About this Recording
8.223225 - STRAUSS II, J.: Edition - Vol. 25
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 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.

Grossfürsten-Marsch (Grand Dukes March) op. 107
The title page of the first piano edition of the Grossfürsten-Marsch, issued by Carl Haslinger's publishing house on 26 May 1852, bears the inscription: "Composed by Johann Strauss, Kapellmeister, in celebration of the noble presence in Vienna of their Royal Highnesses the Grand Dukes Nikolai and Michail of Russia".

The grand dukes, youngest sons of the reigning Tsar Nicholas I (1796-1855), had accompanied their father to Vienna in March 1852 where, as the personal guests of the young Austrian Emperor Franz Josef (1830-1916), they remained until mid-May. On 21 March, shortly after their arrival in the Imperial city, Nikolai (1831-1891) and Michail (1832-1909) were guests of honour at a soirée hosted by Prince Paul Anton Esterházy at his palace in Vienna (today situated in the 1st district at Wallnerstrasse 4), and Johann Strauss and his orchestra were engaged to entertain during the evening. This was the 26-year-old conductor/composer's first opportunity to meet the two Russian grand dukes, and it was on this occasion that he first played their dedication march. (The musically-gifted Michail would later occasionally appear during Strauss's Pavlovsk summer concert seasons as cellist in the orchestra. Inexplicably, however, Johann was to programme the Grossfürsten-Marsch just once – on 12 June (31 May, Russian calendar) – during his five-month debut season at Pavlovsk in 1856).

Not until Sunday 2 May 1852 at Unger's Casino in the Viennese suburb of Hernals, did Johann give a public performance of his Grossfürsten-Marsch. Such was the "decidedly favourable reception" given to the new work that it had to be played no less than six times, the reviewer for the Neue Wiener Musikzeitung (06.05.1852) commenting: "We must admit that this piece of music belongs to the first of its genre; the melody is fetching, the instrumentation effective and powerful. We are convinced that this march will soon soar to the position of favourite piece of all the bands". In his book, Unsterbliche Tonkunst: Johann Strauss (1940), the music researcher Dr. Erich Schenk makes the general observation that “one seeks in vain heroic martialism in the Strauss march”. He continues: "These 'stylish' marches, occasionally set in 6/8 time like op. 93 [Kaiser-Jäger-Marsch] and op. 107 [Grossfürsten-Marsch] are more expressions of optimistic cheerfulness than heroic dash". To this list he might also have added another of these 'cavalry' marches, Johann's Caroussel-Marsch op. 133 (Volume 6) of 1853, whose introductory four bars are identical to those of the Grossfürsten-Marsch.

Explosions-Polka op. 43
The name of the German scientist Chirstian Friedrich Schönbein (1799-1868) is largely forgotten today, but his discoveries in the disciplines of chemistry and physics were to have tremendous significance, especially in the field of warfare. Apart from discovering and naming the gas ozone in 1840, he also invented guncotton (nitrocellulose), the latter discovery resulting from a chance mishap in his kitchen while mopping up some spilled nitric and sulphuric acid with his wife's cotton apron. This led directly to his work on nitrocellulose which he prepared and applied as a propellant in firearms early in 1846 during experiments at Mainz. Shortly afterwards, Professor Kraysky, a physicist at the Imperial-Royal Josefinum in Vienna, also announced that he was conducting experiments into "exploding cotton wool" (guncotton) and, by means of a cord of the substance, succeeded in almost simultaneously igniting all the candles in a chandelier. The Viennese press reported on this work in autumn 1846, and some took pleasure in describing which products could now be made 'explosive' One humorous paper even advised mothers against swaddling their infants in cotton nappies! The word 'explosive' swiftly became fashionable, especially among Vienna's youth: an actor would be described as being 'explosively' good in his rôle, while a lady's attractive hat or gown might be said to have an 'explosive' effect. The harmless-looking, fluffy white material soon became available through apothecaries, and before long pedlars were even hawking it around the capital's coffee-houses and taverns.

Such was the vogue for the word that the Theaterzeitung enquired whether there would not soon be a waltz entitled Explodierende Baumwolle (Exploding Cotton Wool). The paper provided its own answer when it notified its readers on 9 February 1847: "Strauss Son has written a new waltz, 'Irenen Tänze', and dedicated it to the Countess Jenny Zichy. In addition, an 'Exploding Cotton Wool Polka' as well. Splendid, that!" Der Wanderer (11.02.1847), albeit belatedly, also reported on the new composition: "Modern progress. Strauss Son will yet let loose an 'Exploding Cotton Wool Polka' during this carnival. We hope that it hits the mark". The journalist's wish was amply fulfilled: Johann had given the first performance of this 'explosive' novelty at his own benefit, a "Lust-Explosionsfest" (Fun Explosions Festival) held in the Sträussl-Säle of the Josefstädter Theater on 8 February 1847, and thereafter conducted it to 'explosive' applause at Dommayer's Casino in Hietzing and at all the other old Viennese establishments where he and his orchestra played. The work went on sale from H.F. Müller's publishing house in early February 1848 as the Explosions-Polka, and under this title it has retained its popularity right up to the present day.

Frauenkäferln Walzer (Ladybirds. Waltz) op. 99

On 20 August 1851 Der Wanderer carried the following announcement: "On Monday, 25th of this month, on the occasion of the parish fair in Hernals, Capellmeister Strauss has his benefit at Unger's Casino and on this day will play for the first time his latest waltz, 'Frauenkäferln', as a companion piece to his highly popular 'Johanniskäferln' [Glow-Worms Waltz op. 82, Volume 21 of this series]. There is no doubt that this grand entertainment venue will be full to overflowing on this day, given Strauss's great popularity. In the same place on the previous day Strauss will perform a new polka, the 'Vöslauer-Polka' [op. 100, Volume 14]".

In the event Johann did not introduce his new waltz until Wednesday 27 August, poor weather having forced a postponement of the festivity. Der Wanderer (28.08.1851) carried a glowing report. "Capellmeister Strauss's benefit ball at Unger's Casino yesterday was so animated and in every respect turned out so brilliantly, in a way similar festivals have seldom done. In spite of the cool weather an extraordinarily numerous public gathered in the large garden and in the hall, which may once again serve as proof to Herr Strauss how great and widespread is his popularity. In the hall dancing to Strauss's music went on until the early morning, and the applause was so tempestuous that the majority of the compositions performed had to be repeated. His latest, very successful waltz, 'Die Frauenkäferln' [sic!l, found an enthusiastic reception".

After a brief Introduction, Frauenkäferln opens with a beguiling waltz theme of remarkable simplicity; little wonder that, almost three-quarters of a century later, it suggested itself to Leonide Massine for inclusion in the posthumous Strauss ballet pastiche, Le beau Danube (1924), where it is heard as accompaniment to a group of players handing out programmes to passers-by in the Vienna Prater.

While, as the musicologist Max Schönherr has stated, the title of Strauss's waltz may have been suggested by Anton von Klesheim's poem "Das Frauenkäferl", or by August Silberstein's story of that name, the natural world was a constant source of inspiration to the Strausses, as for example with the earlier waltz Johannis-Käferln (1850). It therefore seems more likely that Johann simply plucked the title of his waltz from the ubiquitous seven spot ladybird (Coccinella 7-punctata), the small bright red beetle of the family Coccinellidae, which is widespread throughout Austria and the rest of Europe, and an illustration of which adorns the cover of the first piano edition of the Frauenkäferln waltz.

Le Papillon Polka-Mazurka (The Butterfly Polka-mazurka) op. 174
Readers of the Vienna Fremdenblatt newspaper on 14 December 1855 learned of a "Grand Concert for the Benefit of Johann Strauss" which was to take place in the Volksgarten on Sunday 16 December. The advertisement further announced that two new Strauss compositions would receive their first performances on this occasion, namely Le Papillon, Polka-Mazur and the Silvester-Polka. The enormous crowd that flocked to this musical soirée was not disappointed, and the critic for the Wiener Conversationsblatt (18.12.1855) glowingly reported that both polkas "provoked genuine enthusiasm on account of their original and piquant motifs; repeated applause and encores of the above-mentioned pieces were the reward for these exceedingly excellent and now very welcome dances for the approaching carnival season". Over the next few days Johann conducted the Strauss Orchestra in further performances of Le Papillon and the Silvester-Polka: on 19 December they featured on the programme of his penultimate concert for that year at the 'Grosser Zeisig' dance hall and tavern in the suburb of Neubau, and the following day they were heard again at his benefit concert in Schwender's establishment in Rudolfsheim – with the Silvester-Polka retitled the Taglioni-Polka (Volume 23) in honour of the ballerina, Marie Taglioni, who had just returned to Berlin after hugely successful performances in Vienna.

The polka-mazurka Le Papillon, which perhaps does not belong to the 'top-drawer' of Strauss's compositions, found little favour with the public in Russia when Johann featured it during his début concert season in Pavlovsk in 1856. In marked contrast to its entomological companion piece – the waltz Nachtfalter (Moths) op. 157 (Volume 5 of this series), which was played a total of 49 times during the five-month engagement – Le Papillon was dropped from the programmes after just four performances.

Promenade-Quadrille (Promenade Quadrille) op. 98
Listeners familiar with the posthumous Strauss ballet pastiche, Le beau Danube (1924), put together by Leonide Massine and Roger Désormière, will have no difficulty in recognising in the ballet's Introduction the first two themes from each of the first (Pantalon) and third (Poule) figures, or sections, of Johann's Promenade-Quadrille.

The Promenade-Quadrille itself was Johann's contribution to a "Grand May Festival Celebrating the Awakening of Nature, entitled 'Flower Mosaic'", held in the Vienna Volksgarten on Friday 23 May 1851. The organiser of the event, Johann Baptist Corti, had been forced by inclement weather to postpone the celebration several times over the previous fortnight. Even though the weather on the eventual day of the festival was such that many of the numerous visitors felt the need for shawls and overcoats, Corti doubtless enjoyed good business: not only was he the organiser of the 'Mai Fest', but also the proprietor of the coffee-salon in the Volksgarten! In keeping with the theme of the celebration, Corti had spared no expense in elaborately decking his premises. As the reporter for the Wiener Allgemeine Zeitung (25.05.1851) recorded: "Elegant festoons of flowers, bound together with colourful cloth, rich floral decorations offered the eye a very beautiful picture; in addition there came two excellent bands conducted by their Capellmeisters, Johann Strauss and [Josef] Liehmann, who did everything to bring the public excellence both in the selection and in the production of the pieces. For this evening Herr Strauss composed and performed a new quadrille, the 'Promenade-Quadrille', which on tempestuous demand had to be played da capo on account of its original, melodious and effective figures".

As a result of the strenuous demands imposed upon him by the 1851 Vienna Carnival, the 24-year-old Johann Strauss suffered a breakdown on the night of Shrove Tuesday – the final day of the annual celebrations. So serious was this physical and mental collapse that some newspapers had carried reports of his death. As Professor Franz Mailer has written: "Strauss had to take a rest, and even the ever constant flood of new compositions ran dry". Johann put this compulsory break to good use, and after detailed negotiations with his late father's music publisher, Carl Haslinger, agreement was reached whereby the Haslinger firm took over responsibility for the publication of all the younger Johann's compositions (commencing with the Idyllen – Walzer op. 95, Volume 24). When, in May 1851, Strauss again took up his pen to compose, he did so cautiously, and the Promenade-Quadrille remains his only new post-carnival work of that spring. This may partially explain an unusual (though not isolated) apparent labour-saving device in the opening Pantalon figure, whereby Johann employs a variation on the first melody (1A) to form the second (1B) instead of creating entirely fresh melodic material. The origins of these themes, together with those of 1C, 2A, 2B and 6A are all to be found on the same page in Johann's earliest musical sketchbook, covering the period August 1843 to the end of 1851, now in the collection of the Houghton Library of Harvard University, USA.

Krönungslieder Walzer (Coronation Songs Waltz) op. 184
The Krönungslieder – Walzer was the first of two compositions – the other being the waltz Souvenir de Nizza op. 200 – which Johann Strauss dedicated "in deepest respect to her Majesty Maria Alexandrovna, Empress of Russia". The Empress, formerly Princess Maximiliane Wilhelmine Marie of Hesse-Darmstadt (1824-80), the daughter of Grand Duke Ludwig II of Hesse, had assumed her Russian cognomen upon her marriage in 1841 to Grand Duke Alexander Nikolaievich (1818-81), eldest son of Tsar Nicholas I. Upon the latter's death on 2 March 1855, during the Crimean War, his son acceded to the throne as Tsar Alexander II. Maria Alexandrovna was to bear her husband six sons and two daughters, among them the future Tsar Alexander III.

Johann Strauss had commenced his first summer concert season at the Vauxhall Pavilion in Pavlovsk, near St. Petersburg, on 18 May 1856 (= 6 May, Russian calendar). From the outset his appearances had attracted the attention of the Russian royal family; for example, the Grand Duke Konstantin attended three of Johann's concerts while his wife, the Grand Duchess Alexandra Jossiphovna, an amateur composer, graced the audience on no less than nineteen occasions. Even Tsar Alexander II was present at two of Strauss's concerts, although there is no record of the Tsarina's attendance – at least, not according to the detailed diary of the viola-player, F.A. Zimmermann. Almost certainly, however, Maria Alexandrovna would have been much in evidence at the ball which the Tsar hosted on 8 August (= 27 July) at which Strauss and his orchestra played. Such was the Tsar's delight with Strauss's performances that, according to a report in the Wiener Theaterzeitung on 4 September 1856, the Viennese Kapellmeister was commanded by the Tsar to attend the coronation festivities in Moscow on 7 September ( = 26 August) and to conduct his orchestra at the festivities at Court and at the ball which the Austrian ambassador extraordinary, Prince Paul Esterházy, was to give for the Russian Court. Johann celebrated the coronation in two festive compositions: the Krönungs-Marsch op. 183 (Volume 12 of this series) and the waltz Krönungslieder. The latter work, into which Russian melodies are woven, received its first performance at Pavlovsk on 14 August (= 2 August), at Strauss's second benefit concert, together with the polka française L'Inconnue op. 182 (Volume 22) and was heard a total of 32 times during Johann's concerts at the Vauxhall Pavilion. In a letter written to his Viennese publisher, Carl Haslinger, on 14 September (= 2 September), Strauss drew attention to his new waltz and polka, "with which two pieces I have had great success here. Although I had little time, I had even less confidence about their successful outcome".

Johann returned to Vienna in mid-December 1856, but it was not until the following year's carnival that he introduced his home audiences to the Krönungslieder Walzer. He took the opportunity to launch its Viennese première at his benefit ball held in the Sofienbad-Saal on 16 February 1857. This novelty evening was announced as a 'Dance Battle', the ladies present being invited to vote for their favourite piece of music played by the orchestra. If Strauss had expected his new waltz to win the day, he would have been disappointed: while Krönungslieder "met with uncommon applause and had to be repeated three times" (Fremdenblatt, 18.02.1857), the vote went to his French polka Demi-Fortune op. 186 (Volume 24). The announcements for the evening erroneously gave the dedicatee of Krönungslieder as the Tsar of Russia, a mistake corrected by the Wiener Zeitung on 17 February, announcing the publication of the waltz that day by the firm of Carl Haslinger. Strauss's copyist, the viola-player Georg Kraus, had in fact completed the fair copy of the Krönungslieder score on 11 January, and from this the publisher carried out the standard process of preparing separate orchestral parts and the usual editions for piano as well as solo violin with piano accompaniment.

Bonbon-Polka Française (Bonbon Polka) op. 213
The publication in 1926 of "Johann Strauss schreibt Briefe" (Johann Strauss writes Letters) – an edited, often censored, selection of the composer's correspondence assembled by his widow Adèle in collaboration with the Strauss biographer Fritz Lange – shed light on many facets of Johann's professional and private world. Part of the collection is devoted to a little-publicised chapter in the Waltz King's life: his love affair with Olga Smirnitzkaja, the young and spirited daughter of aristocratic Russian parents, whom Strauss had met during the season of concerts he gave at Pavlovsk during summer 1858. Their relationship, which lasted until spring 1860 when Olga brought it to an end by announcing her engagement to a rival suitor, is traced in a series of letters which Johann sent his beloved. According to Fritz Lange, the transcripts of this correspondence came into Adèle's possession after Johann's death when Pauline de Swertschkoff, widow of the Russian Court artist Nikolai de Swertschkoff and the former confidante, friend, companion and chaperone of the young Olga, brought them to Vienna with her when she came to visit the Waltz King's grave. (The originals of these letters and the transcripts have since been lost). The intense and genuine attraction which Johann and Olga felt for one another was doubtless given additional momentum by the fact that Olga was not only musically educated but had also tried her hand at composition: her Romanze, "Erste Liebe" (First Love), featured in the programme of Johann's concert at Pavlovsk on 6 October 1858 (= 24 September, Russian calendar), in Strauss's orchestration.

The young Viennese musician's association with his Russian sweetheart was not, however, unopposed. In a footnote accompanying Johann's letters, Fritz Lange comments: "The disapproving attitude of Olga's parents, who minutely supervised every action of their beautiful daughter, called for great caution on the part of the lovers". Their clandestine affair was therefore conducted with the assistance of intermediaries, namely Pauline de Swertschkoff and Herr Leibrock, the latter being a St. Petersburg-based art-dealer, who acted as Johann's secretary. Ta these two intimates fell the task of depositing and collecting the love notes and tokens which Johann and Giga exchanged, and which were disguised as confectionery – "Bonbons" – in twists of paper and concealed, for the most part, in a hollow tree in Pavlovsk Park. For Johann and Olga, therefore, there was a special meaning in the choice of Bonbon for the title of the polka which Strauss wrote for his Russian audiences and first performed at Pavlovsk in 1858.

When the composer presented his Bonbon-Polka in the Volksgarten on 21 November 1858 at his first public appearance upon returning from Russia, his Viennese audience could have had no inkling as to the significance of the work's title. Johann shared the conducting with his brother Josef (who, coincidentally, had composed a Bon-Bon Polka française op. 55 earlier that same year) and also gave the first Viennese performances of his Abschied von St. Petersburg Walzer op. 210, Champagner-Polka Op. 211 (Volume 14 of this series) and Fürst Bariatinsky-Marsch op. 212 (Volume 16). In its review of the concert the Wiener Theaterzeitung (24.11.1858) noted that two or three encores of each new piece were demanded by the audience, and the critic found the Bonbon-Polka to be "elegantly and piquantly instrumented".

Spiralen Walzer (Spirals. Waltz) op. 209
Musical history abounds with examples of one composer appearing to have unconsciously 'borrowed' the melody of another. Then again there are instances where such borrowing is deliberate and obvious, designed to add effect to a particular piece of music – witness the numerous quotations from popular student songs to be found in the compositions of the Strauss family. But there is another group where the appropriation is equally deliberate, but where such blatant plagiarism is motivated solely by a desire to re-use a tune that is too good to ignore. Such was the case with a melody in Johann Strauss's Spiralen Walzer, the composition he dedicated "to the Gentlemen Engineers" of the technical authorities and railway managements on the occasion of their ball held in the Redoutensaal ballroom of the Imperial Hofburg Palace, Vienna, on 31 January 1858.

The success of the Waltz King's compositions ensured that they were swiftly taken into the repertoires of military and civilian orchestras and the smaller ensembles. One conductor whose career alternated between civilian and military life was Carl Michael Ziehrer (1843-1922), a fierce rival of the Strauss brothers and a prolific composer of dance music and operettas spanning the 19th- and 20th-centuries. Such was his prowess in Vienna's musical life that in 1908 he was appointed to the prestigious post of 'k.k. Hofball-Musikdirektor' (Director of Music for the Imperial-Royal Court Balls), an honorary title created for the elder Johann Strauss in 1846 and thereafter held exclusively by members of the Strauss family. Ziehrer was destined to be the last holder of this coveted honour.

Ziehrer was clearly no stranger to Johann's Spiralen Walzer, for the work featured from time to time in his concert programmes. However, the Strauss waltz abruptly vanishes from Ziehrer's repertoire, never to reappear, around the time that he was composing perhaps his greatest operetta success, Die Landstreicher (The Vagabonds), which received its première at the 'Venedig in Wien' summer theatre in Vienna on 20 June 1899. One does not have to look far for the reason! Amongst the hit numbers in Die Landstreicher was a waltz song in the Act 1 Finale, "Sei gepriesen, du lauschige Nacht" (Be praised, you idyllic night), which had to be encored. Naturally the melody also found its way into the orchestral waltz In lauschiger Nacht (op. 488) which Ziehrer assembled from the score of Die Landstreicher and conducted for the first time on 12 October 1899. A comparison of Ziehrer's waltz song and the opening melody (Waltz 1A) of Johann's Spiralen Walzer leaves no possible doubt as to the source of Ziehrer's tune – one which has retained its popularity to the present day. Strauss himself did not live to hear the resurrection of his Spiralen theme: he died just seventeen days before the Landstreicher première.

Johann's choice of Spiralen as the title of a waltz for the Engineers' Ball was doubly apposite. Not only was he plundering the everyday vocabulary of the profession, but the more general description of a 'spiral' as "something which pursues a winding... course or that displays a twisting form or shape" (Collins English Dictionary, 1982) suitably describes the motion of the waltzing couples on the dance floor.

Künstler-Quadrille (Artists Quadrille) op. 201
When, during the 1980s, a London orchestra of international repute unleashed upon an unsuspecting world a series of recordings in which the 'classics' were brought up to date by the addition of a heavy rhythm track, there were raised eyebrows amongst those who considered serious music a 'sacred cow', fully underserving of such modern treatment. But these dissenters overlooked historical precedent, for the practice of fashioning dance music from the score of any stage work which achieved even modest success was already customary in Mozart's day (1756-91). Joseph Lanner (1801-43) and the eider Johann Strauss (1804-49) repeatedly adopted this practice – as did the latter's sons – and in time the quadrille came to be regarded as the most suitable vehicle for presenting the music of operas, operettas and ballets in the ballroom.

For his second Künstler-Quadrille – his first (op. 71) dates from 1849 – Johann drew not only upon operatic music but also upon other contemporary pieces. The selection process was far from random; as the Blätter für Musik, Theater und Kunst (26.01.1858) noted, the quadrille provided "a backward glance at this year's concert season". The Künstler-Quadrille, "On motifs by the celebrated masters", was Strauss's dedication for the ball of the Vienna Artists' Association, 'Hesperus', held in the Sofienbad-Saal on2 February 1858. The quadrille comprises the six figures (or sections) usual in the Viennese version of the dance, and presents themes from the following works:

Pantalon       A/B                  -                     Mendelssohn: Wedding March (A Midsummer Night's Dream)
                     C                     -                     Mozart: Symphony K. 40 in G minor
Été                A                     -                     Weber: "Hüon, mein Gatte" (Oberon)
                     B/C                  -                     Chopin: Trio from Sonata No.35 (Marche funèbre)
Poule             A                     -                     Paganini: La Campanella from Violin Concerto op. 7

                     B                     -                     Meyerbeer: "Ja, das Gold ist nur Chimäre" (Robert le Diable)
                     C                     -                     Ernst: Der Carneval von Venedig op. 18
Trénis            A                     -                     Weber: "Himmel, nimm des Dankes Zähren" (Der Freischütz)
                     B                     -                     Schulhoff: Chant du berger
Pastourelle     A                     -                     Schubert: "Wenn ich durch Busch und Zweig" (Widerspruch) op. 105 No.1
                     B                     -                     Mozart: "Der Vogelfänger bin ich, ja" (Die Zauberflöte)
Finale            A                     -                     Beethoven: Marcia alla turca (Die Ruinen von Athen)

                     B                     -                     Beethoven: Piano Sonata op. 47 in A major (Andante movement)

Although the new quadrille, dedicated "to Vienna's Artists", met with approval from the guests at the 'Hesperus-Ball', it attracted adverse criticism from certain sectors, not least from L.A. Zellner in the Blätter für Musik, Theater und Kunst (12.02.1858): "Even if this musical piece left me with the particular impression of artistic blasphemy, I shall soothe my feelings with the thought that the intention must have been a harmless one, with the god of Fools [the Carnival] reigning, being allowed to do as he likes but unable to enhance or demean anything. Yet, competent voices are believed to have said that it was not at all easy to dance to the 'Künstler-Quadrille'. If the fault was not in the partly inappropriate selections of rhythmically unsuitable motifs or in the effectless instrumentation here and there, then it must certainly have been the avenging angels of the serious musical spirits who made their influence felt and interposed their invisible veto. I shall not argue if one draws the conclusion from this remark that we do not sympathise with the said composition of Herr Strauss, and we would not even do so if it had turned out better than it really did. There must be a certain limit one can go to as a joke; but beyond that limit there are the shrines which no truly artistic-minded person – and we count Herr Strauss as one of them – may approach without deep respect. Having said that, we nevertheless do not hesitate to defend the brilliant waltz composer against attacks which, even if they were meant as a joke, would unjustly hurt him".

Lust'ger Rath Polka française (Merry Councillor. French polka) op. 350
The cover of the first piano edition of Johann's French polka Lust'ger Rath presents a lithograph portrait of Albin Swoboda (1836-1901), the German-born actor and tenor who created the role of Janio, the "merry councillor", in the first Strauss operetta to reach production: Indigo und die vierzig Räuber (Indigo and the Fort y Thieves). The stage work received its première at Vienna's Theater an der Wien on 10 February 1871, a date which proved a significant day in the history of Viennese theatre. Held to ransom by Jacques Offenbach's excessive financial demands, the Austrian capital's theatre-directors desperately sought a means to break free from the seemingly matchless Frenchman's grip by establishing a competing Viennese operetta school which would present 'home grown' stage works written by native composers. They turned, naturally, to Europe's foremost dance music composer – their own Johann Strauss. With Indigo und die vierzig Räuber their faith in him proved to be fully justified, and the humorous journal Der Floh (1871, No. 7) commented: "Johann Strauss is the personification of Austria, and all of Austria is in his camp and self-consciously and with conviction approved the resounding manifestation of Austrian-ness. Future generations will tell of the glorious battle which was fought on 10 February 1871 in the Theater an der Wien, according to the strategy of the clever diplomat (the director) Maximilian Steiner". A cartoon in Der Floh depicted Strauss and Offenbach on a pair of scales, the former seated on the score of Indigo, the latter laden with a bundle of his own operettas. Offenbach is saying defensively: "Hah! What does it prove, Herr von Strauss, that you outweigh me? All the more do I remain the sole representative of pleasing light music!"

Johann, now convinced that his future lay in composition for the stage, was noticeable through his absence from Vienna's ballrooms and concert halls throughout the first half of 1871. It was thus left to his brother Eduard, who had assumed sole charge of the Strauss Orchestra upon Johann's 'defection' to the camp of the operetta composers, to conduct the first performances of the nine separate orchestral numbers which Johann had put together from melodies in Indigo. Thus it was that Eduard chose to introduce the Viennese public to the French polka Lust'ger Rath at his own benefit concert in the Volksgarten on 16 June 1871, and he used this occasion to launch a new composition of his own – the splendid waltz Fesche Geister op. 75 – a work which met with just as much applause as his brother's and which, moreover, has retained its popularity to the present day.

Lust'ger Rath derives its title and opening melody from Janio's Act 1 entrance aria, "Ein lust'ger Rath zu sein, von des Königs Gnad', ach das ist sehr fad"' (To be a merry councillor, by the grace of the King, ah that is very dull), while the second theme is drawn from "Es haust bei uns im Lande" in the Act 1 Finale. The first melody of the Trio section is to be found in the Act 3 romance "Ein Bettler zog zum Wald hinaus", although the theme which follows is nowhere traceable in the published piano score and may have been discarded during rehearsals before the final version of the operetta was determined.

In's Centrum! Walzer (Bullseye! Waltz) op. 387
On 1 July 1880 Johann Strauss signed his name to a contract of sale and purchase, whereby he bought from Frau Rosa Pacher von Theinburg an imposing and spacious country seat at Scbönau in Lower Austria. The Schönau villa, close to the Leobersdorf Southern Railway Station and situated in idyllic parkland some 30 kilometres south of Vienna, numbered among its former owners the youngest brother of Emperor Napoléon I, King Jérome of Westphalia (1784-1860). Unlike so many of the Strauss family domiciles this villa still stands today, and is presently used by a special unit of the Vienna city police. Here, as Professor Dr. Fritz Racek has written, "Strauss found the peace and inspiration necessary for his creative work", and he also cultivated his social life among a wide circle of friends. On 26 August 1880 Johann and his second wife, Lili (nee Angelika Dittrich), moved from Bad Vöslau, a small town between Baden and Leobersdorf where they had been spending the first part of their summer holiday – and where, incidentally, the widowed Adèle Strauss (née Deutsch), later to become Johann's third wife, was staying with her little daughter Alice – into the Schönau villa.

Probably before moving to Schönau, thus either in Vienna or in Bad Vöslau, Strauss completed a waltz intended for the 1st Austrian Federal Shooting Contest, to be held in the Vienna Prater between 18-25 July. The entire composition finds Strauss in the very best of spirits, and the work surely ranks amongst his most exuberant waltzes – with a surprising Introduction. And the title of the piece? What else for a shooting competition, but In's Centrum! (Bullseye!). An opening drum roll and a 'shot' from the percussion herald a solo for zither (replaced on this recording by the alternative harp and strings specified in the score), a gentle passage which foreshadows the melody of the principal waltz number. Another drum roll and 'shot' then lead unexpectedly into one of Johann's foot-tapping march tunes (later heard in three-quarter time in Waltz 2A) before a final drum roll, 'shot' and fanfare announce the splendidly spirited opening waltz number. The surprises do not stop there, for Waltz 3A even calls for a vocal contribution from the members of the orchestra: "Eins! Zwei! Drei! (Schuss). Centrum! Hurrah!" (One! Two! Three! (Gunshot). Bullseye! Hurrah!). Truly, a waltz with everything!

The première of In's Centrum! was heard during the course of a concert which the Wiener Männergesang-Verein (Vienna Men's Choral Association) gave, under the direction of Eduard Kremser, on 22 July 1880 in the Schützenhalle (Shooting Hall) in the Prater. The Programme also featured performances by the Strauss Orchestra under Johann's brother, Eduard, and it was he who conducted the first performance of the compelling new waltz, besides presenting works by himself and his two brothers, Wagner and Liszt. Eduard conducted In's Centrum! again on 9 August at another of the Wiener Männergesang-Verein's festivities, a 'Sommerliedertafel' (Summer Programme of Songs), at Karl Schwender's 'Neue Welt' entertainment establishment in the Viennese suburb of Hietzing.

Muthig Voran! Schnell-Polka (Valiantly forward! Quick polka) op. 432
Notwithstanding his position as Vienna's foremost composer of operettas in the lighter genre, a realm well suited to his gift for instantly appealing melodies, Johann Strauss yearned to flirt with a more serious Muse. In 1886, the year after the success of his operetta Der Zigeunerbaron (The Gypsy Baron), he had discussed with its librettist, Ignatz Schnitzer, the possibility of building an opera around the central figure of Napoléon Bonaparte. Although this idea remained undeveloped, Strauss and Schnitzer that same year collaborated on a comic opera entitled Der Schelm von Bergen (The Hangman of Bergen). The project was subsequently abandoned, not least because of the similarity between the stage work's main character and the peace-loving executioner in the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta The Mikado, which the touring London Savoy Opera was scheduled to present in Vienna in September 1886.

Even before work on Der Schelm von Bergen formally ceased, Strauss had (apparently surreptitiously) turned his attentions to collaborating with the young Viennese librettist Victor Léon (real name, Viktor Hirschfeld, 1858-1940) on a treatment of H.J.C. von Grimmelhausen's Der abenteuerliche Simplicissimus (1669), the greatest German novel of the 17th century. Briefly told, the story concerns the hero, an innocent child, who flees plundering troops and finds shelter with an old hermit. The recluse educates him and instructs him in religion, but since the hermit has little faith in humans, he brings the boy Simplicius up as an animal. Later, Simplicius is forced to adapt to man's evil ways when he is kidnapped by soldiers. With its background of the devastating Thirty Years' War (1618-48), the story proved too weighty for Johann's genius, and his resulting "serious operetta", entitled Simplicius, found little favour with the public following its premiere at the Theater an der Wien on 17 December 1887.

Adopting his by now usual procedure, Johann reworked many of the tunes in Simplicius into separate orchestral numbers. The score yielded up a total of six such works: a waltz, a march, a quadrille and three polkas. The unremitting quick polka Muthig voran! was the last of this sequence of pieces, and was heard for the first time in the Great Hall of the Musikverein in Vienna on 26 February 1888, conducted by the composer's brother, Eduard, at one of his regular Sunday afternoon concerts with the Strauss Orchestra. A glimpse at competing musical entertainments in the Austrian capital that same afternoon, however, reveals a second claimant for the première of Muthig voran! – the Freiherr von Reinländer Infantry Regiment No.24 rounded off their concert in the Stadtpark Cur-Salon with the new work. A close run race, since both concerts began at 5.00pm, but victory must be awarded to Eduard Strauss whose performance of the polka was programmed just after the interval.

Johann drew the melodic material for themes 1A and 1B of Muthig voran! from the Act 1 Ensemble (No. 4) and the Act 3 "Glockenlied", respectively. The first theme of the Trio section derives from the Act 2 Entrée und Chor ("D'rum sagt ich dir ade, ade o Universität!"), but nowhere in the published piano score of Simplicius is its second theme identifiable. It may well be that the source was cut from the final version of the stage work, a possibility given greater credence by a remark in a letter Strauss w rote to his friend Gustav Lewy at the time he was composing Simplicius: "Unfortunately, the score will be a good third longer than the 'Zigeunerbaron'. It is therefore necessary that even now care is taken (for example, by means of a practical collaborator) that several cuts are made wherever possible".

Programme notes 1992 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.

Czecho-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 several successful volumes to the complete compact disc Johann Strauss II and for Naxos has recorded a varied repertoire.

Johannes Wildner
Johannes Wildner was born in the Austrian resort of Mürzzuschlag in 1956 and studied violin and conducting, taking his diploma at the Vienna Musikhochschule and proceeding to a doctorate in musicology. A member of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, he has toured widely as leader of the Vienna Symphony Orchestra's Johann Strauss Ensemble and of the Vienna Mozart Academy. As a conductor he has directed the Orchestra Sinfonica dell'Emilia Romagna Arturo Toscanini, the Budapest State Opera Orchestra, the Silesian Philharmonic, the Malmö Symphony Orchestra, the Dresden Philharmonic and others. He has recorded works by Schumann, Wagner and Mozart for Naxos and is one of the main conductors in the Marco Polo Johann Strauss II complete edition. He also conducted at the Arena of Verona, the Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra, Radiosymphony-Orchestra of Munich and is musical director of the Kosice State Philharmonic Orchestra.

Close the window