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8.223220 - STRAUSS II, J.: Edition - Vol. 20
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, Joseph 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.
Walzer (Aurora Ball Dances, Waltz) op. 87
It was usual for the balls of the 'Aurora' to be held in modest surroundings, but on rare occasions – as in the Vienna 'Fasching. (Carnival) of 1851 – the Association took over the spacious and fashionable ‘Sperl’ dance hall, and thus it was here, on 18 February that year, that Johann Strauss conducted his Aurora-Ball-Tänze for the first time.
Herzel-Polka (Little Hearts Polka) op. 188
Throughout their lives the members of the Strauss family did much to further charitable causes both at home and abroad, and in his successful petition of 20 February 1863 for the conferment of the prestigious honorary title of ‘k.k. Hofball-Musik-Direktor’ (Director of Music for the Imperial-Royal Court Balls), the younger Johann listed among the justifications for the granting of his request the fact that "with the least possible regard for his own interests, he himself has not missed any opportunity to allow his orchestra to be used to make music for various charitable purposes or to organise such productions himself"
nach Motiven der Oper: Die Wallfahrt nach Ploërmel von G. Meyerbeer (Dinorah
Quadrille, on themes from G. Meyerbeer’s opera ‘The Pilgrimage to Ploërmel’)
Meyerbeer's three-act opéra comique, Le Pardon de Ploërmel – more universally known as Dinorah, by which name the work was first styled – was given its première at the Paris Opéra Comique on 4 April 1859, in the presence of the Emperor Napoleon III and the Empress Eugénie. The plot, based on an old Breton legend, is set in the village of Ploërmel where each year the inhabitants – among them Dinorah – make a pilgrimage to the Chapel of the Virgin. Not until 11 March 1865 at the Hof-Operntheater was a complete production mounted in Vienna, under the title Dinorah oder die Wallfahrt nach Ploërmel – more than five years after Johann Strauss's Dinorah-Ouadrille had introduced many of the opera's musical highlights to the Viennese public. Strauss had in fact arranged the quadrille for his 1859 summer season in Pavlovsk, where he gave its first performance at a festival concert on 13 August (= 1 August, Russian calendar), while audiences in the Austrian capital were introduced to the new work on 20 November 1859 at an afternoon concert in the Volksgarten marking Johann's first public appearance after his return from Russia.
Walzer (Raised Pulses, Waltz) op. 175
It is precisely this sense of mounting excitement with which Strauss imbues the brief Introduction to his Erhöhte Pulse, before the first melting waltz theme unfolds. Waltz 2B, with its shifts into the minor key, produces one of the most langorous of Johann’s waltz tunes, reminiscent of his brother Josef’s style.
The ingeniously entitled waltz Erhöhte Pulse was dedicated to the medical students of Vienna University during the Carnival of 1856, and first performed at their ball on 8 January in the Sofienbad-Saal. Although the Carnival in this year was extremely short, there were nevertheless more balls, festivals in the palaces and concerts to play than formerly, and Johann and Josef were kept busy with the demands of composing and conducting. Moreover, since during this Fasching (Carnival) Johann conducted all Court- and Chamber-Balls, he formally applied to be granted the official position of a ‘Hofball Musikdirektor’ (Director of Music for the Court Balls). But after due deliberation, the Court bureaucrats declined his request...
Ein Herz, ein
Sinn. Polka-Mazurka (One Heart, One Mind. Polka-mazurka) op. 323
Owing to the fact that the Hamburg-based publisher of the Wiener Blut operetta, August Cranz, did not own the rights to those earlier Strauss dance works originally published by H.F Müller and Carl Haslinger, the selection process was largely restricted to those works from op. 279 (Morgenblätter Walzer) onwards – thus including the material from Strauss's greatest period of creativity. Into this category falls the tranquil polka-mazurka Ein Herz, ein Sinn, which Johann dedicated "to the Committee of the Citizens' Ball!" and first conducted at their traditional festivity held in the Imperial Redoutengaal ballroom on 11 February 1868. Themes from the polka-mazurka feature in the first two acts of Wiener Blut: theme 1A and the first theme of the Trio appear in the Act 2 Duettino for Josef and Pepi, while the second theme of the Trio section is used in the Act 1 Finale as an orchestral accompaniment to the Minister as he sings "In einem off'nen Wagen".
nach russischen Melodien (Slavic Quadrille, on Russian melodies) op. 338
After a series of misfortunes the 1869 Pavlovsk season commenced on 9 May (= 27 April, Russian calendar) and continued through the summer months until the remarkable and emotional farewell concert was reached on 100ctober (= 28 September). Some weeks earlier, a benefit concert for the orchestra on 22 September (= 10 September) had suffered from adverse weather conditions, and the railway management therefore authorised a second benefit for the players to take place on 5 October (= 23 September). Despite the rain on this occasion, Johann and Josef provided a special attraction for their audience at the Vauxhall Pavilion, not only by playing together a selection of their own compositions as piano duets but also by conducting the premières of two new dance pieces: Josef's polka En passant (op. 273) and Johann's Slovianka-Quadrille on Russian melodies.
Concert-Walzer (Daydreams. Concert Waltz) op. 253
Without doubt, Josef Strauss's Ideale prompted Johann to try his hand too at composing concert waltzes, but the results – Gedankenflug (op. 215) and Schwärmereien – were commercially unsuccessful, and the brothers were dissuaded by their publisher from further such experimentation. Yet, commercial considerations aside, Schwärmereien is particularly deserving of a wider appreciation, the more so because of its dedication to Johann's friend, the Russian piano virtuoso, composer, teacher and conductor Anton Rubinstein (1829-94). Strauss conceived this exacting and difficult work during his summer 1860 concert season at Pavlovsk, and conducted its first performance in Vienna's Dianabad-Saal ballroom on 1 April 1861. Schwärmereien tends to be more through-composed than the typical dance waltz, and Rubinstein – who, with the exception of Liszt, was the most celebrated pianist of the 19th century – delighted in performing the work several times arranged for pianoforte solo: indeed, Rubinstein and his brother, Nikolai, frequently played Johann's waltzes and polkas in their concerts. The pianist once even sketched an amusing caricature of Strauss wielding violin and bow, signing it ‘Toni’, and inscribed his name on one of the fans belonging to Strauss's wife, Adèle. Towards the end of his life Anton Rubinstein spoke of Johann Strauss to the Waltz King's first biographer, Ludwig Eisenberg: "I have been following him right from his earliest beginnings and have always shown warm reverence and enthusiasm for his music. I have also demonstrated this, in that I have supported his works not just where it was necessary, but I included them in my repertoire and played them out of preference, like ‘Nachtflater’, 'Sirenen' and others – of preference because, to my greatest joy, always with very great success, which is certainly not attributable to my performance, for I have played many other things without the same good fortune. Yes, Strauss is without rival, a real one-off, and I revere him not only as an artist, but also as a person, because I am completely charmed by his extraordinary modesty".
Auf zum Tanze!
Schnell-Polka (Let's dance! Quick polka) op. 436
During the reception before dinner the pianist Alfred Grünfeld (1852-1924) played his Minuet op. 31 and Gustav Walter sang the aria "Der Frühling lacht" from Strauss's Simplicius, accompanied at the piano by the composer. The exquisite dinner, provided by the famous restaurateur Eduard Sacher, was punctuated by two unofficial speeches, one of which – delivered by the advocate Dr. Fialla – took the form of a witty poem relying heavily on word- play involving the titles of Strauss's operettas. After the meal every guest received a charming souvenir comprising a folded card showing the date of the ball, daintily encircled by a floral design, and containing a facsimile autograph 16-bar polka Schnell especially composed for the event by Johann Strauss. The card also offered some charming verses written by the popular poet Ludwig Ganghofer (1855-1920) who was, moreover, present to read them. The poem gave its title to the new polka, and exhorted the guests to dance: "Auf zum Tanze!" "The 'memento' in his hand, Grünfeld dashed upstairs into the ballroom, the dance devotees streamed in after him – and who doesn't long to dance to a new dance poem by the Maestro – the brilliant virtuoso sat down at the grand piano and everyone launched into the polka Schnell. And from then on it was non-stop dancing!" (Victor Leon, Wiener Allgemeine Zeitung, 6 March 1888). Not until 8.30 on Sunday morning did the guests finally depart – after breakfasting on frankfurters and horseradish and strong coffee – after more than eleven hours of revelry!
The Viennese public was not given the opportunity of hearing this exhilarating piece, by then extended into a full-length Schnell polka, until Eduard Strauss conducted its first orchestral performance on 21 October 1888 in the Great Hall of the Musikverein. The occasion was the opening programme of Eduard's new season of Sunday concerts, and it included the premières of seven new works apart from Auf zum Tanze!, among them the overture to Franz Schubert's opera Fierrabras, a ballet fragment (Passepied) by Delibes, Johann Strauss's waltz Sinnen und Minnen (op. 435) and Eduard's own Aus den schlesischen Bergen, Polka-Mazur (op. 260). The Cranz publishing house issued Johann's schnellpolka the following year with a dedication "to his dear friend Doctor Ludwig Ganghofer", complete with all four verses of Ganghofer's poem.
The whole of the main section of Auf zum Tanze! features in the posthumous Johann Strauss operetta Wiener Blut (1899), where it is sung in the Act 3 Sextet by the Countess, to the words "Lockt Sie denn die Laube nicht?".
Walzer (Pamphlets, Waltz) op. 300
One of the loveliest of Johann's three waltz contributions to the 1866 Vienna Fasching was that written for the annual ball of the Vienna Authors’ and Journalists’ Association 'Concordia' held in the Sofienbad-Saal ballroom on Sunday 21 January. The piece, dedicated to the ‘Concordia’, was aptly entitled Flugschriften (Pamphlets), and its first piano edition, bearing the composer’s dedication to the 'Concordia' and depicting a winged Pegasus being ridden across the skies over Vienna by a carnival character gleefully strewing pamphlets behind him as an owl flees for its life, actually went on sale the day before the Concordia Ball. Unusually, however, Flugschriften was a rare example of a dedication work which did not receive its première at the ball for which it was written: four days earlier, on 17 January, Johann had conducted the first performance of the waltz at a Court Ball in the Rittersaal of the Imperial Hofburg Palace attended by the Austrian Emperor Franz Josef I and the Empress Elisabeth.
While the title of Strauss's Flugschriften Walzer may be unfamiliar, audiophiles and ballettomanes alike will doubtless recognise an arrangement of the plaintive melodies of Waltz 2 and part of the Coda as comprising the music for 'The Opening of the Ball' dance in Antal Dorati's 1940 pastiche ballet, Graduation Ball. A recapitulation of Waltz 2A is also to be heard towards the close of the ballet's 'Finale'.
Polka-Mazurka op. 330
There is something of a shimmering quality, too, in the polka-mazurka Fata Morgana which Johann Strauss wrote for the grand ball of the Vienna Artists' Association, 'Hesperus', held in the Dianabad-Saal on 1 February 1869. All three Strauss brothers were members of this association, and for the 1869 Hesperus-Ball each contributed a new work – Josef the waltz Aquarellen op. 258, Eduard the polka française In Künstlerkreisen op. 47 and Johann his Fata Morgana. According to press reports, Josef and Eduard Strauss conducted the music for the ball, but surprisingly Johann's polka-mazurka was not mentioned in any of the reviews. Just under four weeks later, on Easter Monday 29 March, Johann conducted the first public performance of the work at a farewell concert in the Blumen-Säle of the Wiener Gartenbaugesellschaft (Floral Halls of the Vienna Horticultural Society) shortly before he departed with brother Josef for a joint season of summer concerts in Pavlovsk.
Theme 1A of Fata Morgana was later incorporated into the Johann Strauss pastiche operetta Wiener Blut (1899), where it is heard in the Act 3 Sextetsung by the Count to the words "Hier sind die Lauben".
Märchen aus dem
Orient, Walzer (Fairy Tales from the Orient, Waltz) op. 444
One decoration not shown in Johann's listing was the insignia of the Turkish Medjidye Order. The honour was conferred upon the composer by Sultan Abdülhamid Khan (1842-1918), dedicatee of Johann's colourful and exciting waltz Märchen aus dem Orient, written as a belated fiftieth birthday present for the Ottoman ruler in 1892 – though not until the summer of 1895, however, did the sultan's ambassador, Ghalib Bey, make the formal presentation to the composer in Vienna. The astute Abdülhilmid Khan – 34th Grand Sultan of the Ottoman Empire who ruled as Abdülhamid II from 1876 until deposed in 1909, and whose ruthless cruelty earned him the sobriquets 'Abdul the Damned' and 'The Red Sultan' – is known to have visited Vienna in 1889, though there is no evidence of a meeting with Johann Strauss. One is therefore left to assume that news of the sultan's fiftieth birthday celebrations on 21 September 1892 alerted the composer to the possibility of adding to his already large collection of decorations by dedicating a new work to the Turkish ruler At any rate, the sultan was not among the audience when Johann personally conducted the first performance of Märchen aus dem Orient at his brother Eduard's benefit concert in the Great Hall of Vienna's Musikverein building in 27 November 1892. The critic of the Neue Freie Presse (30.11.1892) observed: "The new waltz, a true masterpiece of Strauss invention, contains a profusion of original melodies which demonstrate the fine taste of the celebrated musician. Johann Strauss had to give three encores of his latest musical offering, and finally, when the applause refused to die down and Strauss played the 'Pasman' Polka as an additional piece, the riot of applause broke out as the first bars were played, and Strauss acknowledged it in his modest, irresolute way". Another reviewer, in more poetic mood, declared that the new waltz "makes its appearance with a veil of sound spun from melancholy, oriental themes... Then a delicate hand raises the veil and a stylish, dear Viennese face with guileless blue eyes and a dimple in the chin smiles towards us. This is the nature of the waltz".
According to Ignaz Schnitzer(1839-1921), librettist of Strauss's operetta Der Zigeunerbaron (The Gypsy Baron), Johann was inspired to the title Märchen aus dem Orient by the refrain of an unset song-text in the unfinished opera Der Schelm von Bergen (The Hangman of Bergen), upon which he and Schnitzer collaborated until the project was dropped in 1886
Kaiser-Jäger-Marsch (Imperial Huntsmen March) op. 93
The original Tiroler Jäger-Regiment had been raised in 1801, but was disbanded just seven years later in 1808. In 1813 General Franz Fenner von Fennerberg founded a rifle corps, the 'Fenner-Jäger-Corps', which in 1816 was re-named the ‘Tiroler Jäger-Regiment Kaiser Franz’ after its patron and honorary Colonel, the Austrian Emperor Franz. Over the years ahead the regimental name altered in line with changes in the Habsburg monarchy: in 1835 it became the ‘Tiroler Jäger-Regiment Kaiser Ferdinand’ and in 1848, with the enforced abdication of Emperor Ferdinand and the accession to the throne of his youthful nephew, the ‘Tiroler Jäger-Regiment Kaiser Franz Joseph’. Finally, in 1895, this regiment was completely reorganised to form four serially-numbered regiments of ‘Tiroler Kaiser-Jäger’, all of which had the Austrian Emperor as their Colonel-in-Chief and which were widely regarded as the elite of the old Imperial army.
Programme notes © 1991 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.
Czecho-Slovak State Philharmonic Orchestra (Košice)
For Marco Polo the orchestra has made the first compact disc recordings of rare works by Granville Bantock and Joachim Raff. Writing on the last of these, one critic praised the orchestra for its competence comparable to that of the major orchestras of Vienna and Prague. The orchestra has contributed several successful volumes to the complete compact disc Johann Strauss II and for Naxos has recorded a varied repertoire.
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