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.
Czech Polka, op. 13 (Czech-Polka)
In the period immediately following his
successful début as conductor and composer, Johann II's musical activities were
confined to appearances at only two venues of any repute – the Sträussel-Säle,
part of the Theater in der Josefstadt, and Dommayer's Casino in Hietzing. The
situation changed early in 1845, however, with the opening of Vienna's newest
and largest entertainment complex, the 'Odeon'. Naturally, Johann I and his
orchestra were engaged for the inaugural festivity, and thereafter they
performed in its immense ballroom on many occasions.
The owner of Vienna's old-established
'Sperl' ballroom, where Johann I had been Musikdirektor since 1836, now seized
his opportunity. He entrusted to the younger Johann the conducting of soirées
during Lent 1845, and subsequently employed him to perform with his orchestra
at other festivals and balls. Thus it was in the 'Sperl', on 21 July 1845, that
Johann II introduced the audience to his Czechen-Polka, the first of his
compositions honouring the Slavonic peoples of the Habsburg Empire.
The Young Viennese, Waltz op. 7 (Die
Despite the enthusiastic reviews which
greeted Johann Strauss II's début at Dommayer's Casino in October 1844, he was
initially faced with limited opportunity to build upon this success since the
major places of entertainment already had contracts with his father, Johann I.
Recognising that his greatest following was to be found among youthful Viennese
society, particularly within the minority nationalistic communities, Strauss
junior deliberately began wooing these sectors, and at his benefit concert in
Dommayer's on 22 January 1845 he presented his tactically-entitled waltz Die
Die jungen Wiener, while still displaying
the unmistakable influence of Strauss Father's style and instrumentation, is
nevertheless the first clear attempt by the son to break free from the
established waltz 'mould'. The work's Introduction, its dramatic character in
marked contrast to the relaxed mood of the opening waltz, is more developed
than in his earlier works and is a pointer to his later musical invention.
Satanella-Polka op. 124 (Satanella-Polka)
On 11 January 1853 the long-awaited
Viennese première of the ballet Satanella oder Metamorphosen took place
at the Kärntnertor-Theater (= k. k. Hoftheater), some three years after the
original version had been mounted at Her Majesty's Theatre, London. The title
rôle of the she-devil Satanella was danced in the Vienna production by the
celebrated ballerina Marie Taglioni the younger (1833-91), whose father Paul
was both librettist and choreographer of the work. The ballet caused a
sensation, due in no small part to the music by Cesare Pugni and the Berlin
Court Opera composer, P.L. Hertel.
Johann Strauss was swift to capitalise on
the commercial success of the ballet, and fashioned two dance numbers from its
melodies – the Satanella-Quadrille op. 123 and the Satanella-Polka
op. 124. Strauss performed both pieces for the first time on 26 January 1853 at
a 'Satanella-Ball' held in the Sofienbad-Saal.
Cytherea Quadrille op. 6
The 19-year-old 'Musikdirektor' Johann
Strauss gave his first benefit concert on 19 November 1844. The event, a grand
festive ball organised under the title of 'An Evening of Cheerfulness', took
place at Dommayer's Casino in Hietzing, scene of his public début just
five weeks earlier.
Strauss's contribution to the
entertainment included the first performance of two new compositions – the
waltz Serail-Tänze and the Cytheren-Quadrille. The unusual title
of the latter has led some writers to speculate that the work might be based on
melodies from Gluck's opera-ballet La Cythère assiégée, but a comparison
of the two works refutes this. Instead, for the first of several times in his
writing career, Johann had turned for inspiration to classical mythology, on
this occasion fixing upon Cytherea (= Aphrodite), the Greek goddess of love and
beauty, or perhaps upon her home on the lonian island of Cythera (= Kythira).
Judgments of Solon, Waltz op. 128
>After his return to public life on 16
January 1853, following a six-week illness, Johann Strauss once again fulfilled
all his obligations as a composer by delivering the dedication works he had
promised for the traditional carnival ball festivities of the university
faculties and various professional and industrial associations in Vienna.
For the ball of the students of law at
Vienna University, held in the Sofienbad-Saal on 19 January 1853, Johann wrote
his waltz dedication Solon-Sprüche. The title derives from the great
Athenian legislator, Solon (c.638-c.559 B.C.) – one of the 'Seven Wise Men of
Greece' – who introduced political, economic and legal reforms.
Fantasy Flower, Polka-Mazurka op. 241
At the end of October 1860 a weary Johann
Strauss returned to Vienna after an exhausting concert season of nearly six
months in Pavlovsk. He brought with him several new works composed especially
for his Russian audiences, among them the polka-mazurka Fantasieblümchen.
Sadly these novelties found no great success when Johann performed them for the
first time before his native Viennese at an afternoon concert in the
Volksgarten on 25 November that year. Fantasieblümchen, however, has
much to commend it, and the musicologist, Dr Erich Schenk, drew particular
attention to the "piquant chromatics" which colour this delightful
Where the Lemon-Trees blossom! Waltz op.
364 (Wo die Citronen blueh'n!)
On 1 May 1874 – barely a month after the
successful première of his operetta Die Fledermaus – Johann Strauss left
Vienna for a series of twenty-one guest concerts throughout Italy at the head
of the Langenbach Orchestra from Germany. The Strauss Orchestra, under Eduard
Strauss, was at that time fulfilling engagements in Vienna, and so was
unavailable for the tour.
At the Teatro Regio in Turil'1, on 9 May,
Johann gave the first performance of an "especially composed" new
waltz entitled Bella Italia (‘Beautiful Italy’) which, for its Viennese
première on 10 June that year, was renamed Wo die Citronen bluh'n! The
new title of this lovely work derives from the first line of Goethe's famous
poem in his novel Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre – "Kennst du das Land
wo die Citronen bluh'n?" (‘Do you know the land where the lemon-trees blossom?’)
Indra-Quadrille op, 122 (Indra-Quadrille)
After a six-week absence resulting from
ill-health, the 26-year-old Johann Strauss reappeared with his orchestra on 16
January 1853 for a concert in the Vienna Volksgarten. He greeted his admirers
with a new composition arranged, during his illness, on themes from Friedrich
von Flotow's latest opera, Indra, das Schlangenmädchen (‘Indra, the
Snake-Girl’), which had received its première at Vienna's Kärntnertor-Theater
on 18 December 1852.
Perhaps surprisingly, Strauss's tuneful Indra-Quadrille
did not enjoy the success of his earlier quadrille (op. 46) on melodies from
another Flotow opera, Martha, and it was soon dropped from the Strauss
Tick-Tock, Quick Polka op. 365 (Tik-Tak
In order to maximise sales of their
sheet-music, it was common practice for nineteenth-and twentieth-century
operetta composers to arrange tunes from their stageworks as individual
orchestral dances and marches. The Tik-Tak Polka was one of six such numbers
which Johann Strauss arranged on melodies from his third operetta, Die
Fledermaus (1874). The polka was heard for the first time at a concert in
the Vienna Volksgarten on 11 September 1874.
The Tik-Tak Polka takes its title
and its principal theme from the Act 2 Watch Duet for Rosalinde and von
Eisenstein, and also features snatches from "Kein Verzeih'n! Der
Eisenstein" (Act 3), "Wie fliehen schnell die Stunden fort!"
(Act 2) and Adele's Act 3 aria "Spiel ich die Unschuld vom lande".
Wedding Toasts, Waltz op. 136
On 18 June 1853, Dresden was in
celebratory mood as the city played host to the wedding of Prince Frederick
Augustus Albert of Saxony, eldest son of Prince John, and Princess Carola Wasa,
grand-daughter of King Gustav IV Adolf of Sweden.
Ten days later, in Vienna, Johann Strauss
paid his own homages to the royal marriage by organising a scenic festival in
the Volksgarten, entitled 'Erinnerung an Dresden' (Reminiscence of Dresden),
and for it he wrote his waltz Vermälungs-Toaste (‘Wedding Toasts’)
dedicated to the royal bridegroom. The Volksgarten festival also recalled
Johann's own concert visit to Dresden the previous October.
New Pizzicato-Polka op. 449 (Neue
In a letter to his brother Eduard, written
on 2 April 1892, Johann Strauss remarked: “I have sketched a new
pizzicato-polka for your concerts in Hamburg. This time it is made slightly
more interesting, in accordance with current taste... It allows of an affected
manner of performance – this is the main thing in a pizzicato number. For where
there is no 'singing tone', a success can only lie in what I would describe as
a coquettish performance, since neither piano nor forte offer sufficient
variety in such an unusual piece".
Not to be confused with the earlier, and
more celebrated, Pizzicato-Polka (1869), Johann's Neue Pizzicato-Polka
was presumably given its first performance during Eduard's engagement at the
Hansa-Saal, Hamburg, between 3 April and 5 May 1892, though no review has yet
been traced. Subsequently Johann was to interpolate the piece into his operetta
Fürstin Ninetta (1893) as an entr'acte children's ballet.
March of Rejoicing at the Deliverance of
Emperor Franz Josef I op. 126
(Kaiser Franz-Joseph I,
In 1848 Vienna was lashed by the bloody
waves of the European revolution that had broken out earlier that year in
Paris. Predictably, Johann Strauss Father sided with the established monarchy,
while his eldest son emerged as a champion of the students and revolutionaries.
This stance by the younger Johann was to cost him dearly, for not until 1863
was he awarded the highly prestigious title of k.k. Hotball-Musikdirektor, the
post left vacant by his father's death in 1849. Upon recognising his tactical
error, Johann II switched his allegiance and began taking every opportunity to
ingratiate himself with the Court and the Emperor himself. He was thus swift to
respond when, on 18 February 1853, the Hungarian Johann Libényi made an
abortive assassination attempt upon the life of the 22-year-ok! Austrian
Emperor Franz Josef I. In celebration of his monarch's deliverance, Strauss
organised a grand festival at the 'Sperl' ballroom on 6 March. "The
company was very numerous-, remarked one reporter: "And when Capellmeister
Strauss struck up his newly-composed 'Kaiser- Rettungs-Jubelmarsch', in which
the Austrian National Anthem is interwoven, the rejoicing just would not cease,
and only after this truly patriotic march had been repeated five times did the
universal rapture die down.”
CSSR State Philharmonic Orchestra
The East Slovakian town of Košice boasts
a long and distinguished musical tradition, as part of a province that once
provided Vienna with musicians. The State Philharmonic Orchestra is of
relatively recent origin and was established in 1968 under the conductor
Bystrik Rezucha. Subsequent principal conductors have included Stanislav Macura
and Ladislav Slovák, the latter succeeded in 1985 by his pupil Richard Zimmer.
The orchestra has toured widely in Eastern and Western Europe and plays an
important part in the Košice Musical Spring and the Košice International Organ
Alfred Walter was born in Southern
Bohemia in 1929 of Austrian parents. He studied at the University of Graz and
in 1948 was appointed assistant conductor to the Opera of Ravensburg. At the
age of 22 he became conductor of the Graz Opera, where he continued until 1965,
while serving at Bayreuth as assistant to Hans Knappertsbusch and Karl Boehm.
From 1966 until 1969 he was Principal Conductor of the Durban Symphony
Orchestra in South Africa, followed by a period of 15 years as General Director
of Music in Muenster.
Alfred Walter has appeared as a guest
conductor in various parts of the world. In Vienna he has worked as guest
conductor at the State Opera and in 1986 was given the title of Professor by
the Austrian Government. In 1980 he was awarded the Golden Medal of the
International Gustav Mahler Society.