About this Recording
8.223218 - STRAUSS II, J.: Edition - Vol. 18
English  German 

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, 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 Il 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 Il 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.

Studenten-Marsch (Students March), Op. 56

On 5 June 1848 Leopold Häfner, editor of the Viennese newspaper Die Constitution and spokesman for the revolutionaries, published a letter written to him two days earlier by the younger Johann Strauss. In part this read: “I acceded with great pleasure to the wish of several of the gentlemen students to set to music the “Freiheitslied” (Freedom Song) of the Doctor of Law, H. Hirschfeld, as a students’ march; I was particularly pleased because I have, since I returned to my liberated country…been thinking of expressing my admiration and respect for the students, our champions of liberty, by serenading them with my orchestra this evening at 10 o’clock in front of the University. The singers of the Nationaltheater have willingly agreed to perform this “Freiheitslied’…”.

Various newspapers confirm that the Strauss Orchestra’s serenade took place outside the University on the evening of 3 June. None, however, mentions a performance of the promised Studenten-Marsch, nor is there any reference to the participation of the chorus of the National theater (by which name the Theater an der Wien had been known since 15. April 1848). Certainly Strauss’s march was considered to be so little “revolutionary” that, despite the state of martial law which still existed, it was published by H.F. Müller in March 1849. Equally certainly Johann’s Studenten-Marsch was not the composition for which the young writer and music critic, Eduard Hanslick, had hoped when, on 3 September 1848 he lamented in the Wiener Zeitung: “The 13th of March thirsted for a Marseillaise. A German Marseillaise!—It is to be regretted that the Muse of Austria’s composers has not given us a single really original freedom chorus and march”.

The present recording utilises the score for military band in the collection of the Wiener Stadt- und Landesbibliothek, Vienna.

Lava-Ströme, Walzer (Streams of Lave, Waltz), Op. 74

The dramatically-entitled waltz Lava-Ströme is an excellent example of the way in which Johann Strauss sought to capitalise on topical events to heighten public interest in his music and thus to maximise sales of his compositions. In this endeavour he was also able to count on his publisher, Carl Haslinger, who equipped many of the first piano editions of the new Strauss works with fine cover illustrations—in the case of Lava-Ströme, a lithograph depicting an erupting volcano.

Ever the opportunist, the young Strauss could not ignore the widespread press reports in early 1850 of volcanic activity within Vesuvius, the volcano rising from the eastern margin of the Bay of Naples in Italy. Thus, on 29 January 1850, the 24-year-old composer / conductor organised a spectacular festivity in Vienna’s Sofienbad-Saal, a benefit ball for himself promoted under the daring title of “Ball in Vesuvius”, for which he wrote his waltz Lava-Ströme. The magnificently programmatic Introduction to this work remains one of the finest in the entire Strauss repertoire: in the space of 105 bars Johann stunningly portrays in music the first rumblings from deep inside the volcano and the first discharges of lava. Tension mounts following the briefest of lulls; the eruption grows more violent until the volcano finally explodes, unleashing cascades of molten lava into the smoke-filled air, only to stream in torrents down the sides of the mountain, engulfing all in its path. As a point of interest, Vesuvius did indeed erupt as anticipated, from 5–16 February 1850, causing terrible devastation.

The opening melody (Waltz 1A) of Lava-Ströme has proved itself highly serviceable: Eduard Strauss included it in his fascinating homage to his brother, Blüthenkranz Johann Strauss’scher Walzer Op. 292 (1894)—a “collection of the best loved waltzes from 1844 to the present”—while Johann himself re-used it as the principal theme in his Jubilee Waltz of 1872.

Invitation à la Polka-Mazur (Invitation to the Polka-mazurka), Op. 277

A caricature in the Viennese magazine Die Bombe (12 October 1884) depicts the Waltz King’ looking on as several pairs of worn-out ladies’ evening slippers cry their eyes out around him. The caption reads: “The danced-to-pieces shoes!” Without doubt, more than any other light music composer, Johann Strauss the Younger filled the ballrooms of the world—yet, ironically, he himself admitted he was no dancer and was forced “to give a decisive ‘no’ to all the really tempting and attractive ‘Invitations to the Dance’”. Strauss’s use of the latter phrase referred to Carl Maria von Weber’s Concert-rondo Aufforderung zum Tanz (Invitation to the Dance), a popular work which featured in the Strauss Orchestra’s repertoire. When seeking a title for his new polka-mazurka Op. 277, written for his 1863 season in Pavlovsk, Strauss again turned to Weber’s work, but satisfied the contemporary Russian vogue for the French language by christening his composition Invitation à la Polka-Mazur.

The new work—“which I have cobbled together”, Strauss wrote to Carl Haslinger, his publisher in Vienna—was heard for the first time on 18 August (= 6 August, Russian calendar) at Johann’s second benefit concert and, despite her husband’s dismissive comments, an enthusiastic Jetty Strauss was able to inform Haslinger six days later that Invitation à la Polka-Mazur had “caused a furore”. Published in Russia simply as Invitation, the piece received its. Viennese première under Johann’s direction on 29 November 1863 in the Volksgarten at a festival concert for the benefit of Josef and Eduard Strauss.

Cagliostro-Guadrille, Op. 369

Johann Strauss’s operetta Cagliostro in Wien [Première: Theater an der Wien, Vienna. 27 February 1875], recounting an adventure in the life of the 18th-century Italian alchemist and imposter, Count Alessandro Cagliostro (1743–95), when he arrives in the Vienna of 1783 during celebrations marking the centenary of that city’s liberation from the Turks, was far from being a critical success. The fusion between text and music, so evident in the work which had preceded it, Die Fledermaus (1874), was generally absent. Reviewing the new operetta in the 2 March 1875 edition of the Fremdenblatt, Ludwig Speidel observed: “Johann Strauss waxes and wanes with the interest of the action; when the right thing is demanded of him, we can trace his stroke of genius”. Such ‘strokes of genius’ are detectable in all six  of the separate orchestral numbers which Strauss arranged on themes from Cagliostroin Wien, not least in the Cagliostro-Quadrille. Johann allowed his brother, Eduard, to conduct the first performance of the new dance piece at a concert with the Strauss Orchestra in Karl Schwender’s Neue Welt entertainment establishment in Hietzing on 20 May 1875.

The six individual sections of the Cagliostro-Quadrille, as was customary with this dance form, bore the traditional titles: No. 1 “Pantalon”, No. 2 “Été”, No. 3 “Poule”, No. 4 “Trénis”, No. 5 “Pastourelle” and No. 6 “Finale”. The musical content of the piece is drawn substantially from Act 1 (“Pantalon”, “Trénis” and “Pastourelle”) and Act 2 (“Poule” and “Eté”), while Act 3 provides the source for the “Finale” and the opening melody of “Eté”.

Grossfürstin Alexandra-Walzer (Grand Duchess Alexandra, Waltz), Op. 181

That Johann Strauss should have found himself in Russia in 1856 was the result of an earlier approach made to him in Bad Gastein by representatives of the Tsarskoye-Selo Railway Company of St. Petersburg. In an attempt to increase passenger traffic on the rail route from St. Petersburg to the terminus at Pavlovsk, the company had constructed the Vauxhall Pavilion, an attractive music and entertainment centre in the grounds of Pavlovsk Park. The years since its opening in 1838 had seen the engagement of many international performers, and the delegation was now anxious to secure the services of Vienna’s leading light music composer. So successful was Johann’s initial “Russian summer” that he was to appear there for ten consecutive seasons, thereby laying the foundation of his considerable personal wealth.

Strauss made his Pavlovsk début on 18 May 1856 (= 6 May, Russian calendar) at the head of an orchestra comprising some 38 musicians, and gave daily concerts there until 13 October (= 1 October). While the choice of music was left to his discretion, his contract required him to include music by the classical masters and Contemporary Composers alongside his own works. It was, however, this latter category which drew the greatest applause, and among the eight new works he wrote for Pavlovsk that year was the waltz Grossfürstin Alexandra, dedicated to Alexandra Jossiphovna, née Alexandra Friederike Henriette of Prussia (1830–1911), fifth daughter of Joseph, Duke of Saxe-Altenburg and wife of the Grand Duke Constantin Nikolaievich. Johann conducted the première of the waltz at his first benefit concert held on 26 June (= 14 June) and thereafter it regularly featured on programmes, including those given before the Russian royal family. On the manuscript score, in Strauss’s hand are the words: “Born in Russia, and styled in keeping with the cold climate”, while to his Viennese publisher, Carl Haslinger, he wrote from Pavlovsk on 14 September 1856: “Enclosed find the Alexandra Walzer, kept in the Russian taste and thus indigestible. [Section] No. 5 of this waltz consists of two Russian songs”.

Entweder – Oder! Schnell-Polka (Either – or! Quick polka), Op. 403

“Entweder—oder!”, though an expression common enough in German-speaking countries, may possibly have registered itself with Johann Strauss as a suitable title for one of his compositions by dint of its having been the name of a three-act comedy by J. Rosen first seen at Vienna’s Hof-Burgtheater on 18 October 1865. Certainly the words “Entweder—oder!” themselves are not to be found in any of the song texts of Strauss’s operetta Der lustige Krieg [Première: Theater an der Wien, Vienna. 25 November 1881], from which the melodies of Johann’s quick polka are taken. More likely the title suggested itself to the composer from a scene in his operetta where the characters discuss various alternatives (weal or Woe; Coffee black or white; war or peace).

Johann was kept busy with the success of Der lustige Krieg: on 19 January 1882 he conducted the stage work’s Berlin première at the Friedrich-Wilhelmstädtisches Theater, while back in Vienna he conducted the operetta’s fiftieth performance at the Theater an der Wien on 27 January and its sixtieth on 6 February. Several of the separate orchestral numbers fashioned from its themes had already received their first performances and were now to be heard in the repertoire of military bands throughout Vienna. However, for the ball of the “Concordia”, the Vienna Authors’ and Journalists’ Association, held in the Sofienbad-Saal on 14 February, he provided two further examples, the Lustige Krieg-Quadrille (op. 402) and his dapper quick polka Entweder—oder!—the latter dedicated (on later printed editions) to the “Concordia”. Both works were conducted at the ball by the composer’s brother, Eduard, who also presented the first public performance of the two pieces at a concert in the Musikverein on 26 February. The principal melody of Entweder—oder is to be found in Violetta’s marching song “Es war ein lustig. Abenteuer” (Act 2), while the music for the Trio section is drawn from the Act 1 Finale chorus, “Statt der Orgel”, and the final section of the Act 2 Introduction, “Den Feind, den möcht’ ich seh’n”.

Alliance-Marsch, Op. 158

“The young Strauss, who learned from his father always to keep the Viennese in a joyfully happy mood with his violin, also instantly grasps every political opportunity by the hilt in order to give his compositions an up to date footing. So he has now composed an Alliance March…”.

The “political opportunity” to which the Ost-Deutsche Post referred in its edition of 28 December 1854 was the announcement in Vienna on 16 December that year of the “Treaty of Alliance” (“Allianz-Vertrag”) signed by the ambassadors Baron Franz Adolph Bourqueney (for France) and John Fane Earl of Westmorland (for Great Britain and Ireland). The subject matter of the treaty was the Crimean War, in which Great Britain and France had been actively involved since 28 March 1854—together with the Ottoman Empire and (from 1855) Sardinia-Piedmont—against Russia, whose expansionist ambitions in the Balkans had brought about the conflict. The opportunity of concluding an alliance with Great Britain offered the French Emperor, Napoleon III, the chance of realizing one of his principal goals. The Austrian government, though sympathetic to the allies, took no part in the war, despite the Russian occupation of the Danubian territories of Moldavia and Wallachia in July 1853.

Strauss conducted the first performance of his Alliance-Marsch in the Vienna Volksgarten on 26 December 1854—during celebrations after the birthday of the Empress Elisabeth of Austria (24 December)—at the festive opening of the new “Glass Salon” pavilion in the Wintergarten. The reporter for the Osterreichischer Zuschauer (3.1.1855) noted that, in response to public demand for a larger venue for the well established winter musical entertainments in the Volksgarten, the Corti family had now provided an elegant and tastefully-decorated new building, designed by August von Siccardsburg (also co-designer of the later Vienna Court Opera House). The salon boasted illumination by gaslight and featured richly arranged plant displays and busts of the Austrian Emperor and Empress. Many of the general public voted with their feet in response to the high admission charges for the opening festivity, but despite this the Wiener Allgemeine Theaterzeitung (29.12.1854) reported: “The fairly numerous public gave a very favourable reception to Strauss’s new march entitled ‘Alliance March’, which he performed alongside his most recent compositions and which had to be played da capo three times, as also the extremely successful ‘Napoleon March’ which, to thunderous applause, had to be repeated several times”.

Patronessen, Walzer (Patronesses, Waltz), Op. 264

The 1862 Vienna Carnival saw Johann Strauss’s musical inspiration attain new heights, and among the novelties he produced for the various dance festivities was a fine series of waltzes: Die ersten Curen Op. 261 (28. January: Medical Students Ball), Concurrenzen Op. 267 (29 January. Industrial Societies’ Bal); Colonnen Op. 262 (4. February: Law Students’ Bal); Motoren Op. 265 (10 February; Technical Students Ball) and Wiener Chronik Op. 268 (3 March: Strauss Benefit Ball). To this list belongs also the waltz Patronessen, which Johann composed (together with the Studenten-Polka Op. 263) for the first ever Students’ Ball to be held in Vienna. Organised under the auspices of several patronesses from elevated Viennese Society, the ball took place in the Imperial Redoutensaal of the Hofburg on 24 February. The flowing melodies of Strauss’s waltz admirably reflect the elegance and gracefulness of the dedicatees of the piece, “the most serene and high-born ladies in their capacity as patronesses of the Students’ Ball”, whose names are emblazoned on the title page of the Patronessen Walzer first piano edition: the princesses Francisca Liechtenstein, Wilhelmine Kinsky, Anthonie Khevenhüller and Eleonore Schwarzenberg; the countesses Therese Potocki, Celine Bieberstein-Zamadzka, Emilie Thurn, Francisca Hardegg and Helene Mniszek; Baroness Julie Spannocchi; Her Excellency Antonie Lasser and Privy Councillor Marie Oppolzer.

Leopoldstädter Polka (People of Leopoldstadt, Polka), Op. 168

The Viennese suburb of Leopoldstadt (now Vienna’s 2nd district) occupied a special place in the hearts and lives of the Strauss family. Here Franz Borgias Strauss (1764–1816) was born, as was his eldest son Johann Baptist (1804–49) rather than as was his eldest son Johann the elder (1804–49), founder of the musical dynasty, who also died there. It was also the birthplace of Johann’s daughters Anna (1829–1903) and Therese (1831–1915), and sons Ferdinand (born and died 1834) and Eduard (1835–1916), and from 1833 to 1886 the spacious “Hirschenhaus” in Leopoldtadt was home for the Strausses. From 1863 to 1870 Johann Strauss II (1825–99) had lived at an apartment house at No. 54 Praterstrasse in Leopoldstadt—today the Johann Strauss Museum—where many of his best-loved dance compositions, including the Waltz Ander schönen blauen Donau (By the beautiful blue Danube), were created.

In Leopoldstadt, too, was to be found the “Zum Sperlbauer’ dance hall”, known to the dance-loving Viennese simply as the “Sperl”. Opened in 1807 the venue had become virtually second home for the elder Johann Strauss after making his début there in 1829, though until the latter’s death in 1849 his eldest son, Johann II, had found great difficulty in gaining the merest toehold at this leading entertainment establishment. But by 1855, when he wrote the skittish Leopoldstädter Polka in honour of the local populace, the younger Johann and his orchestra had long since become the Sperl’s principal attraction. The work, first heard in the “Sperl” on 29 January 1855, was Strauss’s contribution to a ball given “for the benefit of the poor house in Leopoldstadt and the Jägerzeil”. W. Tatzelt’s engraving for the title page of the Leopoldstädter Polka presents a view across the Danube Canal (Donaukanal) with the old Schlagbrücke, which the writer Johann Ziegler describes as being “the only solid link, until 1872, between the old Rotenturm-Bastei [one of the oldest city fortifications] and Leopoldstadt”.

Die Publicisten, Walzer (The Publicists, Waltz), Op. 321

From the heyday of Johann Strauss the Elder a special relationship had existed between the musicians of the Strauss dynasty and Vienna’s press. It was an almost symbiotic association, each needing the other to a greater or lesser degree; certainly the Strausses never hesitated to make use of the power of the press for their own ends—even, on occasion, discreetly rewarding the editors of various journals in return for favourable articles. With the foundation of the Vienna Journalists’ and Authors’ Association in 1859 the relationship was destined to become even closer. The federation chose to name itself after a Roman goddess personifying civic concord, Concordia, and its musical liaison with the Strausses lasted from the very first Concordia Ball in 1863 until the year 1906. The Concordia gave its impressive annual ball during the Vienna Carnival, and over the years the Strausses bestowed upon it a stream of dedications exhibiting a consistently high standard of invention. It was for the sixth Concordia Ball, held in the Sofienbad-Saal on 4 February 1868, that Johann contributed, as his traditional dedication piece, the aptly-entitled waltz Die Publicisten. The illustrated title page of the first piano edition, like that of his earlier Feuilleton-Walzer (Op. 293) (Volume 10) also written for the Concordia, shows a selection of contemporary Viennese newspapers.

Die Publicisten belongs to that period when Strauss was at the height of his creative powers as a composer of dance music; the waltzes Wiener Bonbons (Op. 307), The Blue Danube (Op. 314) and Artist’s Life (Op. 316) were already behind him, while Tales from the Vienna Woods (Op. 325), Wine, Woman and Song (Op. 333), and Wiener Blut (Op. 354) were still to come. Themes from the Introduction of Die Publicisten feature in the Antal Dorati / David Lichine pastiche ballet, Graduation Ball (1940), as an introductory section to the “Perpetuum Mobile” dance (No. 10).

Stadt und Land, Polka-Mazurka (Town and Country, Polka-mazurka) Oр. 322

In 1867 Johann Strauss, accompanied by his wife Jetty, made his only visit to Great Britain, when he was engaged to conduct the dance music at that season’s Promenade Concerts in the Royal Italian Opera House, Covent Garden. If the visit was a personal triumph for Johann—after his final appearance he wrote in his diary: “The most beautiful concert of my career!”—it must have been deeply nostalgic for Jetty. London audiences still remembered with great affection her highly successful début in 1849, when she had performed alongside Johann Strauss the Elder—her husband’s late father. Probably through friends Jetty had made during this earlier visit, the couple resided in the rural outskirts of London, rather than in the capital itself, during their 1867 sojourn. Johann delighted so greatly in this life-style that, immediately upon his return to Vienna, he purchased a villa in the Viennese suburb of Hietzing, opposite the botanical gardens of Schönbrunn Palace. Writing on 19 October 1868, Jetty informed a friend: “Johann has bought a small house here, so really nice and comfortable that we imagine we are living in dear Albion [England]”. (The building is still to be seen at No. 18 Maxinggasse, and is now generally known as the “Fledermaus-Villa” since it was here that Strauss composed the world-famous operetta).

The contrast between rural and city life also left its mark on Johann’s music, and appears to have inspired him to the polka-mazurka he wrote for an English-style promenade concert which he organised for 12 January 1868 in the spacious Blumen-Säle (Floral Halls) of the Wiener Gartenbaugesellschaft (Vienna Horticultural Society) on the Ringstrasse. In the event Johann’s illness enforced the postponement of the concert for one week until 19 January, when the new work, Stadt und Land, was accorded an enthusiastic welcome by those attending the charity concert given in aid of the city’s crèche. The piece also proved popular with audiences in Pavlovsk the following year when Johann introduced it at the Vauxhall Pavilion on 15 May 1869 (= 3 May, Russian calendar), and it was issued by Strauss’s Russian publisher as Vilanella [Country Girl] Polka-Mazurka.

Rathaus-Ball-Tänze, Walzer (City Hall Ball Dances, Waltz), Op. 438

Construction of a monumental new city hall (Neues Rathaus) for Vienna commenced on 25 May 1872 with the cutting of the first sod. The German architect of the edifice, Friedrich von Schmidt, described its design as being “artistically and technically based on mediaeval architecture” which could “only be described as a Gothic building…The specific type of Gothic I turned to was the style that pervaded the whole of central Europe during the second half of the 13th century”. The ceremonial laying of the foundation stone, in the presence of the Austrian Emperor Franz Josef I, followed on 14 June 1873, while Vienna received a new landmark on 7 October 1882 when the “Iron Man” was placed in position crowning the 320 foot (98 metres) high central spire of the Rathaus. It is this standard-bearing armour-clad figure which, together with an illustration of the new Rathaus, adorn the cover of the first piano edition of Strauss’s Rathaus-Ball-Tänze Walzer—dedicated by the composer “to his beloved father-city, Vienna”. The inaugural meeting of the municipal council in its new home took place in June 1885, and on 12 February 1890 the new banqueting hall (Festsaal) was officially opened with the first “Ball of the City of Vienna”. Two orchestras, engaged for the festivity, occupied opposite ends of the hall—that of the Strauss Orchestra under the direction of Eduard Strauss, and that of the famous Vienna House Regiment, Hoch und Deutschmeister No. 4, conducted by its Kapellmeister C.M. Ziehrer. The honour of the first musical dedication to be played fell to Johann Strauss’s Rathaus-Ball-Tänze, which commences with a quotation, in moderate march tempo, from his famous waltz An der schönen blauen Donau (By the beautiful blue Danube), already a symbol of Imperial Vienna. This grandiose Introduction gives way to the joyously patriotic outburst of its opening waltz melody which sets the tone for the themes which unfurl in its wake. The Coda is based largely on further quotations from The Blue Danube Waltz and features also brief references to Haydn’s Austrian Hymn, “Gott erhalte”. It was, however, Carl Ziehrer’s waltz Wiener Bürger (Op. 419)—a true Viennese dance piece dedicated to “the Municipal Council of the City of Vienna”—which stole the evening and which, to this day, has remained by far the better-known of the two dedication works. An amusing postscript is to be found in Strauss’s letter of 25 February 1892, written to the publisher of Rathaus-Ball-Tänze, Fritz Simrock. Johann complains that he has found an error in the piano duet printed edition of the waltz “which spoils the whole melody; this mistake exists neither in the score, the parts, nor in the piano [solo) edition. As the composer I am thereby the most damaged—and I have more claim to conscientious performance than you have, my argumentative friend Fritz. You have effectively mutilated me. After that, am I supposed to say with best wishes? Yes, I’ll say it anyway!”

Programme notes © 1990 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. If you have enjoyed this recording and are interested in learning more of the Strauss family and their music, please write for free details of the Society to: The Honorary Secretary, The Johann Strauss Society of Great Britain, Flat 12, Bishams Court, Church Hill, Caterham, Surrey CR36SE, England.)

Close the window