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8.223208 - STRAUSS II, J.: Edition - Vol. 8
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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.

Die Sanguiniker, Walzer (The Sanguine Ones, Waltz) Op. 27
The cover illustration for the first piano edition of Die Sanguiniker depicts a convivial alfresco scene; a young man strums a guitar, while a group of his friends, some enjoying a glass of wine, look on. The optimism of the work's title also finds expression in the succession of spirited waltz melodies which Strauss conducted for the first time at an open-air festivity on the Vienna Wasserglacis on 2 September 1846. Despite its obvious appeal the waltz seems not to have found immediate favour with the audience: after the performance Strauss Father's supporters derided the young composer by suggesting that he was not used "to playing out of doors on cool evenings"!

Pepita-Polka Op. 138
The compositions (opp. 123 & 173) with which Johann Strauss honoured Marie Taglioni the younger were not the only times he felt moved to compliment a member of the dancing profession. Shortly before Strauss left Vienna on 15 July 1853 for his long-overdue convalescent holiday, the Spanish dancer Pepita d'Oliva (1834-68) made the first of several triumphant guest appearances at the Carl-Theater. Her sensational success gave rise to numerous 'El Olé' and 'Pepita' festivities, and it was at one of these, held in the Sperl dance hall on 1 August 1853, that Josef Strauss performed his older brother's capricious Pepita-Polka, which had been "put together from pertinent melodies".

Erzherzog Wilhelm Genesungs-Marsch (Archduke Wilhelm's Recovery March) Op. 149
At the end of March 1854 the popular Austrian Archduke Wilhelm (1827-94), the fifth and youngest of Archduke Carl's sons, suffered an intestinal haemorrhage and became critically ill. Through the efforts of his doctors he recovered a few weeks later, and Johann Strauss was swift to express the nation's delight with his Erzherzog Wilhelm Genesungs-Marsch. The composer played the work for the first time at Unger's Casino, in the Viennese suburb of Hernals, on 28 May, immediately prior to setting off himself for a convalescent holiday in Bad Gastein.

Schallwellen, Walzer (Sound Waves, Waltz) Op. 148
"We see [Johann Strauss) this talented, capable composer on a hazardous course. In his new waltzes a false pathos has crept in, which in dance music [is] totally unacceptable... The wretched chord-sequence blasted out by the trombones, which forms the second part of [Waltz] No. 1 of 'Schallwellen', could certainly be used in opera finales when particularly bloody events are taking place..." (Wiener Zeitung, 6 October 1854)

In this manner the influential Viennese music critic, Eduard Hanslick (1825-1904), censured Johann Strauss for introducing revolutionary Wagnerian-style instrumentation into his latest compositions – which Hanslick deprecatingly referred to as "Waltz Requiems". Schallwellen, nonetheless, marks a milestone in Johann's musical development, and belongs among his most important waltzes. It was dedicated to the technical students at Vienna University, for whose ball in the Sofienbad-Saal on 7 February 1854, it was written.

Wiedersehen Polka (Reunion Polka) Op. 142
Following his illness in late 1852 Johann was urged by his doctors to take a convalescent holiday, but his busy schedule of commitments prevented him from doing so until summer 1853. Travelling first to Bad Gastein, near Salzburg, and then to the Lower Styrian spa resort of Bad Neuhaus (today Celje, Yugoslavia), Strauss was absent from Vienna from the end of July until mid-September. On 20 September Bäuerle's Theaterzeitung was able to inform its readers: "Kapellmeister Strauss, who appeared before the audience on the 18th of this month at Unger's Casino in Hernals for the first time since his return, and performed the specially composed 'Wiedersehen-Polka', was received with a storm of applause that seemed to have no end. Around 3,000 people were present to welcome the beloved maestro..."

Un Ballo in Maschera, Quadrille nach Motiven aus Verdi's Oper
(A Masked Ball, Quadrille on themes from Verdi's Opera) Op. 272
Apart from providing its customary light musical entertainment at concerts and balls, the Strauss Orchestra also fulfilled an important social function by introducing into its programmes selections from operatic works that many of its audiences might not otherwise trouble to hear. The Strauss family's composers were also adept at arranging melodies from operatic works of the day into the form of quadrilles, one of the most popular dance styles in 19th-century ballrooms.

Such was the case with Giuseppe Verdi's opera, Un Ballo in Maschera. First staged at the Teatro Apollo, Rome, on 17 February 1859, a complete production was not mounted in Vienna until nearly eight years later. Johann Strauss pre-empted this, however, when on 21 December 1862 in the Volksgarten he presented the first performance of his quadrille on themes from Verdi's opera.

Carnevals-Botschafter, Walzer (Carnival's Ambassador, Waltz) Op. 270
Johann's first wife, the mezzo-soprano Jetty Treffz (1818-78), began her married life in the role of nurse to the 'Waltz King'. The unrelenting demands of Strauss's year-round conducting engagements took a savage toll on his mental and physical health, and it was Jetty's intention that their brief Venetian honeymoon in autumn 1862 should provide her husband with a complete rest.

With his routine commitments to the 1862 Vienna Carnival behind him, Johann had composed few other new works that year. During his honeymoon, however, his new-found happiness with Jetty inspired him to write the waltz Carnevals-Botschafter. Appropriately heralding the 1863 carnival festivities, the waltz may possibly have been heard for the first time at a 50th anniversary celebration of Vienna's Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde (Society of the Friends of Music) at the Sperl dance hall on 11 November 1862, although its first reported performance is at a soiree there on 22 November.

Leichtes Blut, Polka schnell (Light of Heart, Quick Polka) Op. 319
With the 1867 Vienna Carnival over, the three Strauss brothers made preparations to present a 'Revue' of all the dance pieces they had composed for that year's festivities – a practice which had by now become a tradition. Although they had written a record 24 new works – 5 by Johann, 11 by Josef and 8 by Eduard – Johann was conscious that his own carnival offerings (which included the Blue Danube and Artist's Life waltzes) lacked a quick polka, a dance with which Josef Strauss had recently enjoyed much success. With all speed Johann crafted a quick polka of his own, giving it the title Leichtes Blut, which he presented for the first time, alongside that year's carnival novelties, at a benefit concert in the Vienna Volksgarten on 10 March 1867.

Saison-Quadrille (Season Quadrille) Op. 283
In the opus listings Johann's Saison-Quadrille and Deutscher Krieger-Marsch (Op. 284) appear consecutively, both works being written in response to the 1864 Austro-Prussian war with Denmark. Strauss had originally intended his Saison-Quadrille for a charity ball, scheduled to take place in the Redoutensaal on 5 April 1864, in aid of wounded Austrian and German soldiers. In the event the ball was postponed, and Strauss's commitments to perform in Pavlovsk made him unavailable for the new date. It was therefore under Russian skies that the composer gave the première of the Saison-Quadrille, when he included it in the programme of his opening concert at the Vauxhall Pavilion on 5 May (= 23 April, Russian calendar) that year.

Cagliostro-Walzer Op. 370
Cagliostro in Wien (Cagliostro in Vienna), the fourth of Johann Strauss's operettas, received its première at Vienna's Theater an der Wien on 27 February 1875, and was to mark the start of the composer's successful collaboration with Vienna's most famous team of librettists, F. Zell and Richard Genée. Generally speaking the stage work, about an episode in the life of the 18th-century alchemist and swindler, Count Alessandro Cagliostro, did not find critical favour, although one reviewer conceded: "When you imagine that Strauss has already played his best cards, he finally produces another waltz which 'out-trumps' everything."

Such is true also of the Cagliostro-Walzer, the orchestral waltz Strauss assembled from themes in the operetta. This dance piece was given its first performance under Eduard Strauss, the composer's youngest brother, at a concert on 16 June 1875 in the Blumen-Säle of the Wiener Gartenbaugesellschaft (The Floral Halls of the Vienna Horticultural Society). The opening waltz melody comprises music from the operetta's showstopping Act 2 duet, “Könnt' ich mit Ihnen fliegen durch's Leben!”, while all three acts provide material for the remainder of the piece.

Banditen-Galopp (Bandits Galop) Op. 378
The wild Banditen-Galopp belongs to those orchestral numbers which Johann Strauss arranged from tunes in his comic operetta Prinz Methusalem (Première: Carl-Theater Vienna, 3 January 1877). The galop's title derives from the appearance in the stage work of a bandit gang intent on overthrowing the reigning Prince, and its principal melody is to be found in the Act 3 duet with chorus, "In der Stille ganz verstohl’n werden wir Schätze hol’n". The Act 1 Finale provides the source of the galop's remaining themes.

Almost immediately after the operetta's première Johann, accompanied by his wife Jetty, left Vienna to fulfil engagements in Paris. The return trip was made via Baden-Baden, where Strauss had enjoyed great success in 1871 and 1872. It was here in the Conversationshaus, on 18 March 1877, that the composer gave the first performance of his Banditen-Galopp (played under the title Sapristi).

Lagunen-Walzer (Lagoon Waltz) Op. 411
A fiasco accompanied the world première of Johann Strauss's ninth operetta, Eine Nacht in Venedig (‘A Night in Venice’), on 3 October 1883 in Berlin, and composer and librettists were forced to effect hurried musical and textual reworkings before the work opened in Vienna just six days later. In the familiar surroundings of the Theater an der Wien on 9 October the operetta triumphed, and many of its numbers had to be repeated.

The composer first conducted his Lagunen-Walzer, arranged on themes from Eine Nacht in Venedig, at Eduard Strauss's benefit concert in the Musikverein on 4 November 1883, and had to perform this charming harbinger of the Carnival’ three times. The piece takes its title and opening waltz melody from Caramello's famous Act 3 Lagoon Waltz ("Ach, wie so herrlich zu schau’n"). Devotees of the operetta will recognise further material from this aria, as well as music from "Ach, was istdas"? / "Im Saale tanzen meine Gäste" (Act 2); "Alle maskirt!" (Act 1); "Doch ich will nicht länger klagen (Act 3) and "Zur Serenade" / "Mit der Würde die dir eigen" (Act 1).

Programme notes © 1989 Peter Kemp The Johann Strauss Society of Great Britain.

The author is indebted to Professor Franz Mailer for his assistance preparation of these notes.

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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