|About this Recording
8.223233 - STRAUSS II, J.: Edition - Vol. 33
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.
Sachsen-Kürassier-Marsch (Saxony Cuirassier March) op. 113
The most famous of the many works written by the composers of the Strauss family for the popular annual Name Day festivities of Saint Anna (26 July) is undoubtedly Johann II's Annen-Polka op. 117 (Volume 9 of this CD series). The piece was actually given its first performance on 24 July 1852, thus as a prelude to the actual red-letter day. The 26-year-old composer's musical fecundity was such, however, that in 1852 he was also able to celebrate the true Name Day of St. Anna with a new composition - the jaunty Sachsen-Kürassier-Marsch.
Two factors prompted the commercially-minded Strauss to compose his Sachsen-Kürassier-Marsch. One was the fact that the King of Saxony Imperial-Royal Cuirassier Regiment No. 3 was at that time quartered in the garrison city of Vienna and their band had already played with the Strauss Orchestra on a number of occasions under their bandmaster Ignaz Wanek. The other, perhaps more marked, influence on Johann was the presence at Schönbrunn Palace in the Austrian capital of the visiting Queen Maria Anna of Saxony, the second wife of King Friedrich August II of Saxony (1797-1854) who was the Austrian regiment's patron and honorary Colonel.
In its edition of 25 July 1852 the Wiener Allgemeine Theaterzeitung announced that J. Vallentin, lessee of the gigantic Bierhalle premises situated in front of the Mariahilfer Linie (one of the gateways through the ancient fortifications encircling Vienna), had organised for 26 July a "splendid festival in order to demonstrate his respect for the many beautiful Annas which our capital numbers. Four large bands of musicians, lead by Strauss's orchestra, will take part; fireworks, illuminations, ball etc. etc. will immediately submerge the visitors in a sea of entertainment [and] behaviour will be without restraint, merry and jovial. In order to embellish the festival, Strauss has composed a 'König Sachsen Kürassier-Marsch' [King of Saxony Cuirassier March], dedicated to the worthy Imperial-Royal Officer Corps of the King of Saxony's Cuirassier Regiment, which will be performed at nine o'clock by 150 musicians". The musicians of the Strauss Orchestra and the Cuirassier Regiment were joined in the first performance of Strauss's march by those of the Grand Duke Constantin of Russia Infantry Regiment No. 26 (bandmaster: Josef Liehmann) and another military band under bandmaster Ludwig Morelly, all performing under the direction of Johann Strauss. The Wiener Allgemeine Theaterzeitung reported significantly on 28 July 1852: "If Strauss Father's 'Radetzky-March' were not destined to be the first army march of the Austrian troops, the 'Sachsen-Kürassier-Marsch' would certainly become so, for it brings together all the features of such a composition. One scarcely needs to say that Strauss had to repeat this march ... several times".
Present-day travellers to Vienna hoping to visit the impressive Bierhalle will be disappointed, for the building was demolished on 28 August 1882 and an office block now occupies the site in the capital's fifteenth district of Rudolfsheim-Fünfhaus. The Bierhalle had been built next to the Fünfhaus Brewery in 1839 and licensed to sell beer. It boasted the largest tavern garden in Vienna - a claim challenged by Unger's Casino in Hernals - and the younger Strauss's appearances there were following a musical tradition founded by Joseph Lanner (1801-43) who had been the first of Vienna's prominent music directors to give concerts there and whose son, August (1834-55), had made his début as composer and conductor in the Bierhalle on 19 March 1853.
Sträusschen. Walzer (Little Bouquet. Waltz) op. 15
In its review of a "Festival soirée" in the 'Sperl' dance hall on 5 July 1845, at which the younger Johann Strauss had given the première of his waltz Jugend-Träume (op. 12), Der Wanderer (8.07.1845) made a general observation about the newcomer's recent compositions: "Strauss [Father] and Lanner were always the heterogeneous elements of dance composition, exciting passion and fire in one, geniality, humour and tenderness in the other. Strauss Son, as the third in the group, here stands in the middle, reconciling and combining both elements ... Strauss son has swiftly become a major power in the waltz".
The paper's judgement, which appeared less than eight months after Johann junior had made his landmark debut at Dommayer's Casino in Hietzing, was remarkably perceptive, and its discernment was further borne out by the composition which Johann unveiled in July 1845 at the first ball held in the renovated and newly decorated 'Zum goldenen Strauss' ballroom in the buildings of the Theater in der Josefstadt. For the "Grand Opening Festival" of the room, scheduled for Tuesday 15 July but subsequently postponed until Sunday 20 July, Johann announced he would personally conduct a new waltz, especially composed for the occasion, entitled Die Sträusschen. The title of the work manifested Strauss's ready wit, for it referred not only to the venue, known colloquially as the 'Sträussl-Säle' (it comprised the large 'Zum goldenen Strauss' and two smaller rooms), but also to the composer himself whose position in musical Vienna - where his father reigned supreme - was very much that of 'small Strauss'!
Two days after the "Grand Opening Festival" the reporter for Der Sammler wrote of Die Sträusschen: "With this composition the young composer has presented the public with a new, fragrant bouquet from his genius, and the extent to which this deserves approval was manifested by the tempestuous applause which was not willing to end until Strauss Son had performed the waltz five times. We are not mistaken when we say that the melodies, which are highly characteristic, will soon belong among the most popular". The critic of the Illustrirte Theaterzeitung (23.07.1845) also noted the public acclamation for Die Sträusschen, adding: "The Viennese are competent in this field, one can trust their critical verdict, and so we just want to say that freshness, originality and vivaciousness are evident in this waltz, an elan and rhythm, so that this bouquet of fragrant waltz flowers causes those who hear it to dance or applaud involuntarily".
Not until April 1846 did Strauss's publisher, Pietro Mechetti, issue the piano score of the waltz, its title abbreviated to Sträusschen. Like several of the future Waltz King's early works, its seems that the orchestral parts for Sträusschen were never published: Arthur Kulling has therefore made this present arrangement, based on the piano edition.
"Etwas Kleines". Polka française (Something Small. French polka) op. 190
The title page of the first piano edition of Johann Strauss's coquettish French polka "Etwas Kleines", published by Carl Haslinger on 24 May 1857, bears no dedication. Yet in its issue of 5 May 1857, the Blätter für Musik, Theater und Kunst names one Friedrich Kaiser as dedicatee of the piece.
On 27 April 1857 the playwright Friedrich Kaiser (1814-74) scored an enormous success at Vienna's Carl-Theater with his three-act character sketch, Etwas Kleines, the music for which had been written by the Carl-Theater's resident conductor, Carl Binder (1816-60). It seems that Johann Strauss probably learned of this stage work when he performed at an evening benefit concert for the actor Franz Gämmerler at the Carl-Theater in late April 1857. What is clear is that, immediately following the première of Friedrich Kaiser's theatre piece, Johann was sufficiently inspired by its title spontaneously to craft a work of his own, a French polka, to which he also gave the name "Etwas Kleines". The first performance of the new work followed less than a week later, on 3 May 1857, when Johann conducted the Strauss Orchestra at an event advertised as the "Opening of the Promenade Garden and Farewell Soirée of Johann Strauss, alternating with Josef Strauss" at Unger's Casino in the suburb of Hernals. (The "Farewell Soirée" marked Johann's imminent departure for his second concert season at Pavlovsk, near St. Petersburg.) The polka drew unanimous praise from the audience, who must have especially captivated by the principal melody contrasting a gently swaying theme for cello and bassoon with the pert figures in the flute and string parts.
Three weeks later, on 24 May 1857, the Wiener Allgemeine Theaterzeitung carried the following announcement: "Johann Strauss's Polka française 'Etwas Kleines', which has received such extraordinary acclaim, has just been published by Haslinger in the usual arrangements. The bewitching themes of this thoroughly successful number stamped it at its first performance as one of the public's favourite pieces. Very pleasantly surprising is the rapid appearance of this composition, which was played for the first time only 14 [sic!] days ago".
By the time this paragraph appeared in the Theaterzeitung, Johann had commenced his engagement in Pavlovsk, presenting his first concert on 14 May 1857 (= 2 May, Russian calendar). Among the items he played in his opening programme was the polka "Etwas Kleines", and it is apparent from a letter he wrote later that May to Carl Haslinger in Vienna that the new piece found just as much favour with Russian audiences as it had done with the Viennese. "I am enjoying particularly good fortune with 'Etwas Kleines', which polka is comparable with 'Sans Souci' [op. 178, Volume 21 of this CD series] in its success. I play it several times a day, which in St. Petersburg is an awful lot".
Abschieds-Rufe. Walzer (Cries of Farewell. Waltz) op.179
Among the celebrations held in Vienna in 1856 to mark the centenary of the birth of W.A. Mozart (1756-91) were festival concerts on 27 January - the actual date of the anniversary - and 28 January. The conductor at both events was the former virtuoso pianist, Franz Liszt (1811-86), whose presence in Vienna on this occasion was a matter of dispute amongst the capital's musical cognoscenti. Many were openly scornful that Liszt, whose compositions showed him to be a 'futuristic musician' and a pioneer of modern music, had been chosen to conduct the music of the revered 'classical' master, Mozart. Yet, by the close of the first concert, Liszt had overcome all such hostility as he proved himself an exemplary conductor and faultless interpreter of Mozart.
January 1856 also saw Johann Strauss amid preparations for his first summer season of concerts at the Vauxhall Pavilion in Pavlovsk, near St. Petersburg. For Monday 28 January he announced he would give a "Grand Festive Ball" with the title "Strauss Valedictory Greeting" in the Sofienbad-Saal, at which he would not only play four of his latest dances - the waltzes Erhöhte Pulse (op. 175) and Juristen-Ball-Tänze (op. 177) and the polkas Armen-Ball (op. 176) and Sans-Souci (op. 178) - but also give the first performance of a new waltz entitled Abschieds-Rufe an Wien (Cries of Farewell to Vienna). Moreover, the astute 30-year-old composer announced that six hundred copies of his Marie Taglioni Polka (op. 173) would be presented to the ladies attending the event. Since Liszt had agreed to appear during the course of the ball in the Sofienbad-Saal, Johann declared that he and his orchestra would honour the eminent musician by performing Strauss Father's Furioso-Galopp op. 114, the themes for which were drawn from Liszt's Grand Galop chromatique op. 12 (1838) and another Liszt source.
Some two thousand dance-loving guests flocked to Strauss's "Grand Festive Ball", and the evening was the subject of lengthy reports in the press. The evening edition of Der Wanderer (29.01.1856), for example, carried an enthusiastic summary of the night's proceedings: "Herr Kapellmeister Strauss yesterday gave a farewell ball in the Sophienbadsaal for his own benefit, and for the benefit of the public, for they were splendidly entertained by well-loved Strauss melodies. Herr [Franz] Morawetz's impressive room was crammed full with a select and elegant society who showed great enthusiasm for dancing. Strauss, whom Russia's metropolis is to take away from us for five months, worked miracles with his irresistible waltzes, for with a temperature akin to that of Moratwetz's Turkish bath, the couples flew in columns through the moving riot of colour that was the ballroom. At about half past twelve, maestro Strauss played his latest waltz, called 'Abschiedsrufe', to enthusiastic applause, and when he came to the third waltz [section] he interrupted it with an imposing orchestral fanfare, for the celebrated Liszt had just entered, alongside Herr Haslinger, and was saluted in this appropriate way by Strauss. After this appearance Strauss began his waltz again, which was very successful and had to be repeated four times. The general jollity of this night of dancing was tempered only by the thought that Strauss, whose talent has given so many happy hours to the Viennese, will leave his native land for such a long time".
Johann did not, in fact, depart immediately for Russia at the end of the brief 1856 Carnival. Instead he remained in Vienna for several more weeks, assisting his brother Josef to consolidate the position of the Strauss Orchestra against anticipated competition from two Hungarian music-directors, Albert von Kéler (Kéler Béla) and Josef Gung'l - the latter of whom Der Wanderer (25.01.1856) had already opined should take the absent Johann Strauss's place in Vienna.
Carl Haslinger's publishing house did not issue the waltz Abschieds-Rufe until 29 June 1856, by which time Johann had already been in Pavlovsk for many months. The work, which features a cover engraving by Wilhelm Tatzelt of a view across Vienna from the west, while three figures wave farewell to a horse-drawn carriage making its way along a mountain path, bears the composer's "most respectful" dedication to "Herr Doctor Franz Liszt", whose modern style of harmony and orchestration had left its mark on Johann. Later, the waltz Abschieds-Rufe became the subject of an anecdote, authenticated by the critic Eduard Hanslick: Johann played it with his orchestra at the funeral of a lady admirer named Neuhauser, and as a result the work acquired an alternative title - Himmelswalzer (Heaven's Waltz).
Bouquet-Quadrille (Bouquet Quadrille) op. 135
It was no secret that the Archduchess Sophie Friederike (1805-72) exercised considerable influence in matters of government upon her eldest son, Franz Josef, the Emperor of Austria. It was therefore entirely understandable that many of Franz Josef's subjects should seek to ingratiate themselves with the youthful monarch via his highly influential mother, daughter of Maximilian I, King of Bavaria. Among those who chose to tread this path to Imperial favour was Johann Baptist Corti, the proprietor of the coffee house in the Vienna Volksgarten which had been built in 1823 in the form of a semi-circular arcade of columns. In May of 1852, for example, Corti organised a "Grand Spring Assembly" to celebrate the Name Day (15 May) of the Archduchess Sophie: to provide the musical entertainment he engaged Johann Strauss and his orchestra together with the band of the Grand Duke Constantin of Russia Infantry Regiment (No. 26), under their bandmaster Josef Liehmann. Strauss's Blumenfest-Polka (Flower Festival Polka, op. 111. Volume 10 of this CD series) was heard for the first time on this occasion. The event met with general favour, and the following year Corti decided to repeat the formula.
Accordingly, the Wiener Allgemeine Theaterzeitung for 15 May 1853 carried the announcement of "A grand Spring Festival in belated celebration of the Name Day of her Imperial-Royal Highness the Archduchess Sophie, organised by Herr Corti on Tuesday 17th of this month in the Imperial-Royal Volksgarten, at which, in addition to very magnificent illuminations, the bands of Herr Strauss and Liehmann will participate. The former has composed a new 'Blumen-Quadrille' [Flower Quadrille] for this festival. Besides this he will also perform a 'Polka' composed by the Imperial-Royal piano virtuoso, Herr Leopold von Meyer". In the event, inclement weather forced a postponement of the planned festivity until 23 May 1853. Strauss's performances, which included Auber's overture to Marco Spada, von Meyer's Fantasie-Polka and his own Blumen-Quadrille - in the interim rechristened Bouquet-Quadrille - were well received by the large audience, and led the reviewer for the evening edition of Der Wanderer (25.05.1853) to remark: "Upon tumultuous demand Strauss had to repeat his quadrille, a brilliantly instrumented bouquet of sound, and altogether played with indefatigable diligence. His current repertoire is rich and well chosen".
Although the "Grand Spring Festival" was certainly the first occasion on which Johann played his Bouquet-Quadrille publicly, it is possible that he may have given an earlier, private, performance on the previous day when he conducted the Strauss Orchestra at a "Déjeuner Dansant" (Luncheon Dance) organised by the Imperial Courton Sunday 22 May 1853 in the k.k. Glashausgarten (Imperial-Royal Greenhouse Garden - now the Burggarten). Strauss was not the kind of man to let slip the opportunity of adding his own unique "bouquet of sound" to such impressive floral surroundings ...
Polka Mazurka champêtre (Rustic Polka-mazurka) op. 239
The Polka Mazurka champêtre dates from 1860 and was among the compositions which Johann Strauss wrote for Russian audiences attending his fourth consecutive summer season of concerts near St. Petersburg. In the absence of written records by the orchestra's diarist, the viola-player F.A. Zimmermann, a definitive date for the world première performance of the piece cannot be ascertained, but the polka's provenance in Russia is confirmed by both Josef Strauss and the horn-player Franz Sabay, as well as by a report in the Viennese theatrical paper, Der Zwischen-Akt (8.11.1860). It seems likely that Johann introduced his Polka Mazurka champêtre at a rural festival in Pavlovsk, or in the grounds of one of the many palaces in the region around the capital, St. Petersburg: the cover illustration of the first piano edition, issued by Carl Haslinger on 10 December 1860, depicts couples carousing, dancing and promenading in a rural setting, with a castellated edifice in the background.
During the previous year a group of Tyrolean singers had participated in at least one of Johann's Pavlovsk concerts, and it is conceivable that the first Russian performance of the Polka Mazurka champêtre was accompanied by a small chorus. This supposition results from the fact that the fair copy of the score for op. 239, which Strauss sent to Haslinger in Vienna, provides for a four-part male chorus in addition to the orchestral parts. Although no text is provided - the chorus's vocalisation of "La, la" merely follows the melodic line of the polka-mazurka - this interesting number must nonetheless be considered as Johann's first choral dance composition.
In Vienna the first performance of the new work, announced in the Fremden-Blatt of 23 November 1860 as "Polka Mazur im Ländlerstyle (champêtre) unter Mitwirkung eines Männerchors von 14 Stimmen" - 'Polka-mazurka in the style of a Ländler (rustic), assisted by a 14 voice men's chorus' - took place on 25 November 1860 at a concert in the Volksgarten given jointly by Johann and Josef Strauss. Der Zwischen-Akt reported to its readers on 27 November: "In the Volksgarten a special liveliness reigned. At five o'clock all of the rooms were so crowded that many people could only get from the ticket-office to the main door, and found it better to exchange the tropical heat of the hall for the fresher air of the garden. Johann Strauss, although he has been back from Petersburg for a long while [he arrived on 29 October], appeared yesterday for the first time. The public greeted its darling with continuous tumultuous applause, which was repeated after each piece. Johann Strauss performed his 'Fantasieblümchen-Polka-mazur', 'Diabolin'- and 'Maskenzug-Polka', then 'Polka mazur-champêtre', composed in Petersburg, and frequently had to repeat each of these dances which distinguish themselves once again through piquant rhythms and charming melodies, a distinction which also fell to the other pieces which he played, such as 'La reveil de Lion' by Kontsky, 'Die Reisedurch Europa' Potpourri by Conradi and Meyerbeer's 'Schillermarsch'".
Besides publishing editions for solo piano, violin and piano, and full orchestra, Haslinger later also issued arrangements of the Polka Mazurka champêtre for chorus or vocal quartet with two horns in his "Liederkranz" series. This setting has a text which reads (in translation): "Where songs ring out / Sit yourself down ...". The performance for this Marco Polo "Johann Strauss Jr" recording, however, presents the composition in its purely orchestral version.
An der schönen blauen Donau. Walzer (By the beautiful blue Danube. Waltz) op. 314
It is interesting to reflect that Johann Strauss II's An der schönen blauen Donau (By the beautiful blue Danube), the most famous of all orchestral waltzes, was conceived and first performed as a showpiece for male voice choir. The work was Johann's first choral waltz, written as a commission for the Wiener Mannergesang-Verein (Vienna Men's Choral Association) with whom he was to enjoy a close association over the years, creating for the choir a total of six choral master waltzes, two polkas and a march.
Strauss began sketching themes for the waltz, which would eventually bear the title An der schönen blauen Donau, in autumn 1866, and originally submitted to the Association a four-part unaccompanied chorus comprising just four waltz sections and a brief Coda, but without Introduction. A hastily written piano accompaniment followed soon afterwards, and then a fifth waltz section. The orchestral accompaniment, together with the distinctive Introduction, was provided only shortly before the first performance which took place at Vienna's Dianabad-Saal ballroom during the Association's "Faschings-Liedertafel" (Carnival Programme of Songs) on 15 February 1867. In the absence of the composer, who was appearing with the Strauss Orchestra at the Imperial Court on the night of the première, the members of the Wiener Männergesang-Verein were conducted by their chorus-master, Rudolf Weinwurm, and accompanied by the orchestra of the 'Georg V, König von Hannover' Infantry Regiment No. 42, which was temporarily stationed in Vienna. The original, satirical, text had been furnished by the Association's own 'house poet', Josef Weyl (1821-95), although a new text was added in 1890 by Franz von Gernerth (1821-1900) which was more suited to non-carnival occasions and commenced with the now familiar words: "Donau so blau ..." (Danube so blue...)
The Viennese were treated to the first purely orchestral rendition of An der schönen blauen Donau - complete with Introduction and full-length Coda - on Sunday 10 March 1867 in the Volksgarten at the Strauss Orchestra's annual "Carnival Revue", which took the form a "Benefit Concert by Josef and Eduard Strauss, with the participation of Johann Strauss, Imperial-Royal Court Ball Music Director". This date is further confirmed by an entry in Josef Strauss's diary. Johann himself conducted this performance of his waltz, which featured as the third item on a programme presenting no less than twenty-four novelties composed for that year's carnival celebrations by the three Strauss brothers. Perhaps surprisingly, in view of the unanimous praise lavished by the Viennese press upon the choral première of the work, the orchestral version of An der schönen blauen Donau did not attract special attention from the critics, the Neues Fremden-Blatt (11.03.1867) merely noting that "every piece met with the most undivided applause, which now and then increased to tempestuous enthusiasm, and everything had to be repeated. The three brothers celebrated in this concert the greatest triumph in the sphere of Viennese dance music".
During the 1867 Carnival, An der schönen blauen Donau was merely regarded as a pearl amongst many others, and only a little later did the unique position which it was to assume, and maintain, as the unofficial national anthem of both Vienna and Austria, become evident. The new waltz was in the composer's luggage which he took with him to Paris in summer 1867, where it was played on 28 May at the glittering Austrian Embassy Ball given by the Ambassador, Prince Richard Metternich, and his wife, Princess Pauline, benefiting considerably from an attendance by the élite of international society. An Englishwoman who was present at this event, Mrs Charles Moulton (later Madame de Hegermann-Lindencrone), wrote home enthusiastically the following day: "The famous Johann Strauss, brought from Vienna especially for this occasion, stood waiting with uplifted baton and struck up the 'Blue Danube', heard for the first time in Paris... And how Strauss played it!... With what fire and 'entrain'!". It did not take long for the reputation of the work to spread much further afield, and on 1 July 1867 Theodore Thomas conducted its first American performance in New York with his own orchestra, an ensemble which later became the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. A little less than twelve weeks later, on 21 September 1867, the composer conducted the British première of the work (in a choral version with a 100-strong male voice choir) at London's Royal Italian Opera House, Covent Garden, afterwards noting in his diary: "tremendous tumult and rejoicing!!!".
Opern-Maskenball-Quadrille (Opera Masked Ball Quadrille) op. 384
"Johann Strauss personally conducts - the public to the outside of the theatre. That is, the people prefer to avoid the bad text and the dull presentation, and to have the tuneful waltzes of Maestro Strauss played to them in their own homes, in a piano arrangement by Spina".
Thus the Viennese satirical Die Bombe (No. 51, 22.12.1878) expressed its view of Johann Strauss's ill-starred operetta Blindekuh (Blind Man's Buff), which opened at the Theater an der Wien on 18 December 1878 and closed just fifteen performances later. Undismayed, Johann adopted his habitual practice of arranging melodies from his stage works into separate orchestral numbers for the ballroom and concert hall, and created three polkas, a waltz and a quadrille from the score of Blindekuh. The first of these dances to be heard was the waltz Kennst du mich? (op. 381, Volume 5 of this CD series), which Johann himself conducted in Vienna in mid-January 1879.
On 27 January 1879 Strauss departed Vienna and headed for Paris, accompanied by his second wife, Angelika ('Lili'). In the French capital he conducted the dance music for two "full dress and masked balls" at the Hippodrome and a concert in the 'Cercle France International', sharing the direction of the orchestras - that at the Hippodrome was 200 strong! - with the celebrated French conductor / composer Louis-Albert Vizentini (1841-1906). Strauss presented his French audiences with a selection of his most popular dance pieces, also hoping to whet their appetites for his latest operetta, Blindekuh (in French, Colin Maillard), by playing them the Kennst du mich? Walzer.
One might have expected Johann also to have featured in these Paris performances another of his dance compositions based on Blindekuh melodies - the Opern-Maskenball-Quadrille - particularly since during his previous visit in 1877 he had indeed conducted at the famous masked balls at the Opéra. The work is not, however, listed in any of the published programmes for Johann's 1879 appearances in the French capital. Since Paris was not the inspiration for the quadrille's title, and neither does it derive from any events within the action of the operetta itself, one must look elsewhere for the source of this title. Vienna seems to provide the solution.
During the 1879 carnival season it was announced that two fancy-dress balls (termed "Opern-Redoute") would be held in the Vienna Court Opera House, and that the music "will be performed by the orchestra of the k.k. Hofballmusik-Direktor Eduard Strauss, under his personal direction". These festivities were clearly organised along the lines of the established Paris Opéra Balls, and guests were requested to attire themselves "in full evening-dress or in elegant fancy-dress". It was at the second of these, held on 22 February 1879, that Eduard Strauss presented a work by Johann entitled Opern-Redoute-Quadrille. Just a week later, on 2 March at the annual "Carnival Revue" in the Vienna Musikverein, Eduard conducted the work again: this time it simply bore the title "Quadrille on themes from the operetta 'Blindekuh'". Since, however, contemporary prints of the balls at the Vienna Court Opera reveal numerous guests to be wearing masks, it would not be wholly inaccurate to describe these events as 'masked balls', and perhaps this is the explanation for the eventual emergence of the work from C.A. Spina's publishing house (which had been acquired by the Hamburg-based firm of August Cranz) in the guise of the Opern-Maskenball-Quadrille.
The delights of the Opern-Maskenball-Quadrille are such that one must regret Blindekuh itself has disappeared from theatre repertoire. The six sections of the quadrille present material from all three acts of the operetta, summarised as follows: No. 1 'Pantalon' (Act 1), No. 2 'Été' (Acts 3 and 1), No. 3 'Poule' (Act 1), No. 4 'Trénis' (Act 1), No. 5 'Pastourelle' (Acts 3, 2 and 1) and No. 6 'Finale' (Act 3). The 'Pantalon' and 'Poule' sections each contain themes which are untraceable in the published piano edition of the stage work, and one must conclude that their sources were excised from the final version of Blindekuh either before, or shortly after, the opening night.
Freikugeln. Polka schnell (Magic Bullets. Quick polka) op. 326
In July 1868 Vienna played host to the 3rd German Federal Shooting Contest, which attracted no less than ten thousand entrants from many parts of the world. Numerous associated celebrations were organised in the capital, while on the green expanse of the Vienna Prater a special 'Festhalle' (Festival Hall) was constructed. It was here, on the evening of 27 July, that the Strauss Orchestra, under the direction of Josef and Eduard Strauss, gave a concert attended by an audience of some ten to twelve thousand. When Johann Strauss himself made a guest appearance to conduct his waltz By the beautiful blue Danube, written just one year earlier and dubbed by the shooting contestants the "Marseillaise of the Festival" he was greeted with jubilation and each section of the composition was received with thunderous applause. From a letter written by Eduard Strauss it is clear that the Strauss brothers had intended to include as an encore item an aptly-named novelty by Johann - the quick polka Freikugeln. The title of this effervescent work harks back to Carl Maria von Weber's romantic opera Der Freischütz (1821) and refers to the huntsman's 'magic bullets' which always find their mark. Press reviews do not mention the work being played, but Franz Sabay, a horn-player in the Strauss Orchestra, confirms in his diary that the new polka certainly was performed at the event.
Freikugeln was given its first 'public' performance the following night, 28 July 1868, at a "Viennese Music Festival with Fireworks" in the Volksgarten. During the second half of the programme the Strauss Orchestra, directed alternately by the brothers Johann, Josef and Eduard, joined forces with the Duke of Württemberg, Baron Reischach and Archduke Ferdinand d'Este regimental bands to present - apart from Johann's new quick polka - Meyerbeer's Schillermarsch, Johann's waltz G'schichten aus dem Wienerwald (op. 325), Josef's Schützen-Marsch (op. 250) and the Schützen-Quadrille (o. op) written jointly by all three Strauss brothers.
The electrifying effect the Freikugeln-Polka had on its Viennese audiences was repeated four years later in America when, on 28June 1872, Johann conducted it as an encore item at the Boston World's Peace Jubilee and International Musical Festival. His audience there comprised some 20-25,000 people in the immense Coliseum building - which dwarfed even the Prater 'Festhalle' - and "The Grand Orchestra" under Johann's direction numbered 809 instrumentalists, including 200 first violins!
More than thirty years after its première, the opening theme (1A) of the Freikugeln-Polka was incorporated into Adolf Müller's pastiche operetta on Johann Strauss's melodies, Wiener Blut (1899), where it is heard in the Act 1 Finale (No. 5), sung first as a trio ("Nein, nein daraus werd' ich nicht klug") by the Countess, Count and Minister, and then as a quartet when the three are joined by Franzi.
Trau-schau-wem! Walzer (Take care in whom you trust! Waltz) op. 463
On 30 January 1895 the German portrait painter, Franz von Lenbach (1836-1904), addressed the following letter to Johann Strauss in Vienna: "Most highly esteemed Maestro! Through the extremely successful performance of your divine music to the charming 'Fledermaus' I have again been reminded, and I may say encouraged, to apply to the Maestro himself with my most respectful enquiry: would your Eminence give me the opportunity one day to paint your likeness? I would be most happy if you did not turn me down. With the greatest admiration, your completely devoted F. Lenbach". Lenbach was then the most favoured portrait painter in Germany, counting among his subjects the greatest men of his time, like the Emperor Wilhelm I, Bismarck, Gladstone, Liszt and Wagner. Strauss gladly accepted this invitation - for himself and his wife Adèle - and the couple travelled to Munich where they remained for eight days, sitting for the portraitist on a few occasions and "enjoying the society of Lenbach, Defregger, Paul Heyse and other eminent men of letters and artists of the Bavarian capital" (Musical Courier, London edition, 22.06.1895). Lenbach made three likenesses of Johann and two of Adèle, later presenting two of these to the couple with his compliments. The Musical Courier noted: "Johann Strauss's next composition will be a Lenbach Waltz, in honour of the great German painter".
As the Musical Courier had indicated, Strauss did indeed dedicate his "Lenbach Waltz" to Franz von Lenbach. This captivating composition, written in gratitude to the portraitist and formally entitled Trau-schau-wem!, was based on melodies from Johann's latest operetta, Waldmeister (Woodruff), which received its première at Vienna's Theater an der Wien on 4 December 1895. The composer's brother, Eduard, conducted the Strauss Orchestra in the first performance of the orchestral waltz Trau-schau-wem! at his Sunday afternoon concert in the Golden Hall of the Musikverein on 15 December 1895. (In summer 1897 Eduard performed the waltz for his London audiences under the title: Wife, see who comes.) Some reviewers felt that this Waldmeister Walzer - by which name the work was also known and first published - harked back to Strauss's 'golden age', and referred to the composition as an "inverted Danube Waltz" since the upward arpeggio of the first three notes in the Blue Danube Waltz (op. 314, also on this Volume) are inverted to provide the opening three note downward arpeggio of the new work.
Johann evidently experienced some difficulty in compiling "the right waltz" from the melodic riches in Waldmeister. In a letter to his Berlin publisher, Bote & Bock, he spoke of his need to fulfil certain essentials in his orchestral waltz Trau-schau-wem!, namely that there should be contrast between the individual sections while still conveying an harmonic homogeneity to the whole work.
Beyond all doubt the principal charm, indeed the very essence, of op. 463 derives from the aforementioned "inverted Danube Waltz" in the opening waltz (Waltz 1A) and in the Coda - a theme which finds its origins in the main vocal waltz of the Act 2 Finale (No. 14) of Waldmeister, "Trau', schau', wem?", sung first by Pauline and then taken up by Botho, Tymoleon and the chorus. This vocal number had attracted considerable press attention at the operetta's première. Writing in the Neue Freie Presse (6.12.1895), for example, Dr Eduard Hanslick commented: "We had already been made aware of the delightful 'Trau-schau-wem' waltz... in the overture, where the theme is played in thirds by two flutes, with the violins playing winsomely in counterpoint". The critic of the Fremden-Blatt (5.12.1895) referred to the same vocal number as "that cascade of irresistible splendour", which he prophesied would "sweep through the world on wings of song". The sources for the remaining melodies in the orchestral waltz Trau-schau-wem! are traceable in the published piano / vocal score as follows:
Waltz 1B (Act 2 Finale, No. 14)
Waltz 2A (Act 3 Septett, No. 17)
Waltz 2B (Act 1 Lied, No. 2)
Waltz 3A (Act 2 Finale, No. 14)
Waltz 3B (Act 2 Finale, No. 14)
Waltz 4A (Act 2 Couplet, No. 12)
Waltz 4B (Act 1 Lied, No. 2)
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.
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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