|About this Recording
8.223231 - STRAUSS II, J.: Edition - Vol. 31
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.
Napoleon-Marsch (Napoleon March) op.156
In the autumn of 1854 Johann Strauss came to a political decision: he composed a march and dedicated it "in deepest reverence to his Majesty Napoleon III [1808-73], Emperor of France [1852-70]". By this action he took sides in a dispute which, against the background of the Crimean War, had split the population of the Danube monarchy and, above all, of the Imperial capital Vienna into two camps. What had led to this disharmony?
Concerned about hegemony in the Balkans and the region around the Bosphorus, Russian troops marched into Moldavia in July 1853, whereupon Turkey, which then had sovereignty over this region, declared war on the Tsar's empire. Russia had tried to win the Danube monarchy's support for its policy: Tsar Nicholas I travelled to Olmütz (today Olomouc, Czechoslovakia) and begged the young Austrian Emperor Franz Josef to intervene in the dispute on the side of Russia. The generals of the Imperial-Royal army were prepared to go along with this request, but the politicians - to some extent under the influence of the elderly Prince Metternich - opposed it, because the British and French were uniting against Russia's action. An ambassadors' conference meeting in Vienna, at which diplomats from Austria, Prussia, Britain and France took part, ended on 9 April 1854 with the signing of a protocol guaranteeing Turkish territory. Russia, Austria's ally for more than a century, would subsequently never forgive the Habsburg monarchy for what it considered ingratitude for Russian intervention to quell the Hungarian uprising of 1849.
As has already been said, the diplomats of the Danube monarchy took the side of the Allies, and this opinion was shared by the majority of the Viennese population, including the 28-year-old Johann Strauss. When - in spite of the raging cholera epidemic - the 'French Party' organised a "Napoleon Festival" for 12 October 1854 at Karl Schwender's casino in the suburb of Rudolfsheim (today, the 15th District of Vienna), the Morgen-Post (12.10.1854) announced that on this occasion Johann would conduct the Strauss Orchestra in the first performance of a specially composed Napoleons-Fest-Marsch (Napoléon Festival March). Three days after the celebration, on 15 October, the Wiener Neuigkeits-Blatt published a short report on the proceedings: "Vienna, 14.10. - The popularity which Schwender's premises have achieved manifested itself again at the grand festival which took place the day before yesterday, which was attended by the élite of society. The 'Napoleon-Marsch' by Johann Strauss pleased, and had to be repeated three times". That November it was announced in the Viennese press that "his Majesty, the Emperor Napoléon III, has been pleased to accept the dedication of the 'Napoleon March' composed by Johann Strauss". For his part, the French monarch expressed his gratitude to the young Viennese 'Musikdirektor' by arranging for him to be presented with a golden pearl-topped pin.
The Napoleon-Marsch enjoyed considerable success as a musical composition - the Österreichischer Zuschauer (3.01.1855) deemed it "really sparkling and full of life" - but precisely because of it, and because of the Alliance-Marsch (op.158, Volume 18 of this CD series) written a little later, Johann found that his own ambivalent political position led to his being rather disparagingly referred to as "a true beachcomber of world history" (Morgen-Post, 1.01.1855). Considering that in March 1856 Russia had to agree to the terms of the Peace of Paris, having lost the Crimean War and ascribing her defeat to the Austrian threat to join the Allies, it is surprising that Johann Strauss chose to play his Napoleon-Marsch at the opening concert of his début Russian season at Pavlovsk in May 1856, thereafter performing the work a further fifteen times during his five-month concert engagement there.
Gambrinus-Tänze (Dances of Gambrinus) op. 97
Gambrinus, the patron saint of brewers, was the mythical Flemish king who is credited with the first brewing of beer. It would seem his name derives from that of Jan Primus (= John I), the victorious Duke of Brabant (1261-94), who was President of the Brussels Guild of Brewers and whose portrait, showing him with a foaming tankard of ale in his hand, had place of honour in the Brussels Guildhall. It is this portrait which probably lead to the legend of the 'Beer King', Gambrinus, who is usually portrayed in paintings clasping a tankard.
In Vienna so much beer was being drunk, even as early as the 13th century, that the owners of its wine gardens, seeing their livelihoods threatened, secured a prohibition on the unrestricted brewing and sale of beer. Thus, would-be brewers were forced to apply for the right to brew ale from the ruling sovereign who held the monopoly.
The 25-year-old Johann Strauss wrote his hypnotic waltz Gambrinus-Tänze in the summer of 1851 for one of the many large-scale festivals he arranged in the manner of those organised by his late father - at that time still revered by the Viennese as the "unforgotten Waltz King". The appropriate choice of venue for Strauss's benefit on 7 July 1851 was Johann Dengler's 'Bierhalle' establishment in the Viennese suburb of Fünfhaus, just in front of the old Mariahilf line-ramparts (approximately on the site of the present Westbahnhof station), and the event itself was a splendid scenic festival with the title "The Banquet in the Crystal Palace of Gambrinus". Besides the Strauss Orchestra, two military bands had been engaged to perform the music - the Grand Duke Constantin of Russia Infantry Regiment, under bandmaster JosefLiehmann, and the KingofSaxonyCuirassier Regiment, under bandmaster Ignaz Wanek. A paragraph in the Wiener Allgemeine Theaterzeitung for 6 July 1851 read: "For this festival Herr Strauss has composed a new piece of music entitled 'Kaiser-Jäger-Marsch' [op. 93, Volume 20 of this CD series], which will be performed by 140 musicians in the garden before the opening of the ball. During the ball festivity the host will playa new waltz, 'Gambrinus- Tänze'. For all of this the poster promises an astonishing arrangement which, to judge by the well known taste of Herr Strauss, will surpass all expectation". The two military bands combined with the Strauss Orchestra to perform the new march, while Johann and the Strauss Orchestra played the music for the ball.
Despite what the reviewer for Der Wanderer (8.07.1851) described as "unfavourable, cool and dubious weather", Johann's benefit was well patronised. Reporting on the entertainment, the Wiener Allgemeine Theaterzeitung (10.07.1851) estimated that "around 3 to 4,000 people attended, who received the latest compositions by the young, proficient maestro with repeated applause and demands for encores. Strauss spared no expense to make the festival one of the most interesting of this season - and his success was complete".
Taubenpost. Polka française (Pigeon-Post. French polka) op. 237
The letters which Johann Strauss wrote to Olga Smirnitskaja in 1859, during his fourth consecutive season of summer concerts in Pavlovsk near St. Petersburg, reveal not only his passion for the young and spirited Russian ("My all, my angel") whom he had first met there in 1858, but also his awareness of the vehemence with which her aristocratic parents opposed the liaison. After returning to Vienna at the end of October he continued to write to Olga, but one senses that he already realised their affair had no future and that the dutiful daughter was obedient to the wishes of her parents. On 21 November 1859 Johann wrote to her: "Without being bidden, only following my heart's desire, I have taken up my pen to ask you if you still love me and to beg you not to forget your sincere Jean [=Johann]". Early the following year, Olga brought the relationship to an end when she announced her engagement to another.
Whatever the pain which Johann felt at this news, the arrival of the 1860 Vienna Carnival obliged him to put aside his innermost feelings and apply himself once more to the demands of the dance-hungry Viennese revellers. Between them, Johann and his brother Josef contributed twelve new compositions to the celebrations, and presented the full complement of these novelties at their traditional "Carnival Revue" of the new dances they had written for the current year's Fasching. The advertisements for the concert to be held in the Volksgarten on 26 February 1860 revealed an additional number on the programme, a French polka entitled Der Liebesbote (The Messenger of Love). By the time Johann played the work again at a concert on 29 February in the 'Zum grossen Zeisig' tavern and dance hall on the Burgglacis, the polka bore a new name: Taubenpost, under which title Carl Haslinger's publishing house issued the work in July 1860. Perhaps, immediately following the first performance, Johann had received Olga's letter and recognised the absolute finality of the situation. Since Johann himself admitted "it is well-nigh generally known that I left my heart in St. Petersburg", he was only too aware that his female admirers in Vienna would have understood to whom he was sending "The Messenger of Love". But a message sent by "Pigeon Post" indicated no romantic associations ¡K.
Taubenpost appears to have aroused little interest in Vienna: it featured in only a few of the Strauss brothers' concerts during spring 1860, and was completely overlooked in a lengthy assessment of their musical activities published by Der Zwischen-Akt on 6 March that year.
Die Unzertrennlichen. Walzer (The Inseparable Ones. Waltz) op. 108
On 3 July 1852 Johann Strauss's waltz Die Unzertrennlichen was issued by Carl Haslinger's publishing house in the usual editions for piano, piano and violin, and full orchestra. The piano edition bears the composer's "most respectful" dedication to "the highly esteemed Committee of the Citizens' Ball held in the Imperial-Royal Redoutensaal in Vienna on 23 February 1852". There is, however, an error in this inscription, for the Citizens' Ball ('Bürgerball') actually took place a week earlier than stated, on 16 February 1852.
The Vienna Carnival of 1852 was a rather joyless affair, conducted as it was in a capital city which was still under martial law following the tragic events of 1848. The Citizens' Ball was indeed the first which had been held in Vienna since the March Revolution, and it remains unclear who provided the stimulus for its revival. Possibly it was the citizens themselves, who desired a normalisation of their relationship with the Imperial House, and thus a return to the situation of the Biedermeier period when the annual Citizens' Balls offered artisans and tradespeople, civil servants and teachers, welcome opportunities for representation in the right circles. Alternatively, the young Emperor Franz Josef's advisors may have promoted the idea of reinstating the balls as a means of partially overcoming the alienation which had occurred in 1848 between the House of Habsburg and the population of Vienna.
The Wiener Allgemeine Theaterzeitung for 22 January 1852 announced that Johann Strauss would perform a new waltz at the Citizens' Ball on 16 February, though the work was not named by the paper nor by the reviews which followed this particular event. The title page of op. 108 alone identifies it as Die Unzertrennlichen. In the issue of 17 February 1852, however, the Wiener Allgemeine Theaterzeitung stated: " Johann Strauss's benefit in the Sperl takes place today. Apart from his latest compositions, he will also perform a new waltz, 'Die Unzertrennlichen', written especially for this ball festivity". Two days later the Wiener Allgemeine Theaterzeitung (19.02.1852) reported on the benefit, opining that "Strauss's newest waltz, 'Die Unzertrennlichen', proved itself the most splendid".
Unless one is to conclude that the illustrator responsible for designing the title page of Die Unzertrennlichen was entirely incorrect in the information he gave, then it seems probable - despite reports indicating that Johann composed the dance piece for his benefit ball in the Sperl on 17 February - that the waltz was played for the first time the previous night, 16 February 1852, at the Citizens' Ball in the Redoutensaal.
Whether written for the Citizens' Ball or for his own benefit ball, Strauss's choice of waltz title would seem to be appropriate - "The Inseparable Ones" referring either to the staunch followers of the Emperor amongst the citizens of Vienna, or to Johann's own faithful admirers who regularly supported him at the Sperl dance hall.
Bonvivant-Quadrille (Epicure Quadrille) op. 86
The Bonvivant-Quadrille belongs to that group of compositions with which the younger Johann Strauss strove to gain favour within Imperial circles after recognising that his pro-radical stance during the Revolutionary upheavals of 1848 had led the Austrian Court to consider him persona non grata.
The 18-year-old Franz Josef I (1830-1916), son of Archduke Franz Karl, was proclaimed Emperor of Austria on 2 December 1848, only shortly after he had fought in Italy under Field Marshal Radetzky. An absolute monarch, at first he was in no way popular, despite his stern sense of duty and unwavering conscientiousness. It was thus no easy task for the organisers of festivals to arouse patriotic fervour and to attract audiences to events such as that which Johann Baptist Corti, proprietor of the coffee-house in the Vienna Volksgarten, announced in the Wiener Zeitung on 16 August 1850: "KK. VOLKSGARTEN: Today, Friday 16 August, Grand Festival with appropriate decorations and illuminations to celebrate the all-highest Birthday of his Majesty the Emperor Franz Josef I. Herr Capellmeister Johann Strauss conducts the music and, besides the most splendid and popular compositions of his most recently composed dance pieces, such as 'Maxing-Tänze', 'Johanniskäferln' 'Louisen-Sympathie-Klänge' [and] 'Heski-Holki-Polka', will have the honour to perform for the first time a new quadrille composed by himself entitled 'BONVIVANT-QUADRILLE"'. The evening also promised music from the band of the 2nd Field-Artillery Regiment under its bandmaster Sebastian Reinisch. The entertaining festival, given two days before Franz Josef's actual twentieth birthday (18 August), proved successful and drew a large and enthusiastic audience. Three days later, on 19 August 1850, the entrepreneurial Ferdinand Dommayer arranged a festival and ball at his Casino in Hietzing to celebrate the Emperor's birthday, and both Strauss and Reinisch were engaged with their respective orchestras. One may be sure that Johann's Bonvivant-Quadrille again featured on the evening's programme.
The Bonvivant-Quadrille did not remain in the Strauss Orchestra's repertoire for very long. No orchestral performing material was published and the manuscript orchestral parts have been lost. Professor Ludwig Babinski has therefore made the present arrangement from the published piano edition. Despite being one of Johann Strauss's lesser-known dances, one section of the Bonvivant-Quadrille may strike a familiar chord with ballettomanes since the music from its fifth ('Pastourelle') figure features in the score of Antal Dorati's ballet pastiche, Graduation Ball (1940), where it may be heard in the scene entitled 'The Arrival of the Cadets' (Allegro marziale).
Die ersten Curen. Walzer (The First Course of Treatments. Waltz) op. 261
Two vignettes adorn the title page of the first piano edition of Johann Strauss's waltz Die ersten Curen of 1862: on one side is Aesculapius, the Roman god of medicine, on the other Hygeia, the Greek goddess of health. The illustrator then adds an amusing touch to this otherwise sombre scene by working into his design a doctor's prescription, reading: "Waltz. 3 times daily"! The composition bears Strauss's dedication "to the Gentlemen Students of Medicine at Vienna University".
Unlike the Waltz King's stage works, whose genesis is often well chronicled in the contemporary press and in the composer's own letters, generally little is known about the actual creation of his orchestral dances and marches. For this reason, two reports in the theatrical newspaper Der Zwischen-Akt are of considerable interest, for they document the last-minute haste with which Strauss sometimes committed his musical ideas to manuscript. On 6 January 1862, in a general announcement about the forthcoming carnival, Der Zwischen-Akt revealed that Johann's waltz for the Medical Students' Ball on 28 January was entitled Die ersten Curen. Clearly the waltz existed at that time in name alone, for on 27 January the paper reported: "Yesterday, Sunday 26th of this month, Johann Strauss composed 'Die ersten Curen', the new waltz for the Medical Students' Ball which takes place in the Sofiensaal tomorrow, the 28th. Early today Carl Haslinger arranged the waltz for piano from the score, on which the ink was scarcely dry. This morning it was handed over to the copperplate engraver and lithographer, and on Wednesday the 29th of this month it will be obtainable freshly baked, straight out of the oven, from the C. Haslinger publishing house".
In most of the ball reviews one notes the usual journalistic phraseology which greeted new carnival compositions by the Waltz King. Thus, for example, Die Presse (30.01.1862) wrote that Die ersten Curen "was felt to be very rhythmical for dancing and an encore was demanded with applause", while on the same day Der Zwischen-Akt predicted that the new waltz "will be among the favourites during this carnival". Unusually, however, this approbation was not shared by all and there were also critical voices amongst the reporters. The evening edition of Der Wanderer (29.01.1862), for instance, considered that the waltz "does not display any special originality, but was however very rhythmical". Such words were positively generous, though, alongside the damning critique filed by the reviewer for the Ost-Deutsche Post (2.02.1862) in its "Ball Nights" supplement:
"This 'first course of treatments' - it is capable of confining to bed any kind of desire to dance. It was played without applause and danced ex officio. I saw feet fall asleep during this waltz. Opium Cures would have been a better name. 'What do you think of Strauss's 'Ersten Curen', dear Doctor?', I enquired of one of our most famous physicians. 'Musical rhubarb', he replied to me coldly".
Vom Donaustrande. Polka schnell (From the Bank of the Danube. Quick polka) op. 356
Johann Strauss chose to dub his second stage work, Der Carneval in Rom [Première: Theater an der Wien, Vienna. 1 March 1873], "my polka opera" and from its score he crafted a total of five separate orchestral numbers - a waltz (op. 357), a quadrille (op. 360) and three polkas (opp. 356, 358 and 359). With one exception - the polka Nimm sie hin op. 358 - the titles of these dances had no connection with the plot of the operetta but rather anticipated the Vienna World Exhibition which opened in the Prater on 1 May 1873.
As the Exhibition approached, excitement throughout the Austrian capital was heightened still further by announcements in the press for a spectacular charity concert to be given by the Strauss Orchestra in the Musikverein building on the evening of 6 April 1873. According to Johann Strauss himself in a letter (27.03.1873) to the Wiener Männergesang-Verein, the event, advertised as a "50th Jubilee Festival of Strauss Musical Productions", marked the fiftieth anniversary of the foundation of the Strauss Orchestra by Johann Strauss I. Since, however, Father Strauss had formed his own orchestra in 1825 - and not 1823 - there were no real grounds for the celebration! Most of the Viennese newspapers were unquestioning of this spurious semicentennial, the Illustriertes Wiener Extrablatt (7.04.1873) even compounding the felony by specifying (incorrectly) that Strauss Father had made his debut with his Täuberln-Walzer op. 1 and pinpointing (also incorrectly) the date of this debut as 5 April 1823. It is not difficult to see how Strauss literature became riddled with inaccuracies, for another journalist in the Illustriertes Wiener Extrablatt (8.04.1873), seeking to remedy what he saw as erroneous reporting by his colleague, observed: "As far as the writer of these lines is aware, Strauss made his independent début at the 'Bock' on the Wieden in the year 1824, not 1823" ...
Johann and Eduard Strauss shared the conducting of the Strauss Orchestra for the "50th Jubilee" concert, the first half comprising a programme of music by their father and brother Josef, who had died in 1849 and 1870 respectively. After the interval Johann and Eduard treated the audience to a programme of their own latest compositions, amongst them Johann's quick polka Vom Donaustrande which the composer conducted personally. The reviewer for the Fremden-Blatt (7.04.1873) noted in his concert report: "In the second half the most electrifying [number] was the polka 'Vom Donaustrande', a jolly dance piece on melodies from the operetta 'Karneval in Rom' by Johann Strauss". Another journalist, J.H. Miram, simply ended his article in the Illustriertes Wiener Extrablatt of 7 April 1873 with the words' "With the Jubilee Festival musical Vienna celebrates her leading, most prolific and most tuneful dance composers!!!"
The polka Vom Donaustrande presents material from Acts 2 and 3 of the operetta, specifically:
Theme 1A - Act 2 Duet (No. 9)
Theme 1B - Act 3 Finale (No. 16)
Trio 2A - Act 2 Finale (No. 12)
Trio 2B - Act 3 Ballet music (No. 16 Finale)
Wiener Bonbons. Walzer (Vienna Bonbons. Waltz) op. 307
Wiener Bonbons, one of the most inspired and popular of Johann Strauss's waltzes, owes its origins to the ball of the Association of Industrial Societies held in the Redoutensaal ballroom of the Imperial Hofburg Palace, Vienna, on 28 January 1866.
Even a year before composing the most famous of all waltzes, An der schönen blauen Donau (By the beautiful blue Danube, 1867), Johann had begun to draw back a little from the arduous business of writing waltzes and had been pleased to allow his younger brother, Josef, not only to compose the due dedication for the Industrial Societies' festivity but also to conduct it on the night of the ball. It then became known that honorary patronage of the event had been accepted by Princess Pauline Metternich-Winneburg (1836-1921), the highly respected wife of the Austrian Ambassador in Paris, and that she had asked for the proceeds from the ball to be donated to the construction of a hospital for Germans in the French capital. For this reason Josef entitled his waltz Deutsche Grüße (German Greetings, op. 191), and dedicated it to the patroness who was present at the ball. In addition he altered his plans to conduct the first performance of a new polka-mazurka, entitled Pauline (op. 190a), at a Strauss benefit ball in the Sofienbad-Saal on 29 January, playing it instead at the ball of the Industrial Societies as a further tribute to the princess. Shortly before the Industrial Societies' Ball, however, Johann chose to contribute a waltz of his own to the festivity, a dance combining the traditional Viennese Waltz with Parisian flair and which even united the languages of both nations in its title - Wiener Bonbons! The waltz was published by C.A. Spina on 13 February 1866 and its delightful title page illustration, showing the work's title fashioned from twisted bonbon wrappers, bore its composer's dedication to "her Highness the Princess Pauline Metternich-Winneburg, nee Countess Sándor, in deepest respect".
Princess Pauline was not only an influential figure in Vienna, but was also highly active at the Imperial court of Napoléon III in Paris. The two Strauss brothers therefore openly courted her support, knowing that her connections could assist them in their plans to give concerts at the 1867 World Exhibition in the French capital. To this end the brothers intended to make an exploratory joint visit there during Easter 1866, just weeks after the Industrial Societies' Ball. (In the event, Johann undertook the conducting of concerts at the World Exhibition alone, and amongst his engagements in the city on the Seine during summer 1867 was a sumptuous ball at the Austrian Embassy hosted by the Ambassador, Prince Richard Metternich, and his wife, Princess Pauline. On this occasion the waltz An der schonen blauen Donau was played for the first time in Paris, doubtless alongside Wiener Bonbons.)
Nocturne-Quadrille (Nocturnal Quadrille) op. 120
For the early autumn of 1852, Johann Strauss planned an extremely exhausting concert tour of Germany with his orchestra, the most important venues including Leipzig, Berlin, Hamburg and Dresden. Shortly before his departure he participated in the presentation of a much-discussed 'tone picture' entitled Die nächtliche Heerschau (The Nightly Review). The text for this work, a poem, was by Baron (Freiherr) Joseph Christian von Zedlitz (1790-1862), while the music was written by the conductor of Vienna's prestigious Hofburgtheater (Court Opera Theatre), Anton Emil Titl (1809-82). The entertainment, announced as a benefit for Strauss and the "Last Music- and Scenic Festival of this Year", took place in the delightful surroundings of the Vienna Volksgarten on the afternoon of Friday 24 September 1852. Taking advantage of the considerable publicity surrounding this performance, Johann used the opportunity to combine this production with the première of his aptly-named Nocturne-Quadrille - the title of which was plainly chosen to complement the Zedlitz/Titl work.
The Viennese press were unanimous in applauding the 26-year-old Strauss's "prudent and energetic direction" of this event, amongst them the critic of the Wiener Allgemeine Theaterzeitung (26.09.1852) who wrote: "We have for a long time been used to Johann Strauss's soirées, being noteworthy for their elegant decoration, brilliant lighting and very select public. On this occasion, too, the rooms were attended by a very numerous and select audience. A very tastefully designed lighting display, symbolising autumn, together with an excellent show of fireworks contributed to the enhancement of the festivity. Maestro Strauss performed a specially composed 'Nocturne-Quadrille' on this evening, which was received with such great applause that it had to be repeated several times. This distinction was granted to most of Strauss's compositions. Widespread applause was accorded to the admirable ballade: 'Die nächtliche Heerschau', by the conductor of the Imperial-Royal Hofburgtheater, Herr Titl, which Strauss performed with the Imperial-Royal military band of the [Grand Duke] Constantin [of Russia] Infantry [Regiment] and a men's chorus to great success. Titl's compositions are rich in melody, effectively instrumented and original. It is therefore understandable that his compositions receive the friendliest of receptions from the public". The reviewer for the Neue Wiener Musikzeitung (30.09.1852) concurred with his journalist colleague, further expressing his opinion of Johann's Nocturne-Quadrille that it "can be numbered amongst the most successful of its genre".
Nord und Süd. Polka-Mazur (North and South. Polka-mazurka) op. 405
Johann Strauss dedicated his polka-mazurka Nord und Süd to Dr. Paul Lindau (1839-1919), the noted Berlin journalist, critic, stage-author, dramatic adviser and writer of romances who, at the time of the polka's writing, had for many years belonged to Strauss's circle of friends. Amongst the works which Lindau edited was an illustrated literary journal which had first appeared in 1877 and which continued to be published until 1930. It was the title of this monthly publication - Nord und Süd - which gave Johann the name for his polka. In one edition of his publication Lindau had written an article about Strauss and his achievements, lauding both the man and his music, and Johann expressed his thanks by dedicating the polka to his friend. Nord und Süd was heard publically for the first time on 26 February 1882 when the composer's brother, Eduard, conducted it with the Strauss Orchestra at his "Carnival Revue" in the Vienna Musikverein. The new work naturally shared equal billing on the programme with Eduard's own carnival novelties for 1882 - the waltzes Wo Lust und Freude wohnen! (op. 202) and Lebende Blumen (op. 205) and the polkas Faschingsbrief (op. 203) and Schneewittchen (op. 204).
The polka Nord und Süd, which appeared in print at the end of January 1882, was one of ten separate orchestral numbers which Johann arranged from melodies in his operetta Der lustige Krieg (The Merry War), which had received its première on the stage of the Theater an der Wien on 25 November 1881. The main section of the polka (themes 1A and 1B) draws its themes from the operetta's Act 2 ladies' chorus (No. 8) "Die Fürstin lud zum Café", whilst the opening melody of the Trio section (theme 2A) is to be found in the final section of the Act 3 duet for Else and Balthasar (No. 17), to the lyrics "Silberhelles Kinderlachen". The remaining music in the Trio is nowhere traceable in the published piano score of Der lustige Krieg, and may have been discarded from the production before the opening night.
Hochzeitsreigen. Walzer (Wedding Dance. Waltz) op. 453
In 1843, Prince August of Saxe-Coburg-Kohary (1818-81) married Princess Clementine of Bourbon-Orleans (1817-1907). Their fifth and youngest son, Prince Ferdinand I of Saxe-Coburg-Kohary (1861-1948), ascended the throne of Bulgaria in 1887 as Ferdinand I, Prince of Bulgaria, thereby founding the House of Coburg-Saxe-Kohary in Bulgaria. On 20 April 1893 Prince Ferdinand took as his consort the youthful eldest daughter of Duke Robert of Parma, Princess Marie Luise of Bourbon-Parma (1870-99), at a marriage ceremony in the bride's family home, the Villa Pianola in Italy.
Johann Strauss was on very amiable terms with Prince Ferdinand. Furthermore, he had good reason to be grateful to this "jovial man", as the composer once referred to the prince in a letter, for in 1887 he had played his part in helping to make possible Johann's marriage to Adèle in the ducal chapel in Coburg. Strauss was therefore anxious to express his gratitude to the prince, and by way of a present to the couple on the occasion of their wedding he composed two pieces of music: the Fest-Marsch op. 452, dedicated to the Prince of Bulgaria, and the waltz Hochzeitsreigen, dedicated to his bride, the young Princess Marie Luise of Bulgaria. Strauss expended no small effort on the composition of this waltz, which is apparent even in its unusual and courtly Introduction, and in Vienna, as well as in Munich and elsewhere, it rightly drew praise for presenting an "astonishing wealth of melodic and orchestral beauty" (Neueste Nachrichten, Munich, 7.06.1899). The Neue Wiener Journal of 13 November 1893 considered that the Hochzeitsreigen Walzer and its companion piece, the Fest-Marsch, belonged to the best works which Johann Strauss had written to date, and proof of how importantly the composer himself viewed the waltz is shown by the fact that he went to great personal trouble to ensure the publication of an accurate printed edition. Responding to a query from his brother Eduard, regarding a possible error in the first violin part of Waltz 1A, Johann remarked in spring 1894: "Leave the A (violin) in the waltz 'Hochzeitsreigen'; it is clearly marked in the piano edition too. People (nowadays) no longer worry about fifths - nor are they possible to detect - because in large ensembles no musical ear is capable of hearing a sequence of fifths - at the most it can only be perceived on paper".
Johann conducted the Strauss Orchestra in the first performance of the waltz Hochzeitsreigen at Eduard's Sunday afternoon concert in the Vienna Musikverein on 12 November 1893. Clearly, Eduard Strauss also valued the waltz, bringing it with him to London some two years later for his three-month season at the Imperial Institute, and playing it as the opening item of his evening concert on 25 June 1895, where it was announced in the programme as "Waltz: Wedding Procession (Hochzeitsreigen)".
It is a sad matter of record that the dedicatee of the Hochzeitsreigen Walzer, Princess Marie Luise, was to die at the age of only twenty-eight, on 31 January 1899, after giving birth to her fourth child, a daughter named Nadejda.
Husaren-Polka (Hussars Polka) op. 421
From time to time Johann Strauss sprang surprises on his audience when arranging separate orchestral pieces from melodies in his operettas. One such instance concerns the Pappacoda-Polka (op. 412, Volume 28 of this CD series), based on themes from his 1883 stage work Eine Nacht in Venedig (A Night in Venice), where the one number one would have expected Strauss to have included - Pappacoda's catchy entrance song "D'rum sei glücklich, sei setig Venezia! Pappacoda, Pappacoda, Pappacoda ist da!" - does not feature at all in the polka.
Likewise there is a surprise in the Husaren-Polka, which the composer assembled from the score of his operetta Der Zigeunerbaron (The Gypsy Baron) after its hugely successful opening night at Vienna's Theater an der Wien on 24 October 1885. The stage work is set in the Hungarian province of Temesvar towards the middle of the 18th century. In Act 2 the Governor of the province, Count Homonay, arrives at the head of a troop of hussars to enlist local men in the war against Spain. (This is in fact an historical inaccuracy since at no time during the Austrian War of Succession, waged between 1740-48, did Imperial forces set foot in Spain.) In his 'Recruiting Song' (No.12 1/2), "Her die Hand, es muss ja sein ... komm' zu den Husaren" (Reach out your hand, it must be so ... come and join the Hussars), Homonay explains that anyone who drinks a glass of recruiting wine will be deemed to have enrolled himself for the war. Yet music from this number is nowhere to be found in the Husaren-Polka! Instead, Strauss drew upon material from Acts 1 and 3 when compiling the tunes for this orchestral work: themes 1A and 1B comprise melodies respectively from Arsena's Act 3 couplet (No. 15) "Ein Mädchen hat es gar nicht gut" and the Act 1 maidens' chorus (No. 5) Hochzeitskuchen, bitte zu versuchen". The sources of the material used for the Trio section are also traceable in Acts 3 and 1, respectively Arsena's couplet (No. 15) to the words "Ja, dies und das und noch etwas", and Barinkay's "Ah sieh da, ein herrlich Frauenbild" in the No. 5 ensemble.
Nearly all of the six orchestral pieces crafted from themes in Der Zigeunerbaron - amongst them the Husaren-Polka - were given their first performances, not by the composer, but by his brother Eduard. The polka was introduced to the Viennese public by the Strauss Orchestra, under Eduard's direction, at their carnival-time concert in the Musikverein on Tuesday 2 February 1886.
Programme notes © 1993 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)
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.
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 many successful volumes to the complete compact disc Johann Strauss II and for Naxos has recorded a varied repertoire.
Alfred Waller 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 Böhm. 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 Münster. 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. For Marco Polo, Alfred Walter has recorded more than 15 volumes of the label's Johann Strauss II Edition, works by von Schillings, von Einem, de Bériot, Reinecke and all symphonic works of Furtwängler. He is currently engaged in recording the complete symphonies of Spohr.
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