About this Recording
8.223236 - STRAUSS II, J.: Edition - Vol. 36
English  German 

The Johann Strauss Edition

Johann Strauss II, the most famous and enduringly successful of 19th-century light music composers, as born in Vienna on 25 October 1825. Building upon the fim musical foundations laid by his father, Johann Strauss I (1804–1849) and Joseph Lanner (1801–1843), the younger Johann (along with his brothers, Josef and Eduard) achieved so bigh 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 appeal of his music bridged all social strata, and his genius was revered by such masters as Verdi, Brahms and Richard Strauss. The thrice-married ‘Waltz King’ later turned his attention to the composition of operetta, and completed 16 stage works (among them Die Fledermaus, Eine Nacht in Venedig and Der Zigeunerbaron) 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.

Matador-Marsch (Matador March) op. 406

Das Spitzentuch der Königin (The Queen’s Lace Handkerchief) may not have ranked among the most successful of Johann Strauss’s fifteen operettas, but the composer lavished upon it so much delightful music that the critic for Die Presse (2.10.1880), Eduard Hanslick, was moved to observe “that he [Strauss] could easily furnish a second operetta with it”.

Following the première of Das Spitzentuch der Königin at Vienna’s Theater an der Wien on 1 October 1880, Johann adopted his by now traditional practice and arranged the operetta’s most attractive melodies as separate orchestral numbers. The score of Spitzentuch swiftly yielded up five such pieces, including one of the composer’s best-loved waltzes: Rosen aus dem Süden (Roses from the South) op. 388 (Volume 19 of this CD series). These dances duly found a wining public in the ballrooms and concert establishments around Vienna, performed by the various civilian orchestras and military bands.

By 1883 Das Spitzentuch der Königin had long disappeared from Vienna’s theatre repertoire, superseded by a new stage offering from Strauss, Der lustige Krieg (1881), and the ten dances and marches compiled from its themes. It was strange, therefore, that Strauss’s publisher, August Cranz, now chose to issue a sixth composition based on melodies from Das Spitzentuch der Königin. The confused events of this stage work, set in Lisbon in 1580, included a bullfight, and the dramatis personae included picadors, banderilleros, espados and a torero.  But where a bullfight is involved, naturally a matador was also required—hence the title of Cranz’s late-born publication: Matador-Marsch. The work capitalised on the effective march (No. 18 in the published piano score) heralding the Act 3 bullfight which the first night reviewers had praised so highly, using one of its melodies as the first theme for the Trio section of op. 406. The remaining material for the Matador-Marsch is traceable in the published piano score as follows:

Theme 1A – Act 1 Introduction (No. 1): Allegro con brio section

Theme 1B Act 2 Scene (No. 9): section marked poco più mosso

Theme 28 Act.1 Finale (No. 6): Allegretto grazioso section
(N.B.: this same tune is used as theme 28 in Johann’s quick polka Stürrmisch in Lieb’ und Tanz op. 393. See Volume 12)

The publisher’s advertisements show that only a piano solo edition of the Matador-Marsch was put on the market. It has not yet proved possible to determine whether the composer made an orchestral arrangement of the work, but certainly it never featured in the programmes of the Strauss Orchestra. Nor is any orchestral material for the Matador-Marsch shown as existing in the Strauss Orchestra’s musical archives, which Eduard Strauss destroyed by burning in 1907. Vienna nonetheless preserves some relevant and interesting musical material: the Wiener Stadt- und Landesbibliothek houses a manuscript entitled (in translation) “March before the Couplet [bullfight]/Act III”, which differs in some respects from that in the piano edition, while in the archives of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde there is an arrangement of the Matador-Marsch for salon orchestra. This salon orchestra version, together with the manuscript and the original Cranz piano score, has formed the basis for the arrangement of the Matador-Marsch which Professor Gustav Fischer has prepared for this Marco Polo recording.

Kreuzfidel! Polka française (Pleased as Punch! French polka) op. 301

Scarcely was the 1865 Carnival season over when Johann Strauss departed Vienna for a rest cure, accompanied by his wife Jetty. During January and February 1865 his doctors had regularly reported him to be suffering from a “state of nervous exhaustion, and Johann had insisted that his youngest brother, Eduard, should deputise for him at Pavlovsk for the first half of the 1865 Russian concert season. The second brother, Josef, though far from well himself, was thus left in sole charge of the Strauss Orchestra’s activities in Vienna until Eduard returned from Pavlovsk during July, whereupon Josef also acted upon medical advice and took a holiday.

With Eduard still In Russia, Johann made the journey to Pavlovsk for the second half of the 1865 season, making his first appearance with the orchestra at the Vauxhall Pavilion on 29 July (= 7 July, Russian calendar). Generally speaking, Eduard had not been a success: Johann remarked sarcastically in a letter to Josef on 28 July 1865 (= 16 July) that, despite some noisy applause, his brother’s farewell concert “lacked the throwing of flowers—which could not be forthcoming since the poor womenfolk, who formed Eduard’s support, would have preferred Eduard to have given the flowers”. Johann had not completely recovered from his illness and occasionally the leader of the orchestra, Herr Simon, was obliged to conduct in his stead. The events of this 1865 season did not pass unobserved by the management of the railway company who had engaged the Viennese Waltz King, and Johann and Jetty were both aware that the directors were already negotiating with a successor for 1866—a musician Johann himself rated as “a very honest and strict conductor”, the German musical director Heinrich Fürstnow, from Hamburg-Altona. Strauss was unmoved by these plans, a fact shown by the title of the composition which he played for the time at his benefit concert on 5 September 1865 (= 24 August): the Fidel-Polka. The novelty was immediately encored and was heard several more times that season, undergoing a change of name to Kreuzfidel from 14 September (= 2 September). (The word ‘Fidel’ means ‘merry’ or ‘jolly’, while ‘Kreuzfidel’ is the Viennese superlative.)

Although the usually reliable Josef Strauss noted in his diary that Johann conducted the first Viennese performance of Kreuzfidel at a benefit concert in the Volksgarten on 12 November 1865, it is clear from announcements in the press that Johann restricted his novelties this occasion to the waltz Hofballtänze (op. 298), the polka française Die Zeitlose (op. 302) and the Bal champêtre Quadrille (op. 303). In fact, the composer conducted the Viennese première of the new piece at a Volksgarten concert featuring all three Strauss brothers on 19 November 1865, the day after the publishing house of C.A. Spina had issued it under the title Kreuzfidel!

The Kreuzfidel! Polka was in Johann’s luggage when he sailed for the World’s Peace Jubilee and International Musical Festival in Boston, U.S.A., during summer 1872. The work appears to have been performed only once, at Johann’s afternoon concert in the immense Coliseum building on 3 July (designated “Horace Greeley Day” after the contender for the presidency). The composer had evidently recovered from a bout of rheumatism in the right shoulder which had plagued him earlier that week, and the reporter for the New York Tribune (4.07.1 872), displaying a lack of familiarity with the German language, noted: “Strauss was more himself in conducting ‘Wine, Women and Song’, and in the encore, the ‘Polka Kratus Flidal’

D’ Woaldbuama. Die Waldbuben. Walzer im Ländlerstil
(The Forest Lads. Waltz in Ländler style) op. 66

The waltz in Ländler style, D’Woaldbuama, came into being during summer 1849 when Vienna was still under martial Iaw following the suppression of the 1848 Revolution. This situation had regrettable consequences for the 24-year-old younger Johann Strauss: the state of siege resulted in a much reduced attendance at those few balls and concerts which were organized in the Austrian capital. Thus, in order to earn a living and maintain his orchestra, Johann (who was, moreover, driven to take out a loan) was forced to seek engagements in the regions surrounding Vienna. On 27 July 1849 the Wiener Zeitung carried an advertisement for one such entertainment: on the following day, 28 July, a more detailed announcement appeared in Der Wanderer and the Ost Deutsche Post: “Grand Country Charity Festival with Ball, which will take place on Monday 30 July (favourable weather permitting) in the tavern garden and hall of the ‘Golden Lion’ [Zum goldenen Löwen] in Untersievering, with startling arrangements and sensational garden illuminations. Two bands of musicians will participate, namely: the orchestra under the personal direction of Herr Capellmeister Sirauss Son and the band of the Pioneer Corps under the direction of Capellmeister Anton Mattes. The entire proceeds, after deductions for the music, are intended for the wounded soldiers in the local garrison hospital”.

Although no mention was made of Strauss’s waltz in Ländler style D’ Woaldbuama in connection with this event, it remains the only logical engagement for which it would have been composed. The venue for the evening festival, the restaurant ‘Zum goldenen Löwen’ in Unter-Sievering, on the edge of the Vienna Woods, was at that time not easily reached from the city centre. The composition of this waltz was perhaps prompted by Strauss’s need to escape the gloomy monotony of everyday life in Vienna by seeking a temporary ‘refuge’ in the idyllic surroundings of the Austrian countryside. A citizen frustrated by the chicanery of the military authorities might certainly have wished to share the carefree life of the ‘forest lads’.

Yet, if we cannot be sure that Strauss gave the first performance of D’ Woaldbuama at the “Grand Country Charity Festival” in the ‘Golden Lion’ on 30 July 1849—or even that the event itself actually took place—we know for certain that he intended to play it at a “Grand Impressive Victory Celebration” in aid of the Invalid Fund for Viennese Volunteers disabled in the Italian campaign, scheduled to be held on the Wasserglacis outside the gates of the fortified city of Vienna on 12 September 1849. Owing to inclement weather, however, the event was postponed first until 15 September and then until 17 September when, presumably, D’ Woaldbuama was performed on a programme which included the first performance of his waltz Aeols-Töne (op. 68, Volume 27 of this CD series).

With a view to reaching a wider sheet-music buying public, Pietro Mechetti published the first piano edition of the new work in October 1849 bearing, alongside the Lower Austrian dialect title under which it was originally performed, the purely German version: Die Waldbuben. The cover illustration shows three boys playing in the crown of a tree, in a woodland setting. Mechetti also announced “correct copies” of the orchestral parts for this waltz, but to date none has been found. Professor Ludwig Babinski has therefore made the arrangement recorded here from the piano edition.

Process-Polka schnell (Lawsuit. Quick polka) op. 294

A fascinating title page illustration adorns the first piano edition of Johann Strauss’s Process-Polka schnell of 1865. While a man and woman stretch between them a scroll bearing the composition’s title, a blindfolded cherub wielding the sword and scales of justice seemingly adjudicates between them. The representation seems to suggest a divorce proceeding—and, for no obvious reason, the characters portrayed bear an uncanny resemblance to Strauss himself and his wife Jetty!

Process is one of Johann’s most exuberant quick polkas. Indeed, at the time of its writing Johann could afford to be in high spirits—after all, it wasn’t he who was enmeshed in unpleasant legal proceedings, but his brother Eduard! From time to time, opponents of Vienna’s ‘Waltz Dynasty’ had launched attacks on the Strauss brothers. As attacks on Johann (from 1850–55 and again in 1860–61) and on Josef (in 1858–59) had proved fruitless critics began to focus their tirades on the youngest brother, Eduard, after his entry into the ‘musical arena’, first as a conductor of ball music in 1861 and the following year as a concert conductor. The influential founder and editor-in-chief of the Vorstadt-Zeitung, Eduard Hügel (1816–87), published in No. 360 of his journal an “Open Letter to Herr Kapellmeister Eduard Strauss, known as ‘handsome Edi’”, in which (amongst other things) he disputed Strauss’s entitlement to be called a ‘Kapellmeister’, voicing his opinion that Eduard lacked any capability as a conductor and had no talent far composition, and described him as an “insignificant person”, a “nullity” and a “dilletante”. Angered by the defamatory language used in the article, Eduard Strauss brought an action against Hügel; which was taken up by the State Attorney’s Office. At the resulting court case on 17 February 1865, Hülgel claimed merely “humorous intent” by his article, defending his use of the term “nullity” by placing printed editions of Eduard Strauss’s entire output on the table and stating that they only amounted to around 1,800 bars of music—“about as much as any dilletante composes in a year”. Although Hügel had himself lodged a claim against Eduard Strauss for defamation of character which had “damaged his honour”, the State Attorney argued that Hügel’s article was offensive and could not be considered artistic criticism, and the court subsequently found in Eduard Strauss’s favour. Hügel—who later became a city councilor—was fined and ordered to retract his views. (In 1867 the Strausses’ rival, C.M. Ziehrer, dedicated his waltz Wiener Ball Chronisten op. 84 to Eduard Hügel.)

Johann Strauss wrote his Process-Polka schnell for the “Gentlemen Students of Law at Vienna University” and dedicated it to them on the occasion of their ball in the Sofienbad-Saal on 31 January 1865. The Fremden-Blatt of 2 February 1865 noted the presence of “an extremely numerous, select company” who danced animatedly until dawn to a musical programme which included not only Johann’s Process, but also the atmospheric dedication waltz Actionen (op. 174) which his brother Josef had composed for the festivity. Johann’s contribution went on to enjoy excellent sales when its piano edition was published by C.A. Spina on 6 February 1865. The orchestral edition followed on 23 June’ 1865, issued simultaneously with Johann’s polka française Episode op. 296 (Volume 19 of this CD series).

Elfen-Quadrille (Elves Quadrille) op. 16

A little more than six weeks after the younger Johann Strauss had made his professional début as composer and conductor with his orchestra at Dommayer’s Casino on 15 October 1844, the Wiener Allgemeine Theaterzeitung (28.12.1844) was able to advise its readers: “For the coming carnival, Strauss Son has taken charge of the music at Dommayer’s Casino in Hietzing near Vienna and at the ‘Goldener Strauss’ in Josefstadt, in the theatre buildings”.

Thus it was at Dommayer’s, on 22 January 1845, that the 19-year-old Johann held his first benefit ball of the new year, the proceeds going to himself and his musicians. The rooms had been elegantly decorated for the-event, and Johann made enormous efforts to offer his public a programme with plenty of variety. In addition to his earlier works he promised two of his latest novelties, the Amazonen-Polka (later published as op. 9, Volume 3 of this CD series) and the Aniela-Mazur (unpublished and subsequently lost), as well as two pieces which had been especially composed for that very evening: the waltz Die jungen Wiener (later published as op. 7, Volume 2) and the Elfen-Quadrille, the latter perhaps aimed at the adoring young Viennese ladies among his audience. The quadrille had been carefully prepared, and no less than eleven of its themes are traceable in the composer’s earliest-known musical ‘sketchbook’, apparently being noted down during the first six months of 1844. Strauss had another, more tangible, gift for each of the ladies attending, his benefit ball: a pre-publication copy of his opus 1, the waltz Sinngedichte, with a specially printed title page (omitting the opus number and price) in reddish-brawn rather than the blue-grey of the published edition which appeared just three days later, on 25 January 1845.

Several newspapers reported on Strauss’s benefit at Dommayer’s noting politely, for example, that the new waltz and quadrille “met with general approval and were frequently repeated by tempestuous demand” (Der Sammler, 25.01.1845). It cannot have pleased Johann, however, that Pietro Mechetti’s publishing house did not issue the piano edition of the Elfen-Quadrille until 22 June 1846—almost a year and a half after the first performance. Since Mechetti announced no orchestral performing material for the Elfen-Quadrille, Arthur Kulling has made the present arrangement from the published piano edition.

Mephistos Höllenrufe Walzer
(Mephistopheles’s Cries from Hell. Waltz) op. 101

Mephistos Höllenrufe is the evocative title Johann Strauss gave to the waltz he composed in autumn 1851 for a “Grand Promenade Festival with Fireworks and Music” in the Vienna Volksgarten; which took place on 12 October 1851 under the title “The Journey into the Lake of Fire”. (The title is a quotation from Revelations 20:10—“And the devil [Mephistopheles in mediaeval mythology]…was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever”.) The chief attraction of the event, a benefit for the 25-year-old ‘Musikdirektor’, was an extensive scenic illumination which more or less corresponded with the title of the festival, and at the conclusion of which the well-known and popular Viennese “entertainment pyrotechnician, Anton Stuwer, had organized a brilliant firework display. Two orchestras had been engaged, Strauss’s orchestra alternating with the band of the Wallmoden Cuirassier Regiment under its bandmaster W. Radewzaweck. This was, therefore, a large scale festival in the old Viennese style, of a type so successfully staged by Strauss Father, and was more an echo of the Biedermeier period than a feature of the era following the March Revolution of 1848.

Sunday 12 October 1’851, the day of Strauss’s benefit, boasted beautiful autumnal weather, and huge numbers of Viennese journeyed into the surrounding countryside. Scarcely a seat was to be had at the coffee houses and wine taverns, and crowds flocked to such venues as Schönbrunn, Dommayer’s Casino, Unger’s Casino, the Paradise Gardens, the Wasserglacis and the Prater. In Vienna itself, more than three thousand people swarmed to the Volksgarten to attend Johann’s “Grand Promenade Festival”, which was due to commence at 4.00pm. The Mephistos Höllenrufe waltz, composed especially for this festival, combined elements of old-Viennese dance music with that new zest which Strauss Son could claim as his own contribution to the further development of the waltz. Such academic observations, however, escaped the notice of the critics, the reporter for the Wiener Allgemeine Theaterzeitung (14.10.1851) merely commenting that the work “received such a favourable reception, on account Of its effective and original melodies and brilliant instrumentation, that it had to be repeated three times”. Particularly colourful, and fully in keeping with the work’s ominous title, are the Introduction and Waltz2A—the dainty, upwardly-ascending tune of the latter being suddenly interrupted, and then answered by a sinister chromatic descending passage. It is interesting to note that several of the waltz themes (1C, 2A, 3A, 3B, 4A, 4B, 5A, 5B) in Mephistos Höllenrufe are to be found in close proximity to one another in the earliest-known of Johann’s musical ‘sketchbooks’ (now housed in Harvard University’s Houghton Library) and were probably notated during the first half of 1851.

Johann Strauss performed Mephistos Höllenrufe on several occasions during the 1852 Vienna Carnival, and on 5 February that year the waltz appeared from Carl Haslinger’s publishing house in the usual editions for piano, violin and piano, and full orchestra. Noting “the excellent piano arrangement”, the Neue Wiener Musikzeitung (12.02.1852) felt that the new work “ought to be very welcome to the many devoted admirers of Strauss’s compositions”. Subsequently the work was reprinted and newly edited many times, and its Introduction was later enshrined in the score of Antal Dorati’s pastiche ballet, Graduation Ball (1940), where it may be heard complete at the start of dance No. 4, ‘The Drummer Boy’ (Allegro alla marcia).

Bitte schön!  Polka française (If you please! French polka) op. 372

In Act 1 of Johann Strauss’s operetta Cagliostro in Wien (Caglioqtia in Vienna) the infamous 18th-century trickster, Alessandro Cagliostro, has amazed a crowd of Viennese townsfolk by apparently restoring life to a corpse. Early in Act 2, six ugly old women besiege Cagliostro’s laboratory, and in a charming sextet (No. 9) implore the miracle worker to rejuvenate them with his patent elixir: “Bitte schön, bitte schvn, o mach’ uns jung, mach’ uns schön, wir bitten schön!” (If you please, if you please, oh make us young, make us beautiful, we beg you!) It is this sextet (which had to be repeated at the première and which the Fremden-Blatt of 3 March 1875 called “a tripping polka of thrilling effect”) which not only provides the title for Strauss’s orchestral polka on melodies from the operetta—Bitte schön!—but also the material for its first two themes (1A and 1B). The music comprising the Trio section, however, cannot be traced in the score of the operetta, indicating either that its source was cut from the final version of the stage work or, most unusually, that Strauss may have composed it anew for the orchestral dance.

To date it has not proved possible to establish the date of the first performance of the polka Bitte schön! Following the première of Cagliostro in Wien at Vienna’s Theater an der Wien on 27 February 1875, Johann set off for Paris to supervise rehearsals of La Reine lndigo—the French adaptation of his first operetta, Indigo und die vierzig Räuber—and he may not have found time to arrange the new polka until after his return to Vienna that May. It may be safely assumed that the Strauss Orchestra included the new polka française in the programmes of its summer concerts, probably conducted by Eduard Strauss, The military bands, as ever, were swift to take Johann’s latest dances into their repertoire, and Bitte schön! was no exception. Although Friedrich Schreiber’s publishing house did oat advertise the printed editions of the polka until November 1875, they must have been available before then because on 8 September 1875 Josef Hellmesberger junior (1855–1907) conducted a performance of Bitte schön! with the Tonkünstlerkapelle, an ensemble comprising theatre musicians, at Elterlein’s Casino (formerly known as Unger’s Casino) in the Viennese suburb of Hernals.

A startling transmogrification occurred on the illustrated covers of the early piano editions of the polka française Bitte schön! Schreiber’s first issue pictures a little girl politely offering (“If you please!”) a flower to a gentleman who is standing beside mother. In the later Cranz reissue, the three original figures have mysteriously disappeared, to be replaced by a young man who is apparently buying a posy from a rather more curvaceous young female—if you please!

Die Extravaganten. Walzer (The Extravagant. Waltz) op. 205

On 8 January 1858, the newspaper Die Presse listed the titles ofthe dedication works which Johann Strauss had announced for the coming Vienna Carnival, amongst them his contribution for the Lawyers’ Ball on 26 January 1858. The composition—a waltz—was entitled Die Extravaganten, and its first piano edition bears Johann’s dedication “to the Gentlemen Students of Law at Vienna University”. This choice of title may well have given rise to wry smiles amongst the Viennese; yet it was not the legal profession whom Strauss was describing as “extravagant”, but the character of the waltz itself. The young composer was well aware that he had extended the traditional waltz form with this work, his use of the word “extravagant” conveying the sense of “going beyond the usual bounds”. Certainly the new piece engendered an extravagant degree of interest directly after its first performance, the reviewer for the Fremden-Blatt (28.01.1858)reporting: “The Lawyers’ Ball, which is always awaited with ardent desire by the young ladies of Vienna, took place the day before yesterday in the Sofienbad-Saal… Kapellmeister Johann Strauss conducted the orchestra with customary precision and circumspection. The waltz ‘Die Extravaganten’, composed by him for this ball, contains very pretty melodies and enjoyed general applause. It will no doubt number among the best dance music compositions of this season”.

Far more analytical was the gifted critic Eduard Hanslick. An arch-opponent of the “new music” of the day, he was always ready to condemn anything which did not accord with his conservative views. In the case of Die Extravaganten, Hanslick considered the new waltz in terms of musical history, a perspective which took him back to the eighteenth century. He wrote: “Strauss Son has plainly set himself the aim of an act of major historical revenge. When, towards the end of the last century, orchestral music was made popular by the systematic degrading of [Joseph] Haydn’s style, many ‘Philistines’ went so far as to turn the merriest Ländler into themes for their symphonies and quartets. Johann Strauss seems to have wanted to avenge this insult against his Viennese predecessors by compensation, and adorns his wale with themes whose rightful place of honour should be in the symphonies of the newest school. Therefore our Waltz King counterpoints, denying himself; therefore he sweeps with the bow of learning over the strings of melancholy. A feuilletonist recently said: Strauss appeared to have designed his newest waltzes more for the Court of Muses at Weimar than for Vienna [a reference to Franz Liszt, who was at that time living in Weimar]. Indeed, I also notice in Strauss’s latest pieces that sharp, spicy odour which emanates from game when it smells of the past [i.e. when it has been hung too long], and music when it smells of the future. Those of his waltzes which, without any remarkable originality at least sound fresh and natural, are still much better dance music than those stilted themes whose interminable phrases are combined with the most recherché harmonies to confuse both mind and feet. Thus the beginning of the newest waltz ‘Die Extravaganten’ is an old Strauss reminiscence [!], but the best in the whole number because of its sparkling vitality. It is immediately followed by an extended, diatonically-rising cantus’ firmus and other learned curiosities, which seem to say with a smile: ‘We mean well, because we are going to the ball, but it is folly”.

Eduard Hanslick thus expended a great deal of learning to prove only that he had not understood Die Extravaganten. However, the boldness of this work, indeed its very extravagance, impressed the public. Audiences in Russia were no less impressed with its variety of form and adventurous harmonies when Strauss played it for the first time there on 6 July 1858 (= 24 June, Russian calendar) during his second benefit concert at the Vauxhall Pavilion in Pavlovsk. Johann was justifiably proud of Die Extravaganten, and after returning from Russia he featured it as the opening item on the programme of his first concert in Vienna on 22 November 1858 in the Volksgarten.

The musical value of Die Extravaganten was recognized also by the composer’s brother, Eduard Strauss. Nearly forty years after its composition, the work was the earliest of Johann’s waltzes to feature in Eduard’s 1895 concert series with the Strauss Orchestra at the Imperial Institute in London. During the course of Eduard’s three London visits (in 1885; 1895 and 1897) only one earlier waltz by Johann was performed: Idyllen op. 95 (1851).

Much more recently, other people have succumbed to the charms of Die Extravaganten. The arranger/lyricist team of Robert Craig Wright and George Forrest lighted upon the second theme in the work’s Introduction (repeated as Waltz 5A), adapting and linking it to a melody from Strauss’s waltz Vermählungs-Toaste op. 136 (Volume 2 of this CD series) to create the romantic duet “Warm” for the MGM motion picture The Great Waltz (1972).

Fledermaus-Quadrille op. 363

Die Fledermaus, the third Johann Strauss operetta to reach production, opened at Vienna’s Theater an der Wien on Easter Sunday 5 April 1874. In complete contrast to the assertion of numerous Strauss biographers, the total success of the work was assured from its first performance, although only with the passage of time has the piece come to be regarded as the premier stage, work in the entire operetta genre.

On 1 May 1874, less than four weeks after the première of Die Fledermaus, Johann Strauss departed Vienna to commence a concert tour of Italy with the Julius Langenbach Orchestra of Germany. His preoccupation with the organization of this project limited the time available to him for composing the eagerly-awaited dance pieces arranged from the score of his operetta masterpiece, and only three of the eventual seven works were rushed on to the market by his publisher, Friedrich Schreiber. Amongst these was the Fledermaus-Quadrille, which went on sale on 13 May 1874—a ‘rest-day’ for Strauss and the orchestra in Italy. The programmes of music Johann played to his Italian audiences do not include the Fledermaus-Quadrille, and it has so far proved impossible to establish a firm date for the first performance of the new piece in Vienna. Since Schreiber issued the quadrille in May, however, its first performance could well have taken place in the Austrian capital during June 1874.

The Fledermaus-Quadrille provides the listener with an exhaustive tour of the delights in this, the most celebrated operetta of all time. The ear is charmed by a relentless succession of its rhythmic melodies, the selection of which paid heed only to the strict demands imposed by the six distinct sections (or ‘figures’) of Viennese quadrille form—No. 1 ‘Pantalon’, No, 2 ‘Eté’, No. 3 ‘Poule’, No. 4 ‘Trénis’, No. 5 ‘Pastourelle’ and No. 6 ‘Finale’. The quadrille was one of the most popular ballroom dances of the nineteenth century, and was executed by sets of four, six or eight couples. Each dance section comprised rigid eight- or sixteen-bar melodic phrases, and even though these were repeated frequently within a section, the quadrille demanded a large number of separate themes, thus providing operetta composers with an ideal vehicle for exploiting the musical highlights of their stage works. Johann’s Fledermaus-Quadrille accordingly presents material from the following sources:

Pantalon – Act 2 (No. 7) Orlofsky’s couplet; Act3 (No. 15) Trio for Rosalinde, Alfred and Eisenstein; Act 3 (No. 14) Adele’s aria

Eté – Act 2 (No. 7) Orlofsky’s couplet; Rosalinde’s arietta in Act 1 Finale (No. 5)

Poule – Act 1 Finale (No. 5) Trio section; Act 3 (No. 14) Adele’s aria; Act 1 (No. 1a) Alfred’s serenade

Trénis – Act 1 (No. 3) Duet for Eisenstein and Falke

Pastourelle – Act 1 (No. 2) Trio; Act 2 Finale (No. 11a)

Finale – Act 1 (No. 4) Trio for Adele, Rosalinde and Eisenstein; Act 1 Finale (No. 5)

An item of historical interest is an acoustic recording of a Contre-Fledetmaus Quadrille (complete with shouted dance calls!) conducted by the composer’s nephew, Johann Strauss III (1866–1939), with the Johann Strauss Orchestra. The recording, issued by the Edison Company in December 1910, covers three 4-minute Wax Amberol Cylinders. The musical content of this work differs from Johann Il’s original Fledermaus-Quadrille in, omitting certain themes and including quotations from the “Champagne Trio”, the “Watch Duet’ and opening chorus from Act 2 of the operetta, and a melody from the Trio (No. 15) of Act 3.

Der Klügere gibt nach. Polka-Mazurka
(A still tongue makes a wise head. Polka-mazurka) op. 401

With the knowledge that it was while Johann Strauss was composing his operetta Der lustige Krieg [Première: Theater.an der Wien, Vienna. 25 November 1881] that his wife ‘Lili’ began her affair with the Director of the Theater an der Wien, Franz Steiner, the titles of three of the ten orchestral numbers Strauss arranged from the score of Der lustige Krieg (The Merry War) seem remarkably pointed: the French polka Was sich liebt, neckt sich (Lovers are fond of teasing) op. 399, the quick polka Entweder-oder! (Either-or!) op. 403 and the polka-mazurka Der Klügere gibt nach (literally: ‘The wiser head gives in’, or ‘A still tongue makes a wise head’) op. 401. Such reflection, however, is merely idle speculation.

Der KIügere gibt nach takes its title from the couplet sung in the Introduction (No. 1) to the operetta’s first Act by the Marchese Filippo Sebastiani (a rôle created at the première by Alexander Girardi), while the melody of this number finds its place as theme 2A in the Trio section of the polka-mazurka. The remaining themes in this dance piece may be summarized as follows:

Theme 1A – Act 2 Duet (No. 13): Else & Balthasar, “Was ist an einen Kuss gelegen”

Theme 1B – Act 1 Duet (No. 5): Violetta & Umberto, “Ach ich glaub’ nicht daran”

Theme 2B – Act 2 Lied (No. 9): Else, “Wenn man muss einsam bangen”

While the first piano edition of the polka-mazurka Der Klügere gibt nach was announced on 5 January 1882, a further two months elapsed before the Strauss Orchestra performed the world première of the work when Eduard Strauss conducted it at his Sunday afternoon concert in the Vienna Musikverein on 19 March 1882.

Neu-Wien. Walzer (New Vienna. Waltz) op. 342

Johann Strauss choral waltz Neu-Wien appeared in print from C.A. Spina’s publishing house on 6 March 1870, bearing the composer’s dedication to “Herr Nicolaus Dumba’ (1830–1900), the great industrialist and patron of the Arts who was at that time Chairman of the Wiener Männergesang-Verein (Vienna Men’s Choral Association) and Vice-President of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Wien (Society of the Friends of Music in Vienna). The new work had been written at the request of the Wiener Männergesang-Verein and was first performed by them at their carnival-time ‘Narrenabend’ (Fools’ Evening) in the Dianabad-Saal on 13 February 1870. Writing to his publisher just two days earlier, an 11 February, Strauss notified Spina that he would receive the full score of Neu-Wien the following day, adding: “I am playing ‘Neu-Wien’ next Sunday [= 13 February], in order to winkle out a few banknotes from the gentry”. In the event, a previous commitment to provide music for a ball hosted by Prince Hohenlohe-Schillingsfürst prevented (Johann and the Strauss Orchestra from presenting the première of the new waltz, and the first performance was instead given by the musicians of the 49th (Baron Hess) Infantry Regiment under the Wiener Männergesang-Verein’s newly-appointed deputy choirmaster, Eduard Kremser 1838–1 914).

The text for Neu-Wien was provided by the Association’s own ‘house poet’, Josef-Weyl (1821–95) a long-term friend of the composer who had also written the texts for Strauss’s previous choral compositions for the Wiener Männergesang-Verein, An der schönen blauen Donau, Walzer op. 314, Sängerslust, Polka française op. 328 and Wein, Weib und Gesang! Walzer op. 333. Weyl’s mocking text for Neu-Wien was inspired by the extension of the city of Vienna which, in 1870, pushed the borders of the Imperial capital up to the ‘Linienwall’ (the old outer defenses of the city), nowadays known as the ‘Gürtell, thereby incorporating a number of former suburbs and giving, rise to districts 2 to 9 of Vienna.

Just ten days after the première of Neu-Wien, the Strauss family—and, indeed, a large part of music-loving Vienna—was shaken to its foundations by the death of mother Anna Strauss (1801–70) on 23 February 1870, following a long illness. The Neues Wiener Tagblatt (25.02.1870) closed its obituary of this popular matriarchal figure with the words: “The glittering careers of her sons more than adequately recompensed the old lady for so much hardship which she had had to endure in her early years”. The three grieving Strauss brothers withdrew from public temporarily, reappearing together in the Golden Hall of the Musikverein on Sunday 13 March 1870 to commence their concert season with the Strauss Orchestra with the traditional ‘Carnival Revue”. Die Presse carried a report of this orchestral “promenade concert” in its edition of 15 March: “All the dance compositions written by the three brothers during this carnival were performed. The rush of the public to this concert was so colossal that the ticket offices had to be closed at 5.45 pm and thousand of people had to be turned away…But the musical pleasures were plentiful. Tempestuous demand required that all the compositions were repeated Mice or three times and, when Johann Strauss appeared, renewed salvoes of applause resounded time and again. In particular, the waltz ‘Neu-Wien’ met with approval”. The reviewer for Der Wanderer (15.03.1 870) concurred: “With his compositions ‘Neu-Wien’ and ‘Egyptischer Marsch’, Johann Strauss caused a sensation and had to repeat them three times”.

Thus Johann Strauss, denied the honour of conducting the highly successful choral première of Neu-Wien, was able to enjoy the triumph which accompanied his direction of the first purely orchestral performance of the waltz. Nicolaus Dumba, the dedicatee of the new work and consequently one of the staunchest promoters of the ‘Waltz King’, remained proud of the waltz for the rest of his life, surviving just long enough to see its Introduction and themes 1A and 1B immortalized in the posthumously produced Johann Strauss operetta, Wiener Blut (1 899). A quarter of a century later, melodies from the lntroduction and Waltzes 1A, 4A and 4B were appropriated by Leonide Massine and Roger Désormière for the score of their 1924 pastiche ballet, Le beau Danube.

Diplomaten-Polka (Diplomat’s Polka) op. 448

Johann Strauss’s disappointment at the failure of his three-act comic opera, Ritter Pásmán (Première: 1.01.1892), was all the more bitter in view of the stage work’s lengthy gestation period. With two expensive households to maintain in Vienna and Schönau, material considerations soon forced the 67-year-old composer back into the ‘camp’ of Vienna’s operetta composers and, in February 1892, he began work on Fürstin Ninetta (Princess Ninetta). The new project was the work of the successful librettist-team of Julius Bauer (1853–1941) and Hugo Wittmann (1839–1923), repectively editor of the IIIustriertes Wiener ExtrabIatt and feuilletonist of the Neue Freie Presse. A contemporary caricature of this two-man “Libretto Factory” showed its strength lay in blending wit and satire, and its successes included Der Hofnarr (1886) for Adolf Müller junior and the libretti of Die sieben Schwaben (1887) Der arme Jonathan (1890) and Das Sonntagskind (1892) for Carl Millöcker.

From the outset the two writers were anxious to keep the plot of Fürstin Ninetta from the prying eyes and ears of the competition, and declined even to let Strauss see the complete libretto with its dialogue. It was thus under a veil of secrecy that Strauss began setting to music the lyrics which Bauer and Wittmann sent to his home in Vienna’s Igelgasse. In spring 1892 he wrote to his brother-in-law, Josef Simon: “I am already messing around with the operetta; but I cannot deny that I find it difficult to be able to become accustomed once again to common strumming…I write at this work without inspiration…“Despite these self-deprecating remarks, Johann attuned his music to, the requirements of the operetta stage whilst remaining in the realms of noble comic opera. As the months passed, Strauss doggedly continued composing separate number after separate number without the slightest idea of the plot as a whole. Not until the final rehearsals that December—shortly before the date set for the première (10 January 1893)—did Johann discover the exact nature of the libretto for which he had provided his melodies. He was shocked and angry: writing to his friend, the Berlin journalist and critic Paul Lindau (1839–1919), the composer admitted: “It is a scatterbrained, bombastic tale, which does not actually need any music because the entire thing is there only as a vehicle for the [Bauer’s] jokes, which are indeed quite excellent…I never had the libretto with its dialogue before me, only the song texts. Therefore I set many things on too noble a level, which has adversely affected the piece. In its book there is nothing which can be set at a noble level…The music is completely unsuited to this crazy, inartistic stuff”.

Perpetuity must be grateful for this misunderstanding, for, as the first night reviewer of the Neues Wiener Tagblatt opined: “The excursion which Johann Strauss made into opera has not remained without effect on his newest work. Everything has become finer, richer and more noble”. This nobility, which Strauss imparted to his latest stage piece, is discernible also in the separate orchestral numbers which he arranged from melodies in the score of Fürstin Ninetta, and particularly in the Diplomaten-Polka, The origin of the work’s title can be gleaned from the synopsis of the operetta given in Bauer’s newspaper, the lllustriertes Wiener Extrablatt, on 11 January 1893: “The Ninetta of the operetta is a young, fascinatingly beautiful lady, the daughter of a Russian Count and an Italian woman of lowly origins. She has had to fight a tough battle with her Russian relatives over the inheritance, and would have lost had not Baron Mörsburg, a middle-aged diplomat, produced proof of the legitimacy of her descent”.

Although the part of Baron Mörsburg (created at the première by Josef Josephi, 1852–1920) was not a principal rôle in the operetta, it was one which gained in emphasis through the appearance and promotion of Strauss’s polka. The first performance of the Diplomaten-Polka was given by the Strauss Orchestra some six weeks after the première of Fürstin Ninetta, when Eduard Strauss conducted it at a concert in the Vienna Musikverein on Sunday 26 February 1893. This delightful number presents musical highlights exclusively from Acts 1 and 2 of the operetta, specifically:

Theme 1A – Act 1 Entree-Lied (No. 5): Cassim (the Egyptian Finance Minister), section commencing: “Ich werde nie frenetisch”. The number continues: “lch red’ aristokratisch, so äusserst diplomatisch”, and may be considered as another source for the polka’s title

Theme 1B – Act 2 Chanson (No. 10): Ninetta, “Mama so rief, Papa so rief”

Trio 2A – Act 2 Couplet (No. 11) Cassim, section commencing “Er flüstert ‘darf ich Sie begleiten’”

Trio 2B – Act 1 Entree-Lied (No. 5): Cassim, section commencing “Weil mich alle Damen liebten in der Diplomatenwelt”

© Peter Kemp
The Johann Strauss Society of Great Britain


Close the window