|About this Recording
8.223235 - STRAUSS II, J.: Edition - Vol. 35
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.
Živio! Marsch (Your health! March) op. 456
Jabuka (Das Apfelfest) - 'Jabuka (The Apple Festival)' - was the only one of Johann Strauss's sixteen stage works to be published by Gustav Lewy (1824-1901), his old friend from his schooldays. The operetta, with its setting in Serbian south-Hungary, opened on the stage of Vienna's Theater an der Wien on 12 October 1894, and signified the commencement of a series of large-scale celebrations marking the fiftieth anniversary of the day on which the younger Johann Strauss had made his auspicious début as conductor and composer at Dommayer's Casino in Hietzing.
Despite the longstanding friendship between Strauss and Lewy, their association over Jabuka was very much that of composer and publisher. Johann had a jaundiced - and not altogether unjustified - view of publishers: his relationship with a former publisher, Carl Haslinger, had foundered over what he viewed as the latter's penny-pinching ways, and a similar criticism marred his dealings with Lewy over his Jubilee operetta. The terms of his contract with Lewy stipulated that, aside from delivering the operetta itself, Johann would also arrange an orchestral waltz (op. 455 "Ich bin dir gut!") on themes from Jabuka. After looking through the score of the stage work, the composer notified his publisher in summer 1894 that, in his view, there was sufficient additional material to furnish "2 excellent schnell-polkas, a polka française of equally high standard [and] an extremely effective quadrille. Perhaps I can even produce a polka-mazurka". He demanded for each piece a fee of 300 gulden, as he had done with his former publishers, C.A. Spina and Cranz, adding that he required two months to arrange and orchestrate the four pieces. Lewy declined to make Strauss any additional payment for this work, despite the latter's belief that "the material - if it is well handled - can bring you a lot of money. I consider the extracts far more lucrative than those from 'Zigeunerbaron' [The Gypsy Baron, 1885]". Strauss fiercely rejected a counter-proposal by Lewy: "Moreover, I can also not allow that a dance number, instrumented by someone else, should be brought out under my name ... Each dance number can only be presented to the public if the name of the arranger, or orchestrator, is given on the title page" (Letter, 2 September 1894).
In the event, Lewy nominated the trustworthy conductor and composer Louis Roth (1843-1929) to make the arrangements of the other Jabuka pieces, and these were checked and corrected by Strauss himself before being published in piano solo edition only. From Johann's original suggestion of two quick polkas, a French polka and a quadrille - in addition to the waltz - there in fact emerged a polka schnell (Das Comitat geht in die Hohe! op. 457), a polka française (Tanze mit dem Besenstiel! op. 458), a polka-mazurka (Sonnenblume op. 459), the Jabuka-Quadrille (op. 460) - and surely one of the composer's most exhilarating creations in march tempo: the splendid Živio! Marsch. The work takes its title, as well as the second theme (2B) of its Trio section, from the Act 1 (No. 4) sextet "Wir trinken Živio" - a Serbo-Croat toast, equivalent to the Viennese "Prost!" ('May you prosper!') or the British "Your health!".
The remaining themes for the Živio! Marsch are to be found in the operetta as follows:
Since the Živio! Marsch was published only in a version for piano, and no orchestral transcription was made at the time, the Strauss Orchestra was unable to give the work its first performance. Nor does the march feature in Eduard Strauss's programmes during his 1895 concert season in London, although he did play the Jabuka-Walzer (op. 455), the Vorspiel to Act 3 of the operetta (under the title "Intermezzo") and a purely orchestral version of one of the operetta's "Couplets" (presumably the Act 2 Bilder-Couplet, No. 12).
The present recording features an arrangement of the Živio! Marsch made from the piano score by Professor Gustav Fischer, founder and conductor of Vienna's celebrated ensemble, Stadtmusik Wien.
Architecten-Ball Tänze. Walzer (Architects' Ball Dances. Waltz) op. 36
"This year's carnival is one of the most patronised, that is, by the dance music composers. Strauss Father, alone, has furnished seven compositions, and Strauss Son five. Strauss (Father) has composed 4 waltzes, 2 quadrilles and 1 polka. A waltz consists of 10 melodies, a quadrille of 12 and a polka of 3, therefore he has provided a total of 67 melodies. - How many composers of opera would be able to do this in the course of six weeks? Strauss Son has furnished 2 waltzes, 2 quadrilles and a polka, thus a total of 47 melodies, and with neither [man] are the Introductions and Codas taken into account. The Viennese have received from Strauss Father and Son alone 114 melodies; is it therefore any wonder that everywhere one hears nothing but singing and whistling? Moreover, it would be interesting to know how many waltzes altogether are produced in a Viennese carnival season".
This illuminating paragraph appeared in the Wiener Allgemeine Theaterzeitung on 13 February 1847, just before the close of that year's Vienna Carnival. The elder Johann Strauss had again dominated the proceedings, conducting at balls for the Court and nobility and at such venues as the Sofienbad-Saal, the 'Sperl' and the Odeon. His 21-year-old son, meanwhile, confined his carnival appearances to the suburbs of Vienna: Dommayer's Casino in Hietzing and 'Zum goldenen Strauss' in Josefstadt. The younger Johann was thus responsible for providing the music when Vienna's architects held their 'Representation Ball' on 27 January 1847 in Herr Stern's newly refurbished Goldener Strauss - an establishment described by Der Wanderer (8.02.1847) as "the true Mecca, an excellent treasure-trove of amusement ...[and] because of the association balls, often the meeting place of the most distinguished society". "As far as the music is concerned", the paper continued, "it is always under the direction of Strauss Son, whose excellence is recognised".
Johann's contribution to the architects' ball was his appropriately entitled waltz Architecten-Ball Tänze, his first dedication for a society ball in the Imperial capital, H.F. Müller's publishing house issued the piano edition of the new work on 2 September 1847, bearing the composer's dedication "to the Students of Architecture at the Imperial-Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna". It was these students of architecture and their teachers who were subsequently responsible for the construction, notably in the area of what was to become Vienna's Ringstrasse, of several imposing buildings which were to give the Austrian capital its highly regarded and individual appearance.
Johann's Architecten-Ball Tänze attracted no attention from the press of the day. Nevertheless, it was performed frequently in its original form and in various different arrangements, re-emerging in print from Bosworth's Leipzig publishing house around 1900 with a new title: Memories. Erinnerungen. Walzer.
Jäger-Polka. Polka française (Riflemen Polka. French polka) op. 229
Two novelties appeared for the first time on the programme of Johann Strauss's benefit concert at the Vauxhall Pavilion in Pavlovsk on 14 July 1859 (= 2 July, Russian calendar). One of these, the Niko-Polka (op. 228, Volume 34 of this CD series), was dedicated "to his Highness Prince Nicolas Dadian" [sic!]. According to the printed programme, the other work - the Tirallieur Polka (in later programmes correctly amended to Tirailleur Polka) - bore the composer's dedication to "the Officers' Corps of the Batallion of Marksmen of the Tsarskoye-Selo Guards". It was under the title Tirailleur-Polka (Marksmen Polka) that the piece was published by A. Büttner in St. Petersburg.
Johann Strauss was still in Russia during late summer 1859 when the first references to the new polka began to appear in the Viennese press. Der Zwischen-Akt (15.09.1859), for example, included the Tirailleur-Polka among several novelties by the composer "which we would bring to the attention of the musical public", and which would "shortly" be issued by Carl Haslinger's publishing house. The paper added: "The Tirailleur-Polka is the favourite piece of this year's season in [St.] Petersburg". However, when Johann played the work for the first time in the Vienna Volksgarten on Sunday 20 November 1859, soon after his return from Russia, it had undergone a change of title to Jäger-Polka française, under which name the piece was also published by Haslinger - without dedication - on 18 December that year.
The military flavour of this charming polka, reflected in its use of snare drum and trumpets, is admirably suited to its dedicatees and to its alternative titles of Tirailleur and Jäger. Whilst the German word 'Jäger' may be translated as 'huntsmen' (perhaps indicated by the horn in the first part of the Trio section), the term may also be used militarily to denote 'riflemen', as for example in the various Jäger-Corps (Rifle Corps) - see note on Johann's Kaiser-Jäger-Marsch op. 93 (Volume 20 of this CD series). The cover illustration adorning Haslinger's first piano edition of the Jäger-Polka française further depicts a group of infantrymen, dressed in the uniform of the Biedermeier period and bearing rifles. Particularly noteworthy is the unusual closing section of the polka, with its military flourish on trumpets and drum-roll heralding a pistol (!) shot.
Accelerationen. Walzer (Accelerations. Waltz) op. 234
"A person who never has any ideas cannot create a waltz - whereas operas and symphonies have in the past been written in these circumstances ...".
Eduard Hanslick's keen observation is especially pertinent to the inspired waltz which the younger Johann Strauss wrote for the ball of the student engineers at Vienna University, held in the magnificent Sofienbad-Saal ballroom on St. Valentine's Day 1860. Johann's choice of title for the new waltz - Accelerationen - was one of the more obvious choices from the wide vocabulary of the engineering profession, and in the work's Introduction and opening waltz he effectively portrays the gathering momentum of a powerful machine. The first piano edition of the work, published by Carl Haslinger on 1 June 1860, bears the composer's dedication "to the Gentlemen Students of Engineering at Vienna University" and features a detailed cover illustration portraying the notion of 'acceleration': Zephyrus (the Greek god of the west wind), a paddle-steamer, hot-air balloon, steam train and telegraph wires.
The work, clearly a spontaneous idea on the part of the composer, is the subject of an anecdote to be found in such landmarks of Strauss literature as the biographies by Rudolph Freiherr von Procházka (1900), Erich Wilhelm Engel (1911) and Ernst Decsey (1922). According to the story, in the early hours of 14 February 1860 an exhausted Johann was relaxing with a glass of wine after conducting for a night-long ball at the Sofienbad-Saal. A committee member from the Engineers' Ball approached him, enquiring whether he had completed the waltz he had promised them for their dance festivity that very evening. Realising he had entirely overlooked the matter, Strauss took just half an hour to note down the waltz on the back of a menu. When this tale later came to Johann's attention during the 1890s, he dismissed it. Although he (and Josef Strauss) had certainly spent the entire night of 13/14 February 1860 in the Sofienbad-Saal jointly conducting their "Monster Ball", and while Johann was the swiftest of the three Strauss brothers at orchestration, he said, quite reasonably: "It may well be that I somewhere noted down the basic idea for the work, perhaps even on the back of a menu, but even I could not write down a waltz in the twinkling of an eye".
The critic for the Wiener Allgemeine Theaterzeitung (16.02.1860), reporting on the Engineering Students' Ball, noted its attendance "by a very select society. The room, not very overcrowded, permitted lady and gentlemen dancers to devote themselves to pleasure to their hearts' content, to which the waltz 'Accelerationen', composed by Strauss for this evening, and which had to be repeated several times, contributed significantly". Assessing the work of the two Strauss brothers in its issue of 6 March 1860, the theatrical paper Der Zwischen-Akt noted of their carnival compositions: "Each of these pieces of music contains a plethora of charming melodies, and it is difficult to say which of them is the most successful. If we had to give preference to just one, it would be to the vigorous 'Accelerationen', which is of equally high value to the musician and the dancer". The words of the Zwischen-Akt reviewer, Eugene Eiserle, were to find an echo in the views of the German composer and author, Peter Cornelius (1824-74), who was living and working in Vienna in 1861. In mid March of that year, following a visit to the Dianabad-Saal, he wrote to his confidante, Marie Gärtner: "We had supper there, heard Strauss, a charming waltz in G major. [Karl] Tausig said it was 'Thermen'. Make sure you hear this one and the 'Akzelerationswalzer' [sic!]! Also 'Wellen und Wogen' is beautiful, and many others too. I like these things very much".
The waltz Accelerationen subsequently became part of the Strauss Orchestra's standard repertoire, and rightfully maintains its place in Viennese concerts to the present day. Much later its success even led to the publication of a version for male voice chorus: entitled "Zeit ist Geld!" (Time is Money!), this was an arrangement by Victor Keldorfer (1873-1959) with words by Dr. Gustav Mayer. A footnote in this edition, published by Schlesingersche Buch- & Musikhandlung of Berlin, perpetuates the anecdote of the work's creation. In 1940, the Accelerations Waltz surfaced anew - almost complete, but for the omission of waltz sections 4A and 5A - in Antal Dorati's pastiche ballet, Graduation Ball, where it accompanies the opening dance sequence, 'Introduction and Assembly of Girls'.
Quadrille nach Motiven der Oper: Der Liebesbrunnen
(Quadrille on themes from the opera 'The Well of Love') op. 10
Viennese audiences were first treated to the delights of an opera by the Dublin-born singer and composer Michael William Balfe (1808-70) when Les Quatre Fils Aymon (The Four Aymon Sons) opened at the Theater in der Josefstadt on 14 December 1844. Under the German title Die vier Haimonskinder (The Four Children of Aymon), the carefully staged piece enjoyed a sensational success, and further productions followed at the Theater an der Wien on 24 September 1845 and, three days later, at the k.k. Hof-Theater (27 September 1845), the latter being given under the amended title Die vier Haimons-Söhne (The Four Sons of Aymon).
The elder Johann Strauss (1804-49) capitalised on the successful Viennese première of Balfe's stage work by concocting a quadrille from its themes and first performing his Haimonskinder-Quadrille (op.169) on 19 January 1845 at the ball of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde (Society of the Friends of Music) in the Great Hall of Vienna's Imperial Redoutensaal. So great was the public response to this quadrille that within four weeks of the first piano edition being put on sale the entire print run of 10,000 copies was sold out, and a second printing was necessary.
Johann Father's commercial coup did not escape the attention of his son - especially when the latter learned from Der Wanderer on 3 February 1845 that Balfe had sent the score of another opera, Le Puits d'amour, to the Josefstädter Theater for consideration by its director. Le Puits d'amour (The Well of Love), like Les Quatre Fils Aymon (1844), had been composed in Paris, and was rapturously acclaimed at its world première there on 20 April 1843 at the Opéra-Comique. The stage work had also triumphed at its London première on 8 August 1843, under the title Geraldine. On 23 September 1845 Der Sammler reported: "Balfe's 'Liebesbrunnen' [The Well of Love] is already in rehearsal at the Theater an der Wien, and Strauss Son is already composing a new quadrille on themes from this opera". Clearly anticipating a successful outcome for Balfe's comic opera at its première on 4 November 1845, the younger Johann must have been taken aback when the production and the prima donna in the rôle of Geraldine, Jetty Treffz (whom he would marry some seventeen years later), proved a disappointment. The critic of the Wiener Zeitschrift (6.11.1845) considered that "The music is not always what it could and should be, and unfortunately betrays only too much the composer of 'Haimonskinder'", while the reviewer for the Wiener Allgemeine Theaterzeitung (6.11.1845) was blunter still: "Even a gifted person has his bad moments, and it was certainly during some of these that Balfe composed this opera". After only three performances, Der Liebesbrunnen was dropped from the repertoire.
Meanwhile, Johann had completed his quadrille on melodies from the score of this Balfe opera. Father Strauss had in fact given the first Viennese performance of the Overture to Der Liebesbrunnen on 12 October 1845, before leaving Vienna for a concert tour with his orchestra, and on 28 October readers of Vienna's Illustrirte Theaterzeitung were able to read: "Without doubt, Strauss [Father] will send from afar a little bouquet to his innumerable admirers, and this could well consist of a 'Liebesbrunnen-Quadrille'". In the event no such composition appeared in the catalogue of Strauss Father's published works, and the younger Johann had the field to himself when, on 9 November 1845, he conducted the first performance of his own Liebesbrunnen-Quadrille at a crowded musical "Conversazione" in Ignaz Wagner's 'Zweites Kaffeehaus' in the Prater. Der Wanderer reported on 12 November: "For a long time our conversation has revolved around nothing but Balfe. Will his 'Liebesbrunnen' be better than 'Haimonskinder', will a quadrille be written on its melodies, and who will write it, Strauss Father or Strauss Son? Who will be the first to perform it and when? Will he [Strauss Father] send it here from foreign parts or wait until he himself returns, will both pieces compete and who will steal a march on the other? They were all important questions, but now, thanks heavens, decided, and our salon society will have to look around for fresh conversation fodder. It, i.e. the 'Liebesbrunnen-Quadrille', has now been played, in fact on Sunday the 9th of this month at Wagner's by Strauss Son. I should like to describe this quadrille as the quintessence of Balfe's opera, for all the delightful, pleasing themes are united in it. For the public at large, this quadrille may be regarded as saving the honour of the opera, and Balfe should now thank our gifted Strauss Son for it". The critic for Der Sammler (13.11.1845) agreed with the views of his journalist colleague: "This quadrille honours Strauss Son, for throughout it displays intelligent use of the themes and their effective instrumentation for the requirements of dancing, and it is all the more worthy of praise because this opera offers a smaller number of themes than the earlier ones which have been used for dance arrangements. From performance to performance the applause increased and it had to be played five times".
In the light of this latter report, it is all the more regrettable that Strauss's original orchestration has been lost. Professor Ludwig Babinski has therefore made the present arrangement of the Liebesbrunnen-Quadrille from the published piano score.
Die Zeitlose. Polka française (The Timeless One. French polka) op. 302
The Viennese publishing house of C.A. Spina issued the first piano edition of Johann Strauss's French polka Die Zeitloseon 6 December 1865. In seeking a visual portrayal of the work's title, the illustrator depicted a large clock face, with a winged maiden, representing the spirit of timelessness, filling the void where the hands should be. The artist might well have visualised the title in another way, for 'Zeitlose' is the German name for an autumn-flowering plant known in Britain as the 'Meadow saffron' (Colchicum autumnale). The star-shaped pale rosy-lilac flowers appear in clusters before the leaves form, and the plant is found particularly in the sub-Alpine meadows of mainland Europe.
The polka had, in fact, been written earlier in 1865 for Johann's concert season in Russia that year, and had been published in St. Petersburg by A. Büttner under the title Reconnaissance-Polka. Indeed, it was under this title - which may be translated as 'Gratitude Polka' - that the piece had delighted the audience attending Strauss's farewell appearance at the Vauxhall Pavilion in Pavlovsk on 1 October 1865 (= 19 September, Russian calendar), and an encore was immediately demanded after this first performance. It was an apt choice of title for Johann's final concert, for with it Vienna's Waltz King was able to express his gratitude to the Russian public for the friendship and adulation they had showered upon him during the ten summer seasons he had spent in Russia since making his Pavlovsk début. With a flourish of his pen, the orchestra's viola-player diarist, F.A. Zimmermann, wrote beneath the details of this final concert: "Ende gut alles gut" (All's well that ends well).
When the Viennese public was first introduced to this graceful polka on Sunday 12 November 1865 at a benefit concert in the Volksgarten for the brothers Josef and Eduard Strauss, it bore a new title: Die Zeitlose. The event marked Johann's first public appearance since returning from his Russian engagement, and he took the opportunity to conduct not only Die Zeitlose, but also the first Viennese performance of another work written for Russian audiences, the Bal champêtre Quadrille (op. 303, Volume 14 of this CD series). The reviewer for the Fremden-Blatt (14.11.1865) observed: "The rooms of the garden salon were barely able to contain the numerous public who had thronged there to listen to the music of the waltz prince. Numerous visitors had to turn back, many more contented themselves with standing crammed in the spaces between the individual tables. The orchestra and their conductor played with the greatest animation, the 'Hofballtänze' [op. 298, Volume 12] and the new polka 'Die Zeitlose' achieving especially great applause".
Themes 1A and 1B of Die Zeitlose later resurfaced in the Johann Strauss pastiche operetta Wiener Blut (1899), where they may be heard (together with a melody from Johann's waltz Wein, Weib und Gesang! op. 333) in the Act 3 duet "So wollen wir uns den verbinden!", sung by Franzi and the Countess.
Königslieder. Walzer (Songs for a King. Waltz) op. 334
In the summer of 1862 Josef Strauss had been forced, very much against his will, to deputise for his brother Johann in Pavlovsk, near St. Petersburg, when the latter cut short his concert season there and returned to Vienna on spurious medical grounds. Seven years later, in 1869, Josef prepared to travel with Johann to Pavlovsk, this time in his own right, to share in the conducting of a further series of concerts at the Vauxhall Pavilion. Josef hoped - vainly as it transpired - to secure further seasons in Pavlovsk for himself.
Before their planned departure for Russia on 7 April, Johann and Josef joined forces with brother Eduard Strauss to present a "Farewell Concert" on Sunday 4 April 1869 in the Blumen-Säle der Gartenbaugesellschaft (Floral Halls of the Horticultural Association) on Vienna's Parkring, in close proximity to the Palais Coburg. The event attracted an audience of around 3,000 people, and the Neues Fremden-Blatt (6.04.1869) declared that "this public attendance in such extraordinary numbers is the best yardstick for the widespread popularity enjoyed by the Strausses. Moreover, the public did not stint in its applause, and not only did the waltz 'Königslieder' and the polka-mazurka 'Fata morgana' by Johann Strauss, as well as the waltz 'Huldigungslieder' by Josef Strauss - extremely successful compositions performed for the first time - have to be repeated several times, but also the older pieces by the Strauss brothers enjoyed the most favourable reception".
The two new waltzes - Johann's Königslieder and Josef's Huldigungslieder - were in fact sharing more than just their respective premières: the two works also shared the same royal dedicatee - his Majesty King Luis I of Portugal (1838-89). Luis, who reigned from 1861 until his death in 1889, was a member of the House of Saxe-Coburg-Braganza in Portugal, founded in 1836 by his father, Prince Ferdinand of Saxe-Coburg-Kohary (1816-85), who became Ferdinand II, the titular King of Portugal. Luis Philip thus belonged to that group of regents connected with the House of Coburg for whose far-flung members the Strauss family dedicated numerous compositions, commencing with Strauss Father's waltz Huldigung der Königin Victoria von Grossbritannien op. 103 (1838) and concluding with Johann III's Krönungs-Walzer op. 40 (1902), written for King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra. In 1862 Luis I married Princess Maria Pia of Savoy (1847-1911), a daughter of King Victor Emmanuel II of Italy, and the couple had two sons, Carlos and Manuel.
Quite why the two Strauss brothers chose this specific date on which to honour Luis Philip remains unclear: we may rule out birthday celebrations, since the King was born on 31 October 1838, and he was not visiting Vienna at the time of the concert. Moreover, a renowned authority at Lisbon's Palácio Nacional da Ajuda, Signora Dottora Graça Mendes Pinto, has been unable to determine any contemporary event involving King Luis I which might have given rise either to the dedications or to the particular choice of date for the first performance.
Of possible interest in this connection, therefore, is a letter addressed to Johann Strauss by Baroness von Ruttenstein, the former child prodigy, Constanze Geiger (see note on Grillenbanner Walzer op. 247, Volume 14 of this CD series), and from 1861 the wife of Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. The letter, written from Gotha on 27 January 1869, reads in part: "I find it good that you are waiting until the carnival is over to send your own and your dear brother's compositions to Lisbon - the set can thus become only more valuable for his Majesty! - Please advise me in good time so that his Highness, my most worthy husband, can inform his exalted and noble nephew, King Luis, of their despatch!". It remains unknown whether the compositions referred to are the waltzes Königslieder and Huldigungslieder, or another group of dances by the Strauss brothers.
Like its companion piece, Huldigungslieder, Johann's Königslieder Walzer is a work of considerable lyricism, though, in spite of the beautiful Introduction, its thematic material seems to lack the originality and invention found elsewhere in compositions dating from this, Johann's 'golden' period of creativity. The suggestion by the eminent Professor Dr. Max Schönherr that Johann wove into the Coda of his Königslieder Walzer a quotation from theme 3B of brother Josef's waltz Wiener Fresken op. 249 is not borne out by a comparison of the two works.
Im Sturmschritt! Schnellpolka (At the double! Quick polka) op. 348
At the insistence of his first wife, the celebrated opera singer Jetty Treffz (1818-78), Johann Strauss finally made the successful transition from ballroom to theatre stage in 1870, and signed his first contract with the management of Vienna's Theater an der Wien on 26 May of that year. Thereafter he withdrew more and more from the strenuous task of conducting at balls and concerts and concentrated his efforts on the composition of operetta. In January 1871 he even resigned his honorary post of 'Imperial-Royal Court Ball Music Director' on the grounds of "ill-health", whereupon the Emperor Franz Josef of Austria at once conferred upon him the Knight's Cross of the Franz Josef Order" in recognition of his merit as Conductor of Court Ball Music and as composer".
Johann's first operetta for the Theater an der Wien was Indigo und die vierzig Räuber (Indigo and the Forty Thieves), which eventually opened at that house on 10 February 1871 - with Johann conducting. The new work was quite deliberately fashioned by the authors, composer and director after the French style so lucratively popularised by the Cologne-born Parisian, Jacques Offenbach (1819-80), a point not missed by many of the journalists who attended the operetta's triumphant première. Nor did Johann shy away from acknowledging the influence of Offenbach on his music when he subsequently began selecting and arranging material from the score of Indigo as separate orchestral numbers with which to maintain his presence in the ballrooms and concert halls of the Austrian capital. Just as a lively can-can was frequently a feature of an Offenbach stage work, so too Strauss determined to compose an unremitting quick polka which would compete with this breathless dance. The resulting piece also bore an appropriate title: Im Sturmschritt! The composer drew the thematic material for this dance from the following sources:
The first performance of Im Sturmschritt! took place on 19 May 1871 when, two days after Johann had appeared as guest conductor for a performance of Indigo und die vierzig Räuber at the Stadt-Theater in Graz, Eduard Strauss and the Strauss Orchestra delighted the public in the Vienna Volksgarten with a "May Festival". Alongside works by Eduard himself and Richard Genée, the programme also featured three numbers which owed their origins to his brother's operetta Indigo: apart from the quick polka Im Sturmschritt!, Eduard conducted the waltz Tausend und eine Nacht (op. 346, Volume 29 of this CD series) and the Act 3 ballet music (No. 18a).
Quadrille nach Motiven der Oper: Der Blitz
(Quadrille on themes from the opera 'Der Blitz') op. 59
More than a quarter of a century before Ludovic Halévy's vaudeville comedy Le Réveillon (1872: co-written with Henri Meilhac) became the inspiration for Johann Strauss's operetta Die Fledermaus (1874), the Viennese composer had been attracted to the Muse of Halévy's famous uncle, Jacques Francois Fromental Élias Halévy(1799-1862), and had crafted a quadrille from themes in the latter's opera Der Blitz. This charming three-act stage work, which had enjoyed its world première at the Paris Opéra-Comique on 16 December 1835 under the title L'Éclair (The Lightning Flash), with a libretto by J.H. Vernoy de St. Georges and F.A.E. de Planard, was mounted at Vienna's Theater in der Josefstadt on 23 November 1848 in a German translation by Josef von Ribics.
Der Blitz was well received by a public largely starved of theatrical and musical novelty at a time when the Austrian capital was still under a state of siege following the suppression of the Revolution in Vienna, and the critic of Der Wanderer (25.11.1848) voiced the general opinion when he stated that "the opera is rich in pleasing musical pieces", observing that "many had to be repeated". Johann Strauss, who was braving as best he could the adverse effects of the siege conditions on his career as a 'Musikdirektor', made immediate use of the opera's Viennese presentation to concoct a quadrille on its melodies. Since Dommayer's Casino in the suburb of Hietzing was the only establishment regularly available to him for his concerts during the late autumn of 1848, it was naturally here that he launched the first performance of his Blitz-Quadrille, probably at an "Afternoon Conversazione" on 8 December 1848. On 2 December the Wiener Zeitung had advertised the event, complete with the first performance of the quadrille, as taking place on 3 December, subject to "favourable weather". Since the same advertisement appeared in the paper on 7 December, now announcing the event for 8 December, it seems most probable that inclement weather postponed the earlier concert. Together with the Neue Steirische Tänze (op. 61), the Blitz-Quadrille was for a long time the only new piece which the younger Johann Strauss announced, a fact borne out by advertisements for his afternoon performances at Dommayer's as late as 11 March 1849 which promised a programme including "a new quadrille from the opera 'Der Blitz"'.
Since Strauss's publisher, Pietro Mechetti, never issued orchestral parts for this quadrille, Professor Ludwig Babinski has arranged the work from the piano score which was published by Mechetti on 3 December 1848.
Heut' ist heut'. Walzer (Today is today. Waltz) op. 471
Johann Strauss was seventy-years old when, in summer 1896, he advised Alexandrine von Schönerer, directrix of Vienna's Theater an der Wien, that he had accepted a libretto by Dr. Alfred Maria Willner (1859-1929) and Bernhard Buchbinder (1871-1922) for a new operetta entitled Die Gottin der Vernunft (The Goddess of Reason). Before long, however, serious differences of opinion arose, since Strauss was far from pleased with the scenario for the new work, which attempted to extract an amusing side from the bloody days of the French Revolution. When the composer attempted to dissociate himself from the project, Willner wrote to him sternly on 9 August 1896: "Herr Buchbinder will in no way assent to the abrogation of the contract made between the three of us ... and I feel obliged, on my part, to insist on performance of the contract. Accordingly, I shall allow myself to send you further texts". Johann was therefore forced to complete the composition, but absented himself on grounds of indisposition from the première at the Theater an der Wien on 13 March 1897. The reviewer for the Wiener Rundschau (1.04.1897) expressed the views of many when he condemned the choice of libretto, but went on to say: "Nevertheless, the score of course has many fine features, in particular in the instrumentation, even though the hits in waltz form, keenly awaited by the audience at the première, did not appear".
The Viennese publishers of Die Göttin der Vernunft, Emil Berté & Cie, showed little initiative throughout their dealings with the composer, and were almost pitched into a state of paralysis when the stage work was withdrawn by the Theater an der Wien after just 36 performances. It has yet to be determined whether, on this occasion, Strauss himself troubled to arrange the by now traditional separate orchestral numbers from themes in the operetta, since five of the six pieces were announced by the publisher only in piano edition. The waltz Heut' ist heut' appeared with the composer's "most amicable" dedication to the portrait painter, Leopold Horowitz (1838-1917). On the occasion of Strauss's Golden Jubilee in 1894, Horowitz had presented the maestro with his visiting card as "a voucher for a drawing as beautiful as possible of your fine head". Strauss had redeemed this "voucher" at Bad Ischl in the summer of 1896, and Horowitz sent him the magnificent completed pastel drawing on 17 December that same year.
At the Strauss Orchestra's last concert of the 1896/97 season in the Vienna Musikverein on Sunday 28 March 1897, the composer's brother, Eduard, conducted the first performance of the new waltz, shown in the printed programme as "Heut' ist heut', Walzer from Johann Strauss's operetta 'Die Göttin der Vernunft'. Orchestral arrangement by Eduard Strauss". Two months later, on 29 May 1897, Eduard conducted the orchestra in the British première of the waltz at his evening concert at London's Imperial Institute, where the programme again read: "Arranged for Orchestra by Eduard Strauss". Regrettably it seems that Eduard probably destroyed this arrangement when he consigned the entire archive of the Strauss Orchestra to the flames of a furnace in October 1907, and Professor Ludwig Babinski has therefore orchestrated the version on this present recording from the printed piano edition.
The reservations of the critic for the Wiener Rundschau notwithstanding, a number of delightful waltz themes are brought together in Heut' ist heut'. The gentle Introduction presents material from two duets in Act 2, "O Nachtigall, es ist die Liebe!" (No. 8) and "Da nicken die Giebel" (No. 11), while Waltz 1A also draws from Act 2, specifically from Bonhomme's solo waltz "Schöne, wilde Jugendzeit" (No. 9). Waltz 2A comprises material from Ernestine's "sharply syncopated" Act 1 (No. 7a) entrance aria, "Das Weib muss verstehen", while Waltz themes 4A and 4B are to be found in the Act 2 (No. 8) duet for the Countess and Robert, to the words "O sing, o sing". Waltz 2B is traceable only in the Overture (which Strauss did not provide until the twenty-fifth performance of the operetta), and one must assume that the material for this and waltz themes 1B, 3A, 3B and 4C were discarded from the stage work either before the première or very shortly afterwards, since they are not to be found in the published piano/vocal score of the operetta.
Die Wahrsagerin. Polka-Mazur (The Fortune-Teller. Polka-mazurka) op. 420
The polka-mazurka Die Wahrsagerin belongs to that group of orchestral compositions which Johann Strauss arranged from the score of his operetta Der Zigeunerbaron (The Gypsy Baron) after its opening night at Vienna's Theater an der Wien on 24 October 1885. The polka's title recalls the prophetic powers of a key character in the stage work, the gypsy woman, Czipra, a rôle created at the première by the young Viennese singer Antonie Hartmann (1861-1940). Two years later Fräulein Hartmann took the part of Hildegard at the première of Strauss's next stage work, Simplicius, and in 1889 married the journalist and later theatrical historian and Strauss biographer, Siegfried Loewy (1857-1931).
Appropriately, it is Czipra's Act 1 aria (No. 3), "Verloren hast du einen Schatz" ('You have lost a treasure'), which provides the thematic material for the principal section of Die Wahrsagerin. In this number the soothsayer prophesies to the disbelieving Royal Commissioner, Count Carnero, that he will recover a precious jewel he has lost. For the first melody in the Trio of his polka-mazurka, Strauss borrowed material from the second half of the famous Act 2 (No. 12) 'Sittencommissions Couplets' (Morality Commission's couplets): "Und weh' dem armen Erdensohn", sung by Carnero, Mirabella and Zsupán. Surprisingly, the second melody in the Trio section is not traceable in the published piano/vocal score, and may have been discarded during rehearsals or immediately following the première.
Johann Strauss, who had conducted the opening night of Der Zigeunerbaron, also presented the first performance of Die Wahrsagerin. The occasion for this was during his brother Eduard's concert with the Strauss Orchestra in the Golden Hall of Vienna's Musikverein building on 26 December 1885, and the new work met with spontaneous applause.
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.
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 Malmo 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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