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8.225341 - STRAUSS I, J.: Edition - Vol. 21
English  German 

Johann Strauss Snr • Edition • Vol 21

 

[1] Charivari-Quadrille, Op 196. In the mid 1840s Unger’s Casino, in what was then the Viennese suburb of Hernals, received a significant boost to its fortunes if nothing else because of the regular appearances of Johann Strauss (the Elder) and his orchestra. Every Sunday in the open-air season of 1846 Strauss presented there an “Afternoon Entertainment” and on 28 June even a “Grand Garden Festival with Ball” . It was probably on that evening that he gave the first performance of his Charivari-Quadrille. At that time the term Charivari had a completely innocuous meaning of a “colourful assortment” but only a little later its meaning changed and it was understood then to mean a tumultuous noise produced by whistles, ratchets, saucepan lids and so on. Originally such “cat’s music” was played to express disapproval of the unions between elderly bridegrooms and young women. Soon, though, unpopular people were usually pilloried in this way and by the time of the 1848 revolution “Charivari” assumed a political connotation.

[2] Bouquets, Walzer, Op 197. For Anna Day, which during the reign of Emperor Ferdinand I was also the name day of the Empress Maria Anna, Strauss was in the habit of putting on performances in the fashionable Volksgarten at which he would always bring a new work written specially for the occasion. On 24 July 1846 the celebration “…was blessed with the most wonderful weather. […] At about 9.30 Strauss played his new ‘Anna-Bouquets’ for the first time. These waltzes lived up fully to their title, sweet-smelling bouquets full of the most original and loveliest harmonic phrases, piquantly orchestrated. They provoked a real storm of applause and, despite Mr Strauss’s obvious tiredness, had to be encored three times, to great acclaim.” Why, when the waltzes were printed, Strauss did away with the name “Anna” and added instead the words “in memory of Troppau” we do not know. What is certain is that in the autumn of the same year Strauss undertook a concert tour of Moravia and Silesia during which he also stopped off at Troppau.

[3] Ländlich, sittlich! (Bucolic, Proper!), Walzer (in the style of a Ländler), Op 198. The Strauss researchers Max Schönherr and Karl Reinöhl found that “…in the Volksgarten one conducts oneself more properly than bucolically and that here it is considered not fashionable to crumple up one’s kid gloves or to shout out raucously. At Unger’s, however, it is the done thing to applaud Strauss vigorously and so it was that on 31 August his latest waltzes ‘Ländlich-sittlich’ had to be repeated several times to wild applause.” At the end of August 1846 a two-day church consecration festival had taken place; on the Sunday there was an “extraordinary evening festival” and on the Monday a “…splendid garden celebration with ball” . During the latter a military band appeared, outdoors at first, then during the evening “in the extremely tastefully decorated ballroom […] Strauss’s magical melodies” stirred up the dance-mad crowd. Naturally the première of the new waltzes was the climax of the evening. Not even the “southern heat” , which, on account of the warm weather and the huge numbers of people present, prevailed in the premises, could suppress the general enthusiasm.

[4] Neujahrs-Polka (New Year Polka), Op 199. Unlike today, when it enjoys world-wide popularity thanks to television, the tradition of the New Year concert in Strauss’s own lifetime was the exception rather than the rule. Such an event, however, did take place in the Sperl ballroom on 31 December 1846 and it is interesting to imagine the highlights of that programme according to contemporary descriptions: “The fact that the darling, the indispensable, the generalissimo among music directors, Strauss the Elder was not missing goes without saying. Among his most popular works performed for the first time, his ‘New Year Polka’ received wild applause. […] Precisely at midnight he played the glorious melody from Raimund’s splendid ‘Alpenkönig und Menschenfeind’ (‘King of the Alps and Man’s Enemy’), ‘So leb’ denn wohl du stilles Haus’ (‘So farewell thou quiet house’)—so with the clash of trumpets and roll of drums the new year began and with powerful tones there struck up ‘May God save’, our beautiful national song. And to signify the whole cheerful feeling of the Viennese there sounded out in the New Year as a second melody ‘It’s all one, it’s all one. Whether we have money or not!’ Beautiful thoughts! Completely Viennese! One need only have read how rapturously it was received. And now there followed old and new waltzes by our Strauss which were welcomed with the same heartfelt cheering.” The New Year Polka was heard once more. In an astonishing parallel with today, the work was published within a few days and was distributed as a gift at one of the first balls of the new year.

[5] Souvenir de Carneval 1847 (Carnival Souvenir 1847), Quadrille, Op 200. In January 1846 the Sophienbad Hall, which had been redesigned by the architects Eduard van der Nüll and August Sicard von Sicardsburg, the creators of what is now the Vienna State Opera building, was opened. With the installation of a dance floor the Sophienbad Hall could now be used as a ballroom in the winter and as such it proceeded to challenge the status of the Sperl as the place for public entertainment in Vienna. Naturally Strauss did his bit too. In January 1847 the following could be read in a popular newspaper: “Our Waltz-God Strauss is not stingy with the treasures of his poetic muse, but is pleasing and considerate in all respects. So for the ball which took place on the 18th of this month for the officials of the Northern Railway in the Sophienbad Hall, which is supposed to be especially elegant, Strauss has written a new quadrille. As a result of this happy occasion shares of the Northern Railway have risen by 3/8!” The auguries proved right, since the work in question, entitled Carnival Souvenir 1847, emerged as a hit of the season.

[6] Themis-Klänge (Sounds of Themis), Walzer, Op 201.The Viennese Carnival is here and Father Strauss is here a hundredfold! I say a hundredfold, since the singular, the ten-fold and the fifty-fold Strauss is not enough for the Vienna Carnival! Strauss and the Viennese Carnival—how could one think of the one without the other, is that possible? Strauss is indeed the Viennese Carnival incarnate—the body, the soul, head, hand and foot of the Viennese Carnival!” That was the judgement passed enthusiastically by a contemporary chronicler and he was by no means alone in his opinion. Among the countless commitments which Strauss usually took on in this dance-mad season were the corporate balls which took place from the end of the 1830s—notably those for the lawyers, the doctors and the engineers. They were almost always associated with pieces written specially for the occasion. For the Lawyers’ Society ball, which took place in the Redoutensaal of the Hofburg on 13 January 1847, Strauss wrote a set of waltzes called Sounds of Themis, named after the Greek goddess of justice. Eight years earlier Joseph Lanner had already dedicated his Themis-Strahlen to the law students.

[7] Eisele- und Beisele-Sprünge (Eisele and Beisele Jumps), Polka, Op 202. In 1846 two members of the editorial team of a Munich-based satirical magazine invented two fictional characters—Baron Beisele and his steward Dr Eisele—forerunners of our comic-book creations of today and they quickly became cult figures throughout the German-speaking world. In February 1847 a newspaper advertisement announced in big letters: “Carnival Jest!!! On Sunday, Monday and Tuesday of Carnival week there will be huge celebratory balls in the Odeon in honour of Messrs Eisele and Beisele. Since the famous travelling Baron Beisele and his steward Dr Eisele have now reached Vienna on their great round-trip of Germany, […] a great celebratory ball will currently be put on in their honour and at considerable expense and will be prepared most fittingly for the appearance of these extraordinary guests […] His imperial-royal music director of the court balls Herr Johann Strauss will lead his orchestra in person and will perform his latest Polka, Eisele- and Beisele Jumps, for the first time at this celebration.” When, on 14 February the two guests, who were awaited with such excitement, did not actually appear in person, there was considerable unrest among those present and Strauss only just managed to restore the mood with his new polka.

[8] Herz-Töne (Sounds from the Heart), Walzer, Op 203. For the 1847 Carnival Strauss dedicated to the gentlemen reading Medicine a set of waltzes with the title Sounds from the Heart. After the first performance of the work at the Doctors’ Ball on 29 January in the Sperl ballroom a critic was tempted to come up with the following play on the work’s title: “Strauss has written many hearty waltzes and waltzes for the heart; these waltzes do credit to his name and belong to the best of him.” The serious background to the choice of the title could be a reference to a work of international standing by the Viennese doctor Joseph Skoda, Treatise on Percussion and Auscultation, which had appeared in several editions since 1839. Another breakthrough achievement by a representative of the medical school in Vienna was the washing of one’s hands before entering the labour ward, a practice which was instituted by Ignaz Semmelweis in May 1846. As a result the infant mortality rate was cut drastically, something of which the populace was generally unaware. Incidentally, the first of the five waltzes of Sounds from the Heart was used by Franz Grothe and Alois Melichar in the 1933 film The War of the Waltzes, in which they accompanied the text “On the Danube when the vine blossoms.

[9] Helenen-Walzer (Helen Waltzes), Op 204. In the autumn and winter of 1846 the Russian Grand Duchess Helen, a princess from Württemberg, and her husband, the Grand Duke Michael, together with their daughter Maria, took up residence in Vienna. The royal visit provided Strauss with an opportunity to announce the first performance of a new set of waltzes, dedicated to the aristocratic lady, to take place on 1 October 1846, Strauss’s final appearance of the year, in the so-called Paradise Garden, part of the Volksgarten which no longer exists today. As usual Strauss did not miscalculate. His celebration attracted high society; among others “…one observed His Royal Highness the Prince of Prussia with his entourage, who honoured Herr Strauss by granting him a five-minute long conversation.” The Helen Waltzes were met with approval; a reviewer found that they were: “…so inventive, tender, melodious, dance-inducing and so persuasively orchestrated that they are in no way inferior to the very best of Strauss’s creations.” The only fly in the ointment was the fact that the Grand Duchess apparently had not accepted the dedication. At any rate there is no corresponding dedicatory text on the title page of the printed edition.

[10] Triumph Quadrille, Op 205. 18 October, the anniversary of the decisive defeat of Napoleon at the Battle of the Nations at Leipzig, was always a special day which symbolized the military power of the Hapsburg monarchy. That day in 1846 also marked the occasion of the unveiling in the Freyung, one of Vienna’s central squares, of the Austria Fountain, designed by the Bavarian sculptor Ludwig Schwanthaler. More importantly it was convenient that the new season in the music- and ball-rooms was imminent: “The Odeon opened proceedings with a magnificent gala on 18th October […] Strauss the Elder wielded his magnetic bow over a considerably augmented orchestra and the Triumph Quadrille, composed specially for the evening, drew great applause.” In order to fill this enormous hall Strauss had to spend a large amount of money on advertising. Huge placards were put up, and even newspapers, which did not usually carry information about balls, repeatedly published advertisements promoting the Triumph Ball.

[11] Najaden-Quadrille (Naiads Quadrille), Op 206. A high point of the 1847 carnival season was the “Carnival- Night of the Naiads”, which took place on 2 February in the Sophienbad Hall “…to honour all friends of the noble art of swimming, and especially to endow the bathers of the Sophien Bath Institution” . Strauss, who was entrusted with conducting the music for the ball, appeared with his Naiads Quadrille which was written specially for the occasion and was dedicated to Caroline Morawetz, the wife of the proprietor of the premises. Mindful of the motto of the ball a reviewer found the quadrille to be “mermaid-like and frothy” and got to work on his puns: “The superb room swam in a sea of lights of fairy-like radiance; the ladies present swam in an ocean beam of light of diamonds of the purest water, the entire company swam in a La Plata current of delight and happiness and at one o’clock in the morning there were so many happy revellers swimming in a roaring Niagara Falls of champagne.

[12] Schwedische Lieder (Swedish Songs), Walzer, Op 207. Without doubt Jenny Lind was the leading opera diva of her day. She first came to Vienna in the spring of 1846 and to mark the occasion Johann Strauss the Younger had put on an extraordinary celebratory soirée at which he introduced his new waltzes entitled Lind Songs. From the beginning of the following year the “Swedish Nightingale” was a guest in the capital city of the Hapsburg Empire, where she enjoyed enormous success in operas by Bellini and Donizetti. Giacomo Meyerbeer even revamped one of his operas, Ein Feldlager in Schlesien, specially for one of her appearances. Shortly before this première Strauss the Elder composed a new set of waltzes, Swedish Songs, in honour of the celebrated singer. According to one correspondent, 3000 people were present at the first performance of the work, on 9 February in the Sophienbad Room, while another source estimated that there were even 4,500, in spite of the otherwise poor attendance of the balls that resulted from the worsening economic crisis”. The critics saw in the new work: “…all the qualities of a Strauss composition” and accordingly noticed the appropriate outburst of applause: “which always seemed to reassure the genial features of this master” .


Thomas Aigner
English translation by David Stevens


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