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8.223204 - STRAUSS II, J.: Edition - Vol. 4
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The Johann Strauss Edition

Johann Strauss II, the most famous and enduringly successful of 19th-century light music composers, was born in Vienna on 25 October 1825. Building upon the firm musical foundations laid by his father, Johann Strauss I (1804-1849) and Joseph Lanner (1801-1843), the younger Johann (along with his brothers, Josef 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.

Hopser-Polka (Hopping Polka) Op. 28
The Graces, those three mythological sisters who were the bestowers of charm and beauty upon mankind, lent their name to a 'Graces Ball' held at the Straeussl-Saele, in the Viennese suburb of Josefstadt, on 6 September 1846. Such was the incongruous setting for the first performance of Johann Strauss's frolicsome Hopser-Polka, a composition suited to a fashionable, if much ridiculed and short-lived, dance style in which the hopping step of the polka was greatly exaggerated.

Serail-Taenze, Walzer (Dances of the Harem, Waltz) Op. 5
Together with the Cytheren-Quadrille, Johann's waltz Serail-Taenze featured for the first time on the programme of the composer's benefit concert in Dommayer's Casino, Hietzing, on 19 November 1844. The titles Strauss chose for these two works were well-suited to the festive nature of the evening's entertainment, which was advertised as 'An Evening of Cheerfulness'.

The march-like theme in the Introduction to Serail-Taenze, with its echoes of Mozart's Die Entfuehrung aus dem Serail, may be familiar to some listeners through its inclusion in the opening and first act of the posthumous Johann Strauss operetta Wiener Slut (1899).

Austria-Marsch Op, 20
Within months of his public début as composer and conductor Johann Strauss the Younger experienced the satisfaction of 'official recognition' when, in summer 1845, he was elected bandmaster of the 4,200-strong 2nd Vienna Citizens' Regiment. At Vienna's numerous festivals and parades the post brought him into public contact with the bandmaster of the 1st Vienna Citizens' Regiment – his own father, Johann Strauss the Elder, who had become increasingly estranged from his family.

The patriotically-entitled Austria-Marsch was first played at a citizens' military parade in Vienna on 19 April 1846, at which both Johann Strauss Father and Son participated, resplendent in their respective dress uniforms.

Veilchen-Polka (Violets, Polka) Op, 132
Following Johann's illness in late 1852 and the strenuous demands that the 1853 Vienna Carnival made upon the young composer/conductor, his doctors urged him to take an immediate convalescent holiday. For the moment, however, Johann demurred: before him lay a busy schedule of commitments as the spring calendar beckoned, and he was wary of competition from recently emerged rival orchestras.

Strauss commenced the vernal season with a fête at the "Sperl" on 1 May 1853, and for it he wrote his irrepressibly frolicsome Veilchen-Polka.

Knall-Kuegerln, Walzer (Firecracker, Waltz) Op. 140
For his annual benefit at the Bierhalle in the suburb of Mariahilf in early July 1853, Johann Strauss planned a performance of Philipp Jakob Riotte's 'tone-picture' spectacle, Die Schlacht bei Leipzig (‘The Battle of Leipzig’). The event, involving the participation of 224 musicians as well as the famed fireworks-expert Anton Stuwer, was postponed through bad weather, and eventually took place on 18 July. On the appointed evening, however, proceedings were abruptly terminated by a thunderstorm – but not before Johann had delighted the 4,000-strong audience with the first performance of his waltz Knall-Kuegerln. The composer seems to have added his own wry comment on the hostile elements, for the waltz ends with a few bars of musical 'cloudburst'!

The 'Knall-Kuegerln' of the title were pea-sized hollow glass balls, containing liquid, which one threw onto a fire or placed on glowing coals. The heat converted the liquid into steam, causing the tiny spheres to explode with a loud report. Through the effective instrumentation of his waltz, Strauss contrived to permeate the whole work with these tiny explosions.

Motor.Quadrille Op. 129
Following the death of the Austrian Archduke Joseph Rainer in Bolzano, Italy, on 16 January 1853, all balls at the Austrian Court and in the residences of the nobility and aristocracy were cancelled as a mark of respect. The number of balls at which Johann II conducted during that year's Carnival, therefore, was much reduced. The festivities of the various faculties of Vienna University, however, proceeded according to plan, and at the Technical Students' Ball on 31 January in the Sofienbad-Saal Strauss conducted his orchestra in the first performance of his specially composed dedication: the Motor-Quadrille.

Themes from Johann's quadrille were later incorporated into the Finale of the ballet Le beau Danube (1924), arranged by Roger Desormière.

Buerger-Ball-Polka (Citizens' Ball Polka) Op. 145
Even in present-day Vienna numerous individual ball-organising committees arrange around three hundred festivities during the brief Carnival season, recreating the lavish splendour of those entertainments held during the heyday of the Habsburg Empire.

Included in the 1854 Carnival calendar was a Citizens' Ball, held in the Redoutensaal of the Imperial Hofburg on St Valentine's Day. It was for this occasion that Johann Strauss wrote, and first performed, his Buerger-Ball-Polka.

Dividenden, Walzer (Dividends, Waltz) Op. 252
The delightful cover illustration on the first piano edition of Johann's waltz Dividenden shows an imaginary share certificate for the firm of 'J. Strauss', on which are featured various symbols signifying trade, transport and industry. Spilling from a horn of plenty are the dividends from the firm – namely, several bundles of waltzes!

Strauss composed his Dividenden Walzer for the first ball of the Industrial Societies, held on 15 January 1861 in the Dianabad- Saal. As such, it was the earliest of Johann II's works to receive its première in this newly-renovated establishment.

Verbruederungs-Marsch (Brotherhood March) Op. 287
The titles which the Strauss family frequently chose to give their compositions read like a social, cultural, technological and political guide-book of the nineteenth century. With an instinctive commercial sense, the Strausses were quick to exploit any current trend or situation which might usefully lend itself to a new composition, and thus maximise the music's popularity and sales.

A case in point is the Verbruederungs-Marsch, which glorified the 'Treaty of Brotherhood' (= 'Verbruederungs-Vertrag') signed between Prussia and Austria on 16 January 1864, which provided an ultimatum to Denmark over the vexed issue of Schleswig-Holstein.

Having already applied for permission to dedicate his march to King Willhelm I of Prussia (who later responded by awarding Strauss the Order of the Prussian Crown), Johann gave the première of the work at a charity performance in the concert hall of the Koenigliches Schauspielhaus, Berlin, on 11 April 1864. With the composer conducting members of the Koenigliches Theater orchestra school, proceeds from the concert were given to Prussian war invalids and those left destitute by the outbreak of hostilities.

Im Krapfenwald'l, Polka francaise Op. 336
First performed under the title Im Pavlovsk-Walde (‘In the Woods of Pavlovsk’), this now-familiar French polka caused a sensation when the composer first played it at an open-air benefit concert in Pavlovsk on 6 September 1869 (=25 August, Russian calendar), during his eleventh Russian concert season. The audience demanded several encores of the piece.

To add 'local colour' for his home audiences, the commercially-minded Johann – possibly at the bidding of his Viennese publisher – subsequently retitled the polka Im Krapfenwald'l, and it was under this name that Viennese audiences first heard the work when Eduard Strauss conducted it at a festival concert in the Volksgarten on 24 June 1870. The new title referred to the popular Krapfenwald area of the Vienna Woods, situated between the scenic village of Grinzing and the heights of Kobenzl and the Kahlenberg, where Franz Josef Krapf had earlier opened his 'Krapfenwaldel' tavern.

O schoener Mai! Walzer (O Lovely May! Waltz) Op. 375
On 3 January 1877 the curtain of Vienna's Carl-Theater rose on the première of Johann Strauss's fifth operetta, Prinz Methusalem (‘Prince Methuselah’). Based on a French original, this rather uninspired, Offenbach-style tale, was set in the imaginary princedom of Trocadero. Though greeting the new work with mixed reviews, the critics spoke most favourably of Strauss's music. As was so often the case, however, several of the separate orchestral numbers Johann fashioned from the score of his operetta went on to enjoy far greater success when freed from their parent stage work. A fine example is the waltz O schoener Mai!, which Johann's brother, Eduard, introduced to the Viennese public at his Sunday concert in the Musikverein on 21 January 1877. The principal waltz theme of this work quotes from the Act 3 duet for Pulcinella and Methusalem ("O du, O du, me in Feldmarschall"), while the remaining melodies are culled from Acts 1 and 2, including the Act 1 Chorus and Ensemble, "O schoener Mai!", which also gives the waltz its title.

CSSR 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.

Richard Edlinger
The Austrian conductor Richard Edlinger was born in Bregenz in 1958 and directed his first concert at the age of seventeen. In 1982 he completed his studies in conducting and composition at the Vienna Academy, having by then already acquired considerable professional experience on the podium. He was the youngest finalist in the 1983 Guido Cantelli Conductors' Competition at La Scala, Milan. Richard Edlinger has made recent appearances with the Vienna Chamber Orchestra, the Zagreb Philharmonic, the George Enescu Philharmonic, the orchestra of La Scala, Milan, and the RTSI Orchestra in Lugano. In 1987 he was appointed Music Director of the Kamptal Festival in Austria.

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