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8.223249 - STRAUSS II, J.: Edition - Vol. 48
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The J ohann Strauss Edition Edition

The Johann Strauss Edition

Edition; Volume 48

 

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.

 

[1]   OUVERTURE COMIQUE (Comedy Overture)

 

Housed among the music collection of the Wiener Stadt- und Landesbibliothek (Vienna City and Regional Library) is an interesting manuscript, the title page of which bears the inscription (in translation): "'Ouverture comique' by Jean Strauss junior. Written for violin, physharmonika [a large harmonium] and piano. (Youthful work by Johann Strauss.) Unpublished and unedited. Arranged for violin and piano by Fritz Lange".

 

It is not known what has become of the material from which Fritz Lange made his (undated) arrangement. Professor Lange (1873-1933), a noted Strauss researcher, did not mention the Ouverture comique in the catalogue he compiled for the 1931 Johann Strauss-Ausstellung (Johann Strauss Exhibition) in Vienna, nor was Strauss's original manuscript on view at this event. The work is also absent from the listing of orchestral material in the Strauss Orchestra's Archive which Eduard Strauss prepared after his retirement in March 1901. This is particularly interesting in view of an item which featured on the prograrnme of music which Eduard presented with the Strauss Orchestra at their Sunday afternoon concert in the Golden Hall of theMusikvereinon 11 December 1892: "'Ouverture comique', composed and performed in 1844 at Dommayer's Casino by Joh. Strauss".

 

It seems Eduard may have been mistaken in associating the work with 1844, since the advertisements and announcements in Vienna's press during 1844 fail to substantiate his statement. The first reference to an overture composed by the younger Johann Strauss is to be found in the Viennese newspaper Der Sammler of 3 March 1845. This report reads: "Johann Strauss Son, the young and gifted composer, has written a fantasia and variations on [Rudolf] Willmer's famous ['Concert-Etude für das Pianoforte' op. 28] 'Pompa di festa', and has already arranged it for his large orchestra. Experts in this field commend this composition as highly ingenious and first rate. He [Strauss] has also composed a large-scale overture which is as effective and full of material as it is new and surprising. The splendid endeavours of this young man show that he has trodden a new path in his career and seeks to excel above all others by producing, in addition to waltzes and other pieces of dance music, compositions of genuine musical worth and dignity. He will perform both these excellent pieces very soon". On 6 March 1845 the Wiener Zeitung announced that Johann would appear for the season's final musical soiree at the 'Sperl' dance hall on Saturday 8 March, and would conduct "the serious instrumental music", including the first perforrnance of a "Grand Fantasia, 'La pompa di festa'". No mention is made here of Strauss's Ouverture, although an indirect reference to it appears in the Allgemeine Wiener Musik-Zeitung of 13 March 1845: this report confirms the first performance of the Grand Fantasia at the 'Sperl' on 8 March, adding that he also performed on this occasion "his other serious compositions". Surely, Johann's Ouverture comique numbered among these "Serious compositions", further implying that the work originated in 1845 rather than 1844.

 

On 6 August 1846 Die Gegenwart announced that "Strauss son will provide the overture and other pieces of music" for a festivity , including theatrical performances, scheduled to take place at Kugler's 'Badhaus' (Bathhouse) in the Viennesesuburb of Heiligenstadt on 12 August. Delays led to the event being postponed until 19 August 1846. Two days later, Die Gegenwart (21.08.1846) carried a report on the "magnificent" festival at Kugler's premises: "Lamps glimmered in really charming and convivial patterns in the swimming school [and] in the restaurant garden. Strauss son let his latest compositions resound, the pieasant 'Zigeunerin-Quadrille' [op. 24], the beautiful 'Zillerthaler-Walzer' [op. 30] and a new overture which did not, however, make any special impression". For its part, Der Sammler (24.08.1846) conveyed a different impression in its review of the music played at Kugler's Badhaus: "Strauss son performed an overture; composed by himself. None of our musical directors have taken up the challenge of this genre, but Strauss son has shown that he is a well-versed musician who works in his field with vigour and joy, but also possesses the talent for other things. His 'Zigeunerin-Quadrille' and his 'Zillerthaler' celebrate a success at every performance". Was this the same overture that Johann had first introduced in 1845?

 

Johann Strauss's Ouverture comique is a concert overture in the style of those later made popular by the Hungarian-born Kéler Béla (real name, Adalbert Paul von Kéler, 1820-82), whose output includes the Lustspiel-Ouvertüre (Comedy Overture op. 73), Ouverture comique (Comedy Overture op. 74), Ungarische Lustspiel-Ouvertüre (Hungarian Comedy Overture op. 108), Französische Lustspiel-Ouvertüre (French Comedy Overture op. 111), Ungarische Lustspiel-Ouvertüre (Hungarian Comedy Overture op. 108) and Spanische Lustspiel-Ouvertüre (Spanish Comedy Overture op. 137).

 

None of the thematic material in the Ouverture comique is traceable in Johann's first musical 'sketchbook' (housed in the Houghton Library of Harvard University), nor do any of its melodies appear to have been used in the many pastiche ballets and operettas which burgeoned after the Waltz King's death. A remark (in another's hand) on the title page of Lange's manuscript, indicating that the Andante movement was intended for use in Oscar Stall'a's 1934 pastiche operetta Die Tänzerin Fanny Elssler, is not borne out by an analysis of the two scores. A footnote in Lange's manuscript indicates that his version omits a vivace theme of 58 bars in E major which appears towards the close of Strauss's original arrangement, immediately following the penultimate bar of the long allegro section. This Marco Polo CD recording presents Johann Strauss's Ouverture comique in a new arrangement for orchestra made by Christian Pollack from the Fritz Lange manuscript.

 

[2]   OVERTURE: INDIGO UND DIE VIERZIG RÄUBER

       (Indigo and the Forty Thieves)

 

"The day before yesterday there occurred a major event. France was defeated ... not the noble, great France, so passionate about liberty ¡K no! the wretched France, the cancan-dancing, frivolous France, the France of Herr Jacques Offenbach has been struck through the heart ...". With these words, the critic for the Viennese journal Der Floh (1871, No. 7) registered the successful and long-awaited première of Johann Strauss's début stage work - Indigo und die vierzig Räuber - at the Theater an der Wien on 10 February 1871.

 

During the late 1850s and throughout the 18605, Viennese musical theatre - as distinct from opera - was dominated by the lively and often satirical creations of the Cologne-born Parisian, Jacques Offenbach (1819-80). Despite the early attempts of would-be challengers like Franz von Suppé (1819-95) and Carl Millöcker (1842-99), it was not until Johann Strauss entered the arena of stage composition that Vienna's theatre managers found a composer capable of standing his ground against the seemingly invincible Offenbach. For his part, Strauss had been an unwilling convert to the world of operetta, and it was due principally to the persuasiveness of his theatrically-cognisant wife, the singer Jetty Treffz (1818-78), that he finally made the transition from the bright lights of the ballroom to the dim glow of the theatre pit. The press reported three early attempts at operetta composition by Vienna's Waltz King during the 1860s, but none of these - Don Quichotte (Don Quixote), Romulus and Die lustigen Weiber von Wien (The Merry Wives of Vienna) - reached production.

 

While Strauss's score for Indigo und die vierzig Räuber met with general praise from the reviewers, there was universal condemnation of the work's confusing libretto, to which the director of the Theater an der Wien, Maximilian Steiner (1830-80), had put his name. Writing in the Neue Freie Presse on 12 February 1871, Eduard Hanslick (1825-1904) observed scathingly of this adaptation of a tale from The Arabian Nights: "The author of this dreadful libretto certainly provides the composer with no characters, not even a semblance thereof, but with stuffed dolls that have neither point nor reason, whose only sentiment is nonsense ...". Yet, despite Hanslick's gloomy prognosis, Indigo enjoyed a run of 46 performances at the Theater an der Wien during 1871, as well as numerous productions throughout Austro-Hungary, Germany and further afield. London audiences, anticipating a production of the operetta at the Gaiety Theatre in late 1874, eventually saw the work as King Indigo when it was mounted at the Royal Alhambra Theatre on 24 September 1877.

 

The overture to Indigo und die vierzig Räuber demonstrates that, with his first stage work, Johann Strauss was trying to free himself from the tag of 'Waltz King': not one of the spirited waltz melodies in the operetta features in the overture. However, as Hanslick noted in his first night review (Neue Freie Presse, 12.02.1871): "When in the middle of the overture such a Pied Piper of a polka theme ["Was mag in den Säcken drinne stecken?": later used as theme 1A in Strauss's Im Sturmschritt! Schnellpolka op. 348] suddenly appeared, the unheard of occurred - the galleries, even at this point, broke out into jubilant applause: the people plainly believed themselves to be in the Volksgarten". The unusual pianissimo beginning of the timpani in the Indigo Overture leads first to a march-like Introduction, which then develops into a flowing theme in French Opera comique style, which is dissolved only after some time through the melodious vision of a dream (Moderato assi from the Finale of Act 2, No. 17 in the piano / vocal score). A brisk Allegro transition leads into Fantasca's Allegretto moderato song "Folget Eures Hauptmanns Rufund Gebot" / 'Followyour captain's calling and orders' (No. 9, from the beginning of Act 2), which changes directly into an extensive, and very rhythmical quotation from the closing music (accompanying the text "Was mag in den Säcken drinne stecken?" / 'What is hidden inside those sacks?', Act 3 Finale, No. 23). A resumption of the Allegro theme of the overture leads into Alibaba's "Auftrittslied" / 'Entrance Song' (Act 1, No. 2). Finally, the effective Act 3 closing music makes a reappearance, leading into the final Stretta.

 

Johann Strauss himself conducted the overture to Indigo und die vierzig Räuber at the operetta's opening night at the Theater an der Wien on 10 February 1871. The first concert performance of the overture followed just over a week later when Eduard Strauss, the composer's brother, conducted it with the Strauss Orchestra at a promenade concert in the Vienna Musikverein on sunday 19 February 1871.

 

[3]   INTERMEZZO AUS "TAUSEND UND EINE NACHT"

       (Intermezzo from "Thousand and One Nights")

       Johann Stranss, arr. Ernst Reiterer

 

Johann Strauss launched his career as a theatre composer at Vienna's Theater an der Wien on 10 February 1871 with the three-act Indigo und die vierzig Räuber (Indigo and the Forty Thieves), described on the playbill as a "comic operetta". Though most assuredly a triumph for its composer, from the outset the stage work suffered from what the critic Eduard Hanslick (Neue Freie Presse, 12.02.1871) termed the "pathetic action and offensively empty dialogue" of its libretto, which he correctly forecast "is bound seriously to impair the success of the operetta everywhere". The first night playbill named the theatre's director, Maximilian Steiner (1830-80), as librettist of the piece, although this credit masked the participation of several collaborators on this re-working of an Arabian Nights tale - swiftly earning the operetta the sobriquet "Indigo and the Fort y Librettists".

 

Undeniably, the melodic richness of Johann Strauss's score deserved a long-lasting marriage to a more fitting and agreeable text. Thus, over the ensuing years repeated attempts were made to forge a permanent partnership between the music and a host of new libretti. The earliest of these revisions admittedly met with a degree of success when the Théâtre de la Renaissance in Paris staged La Reine Indigo (Queen Indigo: text by Adolphe D. Jaime and Victor Wilder) from 27 April 1875. This version, which also included musical interpolations from other Strauss operettas, was then partnered with a libretto by Josef Braun to produce Königin Indigo (Queen Indigo) and produced at the Theater an der Wien from 9 October 1877. It was a failure, achieving just 15 performances. There was disappointment, too, for King Indigo (text: F.C. Burnand), seen at London's Royal Alhambra Theatre from 24 October 1876 and, very much later, Nacht am Bosporus (Night on the Bosphorus. arranged by Ernst Schliepe), staged in 1938.

 

The most felicitous of these attempts at tailoring music to text occurred in 1906. That year Gabor Steiner (1858-1944), younger son of theatre-director Maximilian Steiner, commissioned the experienced librettists Leo Stein (real name: Leo Rosenstein, 1861-1921) and Karl Lindau (real name: Karl Gemperle, 1853-1914) to create an entirely new version of Indigo for the establishment he ran in Vienna's Prater, the 'Venedig in Wien' (Venice in Vienna). Steiner further entrusted his resident conductor, Ernst Reiterer (1851-1921), with the adaptation of Strauss's Indigo music for the new theatre piece. Besides Venetian-style canals and palaces, 'Venedig in Wien' also boasted a Sommertheater (Summer Theatre), and it was here on the evening of 15 June 1906 that Kapellmeister Fritz Redl conducted "with youthful fire and invigorating verve" the first performance of the 'new' Johann Strauss operetta, Tausend und eine Nacht. The following day, 16 June, the Wiener Zeitung stated in its Wiener Abendpost supplement: "To the 'Pied Piper's' tunes of the old 'Indigo und die vierzig Räuber', Messrs Karl Lindau and Leo Stein have now provided a new, much better libretto, an oriental operetta of dream interpretation, a sumptuous ballet spectacular with songs". Under the new title of Tausend und eine Nacht, the work won the favour of the public and has achieved lasting success. One particular number in Reiterer's score found a special place in the hearts of the public, and rapidly became a favourite in concert repertoire around the world. This was the Intermezzo (No, 6½ in the piano / vocal score), heard between the operetta's Prologue and Act 1 as Prince Suleiman, lost in his hashish-induced dreams aboard a barque, listens as 'Scheherazade' tells him a story. In crafting the Intermezzo, Reiterer cleverly combined two contrasting themes from Strauss's score for Indigo: the melancholy theme of the chorus "Du Schlummersaft mit Zauberkraft, in Träumerei'n wiege uns ein" / 'Oh sleeping draught with magic powers, cradle us into dreamland' (Act 2 Finale, No. 17 - also quoted in the Indigo Overture) and the Andante con moto melody from Fantasca's Act 2 (No. 10) ballad, "Geschmiedet fest an starre Felsenwand" / 'Firmly fixed to the bare cliff wall'. By effective use of repetition, crescendo and rich instrumentation, Reiterer extracted the maximum effect from Strauss's music to create the hauntingly beautiful Intermezzo - an orchestral work which has retained its popularity right up to the present day.

 

The Intermezzo from Tausend und eine Nacht was among the favourites in the repertoire of the conductor Eduard Strauss II (1910-69), great-nephew of the Waltz King and founder-conductor of the Vienna Johann Strauss Orchestra. He twice recorded the work commercially. Following Eduard's untimely death on 6 April 1969, the Vienna Johann Strauss Orchestra played the Intermezzo as a tribute to him before the funeral service preceding his burial in a grave of honour, beside his grandfather Eduard Strauss I (1835-1916), in the Musicians' Corner of Vienna's Zentralfriedhof (Central Cemetery).

 

[4]   OVERTURE: DER CARNEVAL IN ROM (The Carnival in Rome)

 

After the considerable success of Johann Strauss's début stage work, Indigo und die vierzig Räuber (1871), the Viennese public had to wait more than two years before the composer once again appeared at the Theater an der Wien with his second theatrical offering, a three-act comic operetta entitled Der Carneval in Rom (The Carnival in Rome). Based on the play Piccolino by the versatile French dramatist Victorien Sardou (1831-1908), the libretto for the new Strauss piece was the work of Josef Braun (1840-1902), the librettist of an earlier and unfinished Strauss operetta, Die lustigen Weiber von Wien (1868). Strauss began composing Der Carneval in Rom around the turn of the year 1871/72, but its progress was hampered by his involvement in a number of other projects, including his appearances at the World's Peace Jubilee and International Musical Festival at Boston, USA, during summer 1872. Just as he had done with Indigo, Johann was able to rely on the assistance of the theatrically-experienced composer and librettist Richard Genée (1823-95) when composing Der Carneval in Rom.

 

According to one newspaper journalist, the first night of Der Carneval in Rom on 1 March 1873 was "a sort of Viennese party-night, which brought about an uninterrupted succession of glittering ovations for the popular composer ... The success must be called complete". Ludwig Speidel, writing in the Fremden-Blatt (2.03.1873), made the interesting observation that Strauss "has lavished an abundance of motifs on his new work, and whereas in 'Indigo' there was still the mania for flattering the ear through the most irresistible waltz melodies and for dazzling the audience with thrilling dance tunes, the score of 'Carneval in Rom' reveals finer and more tender depths in a direction that is, perhaps, less popular, but definitely more noble. The popular undertones, so light on the ear, have not been neglected by the composer, and thus his work falls into two parts, of which the one retains the exciting rhythmical tempo of comic operetta, while the second moves into the style of lyric opera".

 

The arresting Vivo bars which commence the overture to Der Carneval in Rom are taken from the opening chorus of the Act 3 Finale (No. 16) ("Carneval, dich preisen wir mit Jubelschall" / 'Carnival, we praise you with the sound of rejoicing'), while the Moderato section which follows is based on the "Bühnenmusik" (stage music) in the Entr'acte to Act 3 (No. 13) and in No. 15a. These two musical ideas then reappear, developing and modulating and working towards a cheerful Andantino con moto passage taken from a short duet ("Ach, nach unserm trauten Stübchen" / 'Ah, to our dear little room') for Therese and Franz in the Act 1 Finale (No. 4). A Poco animato linking passage follows, again based on notes from the opening vivo bars, leading into an Allegro non troppo section presenting music from Arthur's solo at the beginning of the Act 2 Finale (No. 12) There follows a Moderato section based on the accompaniment of the Act 2 Duet (No. 15) for Marie and Arthur, and then an Allegretto passage from the Act 2 Quintet (No. 8) sung by Arthur to the words "Ach! der Gott, der die Triebe der Freude" / 'Ah! the god who [implanted] the impulses of joy'. This section continues with the orchestral accompaniment from the Act 2 Finale (No. 12) ensemble, with male chorus words "Das ist der Ehemnnn, Discretion" / 'That is the husband, discretion'. The Allegro vivace final section of the overture again returns to the Act 2 Quintet (No. 8), specifically to the Più mosso ensemble section with the words "Ja, harren will ich an dem Ort" / 'Yes, I want to linger at this place'.

 

Johann Strauss himself conducted the first performance of Der Carneval in Rom at the Theater an der Wienon 1 March 1873. The composer left it to his brother, Eduard Strauss, to present the first concert performance of the operetta's overture on 25 March 1873 during a promenade concert with the Strauss Orchestra in the Musikverein. This concert also featured the first concert performance of the ballet music from Der Carneval in Rom (Volume 45 of this CD series).

 

[5]   OVERTURE: DIE FLEDERMAUS (The Bat)

 

On 'Black Friday', 9May 1873, the Viennese Stock Exchange crashed, spreading gloom and despair. The shockwaves were also felt by Vienna's theatres, which experienced falling box-office receipts. Anxious to remedy this potentially disastrous situation, theatre managements eagerly sought out productions that would attract audiences back into their establishments.

 

Learning of a highly successful French vaudeville (a comedy with music) by Henri Meilhac (1831-97) and Ludovic Halévy (1834-1908), entitled Le Réveillon (1872) - itself broadly based on Das Gefängnis (The Prison, 1851), a long-popular comedy by the German dramatist and librettist Roderich Benedix (1811-73) - the co-director of the Theater an der Wien, Max Steiner (1830-80), bought the rights to the work and commissioned the playright Karl Haffner (1804-76) to make a German translation. Haffner, it seems, experienced great difficulty in adapting the essentially Parisian nature of Le Réveillon to the taste and understanding of a Viennese audience, and his attempt was judged unsuitable. A solution to the problem was then proposed by the Viennese publisher and theatrical agent, Gustav Lewy (1824-1901), who persuaded Steiner to have Haffner's play re-worked into an operetta libretto for his old schoolfriend Johann Strauss. The task was entrusted to the resident conductor at the Theater an der Wien, the composer and librettist Richard Genée (1823-95). In Die Wiener Vorstadt-Bühnen (1951), Rudolph Holzer (1875-1965) relates Genée's reaction on receiving Haffner's manuscript: "I read it through, realised it was unusable, asked for the French original the next morning, and used it to write the 'Fledermaus' libretto From Haffner's farce, which I handed back, I kept only the names of the characters. I also had to depart drastically from the structure and the characters of the original. The management paid me the stipulated fee for adaptations, 100 Gulden [today equivalent to a mere £210!] for each act, and gave the libretto to the composer to do with as he saw fit. So that Haffner would not be hurt, I agreed to have his name on the play-bill as co-author. I myself never met him".

 

Strauss was immediately captivated by Doktor Fledermaus, as Genée's libretto was originally called, and set to work at once. Working in close collaboration with his librettist, Johann sketched out the greater part of the musical score at speed - according to contemporary reports, in just "42 days and nights". Genee's involvement was not restricted only to the song-texts and dialogue. In his scholarly analysis of the Fledermaus score (Vienna, 1974), Professor Dr Fritz Racek suggested the likely procedure adopted by the collaborators: "Strauss would send Genée the sketch of a number or part of a finale; Genée laid out the score, wrote in what he had received from Strauss, adding new words if necessary and occasional suggestions for alterations, and sent the whole thing back to Strauss for instrumentation and checking. It sometimes happened that Strauss left the composition of an entr'acte, a melodrama or other potpourri recapitulation to Genée. When a section of the score was finished, Genée sent it straight off to the copyists".

 

Die Fledermaus, as the operetta came to be called, was originally to have opened in September 1874, but pressing financial difficulties faced by the Theater an der Wien resulted in the production being brought forward initially to January 1874, and then to the spring of that year. It eventually received its première, amid great anticipation, on Easter Sunday, 5 April 1874. Since Austrian law permitted only charity performances to be held on that day, the proceeds from the opening night went to the Austrian Emperor's 'Foundation for the Promotion of Small Industry'. A persistent myth regarding the initial failure of Die Fledermaus later arose from an erroneous declaration by Strauss's first biographer, Ludwig Eisenberg (1894), who stated that the operetta was withdrawn after only sixteen performances Certainly the initial run was interrupted by previously scheduled appearances at the theatre by the soprano Adelina Patti (1843-1919), who was appearing with an Italian opera company, but the stage work ran for a full 45 performances before being temporarily discontinued owing to the illness of Irma Nittinger in the rôle of Prince Orlofsky. It was reinstated in the schedule in autumn 1874.

 

Despite some criticisms of the libretto, cast and even the music - Carl Ziehrer's Deutsche Musikzeitung observed: "Again the libretto is not worth much ¡KThe music has charm, but no real sweep ¡K The operetta is too long; it abounds with superfluous numbers, and it abounds with superfluous characters" - the first-night press was generous in its praise of Die Fledermaus. The reviewer for the Konstitutionelle Vorstadt-Zejtung (7.04.1874), for example, recorded: "The whole subsequent course of the evening was in keeping with the roaring overture of applause with which Strauss was greeted. Almost every number set the audience's hands in motion, and at the end of each act Strauss, dripping with sweat, could scarcely leave the conductor's podium fast enough to thank the audience from the stage for their favour. Given that kind of atmosphere there was, of course, no lack of da capos". The Illustrirtes Wiener Extrablatt (8.04.1874) spoke of an "outstanding success scored by Strauss's inexhaustible inspiration, and a brilliant performance; it was a victory on all fronts!".

 

Preparation of the overture to Die Fledermaus was probably not commenced until the major part of the score for the three-act operetta had been written, for it brings together the principal melodies of the work with an inspired touch no wonder the critic for the Wiener Extrablatt (7.04.1874) termed it "the pièce de résistance of the third Strauss operetta". The opening three notes of the arresting and energetic Allegro vivace Introduction are taken from the Più mosso section of the Act 3 Trio (No. 15) for Rosalinde, Alfred and Eisenstein, beginning with Eisenstein's words "Ja, ich bin's". This little three-note phrase and scale passage are used and developed to form the 12-bar Introduction. The same section from No. 15 is re-used, quoting eight bars directly from No. 15, then reverting again to a more free use of the motif. The Allegretto section which follows quotes directly from the accompaniment to the con moto passage of the Act 3 Trio (No. 15), under the words "Was sollen diese Fragen hier?", while the main section of the Allegretto presents the accompaniment from part of the Act 3 Finale (No. 16), sung by the ensemble in D-major (as in the overture)with the words above commencing "So erklärt mir doch, ich bitt'!". Linking passages are used in sequence to modulate into G-major for the Tempo di Valse, which quotes directly from the accompaniment from the Act 2 Finale (No. 11c) under the words commencing "Diese Tänzer mögen rüh'n!". Another modulating link passage follows into the Andante con moto, which his taken from the opening section of the Act 1 Trio (No. 4) with Rosalinde's words "So muss allein ich bleiben". This continues with the merrily contrasting next section of the Trio (No. 4), sung by Rosalinde, Adele and Eisenstein: "O je, o je, wie rührt mich dies". Then comes a brief quotation once more from "Ja, ich bin's" (Act 3, No. 15), modulating into an A-major section: this appears in the Act 3 Finale, as earlier in the overture, with the orchestration this time slightly altered, and in A-major rather than D-major as before. This again leads into the waltz section from Act 2 (No. 11c). The composer then returns to the melody of "Ja, ich bin's" and, through further development of this idea, heads for the thrilling fortissimo conclusion.

 

The world première performance of the overture to Johann Strauss's operetta Die Fledermaus was given under the composer's direction at the stage work's opening night in the Theater an der Wien on 5 April 1874. The Neue Freie Presse (7.04.1874) reported that the overture "was interrupted several times by salvoes of applause", while Die Presse (7.04.1874) observed: "Even during the overture, firebrands among the local patriots [in the audience] insisted upon manifesting their enthusiasm for a waltz contained therein". It has not, however, proved possible to determine where and when the first concert performance of the overture took place. The piano edition of the overture, issued by Friedrich Schreiber's Vienna publishing house, was not put on sale until 4 June 1874.

 

[6]   OVERTURE: CAGLIOSTRO IN WIEN (Cagliostro in Vienna)

 

The concert tour of Italy which Johann Strauss undertook with the Julius Langenbach Orchestra during May 1874 ended 'officially' at the end of that month with performances in Graz. The composer did not return immediately to his villa in Hietzing - giving rise to rumours that he was intending to establish residence at Graz - but remained in the Styrian capital, intending to make excursions for recuperation to the little spa-resort of Römerbad in Lower Styria. While in Graz Johann held meetings with several librettists, who brought him proposals or completed drafts for his next operetta. His choice fell eventually to a subject furnished by Richard Genée and F Zell (the nom de plume of an erstwhile captain with the Danube Steamship Company, Camillo Walzel). On 7 August 1874, the day before Johann returned to Vienna, the Illustrirtes Wiener Extrablatt informed its readers: "The libretto for the new Strauss operetta is already finished and has been sent to the composer. The principal female rôles are being composed for the ladies Geistinger and Nittinger". In the event, Marie Geistinger created the rôle of Lorenza Feliciani in the new stage work, while Irma Nittinger (the first Prince Orlofsky in Die Fledermaus) was not cast.

 

On 22 November 1874, the Viennese Fremden-Blatt newspaper reported on Johann Strauss's future plans as an operetta composer, before returning to his present activities in this field: "Meanwhile, Strauss is working very hard on the instrumentation of his latest operetta, 'Wien anno 1780' ['Vienna 1780'], or, as the title has now been finally determined, 'Cagliostro in Wien' ... The opera is in three sections: 1. A jubilee on the Türkenschanze, 2. The magician from the Blue Lord, 3. The Sleep-Walker. These are supposed to present an historically accurate picture of social life in our Imperial city in 1783 with, in the foreground, the highly interesting figures of [the ingenious alchemist and swindler, Count Alessandro] Cagliostro and his lifelong companion Lorenza Feliciani, to our knowledge portrayed in drama for the first time". As is clear from this announcement, Johann Strauss was thereby being afforded the opportunity, so frequently demanded by public and press alike, to apply his inventive gifts to a stage work with a specifically Viennese background. However, it proved to be a fateful error that his librettists selected material based on events in 1783, the centenary of the year in which Vienna was liberated from its second siege by the Turks. As the operetta's opening scenes show, Johann Strauss understood "historical" Viennese music, but it was not in his blood; he was by temperament and nature a man of the times. In an historic operetta he was not freely able to develop his individuality, and this ultimately damaged the success of Cagliostro in Wien. Despite this, the Neues Fremden-Blatt (3.03.1875) felt moved to observe that "amongst all the colourful confusion and commotion the most charming Strauss music rings and sings, always genuine Viennese original melody whether it strikes an old, fatherly melodious note, or whether - as often happened - in very evident anachronistic mood it overrides the span of 90 years (1783 to 1873) with the quite overflowing verve of the modern waltz [and] the modern quick polka".

 

The première of Strauss's new operetta, which took place at the Theater an der Wien on 27 February 1875, found itself in the shadow of two musical sensations: the first performance of Ein deutsches Requiem by Johannes Brahms and a concert conducted by Richard Wagner. Mindful of this, the critic Ludwig Speidel wrote in the Fremden-Blatt on 3 March 1875: "To say in one breath Richard Wagner, Johannes Brahms and Johann Strauss - is that a sin? In any event, I allow myself to do it". During the course of his first-night review of Cagliostro in Wien, Speidel noted two musical highlights in Act 2: "The first is characterised by the sextet (actually a doubled vocal trio) of the old women: 'Wundermann, hör' uns an' - a tripping polka of thrilling effect - and also the waltz duet in D-major ... in which there breathes the dancing soul of Vienna". Both themes also feature to good effect in the overture Johann Strauss scored for his three act operetta, Cagliostro in Wien.

 

The Allegro non troppo introductory music to the overture is based on Blasoni's words "Immer vorwärts" from the Act 1 Quartet (No. 3). After a clarinet cadenza, a Moderato passage presents the accompaniment to Frau Adami's words "Ja ja! So war ich, die Locken" from the Act 2 Trio (No. 11) and this Trio is also the source of the Poco meno section which follows. Then comes an Allegro passage based on part of the Act 1 Quintet (No. 7), sung by Cagliostro to the words "Geschwindigkeit ohne Hexerei". With the Tempo di Valse, Strauss allows the listener a foretaste of music from the enchanting Act 2 Duet (No. 13) for Cagliostro's servant Blasoni and the abysmally deceived Frau Adami: "Könnt' ich mit Ihnen fliegen durchs Leben". Next, an Allegro section again based on "Immer vorwärts" (Act 1 Quartet, No. 3) leads into an Allegretto moderato rendering from Act 2 (No. 9), accompanying the sextet of old ladies ("Wundermann, laß in neuem Glanz wieder uns eilen froh zum Tanz"). After a reprise of the Tempo di Valse, a 17-bar Vivo link passage leads directly into music from the Act 3 Finale (accompaniment to the words "Hörst Du, es nahen schon die Rächer"), which provides the brilliant climax to the overture.

 

Unusually for an overture to a Johann Strauss stage work, that for Cagliostro in Wien was given its first performance in advance of the operetta's première (Theater an der Wien, 27 February 1875), when the composer himself conducted the piece with the Strauss Orchestra (augmented by the orchestra of the Theater an der Wien) during the interval at the Vienna Journalists' and Authors' Association 'Concordia-Ball' in the Sofienbad-Saal on 1 February 1875. By tradition, the organising Committee of the 'Concordia Ball' had always sought to present a musical surprise during the hour-long interval, and those present accorded "tempestuous applause" to the "piquant and thrilling themes" of the overture (Neues Fremden-Blatt, 4.02.1875). This performance of the piece, in advance of the operetta's première, may have resulted from the fact that Cagliostro in Wien was originally scheduled to have opened at the theatre three weeks earlier, on 15 January 1875.

 

[7]   OVERTURE: PRINZ METHUSALEM (Prince Methuselah)

 

By the middle of the 1870s, the lighthearted, comic and usually satirical stage works of Jacques Offenbach (1819-80) no longer reigned unchallenged on the stages of France, Vienna and elsewhere. Johann Strauss emerged as the principal contender to the Frenchman's supremacy, following the stupendous success of his operetta Die Fledermaus (1874) and, together with Franz von Suppé (1819-95), Johann established the foundations of a specifically Viennese school of operetta. Perhaps because the triumph of Die Fledermaus gave him the confidence that he might actually trounce Offenbach on the latter's own "territory", Johann willingly agreed to a revised version of his first operetta, Indigo und die vierzig Räuber (1871), being staged at the Théâtre de la Renaissance in Paris. With a new book by Adolphe Jaime (1824-1901) and Victor Wilder (1835-92) and various musical interpolations, La Reine Indigo (Queen Indigo) opened on 27 April 1875. The eponymous title role was taken by Zulma Bouffar (1841-1909), Offenbach's favourite soubrette.

 

Undoubtedly prompted by the considerable success enjoyed by La Reine Indigo, Johann conceived the idea to compose a genuine 'French operetta' for the Viennese stage. Because the Theater an der Wien, after much speculation, had finally gone bankrupt (it remained closed from mid May to early September 1875), the director of the rival Carl-Theater, Franz Jauner (1832-1900) - apparently after clandestine negotiations with Strauss's wife, Jetty - seized his opportunity to secure Johann Strauss for his own theatre. It is evident that the widely-reported financial instability of the Theater an der Wien had led the astute Jetty to contact Jauner, and in her letter of 15 November 1875 she was able to inform Jacques Heugel (1815-83), the publisher of Strauss's works in Paris: "Director Jauner has bought an opera text from Wilder and Delacour, which Jean [= Johann] is composing for the Carltheater. The subject is very witty and the verses are such that Jean won't put them down. He has already set a quarter of the operetta, which Wilder will revise. Now, he would prefer if it [= the operetta] were to be first performed in Paris, and that is what Jauner would like too; eight days later one could perform the work in Vienna".

 

In truth, the libretto submitted in French by Victor Wilder and Alfred Delacour (real name: Alfred Charlemagne Lartigue, 1815-83) had to be skillfully revised and translated by the actor Carl Treumann (1824-77) before the operetta - eventually entitled Prinz Methusalem - could reach production. This shortcoming did not, however, prevent Strauss from making headway with the composition, even though he himself spoke no French and presumably had to rely heavily on Jetty's knowledge of the language. On 18 November 1876 the Fremden-Blatt reported that Strauss had handed over the score of Methusalem (as the operetta was then still called) to the management of the Carl-Theater, and that the first performance was set for 5 January 1877.

 

The world première of Prinz Methusalem actually took place on 3 January 1877, auspiciously three years to the day after the Carl-Theater had mounted the sensational first Viennese production of Charles Lecocq's opera-comique, La Fille de Madame Angot (1872), given under the title Angot, die Tochter der Halle. Johann Strauss himself conducted the first performance of his new operetta, while the breeches title rôle featured the popular Budapest-born soprano Antonie Link (1853-1931), already famous for creating the rôle of Fatinitza in Suppé's operetta (1876) of that name and later to gain even greater celebrity in the title role of another Suppé operetta, Boccaccio (1879). Although Johann had strewn his latest stage work with a plethora of enchanting melodies, it did not find critical acclaim. Nevertheless, due largely to the sterling efforts of performers including Josef Matras (1832-87), Carl Blasel (1831-1922) and Wilhelm Knaack (1829-94), Prinz Methusalem achieved a respectable run of 80 performances. The critic for the Illustrirtes Wiener Extrablatt (5.01.1877) observed trenchantly in his first night review. "The Viennese composer par excellence wanted to bring off a French work; he wanted to become Offenbach the Second, but he remained Strauss the First. Much as he may have wanted to, he was unable to deny his own artistic individuality, and like a comforting beam of sunlight his original talent broke through the little clouds which had been conjured up from alien zones, and it warmed and electrified his admirers". In contrast, the Viennese journal Hans Jörgel (Volume 6, 1877) condemned the new operetta out of hand: "French megalomania is beginning to addle his [Strauss's] brain, and he antagonises the people who wrote him the librettos for 'Indigo', 'Carneval in Rom', 'Fledermaus' and 'Cagliostro', and has a Frenchman write the insipid libretto for 'Prinz Methusalem' which, in spite of the expert stagecraft shown in Treumann's adaptation, has made this latest opera by our favourite into the least of all he has written!".

 

After an energetic introduction (nowhere traceable in the published piano / vocal score of the operetta, and possibly comprising material discarded from the final version of the stage work), the overture to Prinz Methusalem presents a colourful cross-section of the most memorable themes in the three-act comic operetta. The Andante section is provided by a phrase sung by the night-watchman in Act 2 (No. 8) to the words "All' ihr Herrn und Frauen lasst euch sag'n", while the Andante grazioso is from a passage sung by Pulcinella in the Act 1 Finale (No. 7), "Von meiner Hochzeit der Schluss". The Allegretto (in 3/8 time) which follows quotes Vulcanio's cavatine ("Du schöner Mai der Liebelei") from the Act 1 Chorus and Ensemble (No. 2). After an Allegro transitional passage modulating from G into F comes the Moderato martial song "Piff! Paff! Puff! Krick! Krack! Rataplan!" from the Act 1 Ensemble (No. 6), sung first by Cyprian but featuring several times during the ensemble. Part of the Act 3 Duet and Chorus (No. 17), to the words "Bum! wohin er tritt" (which later appeared in the vigorous Banditen-Galopp op. 378), provides the Allegro assai passage, while the Allegro moderato following it is untraceable in the operetta's published piano / vocal score. This then modulates into E flat and repeats Pulcinella's "Von meiner Hochzeit der Schluss" used earlier. There follows a reprise of "Piff! Paff! Puff!", but a truncated version adapted to lead into the "Bühnen-Musik" (stage music) fanfare which, in turn, leads into the Maestoso highlight of the overture - the Act 3 'Generalslied' (No. 18, General's Song) sung by Methuselah to the accompaniment of the orchestra together with an off-stage band. This 8-bar phrase is then repeated and modified to lead into an Allegretto section comprising a continuation of the 'Generalslied' ("Millionen Bomben noch einmal", sung by Methuselah and chorus). In typical Strauss style, however, the overture does not end with this stately and imposing march, but instead arpeggio and chromatic figures and an increase in tempo combine to provide the highly effective climax at the dose of the overture.

 

On 14 January 1877, eleven days after Johann Strauss had first conducted his Prinz Methusalem Overture at the operetta's première in the Carl-Theater, Eduard Strauss introduced the novelty to the Viennese concert-going public at his Sunday promenade concert with the Strauss Orchestra in the Musikverein. Although the papers carried no reviews the response must have been encouraging, for thereafter the overture frequently featured in Eduard's concerts.

 

[8]   OVERTURE: BLINDEKUH (Blind Man's Buff)

 

On 15 June 1876 - even before the premiére of Johann Strauss's operetta Prinz Methusalem (Carl-Theater, 3 January 1877) - the Viennese Fremden-Blatt newspaper informed its readers that the following season's repertoire (i.e. autumn 1876 to summer 1877) at the Theater an der Wien would include a new operetta by the Waltz King entitled Blinde Kuh. The report correctly stated that the stage work was based on a comedy by the German actor, dramatist and theatre director Rudolf Kneisel (1831-99), with song texts by the ever-reliable Richard Genée (1823-95), but was incorrect in announcing that it was scheduled for early December 1876. As Jetty Strauss, Johann's first wife, was to write on 6 September 1876 to Victor Wilder (1835-92), the French co-librettist of Prinz Methusalem (Prince Methuselah): "Jean [Johann] won't any longer permit 'Blinde Kuh' to be performed during this season [i.e. autumn 1876 to summer 1877]; on the contrary he has the plan (the idea) to give it first in Paris, since the piece is amusing and he has written enchanting music [for it]".

 

Johann's "plan", as detailed by Jetty, failed to transpire. Instead, the composer remained extremely busy working towards the premières of Prinz Methusalem and La Tzigane (the French adaptation of Die Fledermaus, mounted in Paris on 30 October 1877). Then, after Jetty's sudden death on 8 April 1878, Johann set aside work on Blindekuh for a while, and only completed it with a new woman at his side - his second wife, Angelika (née Dittrich). Not until 17 November 1878 could the Fremden-Blatt report that "Strauss's 'Blinde Kuh' is finished and in the possession of the management", and the new work finally reached the stage of the Theater an der Wien on 18 December 1878 - two years after its anticipated première. After a performance lasting three hours, and in spite of some applause for the music, one thing was certain: the public had witnessed a failure. As the journal Hans Jörgel (1872, Volume 52) opined: "Individual charming blooms of melody floated in the slough of banality and popular song, a superfluity of reminiscences. As a true-hearted friend one must say, the opera was a roaring - failure". Theatre director Maximilian Steiner (1830-80) had apparently acquired Kneisel's comedy without the author's knowledge, and when the operetta proved beyond salvaging even by extensive reworking Strauss abandoned it with relative equanimity.

 

Rather unusually for a Strauss overture, that for Blindekuh was heard in advance of the operetta's first stage performance. As is clear from an announcement which firs t appeared in Vienna's Morgen-Post newspaper on 4 December 1878, the composer made his Blindekuh Overture available for an academy of the Vienna Authors' and Journalists' Association, 'Concordia', to be held in the Theater an der Wien on 9 December 1878. The proceeds from this charity musical event were promised for the pension fund of the 'Concordia' and Johann had agreed to conduct his overture personally. As could have been anticipated, Vienna's pressmen reported extensively on their own trade association's festivity, and most included mention of the Waltz King's particular contribution. The reviewer for the Illustrirtes Wiener Extrablatt (10.12.1878) concentrated on the reaction of the audience to the musical novelty: "Greeted with tempestuous applause, Johann Strauss stepped up to the conductor's rostrum. Barely a minute later, dainty fingers could be seen strumming on the sills of the boxes and in the stalls heads swayed to-and-fro like water lilies enjoying delightful thoughts. A teasing polka and a roguish waltz play blind man's buff [= Blindekuh] with each other in Strauss's overture; they seek to play tag, to hold on to each other - a wonderful game - in which the public joined with such delight that Strauss had to repeat the whale overture. A large laurel wreath was presented to the maestro". The verdict of the Fremden-Blatt (10.12.1878) was no less favourable. "It is a richly-instrumented capriccio with an effective crescendo, bringing together melodies of a truly Straussian character which we shall find again in the eagerly awaited new operetta by the Viennese maestro".

 

Sadly, the "eagerly awaited" Blindekuh did not match the public's expectation of the piece. This, together with the generally unfavourable reviews which followed the opening night, led to the new stage work surviving only a total of sixteen performances. Strauss bore the failure badly. On Thursday 26 December 1878 he made an appearance at the Musikverein to conduct the première public concert performance of the operetta's overture at his brother Eduard's promenade concert with the Strauss Orchestra. Once again the piece enjoyed a complete triumph. Yet, although the largest audience seen in the building since it opened in 1870 succeeded in persuading Johann to repeat the overture, he resolutely declined to play any of the encores his 2,500-strong public had so keenly anticipated. Before long Strauss had forgotten Blindekuh, but its overture and some of the dance pieces arranged from the operetta's themes passed into the repertoires of civilian orchestras and military bands throughout the world, and survive there to the present day.

 

The Allegretto opening passage of the Blindekuh Overture is based on the waltz "Blindekuh! Blindekuh!" which dominates the operetta's Act 2 Finale (No. 14 in the published piano / vocal score). This is followed by a short Allegretto section, again from the Act 2 Finale, namely Waldine's scene "Eins, zwei, drei, vier". This, in turn, leads via a tremelo passage into a broad repetition (Allegro moderato) of Waldine's Act 2 Finale waltz, "Blindekuh! Blindekuh!". An unusual Allegro moderato in polka rhythm (nowhere traceable in the published piano / vocal score, and possibly comprising material discarded from the final version of the operetta) leads into the passionate and original Tempo di Marcia (incorrectly marked Tempo di Valse in the piano / vocal score), based on the final section of the accompaniment to the Tempo di Marcia passage ("Arm in Arm wird jetzt marschiert") in the Act 1 Finale (No. 7). A 6/8 modulating passage takes us to a repeat of the unidentified Allegro moderato, now in a different key (G), and after a further brief passage in 6/8 time there is a reappearance of the "Blindekuh! Blindekuh!" waltz theme, this time played Moderato in 6/8. A Meno link passage re-acquaints us with a reprise of the second part of the Tempo di Marcia, this time played in G. A chromatic phrase is used to transpose into the key of C, and a Vivace rhythmical ending for the overture is provided by music from the final section of the Act 2 Ensemble (No. 9), sung by Waldine, Hellmuth and chorus ("Nur fort, nur fort zum Schatten kühl").

 

[9]   OVERTURE: DAS SPITZENTUCH DER KÖNIGIN

       (The Queen's Lace Handkerchief)

 

After the failure of his operetta Blindekuh [Première: Theater an der Wien, Vienna. 18 December 1878], Johann Strauss took particular pains to ensure that his next stage work proved a total success - but his introduction to the man who would write the libretto for the new operetta resulted through pure coincidence.

 

The Prussian-born writer, theatre director and former official for the Austrian Southern Railway, Heinrich Bohrmann-Riegen (real name: Julius Nigri von St. Albino, 1838-1908), recounted for the Fremden-Blatt newspaper on 7 December 1901 how Franz von Suppé (1819-95) had invited him in 1879 to furnish him with a new operetta libretto. Bohrmann-Riegen's draft for a comedy entitled Cervantes appealed to Suppé, and the librettist busied himself with developing it into a book. Upon completing his work Bohrmann-Riegen travelled to Vienna, intending to present the book for Suppé's consideration, but upon arriving learned that Suppé had meanwhile accepted a new book (Donna Juanita) from F. Zell and Richard Genée. Understandably piqued, Bohrmann-Reigen bemoaned his misfortune to the theatre agent and music publisher Gustav Lewy (1824-1901), who at once recommended him to offer the book of Das Spitzentuch der Königin to Johann Strauss. A contract was swiftly signed. Bohrmann-Riegen recalled: "When I returned to Vienna eight days later, the Maestro played me the 'Trüffelcouplet' [Act 1, No. 4]. Strauss told me he had rewritten the refrain to this couplet twelve times, and I heard three different versions from him". Not until 15 August 1880 was the Fremden-Blatt able to report that Strauss had completed the composition of the new operetta, and had handed over the full score (comprising 21 numbers) to the new director of the Theater an der Wien, Franz Steiner (1855-1920).

 

The plot of Das Spitzentuch der Königin takes place in Lisbon in 1580. In place of the young King Sebastian, a regency is governing at the Court of Portugal, whose head, the ambitious Prime Minister Count Villalobos y Rodriguez, encourages the young King in his frivolous way of life. In the event of the King dying prematurely and without an heir, Count Villalobos plans to hand over the country to the Spaniards. Two people united in opposition to this clique are Donna Irene, the Queen's lady-in-waiting at Court, and her lover, the Spanish dramatist and poet Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616) - in Strauss's operetta, the leader of the free-thinking young people. After confusing intrigues within both groups, two pairs of lovers emerge: the King devotes himself to his consort, and Donna Irene marries Cervantes. A merry final chorus brings the work to a jubilant conclusion.

 

While Strauss's score for Das Spitzentuch der Königin throughout reflects what the Fremden-Blatt (2.10.1880) considered "the style of fine comic opera", the complicated plot made the music at times appear somewhat lacking in homogeneity. In the words of the critic for the Deutsche Zeitung (2.10.1880): "Of course there are refinements and interesting musical passages in abundance, as one will always find with Johann Strauss. However, with the inconsistency of the dramatic exposition, a certain unsteadiness has crept into the correct musical expression". Even the composer's friend, Johannes Brahms (1833-97), who attended the première of Spitzentuch at the Theater an der Wien on 1 October 1880, felt moved to confess the following day to his own publisher, Fritz Simrock, that he had found Strauss's new operetta "really boring".

 

When Strauss appeared to conduct the first performance of Das Spitzentuch der Königin, he was welcomed by a sustained storm of applause from the capacity house, which included the Austrian Archdukes Albrecht and Wilhelm. The overture to this three-act "comic operetta" commences with a powerful 8-bar section comprising two 4-bar sequences played in octaves, which are echoed by the same sequential idea played pianissimo for eight bars. There follows a Meno section based on the Allegro moderato from the Act 1 Finale (No. 6), "Sie sagte. Ah!". Next comes a quotation from the Act 2 Finale (No. 13. Chorus: "Heil unser'm Land dem Könige Heil!"), marked Allegretto moderato in the overture. After a vigorous transitional passage, Strauss introduces us to a rhythmical Allegro theme from the Act 3 Entre-Act (No. 14), which leads into a capricious polka for flutes and violins. A fresh transitional passage (Poco meno) leads into a repeat of the polka (Tempo I), and after further link passages (Poco meno and Vivace) based loosely on motifs from the score, we reach the splendid Ben moderato highlight of the overture, taken from Cervantes's Act 2 Romance (No. 7) "Wo die wilde Rose erblüht". A repeat of the polka heard earlier leads into the final (Più Allegro) section of the overture. The source of the final section before this Più Allegro remains a mystery: apart from its appearance herein the overture, the theme also serves as the opening melody of the 'Eté' figure in Strauss's Spitzentuch-Quadrille (op. 392, Volume 37 of this CD series), but it is nowhere traceable in the published piano / vocal score and may have been excised during the operetta's rehearsals.

 

Following Johann Strauss's conducting of the overture to Das Spitzentuch der Königin at the operetta's opening night, the first concert performance of the number was heard some five weeks later, on 7 November 1880, when Eduard Strauss - newly returned from a two-month concert tour of Hamburg, Bremen and Leipzig - directed it with the Strauss Orchestra at his first Sunday afternoon concert of the 1880/81 season in the Vienna Musikverein. Of especial interest in connection with Eduard's performance of the Spitzentuch Overture is a letter written from Berlin to Johann Strauss on 31 August 1891 by the law student, Hans Reichert. Reporting the widespread popularity of the Romance "Wo die wilde Rose erblüht", Reichert continues: "I heard this same [melody] in the overture to 'Spitzentuch', [played] by the Strauss Orchestra. Your brother caused it to be played at the slowest tempo and the gentlest pianissimo, and new, undreamt of, and far greater beauties became apparent to me. If this melody, presented in exactly the same way, were to be part of a Beethoven adagio, it would rank as one of the most beautiful".

 

Programme notes © 1995 Peter Kemp. The Johann Strauss Scoiety 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.

 

Alfred Walter

 

Alfred Waller was born in Southern Bohemia in 1929 of Austrian parents. He studied at the University of Graz and in 1948 was appointed assistant conductor to the Opera of Ravensburg. At the age of 22 he became conductor of the Graz Opera, where he continued until 1965, while serving at Bayreuth as assistant to Hans Knappertsbusch and Karl Böhm. From 1966 until 1969 he was Principal Conductor of the Durban Symphony Orchestra in South Africa, followed by a period of 15 years as General Director of Music in Münster. In Vienna he has worked as guest conductor at the State Opera and in 1986 was given the title of Professor by the Austrian Government. In 1980 he was awarded the Golden Medal of the International Gustav Mahler Society. For Marco Polo, Alfred Walter has recorded more than 15 volumes of the label's Johann Strauss II Edition, works by von Schillings, von Einem, de Bériot, Reinecke and all symphonic works of Furtwängler. He is currently engaged in recording the complete symphonies of Spohr.


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