Founder of the Strauss dynasty of Viennese light-music composers, Johann Strauss established his own dance orchestra, enjoying incredible popularity as composer, conductor and violinist in the ballrooms of Vienna and abroad. He wrote a large quantity of dance music, of which the Radetzky March enjoyed the greatest popularity.
As we bid farewell to 2013 and welcome another great year ahead, Naxos proudly presents the 25th and final volume of the Complete Johann Strauss I Edition, a highly successful project with enduring value.
Morale was low in Vienna after the suppression of the 1848 revolution, but Johann Strauss the Elder’s celebratory ball in January 1849 provided new waltzes which “were heard to general applause and were excellent”. This final volume of the complete Johann Strauss I edition includes the enigmatic Quadrille Without Title, and the celebration of a hero hailed alongside Radetzky in the Jelačić March. The Exeter Polka and Almack’s Quadrille were an introduction to London society, while the Radetzky Banquet March was left incomplete at the time of the composer’s death.
Although the Revolutionary year of 1848 saw no lessening in the prolific output of Johann Strauss the Elder, who remained loyal to the monarchy, his music reflected the unsettled times. Originally called Black-Red-Gold (the colours of the united Germany), National Colours was the title given to the work by Strauss’ publisher to avoid the possible charge of high treason from the old order. Strauss continued to produce celebratory quadrilles for the Emperor and his family. For his visit to London in April 1849 he wrote music for Queen Victoria that was performed in glittering concerts that were the highlights of the season.
Despite charitable funds raised by the Fortune and Viennese Kreutzer polkas, revolutionary Habsburg insurgencies became a dangerous fact of life in the Vienna of 1848. Strauss (the Elder) demonstrated solidarity through his Austrian National GuardMarch, lampooning the old order with his March of the Legion of Students. Heard on this recording in its original, more transparent orchestration, and without the drumroll, the irrepressibly festive Radetzky March celebrated military victory in Italy and became his most famous work. Viennese citizens filled the carnival season ballrooms, and the escapist Stress Relievers waltzes, which conclude this recording, roused frenzied cheering.
The year 1847 witnessed a rich variety of scores from Johann Strauss (the Elder). In May he wrote The Swallows, sparkling avian waltzes, soon after which he unveiled his dramatic Austrian March-Past to great acclaim. His quadrille on themes from Auber’s opera The Devil’s Due is an ingenious composition, whilst The Meadow Flowers drew from him fragrant lyricism in the Ländler style. As the New Year dawned he revealed the luscious Dance-Signals, a waltz fit for the Carnival season.
Memorials, Name Days, and aristocratic connections were just some of the many incentives for Johann Strauss the Elder to pour forth his unrivalled series of waltzes, quadrilles and polkas for his ravenous Viennese public. During 1846–47 such opportunities included a work to honour the celebrated singer Jenny Lind (Swedish Songs), whilst New Year provided a supreme example of his festive skill. Nor did he ignore the professions: lawyers and doctors received dedicatory waltzes, and so did a couple of much beloved comic book characters.
Earlier Releases from the Series
About Johann Strauss I
Of earlier humble Jewish ancestry, Johann Strauss was born in Vienna in 1804, the son of a tenant tavern-keeper, and, on the death of his father in 1816, was apprenticed to a bookbinder. This did not prevent him finding a place as a violinist in a dance orchestra under Michael Pamer and as a viola player in an ensemble started by Joseph Lanner. The ensemble developed from a quartet to a string orchestra, the increased popularity of which led first to Strauss leading a second Lanner orchestra and then, in 1825, to the establishment of his own dance orchestra. The year marked his marriage and the birth of his first son, another Johann, destined to achieve still more than his father over the course of the years.
Under the older Johann Strauss the dance orchestra flourished, winning immense popularity both at home and abroad. Strauss wrote a quantity of waltzes, polkas, marches, quadrilles and galops, composing new dances for social and public occasions, their origin often reflected in their titles.
He intended that his three sons should follow other professions, but in the end all three, under the compelling influence of the younger Johann Strauss, became involved in what had become the family business.
Three years before his death in 1849 Strauss had been divorced, and his increasing alienation from his own original family, and the birth, over the years, of seven illegitimate children to his mistress, gave the younger Johann Strauss the chance he needed to follow his father’s profession, against the latter’s will.
The most famous and enduringly successful composer of nineteenth-century light music, Johann Strauss II captivated not only Vienna but the whole of Europe and America with his abundantly tuneful waltzes, polkas, quadrilles and marches. This unique collection brings together for the first time ever his entire orchestral output. The Strauss Edition, originally fifty-two separate releases on the Marco Polo label, represented a milestone in recording history. It is celebrated by this beautiful box-set.
If you like Viennese music, you might like the Naxos Radio service, where you can listen to many playlists of different music, around the clock. It includes a Light Classics Channel featuring 35 albums of music by the Strauss family and their contemporaries.