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8.223213 - STRAUSS II, J.: Edition - Vol. 13
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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.

Fidelen-Polka (Jolly Folk, Polka) Op. 26
From the very outset of his musical career Johann Strauss junior found his greatest appeal among Vienna's youthful society, whose dance-crazy young men and women frequented the city's many places of entertainment, notably Dommayer's Casino in Hietzing. Strauss was well aware of the assistance their support and enthusiasm had given him, and he showed his appreciation in a number of compositions. One of these is the Fidelen-Polka, whose first piano edition pictures a young couple dancing the steps of the polka. Johann and his orchestra introduced this novelty piece on 26 April 1846 at a festive ball held in the Sträussel-Säle dance hall in the suburb of Josefstadt.

Die Zillerthaler, Walzer im Ländlerstil (Zillerthal Folk, Waltz in Ländler-style) Op. 30
The success of a fête organised for Tyrolean residents in Vienna in August 1845 prompted a second festival to be held in the Tivoli amusement park in Meidling a year later, on 5 August 1846. Just as the younger Johann Strauss had complemented the splendid panoramic setting the previous year with a newly composed waltz in Ländler-style. Berglieder op. 18 (Volume 3), so he again reminded the Tyroleans of their alpine homeland with another musical offering. Entitled Die Zillerthaler, the waltz pays homage to the inhabitants of the Zillerthal, the largest and most famous of the many valleys in the Austrian Tyrol. Then, as now, the Zillerthal folk are famed throughout Austria as much for their love of singing as for their prowess on harp and zither. Strauss emphasised the rustic nature of the peasant Ländler in the Introduction to his waltz by use of a drone bass supporting a heavily-accented arpeggio-style melody – a stylistic device imitated in other Strauss works, most notably in brother Josef's waltz Dorfschwalben aus Österreich op. 164 (1864).

Tanzi-Bäri-Polka (Dancing Bear, Polka) Op. 134
On 15 July 1853 Johann amused the audience in the Vienna Volksgarten with the first performance of his Tanzi-Bäri-Polka. This delightful character-piece mimics the actions of a dancing bear led by its master, and in the Trio section Strauss even permits the animal a few growls – courtesy of the trombones.

Dedicatee of the polka was Countess Julia Batthyáni, née Countess von Apraxin, one of the most entertaining personalities in the art-loving aristocracy of the Austrian Empire. The Countess was a capricious lady about whom numerous scandals circulated, and it may not be too far-fetched to venture that Strauss intended the Countess herself as the bear-leader, with men as the bears whom she caused to dance!

Sirenen, Walzet (Sirens, Waltz) Op. 164
The waltz Sirenen numbers among Johann's compositions for the busy 1855 Vienna Carnival season. It was dedicated to the technical students at Vienna University, and written for their ball in the Sofienbad-Saal on 12 February.

The titles Johann Strauss gave his waltz dedications for the technical students frequently echoed the scientific vocabulary of the day, like Motors, Sound Waves, Cycloids and Nodal Figures. With Sirenen, however, one can only guess whether Strauss had in mind either the mechanical warning device or those sinister sea-nymphs of classical mythology: the ornate title page illustration reveals nothing, while there is little in the music to indicate 'sirens' either of this world or any other! Some listeners may hear in the haunting Introduction the song of the Sirens, while others may choose to interpret the sustained horn note heard under the melody of the opening waltz (repeated in the Coda and featured elsewhere for horn and woodwind) as an orchestral imitation of the mechanical siren.

Patrioten-Marsch (Patriots March) Op. 8
During summer 1845 Johann II further consolidated his position in the musical life of the Austrian capital when he accepted the invitation of the 2nd Vienna Citizens' Regiment to become its bandmaster. This step merely served to focus public attention on the rivalry between Johann and his father, since the latter was bandmaster of the 1st Regiment.

By way of thanks for the honour bestowed upon him, Johann II dedicated his Patrioten-Marsch to "the Officer-Corps of the honourable 2nd Vienna Citizens' Regiment", and performed it for the first time on 18 August 1845 at a Tyrolean Festival organised in the Tivoli amusement park in the suburb of Meidling.

Demolirer-Polka (Demolition Men, Polka) Op. 269
Like a great many Strauss family compositions, the younger Johann's Demolirer-Polka chronicles a specific event in the history of the Austrian capital. On 20 December 1857 the Austrian Emperor Franz Josef I decreed that the city limits of Vienna be extended to meet the needs of a forward-looking, expanding capital. (Between 1857 and 1890 the population of Vienna increased from approximately 430,000 to around 820,000 inhabitants). The modernisation programme necessitated the destruction of the ancient bastions surrounding the old inner city by gangs of demolition men – 'Demolirer', recruited in the main from the Austrian crownlands of Bohemia, Moravia and especially Croatia – whose pickaxes and shovels removed for ever the division between the city centre and its suburbs. The medieval fortifications were replaced by the splendours of the Ring, Vienna's magnificently landscaped circular boulevard, with its architectural grandeur, parks, gardens and squares.

Johann's Demolirer-Polka may have been given its première during the summer of 1862. However, its first reported performance, together with that of the waltz Carnevals-Botschafter op. 270 (Volume 8), was conducted by the composer at a soirée in the 'Sperl' dance hall on 22 November 1862.

Thermen, Walzer (Thermal Springs, Waltz) Op. 245
In Austria, as elsewhere across Europe, fashionable spa resorts have long attracted generations seeking the curative effects of hot mineral springs and health-giving waters. Reflecting upon this, the resourceful mind of Johann Strauss seized upon the title Thermen as entirely appropriate for the waltz dedication he was commissioned to compose for the ball of the medical students at Vienna University, held in the Sofienbad-Saal on 22January 1861.

The work was to prove a particular favourite with Russian audiences when Johann introduced it during his series of concerts in Pavlovsk during summer 1861, and it remained a staple of his repertoire there for the next two summer seasons. The composer himself wrote in 1861 from Pavlovsk to his Vienna publisher, Carl Haslinger: "Thermen is giving enormous pleasure here – I don't understand it – why should it be so? – Every concert has to have Thermen on the programme; by order of the management!!! It's too silly!!!"

Quadrille nach Motiven aus der Oper: Die Belagerung von Rochelle
(Quadrille on themes from the opera 'The Siege of Rochelle') Op. 31
With more than two dozen operas alone to his credit, the Irish- born Michael William Balfe (1808-70) was Britain's most commercially successful and prolific composer in the first half of the 19th century. The opera which established Balfe was his highly successful The Siege of Rochelle, mounted in London on 29 October 1835.

Balfe himself conducted the Viennese première of the opera, entitled Die Belagerung von Rochelle, at the Theater an der Wien on 24 October 1846. The lead rôle was sung by Jetty Treffz, later the first wife of the younger Johann Strauss. For his part, the 21-year-old Viennese dance music composer, like his father, had already arranged some quadrilles on earlier Balfe stage works, and he now hurriedly prepared one on themes from this latest opera. The plan, however, misfired: by the time of the quadrille's première on 15 November at Dommayer's Casino in Hietzing, the opera had been dropped from the repertoire after just three performances.

Nur Fort! Schnell-Polka (Let's away! Quick polka) Op. 383
Johann's lively Nur fort! Schnell-Polka is one of five orchestral dance pieces based on themes from Blindekuh [Première: Theater an der Wien, Vienna. 18 December 1878], the least successful of Strauss's fifteen operettas. Since Johann himself was in Paris fulfilling ball and concert engagements, it was left to Eduard Strauss to include the first performance of Nur fort! in his 'Carnival Revue 1879' at the Musikverein, Vienna, on 2 March 1879. The polka takes its title and opening melody from the Act 2 ensemble: "Nur fort, nur fort zum Schatten kühl, zur Wiese dort zum Spiel" (Let's away, let's away to the cool of the shade, to the meadow there to play), while its remaining melodies are drawn from the first two acts.

Neue Melodien-Quadrille (New Melodies Quadrille) Op. 254
The almost daily exertions of the busy 1861 Vienna Carnival season left Johann Strauss exhausted. Writing at that time, the composer Peter Cornelius noted that the young Musikdirektor looked "very ill" and had "thoroughly destroyed himself". Despite this, Strauss's productivity was undiminished, and on 17 March in the Dianabad-Saal he conducted his Neue Melodien-Quadrille on airs from Italian opera. The work cites themes from Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor (1835) and La Fille du régiment (1840), Bellini's La Sonnambula (1831) as well as Verdi's Rigoletto (1851), II Trovatore (1853) and La Traviata (1853).

Was sich liebt, neckt sich, Polka française (Lovers are fond of teasing, French polka) Op. 399
Der lustige Krieg (The Merry War), Johann Strauss's eighth operetta, commenced its run at Vienna's Theater an der Wien on 25 November 1881, and enjoyed more than one hundred consecutive performances. The critic, Dr Eduard Hanslick, praised the exceptionally tuneful score, adding that Strauss "has scarcely anywhere else instrumented so finely and elegantly".

Johann arranged a total of ten separate orchestral numbers from the melodies in Der lustige Krieg, among them the French polka Was sich liebt, neckt sich, which he conducted for the first time during his brother Eduard's benefit concert in the Musikverein on 15 January 1882. The polka 's themes are derived from the Act 3 Ensemble "Das grössere ist dick und schwer" and from Violetta's Act 1 Arietta. The first piano edition of the work bears the composer's dedication: "To Herr Alexander D. Golz [sic], in memory of 22 March 1882" – a reference to a charity festival in the Musikverein, given in aid of holiday camps for poor children, at which Strauss conducted and the artists Goltz (1857-1944) and Udel held a fund-raising auction.

Ägyptischer Marsch (Egyptian March) Op. 335
The formal opening of the Suez Canal – linking Port Said, on the Mediterranean Sea, and the Egyptian port of Suez, on the Red Sea – was celebrated on 16 November 1869 by an inaugural ceremony at Port Said. On the following day sixty-eight vessels of various nationalities began the passage, arriving at Suez four days later.

The opening of this artificial waterway created considerable interest around the world, and in Vienna gave rise to Anton Bittner's burlesque, Nach Ägypten (Into Egypt), presented at the Theater an der Wien on 26 December that year. It was here as a processional march for Egyptian warriors before the final scene, that the Viennese public first became acquainted with the sinuous themes of Johann Strauss's Ägyptischer Marsch. The composer, ever mindful of current affairs, had in fact written the piece for his 1869 summer concert season in Pavlovsk – shared that year with his brother Josef – and had conducted its première at the Vauxhall Pavilion there on 6 July (= 24 June, Russian calendar) at a benefit concert for the two brothers.

Programme notes © 1989 Peter Kemp. The Johann Strauss Society of Great Britain.

The author is indebted to Professor Franz Mailer for his assistance in the preparation of these notes.

Czechoslovak 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, and for its willingness to undertake repertoire of this kind without condescension. The orchestra has contributed several successful volumes to the complete compact disc Johann Strauss II and for Naxos has recorded a varied repertoire.

Alfred Walter
Alfred Walter 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.

Alfred Walter has appeared as a guest conductor in various parts of the world. 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.


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