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.
Morgenblätter, Walzer (Morning Papers,
Waltz) op. 279
During the course of a working visit to
Vienna in late autumn 1863, Jacques Offenbach (1819-80) presented the Vienna
Authors' and Journalists' Association, 'Concordia', with an un-named waltz
dedication for their ball in the Sofienbad-Saal to be held on 12 January of the
following year. Since the Strauss Orchestra was engaged for the 'Concordia'
Ball, Johann was also obliged to provide a dedication composition of his own.
Aware of Offenbach's involvement, he likewise left it to the Association to
provide an appropriate name for his waltz. When the committee chose to entitle
Offenbach's work Abendblätter (Evening Papers) and Strauss's Morgenblätter
(Morning Papers) an element of friendly rivalry was assured on the evening of
the ball. Offenbach, however, was not present at the festivity, and Johann
conducted the premières of both waltzes. In the event, the first night press
did not pronounce in favour of either work, but subsequent performances of the
excellent Abendblätter found little favour in Vienna, whereas Morgenblätter
has retained its popularity in orchestral repertoire.
Bauern-Polka (Peasants' Polka) op. 276
When Johann Strauss composed his Bauern-Polka,
he can have had no idea of the furore the work would cause from the moment he
first played it at his orchestra's benefit concert in Pavlovsk on 29 August (=
17 August, Russian calendar) 1863. Only two days later he quipped in a letter
to his Viennese publisher, Haslinger: "People don't just stamp their feet,
they sing it too. I played it today for the third time, and the public already
sings it as accurately as the musicians; this peasant music is so catchy, so
wonderful the character and poetry of this work, that high and low in the
audience stand before the orchestra to enjoy this exceptional work with
reverence". Even Tsar Alexander II, a frequenter of Strauss's concerts,
demanded to hear the work. But Strauss doubted that the polka would enjoy the
same success in Vienna, and in this he was proved right.
The present recording omits the
orchestra's choral refrain.
Juristen-Ball, Polka schnell (Lawyers'
Ball, Quick Polka) op. 280
On 18 January 1864 the law students at
Vienna University held the first of two balls they had organised for that
year's carnival. Johann Strauss and his orchestra were engaged for both
celebrations, and for the first he composed his Juristen-Ball, Polka schnell.
The high spirits and nervous excitement which characterize this piece also
permeate the quick polka he wrote for the Industrial Societies' Ball on the
following night, Vergnügungszug op. 281 (Volume 3).
Myrthenblüthen, Walzer (Myrtle Blossoms,
Waltz) op. 395
one of the loveliest of all Johann Strauss's waltzes, was written to celebrate
the marriage on 10 May 1881 of the Belgian Princess Stefanie with Crown Prince
Rudolf of Austria. The work, dedicated to the royal couple, was conceived as a
choral waltz for the Wiener Mannergesang-Verein, who first performed it – under
the title Myrthenstrausse (Myrtle Bouquets) – at a public festival on
the Vienna Prater on 8 May 1881, with the composer conducting the orchestra of
the Ludwig IV, Grand Duke of Hesse, Infantry Regiment. The waltz was received
with jubilation by the 20,000-strong crowd, and the Neue Freie Presse remarked:
"It looked more like an act of self-defence against this attempted
assassination by applause when the composer and singers hastily decided to sing
the new waltz again to the joy of the delighted listeners". Unfortunately
the bridal pair, together with the Austrian Emperor himself, were unable to
reach the scene since the huge crowd blocked the main route along the Prater.
The work is performed on this recording
in its purely orchestral version.
Blumenfest-Polka (Flower Festival Polka)
The original piano edition of Johann's Blumenfest-Polka
declares that the work was "performed for the first time in the
Imperial-Royal Glashausgarten [= Greenhouse Garden, now the Burggarten] in
Vienna on 18 May 1852 at the Flower Festival organised by the all-highest
Imperial Court". In fact, poor weather had forced the postponement of the
event from earlier that month, and when the rescheduled date arrived one of the
principal guests, Tsar Nicholas I, had already left Vienna. Rather than delay
the première of his new polka still further, Strauss chose instead to launch it
publicly in the Volksgarten on 14 May with the Constantin Infantry Regimental
Orchestra, at a grand spring fête celebrating the name-day of her Imperial and
Royal Highness the Archduchess Sophie.
Panacea-Klänge, Walzer (Musical Panacea,
Waltz) op. 161
The 1855 Vienna Carnival proved
especially busy for Johann, the more so since he had chosen to secure all the
Strauss Orchestra's engagements for himself rather than share them with his
brother Josef. After the political events of the previous year and the cholera
epidemic, life in Vienna was again returning to normal, and Johann's many
musical contributions helped to imbue the Carnival with much of its former
gaiety and high spirits. One such piece is the waltz Panacea-Klänge,
which Strauss dedicated to the medical students at Vienna University on the
occasion of their ball held in the Sofienbad-Saal on 23 January 1855.
Diabolin-Polka (Devil of a Fellow, Polka)
The St. Katherine's Day audience in the
Vienna Volksgarten on the afternoon of 25 November 1860 was treated to a select
programme when Johann Strauss and his orchestra featured all five of the
novelties he had composed for his Russian concert season earlier that year.
Among these works receiving their Viennese premières was the highly
entertaining Diabolin-Polka. The work had actually been performed and
published in Russia under a different title – the Nouvelle Satanella-Polka
– a name which harked back to Johann's Satanella-Polka op. 124 (1853) on
themes from the ballet Satanella. The first piano edition of the Diabolin-Polka
delightfully portrays the she-devil Satanella dancing on Satan's back,
surrounded by a devils' orchestra.
Lieder-Quadrille, nach beliebten Motiven
(Songs Quadrille, on popular themes) op. 275
"Tomorrow I will despatch... to your
firm the quadrille pieced together from German themes... Moreover, I say to you
as a friend that this quadrille is not up to much – only if such a shortage of
quadrilles should occur that you are able to hesitate for a moment before
throwing this quadrille into your rubbish-room, then publish it – but publish
it nicely – otherwise it won't be much in demand".
In this dismissive way Johann Strauss,
writing from Russia in June 1863, notified his Viennese publisher, Carl
Haslinger, to expect the imminent arrival of his Melange-Quadrille.
Strauss had assembled this attractive work from the repertoire of his wife, the
singer Jetty Treffz, who performed several of the popular German songs during
Johann's 1863 Russian concert season. The composition, which Johann performed
for the first time at Pavlovsk on 11 May (= 29 April, Russian calendar), was
subsequently published in Vienna under the title: Lieder-Quadrille, nach
beliebten Motiven. The 'popular themes' include "Du, du liegst mir im
Herzen", "Mädle ruck, ruck, ruck" and "Wer will unter die
Soldaten", and Jacques Offenbach's incidental song "La Chanson de
Fortunio" (also featured in the 1861 operetta of that name).
Pesther Csárdás (Ungarischer
Nationaltanz) Pest Csárdás (Hungarian National Dance) op. 23
The immense personal and artistic success
which Johann Strauss I continued to enjoy in Vienna left Johann II little scope
for consolidating his own position within the Austrian capital. To supplement
his income, therefore, the younger man embarked upon a series of small concert
tours with his orchestra. In 1846, for example, he travelled via Graz and
Ungarisch-Altenburg to the Hungarian twin cities of Pest and Ofen (united in
1872 as Budapest) where, from 12-20 June he gave a series of highly acclaimed
guest performances. At his 'Farewell Reunion' in the Horváth-Garten, Ofen, on
16 June 1846 he caused a sensation with a work "especially composed for
Pest", to which he gave the name Pesther Csárdás. The piece may possibly
have been given its première two days earlier at Johann's second, penultimate
reunion, though press reports so far discovered have failed to substantiate
this. The work shows how adept the young Strauss was at capturing the essential
ingredients of national music and assimilating them into his own compositions.
Feuilleton-Walzer (Features Section,
Waltz) op. 293
The Feuilleton-Walzer was Johann's
contribution to the third annual ball of the Vienna Authors' and Journalists'
Association, 'Concordia', which took place in the Sofienbad-Saal on 24 January
1855. The work is dedicated to the organisation. Down the years numerous
composers were to dedicate their music to the influential 'Concordia', and they
regularly plundered the rich and varied journalistic vocabulary for suitable
titles for their compositions. It was the Parisian newspaper La Presse which
first carried a separate sheet, headed Feuilleton, featuring a topical cultural
content. The idea was taken up by the editor of Vienna's Die Presse, and
soon feuilletons became customary in several other Viennese newspapers.
Melodies from Strauss's Feuilleton-Walzer
may be familiar to some listeners through their appearance in the 'Impromptu
Variation No. 1' in Antal Dorati's ballet-pastiche Graduation Ball
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.
Polish State Philharmonic
The Polish State Philharmonic was formed
in the Silesian city of Katowicze in 1945, one of the first orchestras to be
established in the post-war period. Since then it has assumed an important
position giving concerts in Katowicze and the principal cities of this heavily
industrialised region of Poland. The orchestra has visited England, Austria,
West Germany, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, France, Italy and the
Soviet Union and has taken part in a number of major music festivals.
Conductors appearing with the orchestra include Kyril Kondrashin, Hermann
Abendroth. Gennady Rozhdestvensky and Carlo Zecchi, and soloists of the
eminence of Sviatoslav Richter, Emil Gilels, Artur Rubinstein, Maurizio
Pollini, Henryk Szeryng and David Oistrakh.
Johannes Wildner was born in the Austrian
resort of Mürzzuschlag in 1956 and studied violin and conducting, taking his
diploma at the Vienna Musilhochschule and proceeding to a doctorate in
musicology. A member of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Johannes Wildner has
toured widely as leader of the Vienna Symphony Orchestra Johann Strauss
Ensemble and of the Vienna Mozart Academy. As a conductor he has directed the
Orchestra Sinfonica dell'Emilia Romagna Arturo Toscanini, the Budapest State
Opera Orchestra, the Silesian Philharmonic and the Malmö Symphony Orchestra. He
conducted performances of the Vienna Volksoper in the autumn of 1989 and has
been invited to Japan, China, Denmark, Sweden, Poland and Italy.