not only financially rewarding but proved to be among the most musically productive periods of his career. Works like the Tritsch-Tratsch-Polka, the Egyptian March, the Champagne-Polka and the Pizzicato-Polka (written in collaboration with his brother, Josef ) all stem from these visits. For his Russian audiences Johann also created a number of delightful instrumental romances—a musical form very popular at that time, and exploited by composers like Donizetti, Glinka, Gounod, Rubinstein and others. The first of Strauss’s romances, No. 1 in D minor for Cello and Orchestra (op.243), originated during his concert season in Pavlovsk from May to OCtober 1860,a nd was introduced to Viennese audiences at a soirée in the ‘Sperl dance hall on 1 December that year. Op. 243 bears a secondary title, Une Pensée (A Thought), which reflects the work’s wistful mood. Johann dedicated his Romanze Nr. 1 to Catherine Dadiane née Princess Tchavtchavadze, mother of the ruling Prince Nikolai of Mingrelia (in the Southern Caucasus) to whom the composer had earlier dedicated his Niko-Polka op. 228
Kinderspiele, Polka française (Children’s Games, French polka) Op. 304
Austria children have good reason to looks forward to 6 December each year, for the date marks the Fest of St Nicholas—their Patron Saint—a traditional day of the opening of presents! It was thus as a prelude to this annual festivity that Johann Strauss presented the first Viennese performance of his carefree polka Kinderspiele on 4 December 1865 at a children’s ball given by the Archduchess Sophie (mother of the Austrian Emperor) in the Imperial Hofburg. The polka’s première, however, had taken place some three months earlier at the Vauxhall Pavilion in Pavlovsk on 22 August (= 10 August, Russian calendar), when Strauss had conducted at at his benefits concert in aid of the poor.
Frohsinns-Spenden, Waltzer (Gifts of Cheerfulness, Waltz) Op. 73
With the death of Johann Strauss on 25 September 1849 his eldest son stepped at once from the darkness of the paternal shadow into the limelight of Vienna’s musical society. Just as quickly, the once obdurate proprietors of Vienna’s ballrooms major entertainment establishments now competed with one another to sign contracts with the younger Johann.
Together with his orchestra, now including musicians who had previously played under his late father, JOhann II made his début at the imposing Sofienbad-Saal ballroom on 14 January 1850. Just three days later he returned ti this venue to conduct the dance music at a charity ball. One quarter of the net proceeds from this event were to be donated to a fund organised by the Weiner Zeitung newspaper to provide firewood for Vienna’s needy families. The charitable young conductor/composer brought to the ball a gift of his own, the aptly-entitled waltz Frohsinns-Spenden.
St. Petersburg, Quadrille nach russischen Motiven (St. Petersburg, Quadrille on Russian themes) Op. 255
Johann’s popularity and standing in Russia were such that he began his fifth season there, in 1861, not with a public concert in the Vauxhall Pavilion in Pavlovsk, but with a soirée in the nearby palace of Grand Duke Constantin Nikolaievich, which was attended by the Tsar, Tsarina and Tsarevich. Strauss made his first public appearance on 26 May (= 14 May, Russian calendar). As in previous years he did not greet his public empty-handed, but presented them with several new compositions throughout the season. For the eight item of this opening concert, which also featured music by composers like Wagner, Glinka, Schubert and Rossini, Johann gave the first performance of his Hommage à Petersburg-Quadrille, based on popular Russian melodies. In June he wrote to Carl Haslinger, his publisher in Vienna: “Tomorrow I will send you the…quadrille on Russian themes, which you can christen with whatever title you like if you don’t agree [with the existing one]: the title Hommage a St. Petersburg, as it is called here, will be retained”. As Strauss indicated, the work saw publication in Russian as Hommage à St Petersburg, Quadrille sur des airs russes favoris, but in Vienna Haslinger chose to rename the composition St. Petersburg, Quadrille nach russischen Moriven. This attractive dance piece proved to be one of Strauss’s most popular that year in Russia, and was given its Viennese first performance on 5 January 1862 in the Dianabad-Saal.
Vöslauer-Polka (Vöslau Polka) Op. 100
Press reports during much of 1851 bear testimony to the mental and physical toll incurred by the younger Johann Strauss through his relentless musical activities. Time and time again the 25-year-old Musikdirektor was forced to cancel engagements or to share the exertions of conducting with his experienced first violinist, Franz Amon. For a while the indisposition of the family breadwinner forced the Strauss family to glimpse financial ruin, and it was with considerable relief—if only short-lived—that they greeted an improvement in Johann’s health that summer. He and the Strauss Orchestra lost no opportunity to repair their fortunes, and in addiction to playing in the Volksgarten and on the Wasserglacis they were to be heard at numerous venues in the suburbs and in the Lower Austrian spa towns of Baden-bei-Wien and Bad Vöslau. The Latter, with its forest pf pine trees and gushing thermal spring, was to find a permanent memorial in the title of Strauss’s cheery Vöslauer-Polka which the composer introduced to the Viennese gathered for the Church Day festivities at Unger’s Casino in Hernals on 24 August 1851.
Grillenbanner, Walzer (Banisher of Gloom, Waltz) Op. 247
An interesting chapter of European history is to be found behind the title of Johann Strauss’s carnival-time waltz Grillenbanner. The work is dedicated to “his most Serene Highness, Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha”, and Strauss conducted its first performance at a hall in the Sofienbad-Saal on 11 February 1861.
Prince Leopold had met with stern family opposition when he announced his plan to marry a Viennese girl, Constanze Geiger, a former child prodigy and one-time actress, artist, pianist, poet and composer whose waltzes and marches Johann II had played during the 1840s and early 1850s. Members of the Saxe-Coburg-Gotha family, led primarily by the reigning Duke Ernst II, had made various attempts to thwart the union, but eventually the Duke himself relented and gave his consent to the marriage, which took place that April. Constanze was elevated to the title of Freiin (= Baroness) von Ruttenstein, and remained a long term friend of the Straus family. In selecting the title for his waltz, Strauss sought to dispel the problems which had, and inevitably would, beset the Prince following his unconventional choice of partner.
Bal chanmpêtre, Quadrille sur des airs français (Country Ball, Quadrille on French airs) Op. 303
The ‘Bal champêtre’, an open air ball, was a favourite feature of evening summer festivals in Europe during nineteenth century, and it was an appropriate title for the quadrille which Johan assembled from popular French airs of the day. Strauss wrote the work for his Russian concert season in 1865, one of only a few of his own new pieces which he gave in Pavlovsk that year. Recurring illness had persuaded him to take a convalescent holiday and to let his youngest brother, eduard, deputise for him in Pavlovsk until he was able to relieve him at the end of July. In contrast to Eduard’s evident lack of success, Johann was greeted “like an old favourite” by the Russian public at his début concert, and besides his own music did much to promote that living Russian composers. The audience at the Vauxhall Pavilion, Pavlovsk, first heard the Bal champêtre’ Quadrille as an encore item when Johann conducted it on 14 September 1865 (= 2 September, Russian calendar), and thereafter it featured in several of his programmes there. Upon his return, the composer also conducted the first Viennese performance of the new work during Josef and Eduard Strauss’s benefit concert in the Volksgarten on 12 November that same year.
Du und Du, Walzer (Thou and Thou, Waltz) Op. 367
Shortly after the première of Die Fledermaus [Theater an der Wien, 5 April 1874] Johann Strauss left Vienna on a concert tour of Italy, the lengthy preparations for which had left him very little time for composing the customary dance pieces from this, his latest operetta. A review in the Fremdenblatt newspaper (5.8.1874), of a concert conducted by Eduard Strauss, Johann’s youngest brother, is therefore of the greatest interest: “ The two novelties, ‘Augensprache, Polka française’, and the ‘Fledermaus-Walzer’—both composed by Eduard Strauss—which had their first performance last Sunday [2 August 1874] in Schwender’s ‘Neue Welt’, enjoyed tremendous success. Both novelties had to be repeated no less that six times”.
Johann’s own Du und Du, Waltz on themes from the operetta ‘Die Fledermaus’ was published later that year. The waltz takes its title, and one of its melodies, from the famous Dui-du chorus in “Broderlein, Briiderlein und Schwesterlein” (Act 2). Other melodies from this number are also featured, as well as music from “Ha, welch ein Festl” (Act 2), “Genug damit, genug” (Act 2), “Mit mir so spat im TBte-A-thte”(Act I), and Adele’s Laughing Song, “Mein Herr Marquis” (Act 2).
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.
Last Albums Viewed
STRAUSS II, J.: Edition - Vol. 14