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8.223232 - STRAUSS II, J.: Edition - Vol. 32
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The Johann Strauss Edition Johann Strauss 11, the most famous and enduringly successful of 19th-century light music composers,

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.

 

Wiener Jubel-Gruss-Marsch (Viennese Jubilation Greeting March) op. 115

 

In the autumn of 1849 the troops of the young Austrian Emperor Franz Josef, together with the help of Tsar Nicholas I's expeditionary force, bloodily suppressed the Magyar uprising, and on 13 August the Hungarian army surrendered to the Russian general, Rudiger, at Vilcigos. On 6 October 1849, thirteen generals of the Hungarian army were executed in Arad; on 25 October they were followed by six politicians. Other leaders of the revolt, like Kossuth, Dembinski and Bem, who had sought refuge in Turkey, were sentenced to death in their absence. Europe was horrified by the "Vengeance of Arad", which even the Tsar condemned. For their part, the Hungarians swore revenge.

 

Thus it was not until the summer of 1852 that Franz Josef dared to make a first tour of inspection in 'his' kingdom east of the River Leitha, which formed the border between Austria and Hungary. It went without saying that every security precaution imaginable had been taken, and eventually the monarch returned safely to his residence at the Imperial Hofburg Palace in Vienna. To welcome him, a "Jubilation Festival" was decreed, such as Vienna had not seen since the days of the Vienna Congress in 1814/15. In the Prater, a triumphal gate was erected, and steps were taken to ensure that the route from this gate to the Hofburg was lined with ranks of jubilant Viennese while, at regular intervals, military and civilian bands were posted to provide the appropriate backdrop of sound. The position of the Strauss Orchestra was - as the Wiener Allgemeine Theaterzeitung announced on 13 August 1852 - chosen to be particularly favourable: it was to play in the Stephansplatz (the central square dominated by St. Stephen's Cathedral) and, as the monarch drove by, it would strike up the Wiener Jubel-Gruss-Marsch by Johann Strauss, composed "to celebrate the arrival of his Majesty the Emperor". This act of obeisance, which took place on 14 August 1852, was followed by further prominent performances of the march. The first, a "Grand Jubilation Festival and Ball" organised by Johann, together with J. Vallentin, lessee of the Bierhalle in the suburb of Fünfhaus, took place on 16 August in the Bierhalle, and the new march was played by the Strauss Orchestra alongside the military bands of the King of Saxony Cuirassier Regiment and the Grand Duke Constantin of Russia Infantry Regiment. This event also saw the performance of another specially composed work, Carl Haslinger's Freudenfestmarsch (Joyous Festival March). The following day, 17 August 1852, the eve of Franz Josef's twenty-second birthday, was marked by another "Grand Jubilation Festival" concert, this time in the Vienna Volksgarten and organised by Johann Strauss and J. Corti in aid of Archduke Ferdinand Max's "relief fund for maimed soldiers". The reviewer for the Wiener Allgemeine Theaterzeitung (19.08.1852) reported: "Strauss performed his latest compositions, amongst which the 'Wiener Jubelgruss-Marsch', written especially for his Majesty's return, took pride of place. This newest work by the indefatigable maestro enjoyed such a splendid reception that it had to be repeated five times, a satisfying demonstration of the value of this musical piece". Carl Haslinger's publishing house issued the piano edition of the Wiener Jubel-Gruss-Marsch on 11 September 1852, while composer and publisher donated the net income from the sale of sheet music to a charity nominated by the Mayor of Vienna, Dr Johann Kasparvon Seiller.

 

Fantasie-Bilder. Walzer (Fantasy Pictures. Waltz) op. 64

 

On 31 October 1848 the revolution in Vienna was crushed by Polish and Croatian regiments of the Imperial Austrian army, under the overall command of Prince Windischgratz, who captured the city after a bombardment of three days. The Revolutionary leaders were imprisoned and executed. The arrival of the 1849 Vienna Carnival found the city's inhabitants still suffering from the shock of this military action, and they lacked enthusiasm for the carnival festivities. Vienna was under martial law (which remained in force until autumn 1853) and the few balls which were permitted to be held during the short carnival period had to commence in the afternoon.

 

Vienna's musical directors found it difficult to derive artistic inspiration for rhythmical dance pieces from the oppressive mood. For his part, the younger Johann Strauss strove to banish the general gloom by conjuring up a set of "Fantasy Pictures" in which his listless audiences could momentarily take refuge from the cheerless realities of life. These "Fantasy Pictures" - Fantasie-Bilder - took the form of a new waltz which Johann wrote with that name as his customary, and expected, dedication waltz for Dommayer's Casino in the suburb of Hietzing. The first performance of Fantasie-Bilder may have taken place on 10 February 1849, for on that evening the owner of the Casino, Ferdinand Dommayer, had made his premises available to the young Strauss for a benefit. However, the work may have been played for the first time at a subscription ball held at Dommayer's four days earlier, on 6 February 1849, for in its preview of the event Der Humorist (30.01.1849) stated that "Strauss junior will certainly not neglectto surprise us with new waltzes". Pietro Mechetti, Johann's publisher, issued the piano edition of Fantasie-Bilder on 21 August 1849. Two days later, Der Humorist (23.08.1849) wrote: "Although the music publishers are now confused as to how to dispose of that which they publish, the always busy Court art and music shop of Herr Pietro Mechetti has brought out a number of new pieces. These include a further two bouquets from Terpsichore's garden - written by Johann Strauss Son. One is called the 'Nicolai-Quadrille' and the other 'Phantasie-Bilder' [sic!]. For dancers, they do not need a critical appreciation".

 

Printed sets of orchestral performing material for Fantasie-Bilder, though announced by Mechetti, appear never to have been published, and Arthur Kulling has therefore made an orchestral arrangement of the work from the original piano score for this present recording.

 

Olga-Polka (Olga Polka) op. 196

 

More than thirty-five years after Johann Strauss's death, the curtain of the Deutsches Theater, Berlin, rose on a 'new' operetta by the Waltz King. More correctly, the stage work - entitled Die Tänzerin Fanny Elssler (Fanny Elssler, the Dancer) - presented a musical score, arranged by Oscar Stalla, drawing upon lesser-known and unpublished melodies by Strauss. One of the operetta's most charming and durable numbers is Fanny's Act 2 waltz song, "Draussen in Sievering" (Outdoors in Sievering), which combines two melodies: a hitherto unused waltz fragment and the first theme (2A) from the Trio section of Johann's Olga-Polka op. 196 of 1857.

 

The Olga-Polka itself owed its creation to a Russian royal wedding which took place in St. Petersburg on 28 August 1857. On that day, amid accompanying splendour, the music-loving Grand Duke Michail Nikolaievich (1832-1909), youngest brother of Tsar Alexander II, married Princess Caecilie of Baden (1839-91), daughter of Archduke Leopold of Baden. Johann Strauss, who at that time was giving a summer season of concerts in nearby Pavlovsk, used the opportunity occasioned by the event to enhance his already enviable popularity with the Russian royal family and composed the Caecilien-Polka in honour of the lovely young bride. Indeed, it is clear from a letter which Johann wrote in late July 1857 to Carl Haslinger, his publisher in Vienna, that the new polka had been prepared well in advance of the wedding (the fair copy of the full orchestral score made for the publisher's engraver is dated 9 August) and was enjoying success even before the royal couple's official engagement on 16August 1857. Sometime after performing the Caecilien-Polka in Pavlovsk, Johann despatched the work to the Austrian capital where his brother Josef conducted its Viennese première, together with that of Johann's waltz Telegraphische Depeschen (op. 195, Volume 28), at his own benefit concert in the Volksgartenon Sunday 18 October 1857. The Wiener Allgemeine Theaterzeitung (16.10.1857) remarked that both works "have caused a sensation in St. Petersburg and are truly genial Viennese sounds full of verve and melody".

 

Since tradition demanded that the German Princess Caecilie adopt a Russian name - Olga Feodorovna - before her marriage, so Johann's Caecilien-Polka also underwent a change of identity. On 8 December 1857 Carl Haslinger announced the publication of Strauss's Olga-Polka, on the title page of which is the inscription: "Dedicated to her Imperial Highness Grand Duchess Olga, née Princess of Baden". It was under this title, too, that Johann himself first conducted the work in Vienna at a concert in the Volksgarten on 1 November 1857, shortly after his return from Russia. Reporting on this event, the Wiener Allgemeine Theaterzeitung (3.11.1857) observed: "The 'Olga-Polka' is a most delightful, fragrant musical bouquet, full of fine, gracious rhythms".

 

Promotionen. Walzer (Graduations. Waltz) op. 221

 

The dedication waltz which Johann Strauss announced for the ball of the law students at Vienna University in 1859 bore the title Die Präparanden, a term referring to students who are preparing for their final examinations. Between the time of this announcement in the Wiener Allgemeine Theaterzeitung on 22 January 1859, and the date of the ball itself, which was held in the Sofienbad-Saal on 8 February 1859, the waltz had taken on a new title: Promotionen. In Johann's mind, at least, the grandaunts were no longer merely studying for their examinations - they had successfully graduated! (Later, when Strauss performed the work in Russia, it bore the supplementary title: Neue Juristen Ball-Tänze - New Jurists' Ball Dances.)

 

Despite the almost poetic beauty of the opening waltz theme and the charm of the melodies which followed, the sombre Introduction to Promotionen perhaps did not match the expectations of the merry ball guests and maybe cast a mournful mood which was not easily dispelled. The Fremden-Blatt (10.02.1859), for example, though praising Strauss's execution of the evening's music, reported bluntly that the new waltz "lacked the rhythm and melody of older Strauss compositions". Yet a different picture is presented by the reviewer for the Wiener Allgemeine Theaterzeitung (10.02.1859), who noted that the waltz had to be encored three times. On 16 February the same paper enlarged on its earlier observations about Promotionen, adding that "In particular the first, third and fifth [waltz sections] are rich in fresh and attractive melodies. At the last soirée in the Volksgarten [13.02.1859] this most excellent waltz had to be repeated three times. Through this composition Strauss has lately demonstrated that he still has at his disposal a profusion of piquant and original melodies".

 

Johann Strauss was blessed with a life-long gift for melody, an apparently inexhaustible spring which he could tap at will. In spite of this facility, perhaps even because of it, the cautious Johann kept a series of 'sketchbooks' in which he would jot down musical ideas as they occurred to him should his melodic spring ever run temporarily dry. He commenced his first sketchbook in August 1843, and the very first page presents melodies which eventually appeared in his early waltzes Gunst-Werber op. 4 (1844) and Die jungen Wiener op. 7 (1845). It is the sixth entry on this page, however, which reveals a surprise - a theme fragment which, some sixteen years later, was to take shape as Waltz 2B of Promotionen.

 

Especially noteworthy is Waltz 4A, with its prominent use of the horns. The structure of this section is strongly reminiscent of a passage in three-four time in the overture to Rossini's opera La gazza ladra (The Thieving Magpie, 1817) in which the horns also predominate. One might be inclined to dismiss this as mere coincidence - until one listens to Waltz 1B of Strauss's "Deutsche" Walzer, in which the similarity to the Rossini passage is even more conspicuous. More remarkably still, the two Strauss waltzes bear consecutive opus numbers (220 and 221) and both date from the 1859 Vienna Carnival. If the similarity to the Rossini passage is not mere coincidence, then one does not have to search too far for a possible explanation. The overture to La gazza ladra was no stranger to the repertoire of the Strauss Orchestra, and during Johann's 1856 concert season in Pavlovsk he had conducted the work on no less than 10 occasions. Perhaps it had proved popular with Russian audiences again in 1858 and had consciously, or unconsciously, called itself to mind when Johann was creating the "Deutsche" and Promotionen waltzes in the weeks following his return to Vienna in November 1858.

 

Despite the plaudits of some reviewers, Promotionen never achieved the popularity it really deserved and the Strauss Orchestra only rarely performed it. Nevertheless, more than a decade later Johann resurrected one of its melodies (Waltz 5A) for his waltz Farewell to America (o. op), a pastiche work he compiled in summer 1872 in connection with his visit to the World's Peace Jubilee and International Musical Festival in Boston, U.S.A.

 

Hofball-Quadrille (Court Ball Quadrille) op.116

 

In the early hours of 27 November 1992, a fire in the Imperial Hofburg Palace in Vienna destroyed the mid 18th-century Redoutensäle, leaving the two Redoutensaal ballrooms - the 'Grosser' (Great) and the 'Kleiner' (Small) - as roofless, charred and gutted ruins. During the 18th and 19th centuries the sumptuous Grosser Redoutensaal had witnessed Imperial masked balls and premières of works by such masters as Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, and it was here, one hundred and fifty years ago, on 28 March 1842, that the Vienna Philharmonic came into being with the first Philharmonic Academy concert, conducted by Otto Nicolai.

 

It was in the Grosser Redoutensaal, too, in November 1849 - exactly two months after the death of Johann Strauss senior - that the younger Johann Strauss was permitted to perform in the Hofburg for the very first time, the occasion being a 'Katharine-Redoute' - a masked ball celebrating the Name Day of Saint Katharine - for which he wrote his Künstler-Quadrille op. 71 (Volume 27 of this CD series). Yet, despite all his efforts to secure for himself and his orchestra the positions in Vienna's musical life previously held by his late father - above all the privileged honorary post of 'k.k. Hofballmusik-Direktor' (Director of Music for the Imperial-Royal Court Balls) - the young Johann remained, for the time being, persona non grata in court circles. This was due, in no small measure, to his involvement in the Revolutionary events of 1848 and to a police report which was critical of his "civil and moral behaviour". Thus, it was Philipp Fahrbach senior who, during the 1850 Vienna Carnival, was appointed to take responsibility for providing the music at court festivals arranged by the Archduchess Sophie, mother of the 19-year-old Austrian Emperor Franz Josef.

 

The situation changed in 1852 when, clearly at the instigation of younger members of the Imperial family, Strauss was put in charge of dance entertainments at court, initially sharing this honour with Fahrbach. He conducted his first Chamber Ball on 14 January 1852 (followed by others on 28.1, 11.2 and 22.2) and his first Court Ball, just three weeks later, on 7 February. The Viennese press carried no reports on the latter event, but it seems to have been for this occasion that Johann wrote his Hofball-Quadrille. One can well imagine the trepidation with which he embarked upon the composition of this piece which, though precisely constructed, is rather unambitious. Thereafter it featured in the programmes of the Strauss Orchestra, notably during their tour through Germany that autumn, and was published by Carl Haslinger on 23 October 1852.

 

Tritsch-Tratsch-Polka (Tittle-tattle Polka) op. 214

 

Shortly before Johann Strauss returned to Vienna after completing his third summer concert season at Pavlovsk near St. Petersburg, an announcement appeared in the Wiener Allgemeine Theaterzeitung on 24 September 1858: "Herr Kapellmeister Johann Strauss has completed the following compositions during his stay in St. Petersburg this year, and they will appear in due course from Carl Haslinger: 'Mes adieux à St. Petersbourg' [op. 210], 'Bon-Bon' - Polka française [op. 213], 'Tritsch-Tratsch' Schnellpolka, 'Szechenyi-Tänze' Walzer [= Gedankenflug Walzer op. 215]." Yet, while Tritsch-Tratsch may well have been sketched, or even completed, in Russia, Strauss did not perform it there until the following season, on 22 May 1859 (= 10 May, Russian calendar).

 

Upon returning to his native city, Strauss made his first public appearance at a concert in the Volksgarten on 21 November 1858, performing the Viennese premières of the Abschied von St. Petersburg Walzer op. 210, Champagner-Polka op. 211, Fürst Bariatinsky-Marsch op. 212 and Bonbon-Polka op. 213. Three days later, on 24 November, sharing the conducting with his brother Josef at a concert in the intimate surroundings of 'Zum grossen Zeisig', a tavern on the Burgglacis (today, Burggasse 2) in the suburb of Neubau, Johann played these pieces again, introducing an additional novelty - the Tritsch-Tratsch-Polka. The new work proved a sensation, prompting the Wiener Allgemeine Theaterzeitung to state in its edition of 27 November 1858: "Johann Strauss's enormously successful 'Tritsch-Tratsch-Polka', which has been received with the most tempestuous applause, will appear in the next few days from Carl Haslinger. No dance composition of such freshness, humorous colouring and piquant instrumentation can have appeared for years". Demand for the new work was so overwhelming that Haslinger was obliged to change his publishing programme: the piano arrangement of the polka was written out in just a few hours and its first printed edition was announced on 1 December 1858. By the time this advertisement appeared in the Fremden-Blatt, however, the first edition had been sold out and Haslinger was forced into the first of several reprints. The new polka also appealed to Vienna's folk singers - chief amongst them Johann Baptist Moser (1799-1863) - who immediately added lyrics and further helped to spread the work's popularity.

 

Although Strauss may have conceived the Tritsch-Tratsch-Polka in Russia, the stimulus for the polka's title most definitely stemmed from Vienna. On 7 March 1858 a new paper had appeared on Vienna's news-stands: entitled Tritsch-Tratsch and described as a "humorous, satirical weekly publication", it was a successor to the short-lived Der Teufel in Wien (The Devil in Vienna) which had ceased with its issue of 25 February 1858. The new publication was edited by the successful writer and folk singer Anton Varry and counted among its principal contributors O.F. Berg and Josef Wimmer - all three of whom were friends, or at least acquaintances, of Johann Strauss. The Wiener Allgemeine Theaterzeitung (7.03.1858) praised the appearance of this "Viennese popular weekly", noting particularly that "It is handsomely put together; paper, print and especially the woodcut met with very great approval". The woodcut referred to was A. Carl's entertaining masthead engraving on the front page, showing the title Tritsch-Tratsch and depicting an elephant clambering from the mouth of a jovial carnival jester - an allegoric portrayal of "telling whoppers" - together with a small inset of the Stephansdom (St. Stephen's Cathedral) in Vienna. Yet if Varry's publication was new, his choice of title for it harked back a quarter of a century to 1833 to Der Tritschtratsch, a one-act burlesque (with music by Adolf Müller senior) by the great Austrian dramatist and actor Johann Nepomuk Nestroy (1801-62), which was still in the repertoire of Vienna's theatres. A quotation from the farce, "... aus der Mücken einen Elefanten macht ..." (literally "to make a midge out of an elephant" but colloquially meaning "to make a mountain out of a molehill"), further explains the elephantine imagery in the masthead illustration of Varry's publication.

 

Such was the background to the charming engraving which adorns the first piano edition of Johann Strauss's Tritsch-Tratsch-Polka. The Haslinger issue reproduces the open-mouthed jester with the elephant and Stephansdom, and even borrows its lettering style from the humorous paper, but it also makes some charming additions: prominently featured are the gossiping wives from Nestroy's farce and - of course - that "Viennese popular weekly", Tritsch-Tratsch! Doubtless Varry and his colleagues wished they could have competed on more equal terms with Strauss's rumbustious and evergreen polka: the comic paper was to enjoy only limited success and ceased publication before reaching its second anniversary.

 

Wiener Blut. Walzer (Vienna Blood. Waltz) op. 354

 

On 20 April 1873, the Archduchess Gisela Louise Maria (1856-1932), eldest daughter of the Austrian Emperor Franz Josef and the Empress Elisabeth, married Prince Leopold of Bavaria (1846-1930) in Vienna. To commemorate this major occasion a series of glittering festivities was arranged around the date of the Imperial wedding, including a Court Ball in the Hofburg Palace and a festival in the Prater, and the most important organisations of the nobility and citizenry, as well as the authorities of the City of Vienna itself, vied with each other in the organising of numerous celebrations and festive events.

 

For their part, the personnel of the Wiener Hof-Operntheater (Vienna Court Opera Theatre) devised a very special attraction and announced for 22 April 1873 a "Court Opera Ball" - a forerunner of the present-day Vienna Opera Ball - the proceeds from which were destined for the theatre's Pensions Institute, which arranged the event. However, since at this time the Austrian Emperor was unprepared to sanction dancing in the Hof-Operntheater, which he looked upon as 'his' opera house, the event was instead held in the Golden Hall of the Musikverein building - home of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde (Society of the Friends of Music) and today the setting for the annual New Year's Day Concerts of the Vienna Philharmonic. As hosts of the Court Opera Ball, the artistes of the Hof-Operntheater were keen to present themselves as favourably as possible to their public, and so offered their guests a particularly beguiling programme. They engaged the Strauss Orchestra and its conductor, 'Court Ball Music Director' Eduard Strauss, to provide the music for dancing, but withheld their pièce de résistance until around midnight, when a break in proceedings of one hour¡¦s duration was announced for the benefit of both orchestra and dancers.

 

Now the highlight of the evening was revealed as the resident orchestra of the Vienna Court Opera, the Vienna Philharmonic, presented a short concert of music. Since the Director of the Wiener Philharmoniker, Johann Herbeck, had been taken ill shortly before the ball, the first item - Carl Maria von Weber's Aufforderung zum Tanz (Invitation to the Dance), in Hector Berlioz's orchestration - was conducted by Otto Dessoff, who at that time was also leader of the Philharmonic Concerts. The critic of the Fremden-Blatt (24.04.1873) observed of this performance that it was played "with such verve and precision that perhaps nobody will be able to recall having heard this piece of music better [played]". The journalist continued: "After this, Johann Strauss stepped up to the conductor's podium to perform his latest waltz, 'Wiener Blut'. We do not believe that we are overstating our praise if we count this work amongst the best by the beloved Waltz King. This dance piece is a collection of genuine Viennese tunes, full of melody and electrifying rhythm. On tempestuous demand the waltz had to be repeated". The reviewer for the Neues Wiener Tagblatt (23.04.1873) was equally enthusiastic, numbering the waltz Wiener Blut "amongst the most beautiful which Strauss has written in recent years. In these three-four bars, sometimes cheeky, sometimes sentimental, flows fresh, free and red Viennese blood".

 

This performance of the waltz Wiener Blut, on the night of 22/23 April 1873, marked the first occasion on which the Viennese Waltz King conducted the renowned Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, and thus also the commencement of the orchestra's 'Strauss tradition'. (Some six months later, on 4 November 1873, the Wiener Philharmoniker would cement this relationship still further when, under the composer's direction, they performed Strauss's waltz An der schönen blauen Donau for the very first time at a concert in the Golden Hall of the Musikverein, hosted by the Committee of the Chinese World Exhibition.)

 

The waltz Wiener Blut later lent its name and some of its melodies (themes 1A., 1B and 4B) to the Johann Strauss pastiche operetta Wiener Blut, which was mounted at Vienna's Carl-Theater on 26 October 1899, less than five months after the Waltz King's death. The score comprised previously published melodies by Johann II, arranged by Adolf Müller junior and crafted to a highly entertaining libretto (set at the time of the 1814/15Congress of Vienna) by Victor Léon and Leo Stein, the future authors of Franz Lehár's operetta The Merry Widow (1905).

 

Auf der Jagd. Schnell-Polka (At the Hunt. Quick polka) op. 373

 

Generally speaking, the separate dances and marches which Johann Strauss habitually arranged from the scores of his various operettas bore titles which were connected, in someway, to the stage works from which their melodies were culled. Frequently the first piano editions of these compositions bore on their covers attractive portrayals of scenes or characters from the respective operettas. For these reasons alone the quick polka Auf der Jagd, based on melodies from Strauss's operetta Cagliostro in Wien (Cagliostro in Vienna), remains something of a curiosity.

 

Cagliostro in Wien, a tale concerning the doings and misdoings of the eighteenth-century Italian adventurer, alchemist and swindler, Count Alessandro Cagliostro (real name, Giuseppe Balsamo), opened at Vienna's Theater an der Wien on 27 February 1875. The action of the operetta is set firmly in Vienna and nowhere is there a depiction of a hunt, nor is there a reference to a hunt anywhere in the libretto by F. Zell and Richard Genée. Moreover, the illustrated title page of the polka's first edition depicts a hunting scene in which a huntsman is shown drawing his sabre beside a slain stag. Nowhere to be seen are rifles or pistols - and yet a pistol shot is specified in the piano (and orchestral) score of this polka! For this highly effective piece of musical writing, descriptive of a hunt in full cry, Strauss merely pushed aside any textual reference to the operetta, instead indulging in some free fantasy as he transports us to the forest by simple extension of the themes and by weaving hunting calls and pistol shots into the score with sovereign ease. The thematic content for the main section of the polka is drawn from the Act 2 duet (No. 10) for Lorenza and Fodor and from Fodor's Act 1 (No. 4) entrance song, whilst the first melody of the Trio section is to be found at the end of the Act 2 Finale. The Trio¡¦s second theme is not traceable in the published piano score of the operetta, and was presumably discarded from the final version of Cagliostro in Wien.

 

The first performance of Auf der Jagd took place during late autumn 1875, probably with the composer's brother Eduard conducting the Strauss Orchestra. According to one authority, the late Professor Fritz Racek, the première of the polka took place in the Vienna Volksgarten on 5 October 1875, though it has not proved possible to substantiate this claim.

 

Methusalem-Quadrille (Methuselah Quadrille) op. 376

 

The enormous success which greeted the Parisian première of La Reine Indigo (Queen Indigo, 1875), the French version of Johann Strauss's first operetta, Indigo und die vierzig Räuber (Indigo and the Forty Thieves, 1871), developed in the Viennese maestro the desire to compose a genuine 'French operetta'. In his native Vienna, all of Strauss's operettas to date had been staged at the Theater an der Wien, but now the artistic director of the rival Carl-Theater, Franz Jauner, seized his chance and offered Strauss the book of what was to become Fatinitza, which the librettist team of F. Zell and Richard Genée had based on an earlier work by Eugène Scribe. In the event, Strauss rejected this - (Franz von Suppé would subsequently score a triumph with it in 1876) - where upon Jauner ordered a book for Strauss from the popular French librettists Victor Wilder and Alfred Delacour. The result was Prinz Methusalem (Prince Methuselah), but it was left to the actor Carl Treumann to revise and translate the French libretto into German before the operetta could finally reach production.

 

Prinz Methusalem [Première: Carl-Theater, Vienna. 3 January 1877] did not rank among its composer's greatest stage successes, and its popularity with the public perhaps owed less to Johann's music - delightful though it was - than to excellent comedic performances by the actors Carl Blasel (as Mandelbaum, an Envoy of Ricarac), Wilhelm Knaack (as Cyprian, Duke of Ricarac) and the diminutive Josef Matras (as Sigismund, Prince of Trocadero). Shortly after the première a re-working of the libretto was proposed, though not immediately undertaken, and Strauss showed himself to be unusually dilatory in arranging the music from his Methusalem score for the eager devotees of the ballroom and bandstand. Indeed, the majority of the five separate orchestral dances based on themes from the operetta were not heard until long after the Vienna Carnival of 1877 had passed into history.

 

Strauss's publisher, C.A. Spina, clearly acting in concord with the composer, deliberately delayed publication of the operetta's piano score, while the Methusalem-Quadrille was not issued until May 1877. In the late spring or summer 1877 the quadrille featured in programmes of the Strauss Orchestra, under Eduard Strauss's direction, as well as in concerts given by the military bands. It has not proved possible to determine a precise date for the work's first performance, but its popularity was such that it was included in the ball repertoire for the following year's Vienna Carnival.

 

The work presents an attractive cross-section of music from Prinz Methusalem, the source material for each section of the quadrille being summarised as follows: Act 1 ('Pantalon', 'Été', 'Poule', 'Trénis' and 'Pastourelle'), Act 2 ('Pantalon', 'Pastourelle' and 'Finale'), while music from Act 3 (No. 18 'Generalslied') is confined to the beginning of the 'Finale' section.

 

"Ich bin dir gut!" Walzer (I'm fond of you! Waltz) op. 455

 

On 15 October 1844, the 18-year-old Johann Strauss the Younger appeared in public for the first time as composer and conductor at the head of his orchestra for a much-heralded soirée at Dommayer's Casino in the Viennese suburb of Hietzing. Half a century after this tentative first step upon his musical career, Johann stood before the Viennese as the world's most celebrated composer of dance music and operetta. If he had anticipated that his Golden Jubilee in October 1894 would have been allowed to pass comparatively quietly, he was mistaken, for his native city was munificent in lavishing upon her favourite son several days of receptions, festive concerts and performances on a scale previously unwitnessed in the Austrian capital. Messages of goodwill flooded in from celebrities around the world, honours were heaped upon the celebrant and, in the words of the composer's friend, the great Johannes Brahms: "The week belonged to Strauss! It was really frantic, but happy and splendid and agreeable".

 

In May 1893 Johann had commenced work on a new operetta, the Slavonic subject of which he had chosen himself. His friend Max Kalbeck (1850-1921) had written the libretto of the stage work, Joschko, with Gustav Davis (1856-1951), and it was hoped that the musical score would be completed before the end of the year. In the event, Strauss was delayed by intermittent illness and the new work, re-named Jabuka (Das Apfelfest) - Jabuka (The Apple Festival) - eventually took to the stage of the Theater an der Wien on 12 October 1894 as an hors d'oeuvre before the banquet of Golden Jubilee festivities that were to follow. Jabuka triumphed at its opening night, although it was felt, with some justification, that the material itself - a folk-tale set in contemporary Serbian south-Hungary - did not permit the composer to make full use of his idiosyncratic musical abilities. Strauss himself recognised the consequences these restrictions had exercised upon his creative powers and, in contrast to his usual procedure, personally undertook the orchestration of only one dance piece from the score of the operetta: the Jabuka-Walzer, which he dedicated to Julie Kalbeck, wife of the Jabuka librettist and Brahms biographer, Max Kalbeck. The waltz was given its first public performance by the Strauss Orchestra, under Eduard Strauss's direction, on 14 October 1894 at a Festival Concert honouring Johann Strauss in the Golden Hall of the Vienna Musikverein. Johann watched the concert with his family from a loggia and, when he rose to leave, the house erupted into a jubilant cheer: "Auf frohes Wiedersehen!" (Till our next happy meeting!).

 

A few days later Johann wrote to his brother Eduard. The letter commences appreciatively ("Your orchestra played quite superbly last Sunday"), before Strauss, the consummate orchestrator, sounds a critical note: "Everything was executed very well, with the exception of the first part of [Waltz] No. 1 [of the "Jabuka-Walzer"]. Play this piece strictly in waltz tempo without ritardando, with the exception of the introductory bar, but then only a little slower, so that the public can better distinguish the Introduction from the beginning of the first waltz [section]. For the percussion, (side drum) trumpets, even in the woodwind, a strictly rhythmic waltz rhythm exists, which cannot take a slower tempo". There then follows a most interesting passage: "At the very end, treat the first part of [Waltz] No. 1 more as a dance waltz, all the more as the melody is broad - and therefore requires rhythmic assistance - which exists only in the accompaniment. If this also gets slower - then the effect is diminished". A comparison between Johann's instruction regarding the interpretation of Waltz 1A "at the very end" of the composition and the first piano edition of the Jabuka-Walzer reveals that, unusually, Strauss does not in fact repeat the striking first waltz theme ("Ich bin dir gut!") in the Coda of his waltz as published. Moreover, shortly after Lewy had published the solo piano version of the Jabuka-Walzer, Strauss effected alterations to the construction of his waltz which resulted in the work being swiftly reissued (in editions for piano and full orchestra) - but still omitting the reprise of Waltz 1A in the Coda. This time the work bore a new name: "Ich bin dir gut!", after the title and melody of the Quartet (No. 17) for Jelka, Mirko, Anitta and Vasil in Act 3 of Jabuka which comprises the opening waltz theme (1A) of op. 455.

 

The remaining themes in the waltz are to be found in the operetta as follows:

 

Waltz 2A  -

Act 1 Finale (No. 8), soprano chorus: "Schöneres gibt es nicht"

Waltz 2B  -

Act 2 Finale (No. 13), Jelka: "Frei muss sich allein"

Waltz 3A  -

Act 3 Spott-Chor (No. 16): "Tanze mit dem Besenstiel"

Waltz 3B  -

Not traceable in the published piano / vocal score. Presumably excised from the final version of Jabuka before the operetta's opening night.

Waltz 4A  -

Act 1 Entrée-Couplet (No. 3), Joschko: "Ein Schritt zur ew'gen Vollendung"

Waltz 4B  -

Act 2 Finale (No. 13), duet section for Jelka and Mirko: "Hart auf zu schelten"

 

Johann Strauss soon overcame the personal disappointment that Jabuka, his Golden Jubilee operetta, did not achieve greater success. Not wishing to apportion blame, he addressed a reassuring letter to Julie Kalbeck. One sentence contains a curious echo of the waltz that bears her dedication: "Ich bin und bleibe Dir (und Max) gut, das Mißlingen des Werkes ist nicht Eure Schuld" - "I am still fond of you (and Max): the failure of the work is not your fault".

 

An der Wolga. Polka-Mazurka (By the Volga. Polka-mazurka) op. 425

 

In 1886 the sexagenarian Johann Strauss undertook his twelfth and final visit to Russia when, that March, he accepted an invitation from St. Petersburg to conduct a series of concerts there. It came jointly from the ladies of the 'Russian Society of the Red Cross' and from a children's charity, both of which institutions boasted the Tsarina Marie Feodorovna (née Princess Dagmar of Denmark) as patron. Berlin newspapers reported that a nobleman from the Russian Court had personally delivered the invitation to Strauss in Vienna, together with a contract offering a basic fee of 10,000 roubles.

 

The hosts in St. Petersburg had arranged for the 80-strong orchestra of the Imperial Russian Opera to be placed at Johann's disposal, while the enormous riding school of the Horse Guards Regiment was transformed into a concert hall and redecorated for his performances. Accompanied by Adèle Strauss (whom he would marry the following year), and with his luggage containing the orchestral performing material of several of his most popular dance compositions, Johann made the journey to St. Petersburg via Hamburg and Berlin, where he conducted performances of his operetta Der Zigeunerbaron (The Gypsy Baron, 1885). On 18 April Johann and Adèle travelled by "lightning train" from Berlin to St. Petersburg, where the Viennese 'Waltz King' was to conduct a total of seven concerts, the first of which took place on 26 April 1886 (= 14 April, Russian calender). Apart from presenting well established favourites like Juristen-Ball-Tänze op. 177, Tritsch-Tratsch-Polka op. 214 and the Egyptischer Marsch op. 335, Johann also wrote some new works especially for these charity performances. Amongst these was the polka-mazurka Mon salut (My greeting), which was played for the first time at the opening concert and loudly applauded. Five days earlier, on 21 April, the reporter for the St. Petersburger Zeitung had attended the orchestra's first rehearsal and described Mon salut as "uniquely interesting". Cast in the minor key, and with dotted rhythms, the piece is strongly reminiscent of another of Johann's 'Russian' polka-mazurkas, Spleen (op. 197, Volume 28 of this CD series), which the composer had written for his Pavlovsk audiences nearly thirty years earlier, in 1857. A particularly attractive feature in the orchestration of the later work is to be heard in the principal melody (theme 1A) where a descending arpeggio figure, played by the first violins and woodwind, is immediately echoed by the flute.

 

Several months after returning to Vienna, Johann participated in a benefit concert given by Eduard Strauss in the Musikverein on 7 November 1886, and took the opportunity to conduct the Strauss Orchestra in the first Viennese performances of all but one (the waltz Les dames de St. Petersbourgh) of the novelties he had composed for his recent visit to St. Petersburg. Naturally the programme included the polka-mazurka Mon salut, but for Viennese audiences it underwent a change of name to An der Wolga, with which title it was also published.

 

Programme notes © 1993 Peter Kemp. The Johann Strauss Society of Great Britian.

 

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.

 

Johannes Wildner

 

Johannes Wildner was born in the Austrian resort of Mürzzuschlag in 1956 and studied violin and conducting, taking his diploma at the Vienna Musikhochschule and proceeding to a doctorate in musicology. A member of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, he has toured widely as leader of the Vienna Symphony Orchestra's 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, the Malmö Symphony Orchestra, the Dresden Philharmonic and others. He has recorded works by Schumann, Wagner and Mozart for Naxos and is one of the main conductors in the Marco Polo Johann Strauss II complete edition.


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