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8.223206 - STRAUSS II, J.: Edition - Vol. 6
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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.

Warschauer Polka (Warsaw Polka) op. 84
In October 1850 Johann Strauss applied for a passport for himself and his orchestra to tour "all the Royal-Imperial conscripted crown lands, Prussia and Russo-Poland" until the end of the year. They departed Vienna on 16 October. After giving concerts in Ratibor (=Racibórz), Breslau (=Wroclaw) and Kattowitz (=Katowice), all now in present-day Poland, they travelled to Warsaw on 23 October, allegedly at the invitation of the Tsarina of Russia – Poland at that time being under Russian dominion. There, on 27 October, Strauss and his musicians played at a festival soirée given by the Russian Tsar Nicholas I, whose guests included the Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph I. Strauss must have felt the irony of the situation that denied him the position of Court Music Director in his own country, while he fulfilled the role for the Tsar.

During Strauss's brief stay in Warsaw he composed three new works, which he featured on his return to Vienna at a festival in the Bierhalle premises, in the suburb of Fünfhaus, on 21 November 1850. Only one of the new pieces was published – the Warschauer Polka, written for the Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna, who rewarded Johann with a diamond ring.

Wellen und Wogen, Walzer (Waves and Billows, Waltz) op. 141
During a concert tour of Germany in October and November 1852, Johann Strauss made a visit to Hamburg where he conceived the idea of composing a waltz suited more to the concert platform than the dance floor. This first tentative step in the further development of the waltz was entitled Wellen und Wogen, a title admirably suited to the mood of this musical seascape. Although it excited no particular attention at its première on 9 October 1853 at a benefit concert in the Vienna Volksgarten, it drew comment from many corners upon its subsequent publication. Vienna's revered critic, the 'Music Pope' Eduard Hanslick, dismissed this and other Strauss "waltz requiems" of the period as "no longer appropriate to the dance". But Johann had achieved his aim, and must have been gratified by the opinion of the Theaterzeitung: "This 'Wellen und Wogen' does not have an electrifying effect only on dancing enthusiasts; these enchanting sounds also exercise an irresistible power of attraction on the colder and more demanding visitors to the soiree".

Caroussel-Marsch (Carousel March) op. 133
The splendid Caroussel-Marsch takes its name, not from the now-ubiquitous fairground attraction, but from the equestrian tournament in which riders compete in races and various manoeuvres in formation. One such entertainment took place at the Vienna Hofreitschule (Court Riding School) – today better known as the Spanish Riding School – on 21 May 1853, during that year's Court Festival. The event inspired Johann Strauss to one of the most compelling musical creations of his early period, the Caroussel-Marsch, which the composer conducted for the first time at a spring festival in the Volksgarten on 14 June, 1853.

Camelien-Polka Schnell (Camellias, Quick polka) op. 248
By way of thanks for a decoration which had recently been bestowed upon him, Carl Haslinger, Johann Strauss's regular Viennese publisher, organised a charity event to take place in the Dianabad-Saal on 29 January 1861. The name he chose for this entertainment, a 'Camellias Ball', was unfortunately to prove an embarrassment to him when no camellias could be procured for that particular evening! Haslinger doubtless found some consolation, however, in the excellent and aptly-entitled Camelien-Polka, which Johann Strauss provided for the occasion.

Ballettomanes may recognise some of the polka's themes, arranged as an accompaniment to a can-can, in the ballet Le beau Danube (1924).

Myrthen-Kränze, Walzer (Myrtle Wreaths, Waltz) op. 154
On 24 April 1854, amid all the pomp and ceremony appropriate to such a royal occasion, Vienna jubilantly celebrated the marriage of the Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph I and the Bavarian Duchess Elisabeth Amalie Eugenie. Three days later, at the Court Ball held in the Rittersaal of the Hofburg, Johann Strauss conducted his own wedding tribute before the royal couple. The press reported: "During the cotillons there resounded for the first time the 'Elisabethsklänge', respectfully dedicated to her Majesty the Empress by Kapellmeister Strauss".

In the Introduction to the waltz there are allusions to the National Anthems of Austria (Haydn's Kaiserlied) and Bavaria (Franz Lachner's Bayernlied), and the work later appeared in print with its title changed to Myrthen-Kränze.

Nordstern-Quadrille (Polar Star Quadrille) op. 153
Towards the end of July 1854 Johann Strauss returned from a rest-cure in Bad Gastein, near Salzburg, to resume his position at the head of the Strauss Orchestra. His first appearance in public was at Unger's Casino in Hernals on Sunday 30 July, and among the compositions performed was his new quadrille on themes from Meyerbeer's opera comique, Der Nordstern. As L'Étoile du Nord, Meyerbeer's opera had received its world première in Paris on 16 February 1854, but not until the following year was a production mounted in Vienna.

Some seven years before, Johann had been prevented from performing music from an earlier version of this Meyerbeer opera when Carl Haslinger, his father's publisher, had sought a legal injunction ensuring that only the elder Strauss had access to the work. Meyerbeer himself had disapproved of this ban and made his music available to both father and son.

Bluette-Polka Française (Artistic trifle, French polka) op. 271
Johann Strauss honoured each of his three wives with the dedication of a dance music composition. Thus, Angelika's name lives on in the dedication of the Kuss-Walzer (op. 400) and Adele's in the Adelen-Walzer (op. 424).

Strauss's first wife was the mezzo-soprano Jetty Treffz (1818-78), whom he married in August 1862. She at once proved herself an indispensable partner for the often disorganised and financially naive 'Waltz King', and aside from her wifely duties also fulfilled those of advisor in artistic and monetary matters, translator, private secretary and even music copyist. It was for Jetty that Johann wrote his charming Bluette, Polka francaise, which he himself conducted on 23 November 1862 at a St. Katherine's Day masked ball in the Redoutensall, the proceeds from which were "for the benefit of the Pension Institute for those involved in the Fine Arts in Vienna".

Concurrenzen, Walzer (Rivalry, Waltz) op. 267
The ball of the Industrial Societies' Association, held in the Sofienbad-Saal on 29 January 1862, opened the series of imposing grand Corporation balls that took place during that year's Vienna Carnival. Johann Strauss and his orchestra were engaged to provide the dance music at this festivity, for which the composer was also expected to write the obligatory dedication piece. He obliged with the irresistible waltz Concurrenzen, for which the Association's ball-organising committee presented him with 25 golden ducats. Cognizant of the background to Johann's choice of title, the Wiener Zeitung observed: "When Strauss let his waltz 'Concurrenzen' ring out... here the competitive squabble between the railway companies was forgotten, and there reigned only one competition, the competition of the winged feet."

Chansonetten-Quadrille, Nach Themen Französischer Romanzen
(Comic Songs, Quadrille on themes from French ballads) op. 259
Several of the works which Johann Strauss and his brothers wrote for their Russian concert seasons were published both there and in Vienna, but often under different titles. An example is the Rigolboche-Quadrille, which Johann's Russian publisher announced as being based on Parisian comic songs. The composer's choice of French material for a new quadrille reflected the success which a group of Parisian girl singers were enjoying at that time in St. Petersburg. Strauss's new composition not only drew upon the girls' repertoire, but also took its title from the stage name of their most popular dancer and singer, the blonde 'Rigolboche' (real name: Marguerite Badel). Russian audiences heard Johann's Rigolboche-Quadrille – initially called the Französische Quadrille – for the first time at the composer's own benefit concert at Pavlovskon 5 October 1861 (= 23 September, Russian calender). Strauss's regular Viennese publisher, however, preferred to retitle the work Chansonetten-Quadrille.

Ballsträusschen, Schnell-Polka (Ball Bouquets, Quick polka) op. 380
Ballsträusschen was the title Johann Strauss gave to the quick polka he dedicated to the Vienna Journalists' and Writers' Association, "Concordia", on the occasion of their ball held in the Sofienbad-Saal on 19 February 1878. It was written at a time when Johann was busy composing his operetta Blindekuh [Première: Theater an der Wien, Vienna, 18 December 1878], and it was the only dance composition which he produced for the 1878 Vienna Carnival. After a period of fraternal disharmony Johann had again resumed contact with his youngest brother Eduard, and indeed he it was who conducted the Strauss Orchestra in the first performance of Ballsträusschen at the Concordia Ball.

The first theme in the Trio section of Ballsträusschen may strike a chord with some listeners through its inclusion in Acts 1 and 2 of the posthumous Johann Strauss operetta, Wiener Blut (1899).

Kuss-Waltzer (Kiss Waltz) op. 400
After the death of his first wife, Jetty Treffz, in April 1878, Johann waited just seven weeks before remarrying. His new bride was Angelika Dittrich (1850-1919), a blue-eyed 28 year-old Prussian actress, but the marriage was ill-starred and the couple were granted a divorce by consent in late 1882.

Among the operettas Johann created during their brief time together was Der Iustige Krieg (‘The Merry War’) of 1881, whose popularity in Strauss's lifetime was surpassed only by Die Fledermaus (1874) and Der Zigeunerbaron (1885). Of the ten separate orchestral numbers which Johann concocted from its melodies the Kuss-Walzer retains a special significance, for it bears a poignant dedication "to his beloved wife Angelika". It was Eduard Strauss who first conducted this waltz, as the opening dance piece at the Court Ball held on 10 January 1882. The Kuss-Walzer is, in fact, an orchestral treatment of the operetta's 'hit' number, the Marchese Sebastiani's Act 2 aria, "Nur für Natur", with an added section taken from the Act 2 Finale ("Herr Herzog").

CSSR State Philharmonic Orchestra (Košice)
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 Festival.

Oliver Dohnányi
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.


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