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8.223227 - STRAUSS II, J.: Edition - Vol. 27
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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 appeal of his music bridged all social strata, and his genius was revered by such masters as Verdi, Brahms and Richard Strauss. The thrice-married “Waltz King” later turned his attention to the composition of operetta, and completed 16 stage works (among them. Die Fledermaus, Eine Nacht in Venedig and Der Zigeunerbaron) 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.

Künstler-Quadrille (Artists Quadrille), Op. 71

On 7 November 1849 the Viennese were able to read the following announcement in the Wiener Zeitung: “25.11.1849: Dance entertainment in the Imperial-Royal Redoutensäle for the benefit of the Artists’ Pension Association. Katharine Dance entertainment: Herr Capellmeister Johann Strauss Son will personally conduct the orchestra in the great hall and, in addition to the latest compositions, will present for the first time a quadrille written especially for this ball”.

The “Katharine-Redoute”, celebrating the Name Day of Saint Katharine in the calendar of the Roman Catholic Church, was a masked ball held annually in the Redoutensaal of the Imperial Hofburg Palace in Vienna for exponents of the visual arts, like sculptors and painters. Even a composer of the calibre of Joseph Haydn had written music for its festivities. Johann Strauss’s contribution to the 1849 ball was the Künstler-Quadrille, the first of two quadrilles he was to compose with this title paying homage to Vienna’s artists. (The second, bearing opus number 201, dates from 1858, and can be heard on Volume 25 of this Marco Polo CD series). The earlier work opens with a Stately first (‘Pantalon’) section and, perhaps reflecting the august Surroundings of the venue in which it was first played, is marked throughout its remaining five figures with a reserved charm which even pervades the “Finale”. The performance of the Künstler-Quadrille attracted no attention from the Viennese press who, at least until the dawn of the new decade, continued to devote space to paragraphs concerning Johann Strauss the Elder who had died from the effects of scarlet fever just a month before, on 25 September. The younger Johann Strauss must have been left wondering about his future, Since even after his father’s death the latter’s fame continued to cast a shadow over his own career.

In the absence of Strauss’s original, the orchestration for this present recording was made by the late Professor Ludwig Babinski.

Drollerie-Polka (Drollery Polka), Op. 231

“Strauss’s benefit takes place on Monday the 13th of this month in the Sofienbad-Saal. On this evening two large orchestras, under the direction of Johann and Josef Strauss, will strike up 50 dances uninterrupted, among them eight new compositions”. (The term “new” generally denoted a work which had already received its première, either public or private, but which was still enjoying considerable novelty status). The Fremdenblatt newspaper, which published this announcement on 7 February 1860, carried further details in its issue of 12 February. The event was now described as a “Monster Ball” entitled “Carnevals Perpetuum mobile oder Tanz ohne Ende” (Carnival’s Perpetual Motion, or Non-Stop Dancing), the Strauss brothers would each conduct an orchestra and play alternately, and the dance programme comprised 14 waltzes, 10 quadrilles, 9 polkas française, 8 polkas mazurka, 8 polkas schnell and 1 schottisch. The “new compositions” by Johann comprised the waltzes Lebenswecker (Op. 232, written for the Medical Students’ Ball on 24 January) and Sentenzen (Op. 233, written for the Law Students’ Ball on 31 January) and two polkas, Kammerball (Op. 230, written for the Court Ball in the Hofburg on 11 January) and Drollerie. Yet this apparent first appearance on a programme of the Drollerie-Polka is not accompanied by the usual qualification: “Zum 1. Male” (For the first time), and from this one infers that the polka had been given its première before the “Monster Ball”. However, from information discernible from the Viennese press alone, it was not among the clutch of dances which were played to Viennese audiences after the composer’s return from his 1859 conducting season in Pavlovsk, for example at concerts in the Volksgarten on 20 November 1859 or on New Year’s Day 1860, both of which featured works newly composed in Russia. There were few press reports from St.Petersburg covering Strauss’s visit, and none of these makes any mention of the polka. Regrettably the viola-player and diarist, F.A. Zimmermann, was not present at the 1859 Pavlovsk season to chronicle the concert programme details as he had done previously, so the solution seems to lie among the notes of the horn-player, Franz Sabay, who records that Strauss composed the polka “during the summer in St. Petersburg”. One may assume that the polka was also given its first performance in Russia and that, in the absence of firm evidence pinpointing an earlier Viennese performance, the Drollerie-Polka was played for the first time in the Austrian capital at the “Monster Ball” on 13 February 1860.

Sabay’s testimony notwithstanding, the Viennese theatrical journal, Der Zwischenakt, wrote on 6 March 1860: “This year’s carnival has placed Johann Strauss’s productivity in the most brilliant light. He composed four waltzes, Lebenswecker, Sentenzen’, ‘Accellerationen’ and ‘Immer heiterer, the ‘Kammerball’-Polka, the ‘Drollerie’-Polka française, then, in association with his brother, the ‘Monstre-Quadrille’. Each of these pieces of music contains a plethora of charming melodies, and it is difficult to say which of them is the most successful… Furthermore, the ‘Kammerball’-Polka and the ‘Drollerie’-Polka française are full of piquant freshness. These two dances are fully capable of further increasing the desire to dance”.

Aeols-Töne. Walzer (Aeolian Sounds. Waltz), Op. 68

The melody of one of the most beloved operetta choruses of all time owes its origins to an eight-bar phrase in an otherwise forgotten early waltz by the younger Johann Strauss. It was on 1 September 1928 at the Grosses Schauspielhaus in Berlin that Anni Frind (1900–1987), the Bohemian-born coloratura soprano, created the rôle of Laura in Casanova, a pastiche operetta in seven scenes by Rudolph Schanzer and Ernst Welisch, with music by Johann Strauss arranged by Ralph Benatzky. One particular number from this production, The Nuns’ Chorus and Laura’s Song, caught the public imagination and has ever since been inextricably associated with the name of Anni Frind. The melody for the haunting Nuns’ Chorus itself shows the true craft of the arranger, for Benatzky lifted the fleeting first waltz theme from Strauss’s waltz Aeols-Töne and, with the utmost finesse, crafted a moment of sheer magic to the accompaniment of the nuns chorus, “O Madonna auf uns sieh!” (Oh Madonna, look upon us!), as the sisters ask a blessing on the young novice.

Aeols-Töne belongs to the compositions of 1849, and was first conducted by Johann Strauss on 17 September that year at an evening entertainment on the Vienna Wasserglacis, honouring the octogenarian Commander-in-Chief of the Austrian army, Field-Marshal Radetzky, upon his return from the victorious 1848–49 campaign in Italy. The entertainment was scheduled to have taken place at the same venue, a favourite location of conservative Viennese, on 12 September, when it was announced as a “Grand Impressive Victory Celebration for the Benefit of the Invalid Fund for Viennese Volunteers [disabled in the Italian campaign], with Allegorical and Symbolic Representation and Exceptional Illuminations and Fireworks to Honour our Courageous Army … Herr Kapellmeister Johann Strauss Son will personally conduct the music and, in addition to his latest compositions like ‘WaldBuama’, ‘Friedens-Polka’ [and] ‘Kaiser Franz Joseph-Marsch’, will have the honour to present for the first time the new quadrille from the opera ‘Der Prophet’ by Meyerbeer and a waltz composed especially for this festival with the title ‘Aols-Töne’. The band of the 2nd Artillery Regiment, under the direction of its conductor Herr Sebastian Reinisch, will have the honour to present the latest pieces alternately with the above-mentioned [Strauss] orchestra”. In the event, inclement weather dictated a double postponement of the entertainment until 17 September. During the course of reviewing the evening, the critic of Die Geissel (19.09.1849) said: “Herr Kapellmeister Strauss Son performed a new waltz ‘Aeols-Töne’, which was considered so charmingly beautiful that it had to be repeated twice. Almost every piece by this talented young man had to be played da capo”.

The title Strauss chose for his new waltz was perfectly suited to the setting of an alfresco entertainment on a late summer’s night. In classical Greek mythology Aeolus was the King of the Winds who held sway over the Aeolian Islands, about which the Roman poet, Virgil, wrote so vividly: “Here Aeolus, within his cavern vast / Curbing the violent blasts and thundering storms / Holds them enchained. They chafe and fret the while / Against their bars, the mountains make deep moan/He sits upon his throne, with sceptred hand / Calming their fury; wherein did he fail/They would drive sea, and land, and arching sky / Whirling before them through the gusty air”.

The father of all the winds also gave his name to the Aeolian harp, an illustration of which adorns the cover of the first piano edition of Johann’s Aeols-Töne Walzer. This ancient stringed musical instrument consists of a long, narrow wooden sound box over which are stretched 10–12 strings of different thickness. As the wind plays across the strings they vibrate, producing musical sounds which Johann Strauss portrays at the end of the Introduction and in the opening waltz of Aeols-Töne, as well as in the Coda, whilst the winds of Aeolus are clearly visualised in the first part of the Introduction.

Express-Polka schnell (Express. Quick polka), Op. 311

Alongside the waltz Feen-Märchen (Op. 312, Volume 17) and the Wildfeuer, Polka française (Op. 313), the mercurial Express-Polka schnell belongs to a group of three compositions by the Waltz King which all received their first performances on the same day. The event that launched the three works was advertised as a “Novelty Concert for the benefit of Josef and Eduard Strauss, with the participation of Johann Strauss (Director of Music for the Imperial-Royal Court Balls)”, and took place in the Vienna Volksgarten on 18 November 1866. Nor were the novelties presented that afternoon restricted to Johann Strauss alone, for the event saw the premières of dances by his two brothers: Josef’s Friedenspalmen Walzer (Op. 207) and Etiquette-Polka française (Op. 208) and Eduard’s Colibri-Polka française (Op. 21). The outpouring of such aflood of artistic inspiration was a precursor to the creativity with which the Strauss brothers, especially Johann and Josef, would strew the Vienna Carnival celebrations of 1867, and further demonstrates the remarkable way in which this family of musicians determined to banish the gloom and despair which prevailed following the Danube monarchy’s defeat by the kingdom of Prussia during summer 1866.

The piano edition of Johann’s Express-Polka was issued on 18 November, the actual day of the work’s première, while Josef’s two contributions had already been published at the end of October. On 21 November 1866 a paragraph in the Fremdenblatt newspaper read: “Several novelties have appeared in C.A. Spina’s publishing house, namely: ‘Express’-Polkaby Johann Strauss, ‘Etiquette’ Polka and ‘Friedenspalmen’ by Josef Strauss. At their first performance last Sunday in the Volksgarten, the new dance pieces met with uproarious applause on the part of a numerous public”. Indeed, such was the success of this benefit concert that the Strauss brothers repeated all six new compositions at their Volksgarten concert on the following Sunday, 25 November. Moreover, Johann’s Express and Wildfeuer polkas joined Josef’s Friedenspalmen Walzer and Eduard’s Colibri-Polka on the programme of dances played at the Citizens’ Ball in Schwender’s ‘Colosseum’ on 22 January of the following year.

The Express-Polka, “which is distinguished by its piquant rhythms” (Fremdenblatt, 23.11.1866), numbers among the dance compositions of Johann Strauss which were to be given a new lease of life in the hands of a later generation of musical arrangers. In this case, balletto manes will doubtless recognise a number of the polka’s melodies from their appearance in the “Grand Gallop” (No. 12) of the Antal Dorati pastiche ballet, Graduation Ball (1940)—specifically the polka’s first and second themes (themes 1A and 1B) and the last twelve bars of its Finale.

Gruss an Wien. Polka française (Greeting to Vienna. French polka), Oр. 225

1859 marked the fifth successive year that Johann Strauss was engaged to conduct a Summer season of concerts at the Vauxhall Pavilion in Pavlovsk, near St. Petersburg – a trip made all the more attractive by the prospect of resuming his deeply passionate love affair with the talented young dilettante, Olga Smirnitskaja, whom he had met the previous year. During the five-month season Johann composed several new works for his Pavlovsk audiences. The programmes of these concerts are unfortunately not preserved – unlike those for the years 1856, 1861–65 and 1869—but following Johann’s second benefit concert on 23 July 1859 (= 11 July, Russian calendar) the St. Petersburger Zeitung of that date observed: “Herr Strauss’s personal Muse again bestows from her rich cornucopia a number of the latest gifts, a charming little group of offspring from his most recent whim which he has to create in union with a talisman or familiar spirit and breathe into life as winsome dance melodies … A further two new waltzes and three polkas, which have all had to be invented, or at the very least shaken from his sleeve, written down, instrumented etc. Who would not believe in miracles, or at the very least believe in Herr Strauss’s genius?” Did the polka française Gruss an Wien perhaps number among the three new polkas?

On 28 October 1859 sie Viennese chronicle, Der Zwischenakt, announced that Johann Strauss would return to the Austrian capital that day from Russia and would make his first public appearance on 6 November in the Volksgarten. This turned out to be incorrect, and on 17 November the same paper advised its readers that the concert would instead take place on 20 November in the Volksgarten, on which occasion Strauss would “in addition to several new compositions by foreign masters, also perform several dances composed by himself in St. Petersburg. For Sunday, the rendezvous of the fashionable world is the k.k. Volksgarten”. Well before the concert was due to begin the Volksgarten was so crowded that many people were unable to gain admission. Upon Strauss’s appearance “the darling of the public” was greeted by a storm of applause lasting for a number of minutes, and the enraptured audience demanded repeats of almost every number in the programme. The concert concluded with two works by “foreign masters”—the overture to Adam’s opera Si j’étais roi, and H.C. Lumbye’s potpourri Nebelbilder—and introduced the first Viennese performances of five new dance pieces by Johann Strauss, in the order of their playing the polka française Gruss an Wien (Op. 225), the Dinorah-Quadrille (Op. 224), Reiseabenteuer Walzer (Op. 227), Jäger-Polka française (Op. 229) and the polka-mazurka Der Kobold (Op. 226). Eugène Eiserle, the critic of Der Zwischenakt (21.11.1859), declared in his review of the Volksgarten entertainment: “These new creations of the most fertile waltz composer once more breathe that freshness of melody and that piquancy of style which have so swiftly made his earlier compositions popular”. For his art, the shrewd Carl Haslinger, Johann’s publisher, lost no opportunity and announced the publication of Gruss an Wien on the actual day of the concert.

Souvenir de Nizza. Walzer (Souvenir of Nice. Waltz), Op. 200

Best friend Haslinger! One lives only in Russia! There is money here, and because this is available life exists, nothing but life.—In spite of the bad weather which had to enjoy at each of my three benefit concerts, I still managed to … an 1,000 florins. To earn such a sum at a ballor a garden festival in Vienna belongs to the realms of impossibility. This summer my orchestra is superb. Everybody is delighted with it, I was no less happy with the pieces composed here, that is 1: Alexandrine-Polka—2. Erinnerung an Nizza, dedicated to the Empress-3. Cäcilien-Polka dedicated to the bridal couple”.

Johann Strauss wrote these lines to his Viennese publisher, Carl Haslinger, at the end of July 1857, some two and a half months after the commencement of his second summer season of concerts at the Vauxhall Pavilion in Pavlovsk near St. Petersburg. The three works mentioned in Johann’s letter, together with the dances he had composed earlier that year for the Vienna Carnival, .de up the novelty repertoire for the first half of the 1857 Russian engagement. The waltz Erinnerung an Nizza was published both in St. Beersburg and in Vienna with the amended title Souvenir de Nizza, in accordance with the vogue for the French language, and bears the composer’s dedication: “In deepest reverence to her Majesty Maria Alexandrovna, Empress of Russia etc”. Maria Alexandrovna (1824–1880), the consort of Tsar Alexander II, had been born Princess Maximiliane Wilhelmine Marie of Hesse-Darmstadt, daughter of Grand Duke Ludwig II of Hesse, and was the dedicatee of an earlier Strauss waltz, Krönungslieder Op. 184 (Volume 25 of is series), dating from Johann’s first Pavlovsk season in 1856. With regard to the choice of title, Souvenir de Nizza, however, present day Strauss research has so far failed to establish any association between Nice and either the Empress or Johann Strauss.

Not until the 1858 carnival was the waltz Souvenir de Nizza introduced to the Viennese public, when Johann unveiled it on 8 February at the Strauss Benefit Ball in the Sofienbad-Saal, an event advertised as a “Grand Ball” with an “interesting gift” from Carl Haslinger for all the ladies attending—apparently a golden hydrangea. Johann had been quite deliberately calculating in choosing to hold back the first Viennese performance of Souvenir de Nizza until his benefit evening. As the Wiener Theaterzeitung proclaimed on 6 February 1858:

“The Strauss Benefit Balls have always been amongst the most popular and most animated of the Carnival. Each time they bring so much that is amusing, and grant special pleasure both to the passionate dancer and to the passive observer, for Strauss is well known as an excellent organiser of festivals”. On the night of the Sofienbad-Saal entertainment, Johann alternated with his brother Josef in conducting the Strauss Orchestra and, as the Wiener Theaterzeitung (12.02.1858) wrote, “although only 14 dances were announced on the programme, these were augmented to thirty by means of repeats. In particular the new waltz ‘Souvenir de Nizza’, dedicated to her Majesty the Empress of Russia, had to be played six times”. The paper was also able to report that on the day after the ball, when Haslinger published Souvenir de Nizza, over 300 copies of the new work were sold. Johann’s gamble had paid off.

Despite the generally carefree atmosphere of the 1858 Vienna Carnival, Johann Strauss had found himself under attack from some quarters because of a composition he had written for the ball of the Vienna Artists’ Association, “Hesperus”, held in the Sofienbad-Saal on 2 February. The dance, the Künstler-Quadrille (Op. 201, Volume 25), was condemned by the journalist Leopold Alexander Zellner as “artistic blasphemy”, since it comprised an arrangement of music by such masters as Chopin, Mozart and Beethoven. Yet, in his article in the Blätter für Musik (12.02.1858), Zellner was guick to defend the young composer against other criticism being directed at him because of his attempts to extend the accepted boundaries of waltz composition through the introduction of such innovations as daring new harmonics. “What then is specifically the charge laid at the compositions of Strauss?”, he asked. “Nothing else but that he did not stop where one was twenty years ago… The motivation for this crime he is accused of sounds even more piquant. He is using all these topical artistic remedies to mask his disappearing inventiveness. Now, if that is the case, Herr Strauss probably composed his latest waltz, ‘Souvenir à Nizza’, a long time ago before his well of melodies dried up, as it is full of original, flowing and racy motifs”.

Spanischer Marsch (Spanish March), Op. 433

A chain of carefully wrought “characteristic marches” threads its way through the compositions of the Waltz King, Johann Strauss II. The sequence commences with an unpublished work which is regrettably lost, the Rumänischer Nationalmarsch (1848), and proceeds via highlights such as the Persischer Marsch Op. 289 (1864), the Egyptischer Marsch Op. 335 (1869) and the Russischer Marsch Op. 426 (1886) before concluding with the Spanischer Marsch. Each presents itself as a meticulously crafted musical entity designed, at least in the imagination of its composer, to capture the quintessential national character of the country it honours. However, these published marches have something else in common: each is dedicated to a monarch.

The colourful Spanischer Marsch is no exception. It was dedicated to the art-loving queen regent of Spain, María Cristina Deseada Enriqueta Felicidad Raniera de Habsburgo-Lorena (1858–1929), formerly the Austrian Archduchess Marie Christine, daughter of the Archduke Karl Ferdinand and the Archduchess Elisabeth of Austria. Born at Gross Seelowitz in Austria, Marie Christine married Alfonso XII of Spain in 1879, having met him at the court of Vienna while he was the exiled pretender to the Bourbon throne. By Alfonso she had two daughters and a son, the future Alfonso XIII. Upon her husband’s death, just before his twenty-eighth birthday, María Cristina acted as regent (1885–1902) until Alfonso XIII came of age. Her regency was marked by a wise, unselfish and tolerant government, in stark contrast to the preceding turbulent years, and after resigning the regency María Cristina devoted her life to social and charitable work. She was also a tireless champion of Viennese music in Spain, where Johann Strauss enjoyed a considerable following.

The Spanischer Marsch was composed during the summer of 1888, possibly in connection with Johann’s having been invited to conduct a series of concerts in Spain. This project, however, never came to fruition. The composer, who never willingly undertook lengthy travel unless it promised substantial artistic and financial rewards, preferred to avoid the long and tedious journey and instead sent a musical dedication to Madrid. As a keen  recipient of medals, decorations and honours in return for his dedication works, Johann doubtless hoped for just such a reward on this occasion. The Order of Maria Cristina, in fact, was not created until two years later, in 1890, but by the time of his death in 1899 Johann had accrued three Spanish decorations, one of which, the Commander Cross of the Spanish Isabella Order, resulted from the aforementioned dedication.

In Vienna, the Spanischer Marsch was played by the Strauss Orchestra for the first time on 21 October 1888, when Eduard Strauss conducted it during the opening concert of his 1888/89 season of Sunday afternoon entertainments in the Musikverein. Yet the work, which featured as the final item on the programme, was announced merely as “new”, rather than “for the first time”, thus indicating an earlier performance had taken place. Already, on 1 September 1888, the Cranz publishing house had issued the various arrangements (piano, piano duet, violin and piano, full orchestra) of Johann’s Spanischer Marsch. The work may well have received its première in Madrid, though this cannot be confirmed. It is also possible that Eduard Strauss may have conducted the first performance with the Strauss Orchestra in Berlin, where the ensemble had been giving daily concerts at the Ausstellungs-Park (Exhibition Park), near Lehrter railway station, from mid June to early August 1888. Regrettably, however, this must remain conjecture since the German press published no programmes of Eduard’s concerts, and the few reviews which did appear noted, at most, their performances of “stylish marches and alluring Viennese waltzes” (Volks-Zeitung, 12.07.1888).

Annina. Polka-Mazurka, Op. 415

Annina is the name of the young fisher-girl in Johann Strauss’s ninth operetta, Eine Nacht in Venedig (A Night in Venice), which received its ill-starred world première at Berlin’s Neues Friedrich-Wilhelmstädtisches Theater on 3 October 1883 and its hugely successful Viennese first night just six days later, on 9 October, at the Theater an der Wien. The soubrette rôle of Annina was sung in Berlin by Ottilie Collin (1863–1903), an artiste who in fact hailed from Vienna. Her talents were soon recognised by the Theater an der Wien and she appeared there in Johann Strauss’s next two operettas, creating the röles of Saffi in Der Zigeunerbaron (The Gypsy Baron, 1885) and Tilly in Simplicius (1887). For the Viennese première of Eine Nacht in Venedig the management of the Theater an der Wien secured the services of Caroline Finaly for the part of Annina. Born in Vienna in 1847, she rose swiftly from the ranks of promising newcomer to a highly esteemed member of the Theater an der Wien, creating many operetta röles including, for Carl Millöcker, that of Natalitza in Apajune, der Wassermann (1880) and Laura in Der Bettelstudent (1882), while for Johann Strauss she was the first Emilie (Cagliostro in Wien, 1875), Pulcinella (Prinz Methusalem, 1877) and Violetta (Der lustige Krieg, 1881). On 19 December 1883 Johann conducted a special performance of Eine Nacht in Venedig at the Theater an der Wien to honour Caroline Finaly who was bidding farewell to the stage and travelling to Trieste where she was to be married.

A photograph of F. Zell (real name, Camillo Walzel), one of the operetta’s two librettists, with his autograph dedication to the soprano on the night of the farewell performance, bears testimony to the regard in which this young singer was held: “To Caroline Finaly, the unequalled, unsurpassed Emilie, Natalitza, Violetta, Laura and Annina. Her always grateful, faithfully devoted Camillo Walzel, F. Zell. 19 Dec. 1883”.

The Annina Polka-Mazurka is one of the most interesting of the six dance pieces which Johann Strauss arranged from the score of Eine Nacht in Venedig, for fully half of the melodies which it presents are absent from the definitive final version of the operetta as established in Vienna. Themes 1A and 1B, comprising the main section of the polka, are to be found in Annina’s popular Act 1 entrance aria (No. 2), “Frutti di mare” (Fruits of the Sea), while the entire Trio section consists of material from the second Act Finale, a duet for Caramello and Pappacoda (“Kochlöffel war einer Weinflasche gut”) concerning “the = love of a cooking spoon for a faithless wine bottle”, which was apparently dropped after the Berlin première.

As with almost all of the separate orchestral numbers based on themes in Eine Nacht in Venedig, the Annina Polka-Mazurka was given for the first time, not by the Strauss Orchestra, but by one of the many military bands which performed regularly in Vienna. The orchestral material for these earliest performances may well have been arranged by the military bandmasters themselves from the published piano scores which were issued on 5 December 1883, and the first performances would have followed immediately as welcome harbingers of the 1884 Vienna Carnival.

Wein, Weib und Gesang! Walzer (Wine, Woman and Song! Waltz), Oр. 333

“Who loves not wine, woman and song
Remains a fool his whole life long.”

These lines (in translation), written in the mediaeval castle of Wartburg in Germany, and attributed to Martin Luther (1483–1546) during his residence there when he began his German translation of the New Testament, provided the title and part of the text for the truly magnificent choral waltz Johann Strauss wrote in 1869 for the Wiener Männergesang-Verein-Wein, Weib und Gesang. But whereas his first choral waltz, An der schönen blauen Donau (By the beautiful blue Danube) of 1867 had been more or less constructed from previously existing sketches, the new work was conceived in its entirety for male chorus is and orchestra and as was noted by the Strauss authority Professor Dr. Fritz Racek, the work “makes up for the absence of a recapitulating Coda by means of an impressive [137 bars] Introduction of almost symphonic proportions”. As with An der schönen blauen Donau, the text for the waltz came from the pen of the association’s house poet, Joseph Weyl (1821–95).

Wein, Weib und Gesang!—a particular favourite with Richard Wagner—was given its first performance by the Wiener Männergesang-Verein at their carnival-time “Narrenabend” (Fools’ Evening) held in the Dianabad-Saal, Vienna, on 2 February 1869. The Strauss Orchestra provided the accompaniment, and although the composer did not conduct the première of his new waltz, he was present among the audience, dressed as a pilgrim, while the members of the chorus were attired as negro slaves! Such was the enormous success of the première that Strauss was called for after the Introduction and each successive waltz section, whereupon he mounted the rostrum and “blessed” his admiring public. The new waltz was dedicated “in friendship to Johann Ritter von Herbeck (1831–77), Imperial Royal Court Conductor”, who had served the Association as chorus-master from 1856 to 1866 and who had recently been decorated with the Knight’s Cross of the Order of Emperor Franz Josef, but this carnival performance was conducted by Herbeck’s successor as chorus master, Rudolf Weinwurm. Wein, Weib und Gesang! met with unanimous praise from the press, the general view being summarised by the Vorstadt-Zeitung (4.02.1869) which felt it “belongs to the best that the composer has written for a long time”. In similar vein, the Neues Wiener Tagblatt (4.02.1869) opined: “The waltz will make its way in life and will become just as popular as the piece ‘An der schönen blauen Donau’.

The Introduction is a little musical masterwork… That the waltz had to be repeated by demand goes without saying”.

As a purely orchestral number, the waltz Wein, Weib und Gesang! appeared for the first time on the programme of a “Grand Promenade Concert” given on 16 March 1869 by the Strauss Orchestra under the joint direction of Johann, Josef and Eduard Strauss in Pest, where the three brothers had travelled for two concert engagements at the Redoutensaal. Not until Easter Monday, 29 March, did Vienna hear the orchestral version of Wein, Weib und Gesang! This performance, a “Promenade Concert given by Josef and Eduard Strauss in aid of the Home for the Blind and the City Crèche, with the participation of Johann Strauss”, took place in the decorative Blumen-Säle der Wiener Gartenbaugesellschaft (Floral Halls of the Vienna Horticultural Society), and marked the penultimate appearance of Johann and Josef Strauss before they departed for their summer season of concerts in Russia. Before long the delights of Wein, Weib und Gesang! were gaining it admirers elsewhere in Europe and beyond, and on 20 July 1869 the first American performance took place in New York with Theodore Thomas conducting his own orchestra, an ensemble which later became the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

Thirty years later, much of the melodic material in the waltz Wein, Weib und Gesang! was given afresh vocal treatment for the posthumous Johann Strauss operetta Wiener Blut (Vienna Blood, 1899), as may be heard in the Act 2 Finale (themes 2a, 2b, 3b, 3a and 4b). Later, in Act 3, themes 1a and 1b appear in the sextet “Stoss an! Stoss an! Du Liebchen mein”, and theme 4a is sung in polka-time to the words “Schlau und fein! Schlau und fein!” by the Countess and Franzi in their Act 3 duet. Sans-Souci-Quadrille (Carefree Quadrille), Op. 63. On the face of it, the Sans-Souci-Quadrille would appear to have been written for a ball or concert given at A.K. Wolfsberger’s “Sans-Souci” (Carefree) coffee establishment in the village of Hinterbrühl near the 10th-century town of Mödling, situated a few kilometers south-west of Vienna. At the time of the quadrille’s composition, probably during early 1849, Johann and his orchestra had few engagements outside the various festivals and Sunday afternoon concerts organised by Ferdinand Dommayer at his elegant Casino in the suburb of Hietzing. As a result, the young Kapellmeister found himself forced to borrow money and to seek business for himself and the Strauss Orchestra in the countryside beyond Vienna. In spite of extensive research, however, it has not proved possible either to confirm any performance taking place in the ‘Sans-Souci’ in Hinterbrühl or the reason for commemorating the coffee establishment in the title of Johann’s quadrille. The première of the Sans-Souci-Quadrille passed unnoticed by the Viennese press, whose attention at that time was focused more on the elder Johann Strauss’s concert tour of Germany.

An alternative, if as yet unproven, theory regarding a possible impetus for the writing of the Sans-Souci-Quadrille has recently been advanced by Norbert Rubey of the Vienna Institute for Strauss Research. Publication of the piano edition of Strauss’s Sans-Souci-Quadrille was announced on 10 June 1849 in the Wanderer, which called the work “original”. On 16 June the Wiener Allgemeine Theaterzeitung carried a review of new dances by the composer appearing from the publisher Pietro Mechetti. Inter alia the text read: “One only has to read through the titles once more, and one will feel that they contain things which are so appropriate for the present times. We are in favour of the ‘Einheitsklänge’ [Sounds of Unity—Johann’s waltz Op. 62 of this name], the ‘Sanssouci’ [Freedom from Care] then follows of its own accord”. Having called this reference to notice, Rubey seeks to establish a link between the quadrille’s title and the Sanssouci Palace and Park in Potsdam, at that time the seat of government of the Kings of Prussia. He draws attention to the musical character of the composition “which, rhythmically and melodically, recalls Prussian march music in every section. This can be heard particularly in the Pantalon [Section 1], Poule [Section 3] and Finale [Section 6]”. Rubey then turns his attention to the political scene: on 28 March 1849 the Frankfurt national parliament chose Friedrich Wilhelm IV (1795–1861), king of Prussia, to be Kaiser (Emperor) of a united Germany, Crucially, Austria was to be excluded from the new empire and, on 3 April 1849, Friedrich Wilhelm turned down the office of Kaiser, stating that he might have accepted the crown had it been freely offered to him by the German princes, but that he would never stoop “to pick up a crown out of the gutter”. Friedrich Wilhelm’s refusal was the coup de grâce for the parliament and to all hope for the immediate creation of a united Germany. Perhaps, Norbert Rubey surmises, it was the political focus at this time on events at Frankfurt and, more especially, Potsdam which prompted Johann Strauss to create the Sans-Souci-Quadrille. He concludes: “Strauss could thus be sure that he would not offend the politics of Austria with a ‘Prussian composition’. Moreover it could not harm prospects of future tours with his orchestra to create musical links with Prussia”.

We may never know Johann’s precise impetus for writing the Sans-Souci-Quadrille, but this cannot detract from the delights revealed in this melodic dance composition. In the absence of Strauss’s original, the orchestration for this present recording was made by the late Professor Ludwig Babinski.

Durch’s Telephon. Polka (Over the Telephone. Polka), Op. 439

A most interesting item went under the hammer at an auction in London on Wednesday 16 April 1975. Lot 194 of Sotheby & Co’s sale of Music, Musical Manuscripts and Autograph Letters’ comprised the autograph full score of a polka by Johann Strauss II, consisting of “9 pages, folio, 19 filled Staves to a full page, bound in red plush, inlaid on the upper cover is a sheet of music paper with a musical quotation, 4 bars, melodic line only, in Johann Strauss’s hand and the following autograph inscription beneath [translation]: “To my dear highly esteemed friend Johann Batka with heartiest greetings for Christmas ’90. Johann Strauss”. The composition itself merely bore the title: Polka in G, though it proved to be Strauss’s Op. 439, Durch’s Telephon. The manuscript was acquired for the Anglo-Austrian Music Society, its present owners, and given what was announced as its British première on 28 February 1976 in the Royal Festival Hall by the London Symphony Orchestra under Henry Krips. By the simple expedient of adding sleighbells for this performance, Strauss’s Polka in G / Durch’s Telephon was transformed into the Christmas Polka.

The art-loving Johann Batka (1845–1917), who functioned in Bratislava, the present capital of Slovakia. both as government official and State Archivist, was in regular contact with many of the leading musical names in Vienna, among them Franz Liszt, Anton Rubinstein, Hans Richter and Johann Strauss. Strauss valued Batka’s opinion as a critic, conferred with him about libretti and endeavoured to utilise Batka’s influence also at the Pressburger (= Bratislava) Theater. Batka was highly regarded in Bratislava, and in the State Archive there is even today a special Batka section. It was therefore entirely natural that Strauss should wish to present a personal gift to his friend and colleague, and what better time than at Christmas? The polka Durch’s Telephon was, in fact, composed by Strauss as his dedication for the ball of the ‘Concordia’, the Vienna Authors’ and Journalists’ Association, held in the Sofienbad-Saal on 10 February 1890. Among the other dances composed for the occasion were Eduard Strauss’s Phonograph, Polka française Op. 264, Carl Zeller’s Fliegende Federn (Flying Quills) Polka-Mazur, Karl Komzak Son’s “Sub Rosa”, Polka-Mazur Op. 172 and C. M. Ziehrer’s Sensations-Nachricht! (Sensational News!) Polka schnell Op. 418. The titles of all these works were appropriately chosen for the ‘Concordia’, but particularly apt was Johann’s Durch’s Telephon—referring to the fact that, in a fast-moving technological age, journalists could now pass their ‘scoops’ through to the newsdesks over the telephone, rather than resorting to the telegraph or the laborious typewriter.

The world’s first press report by telephone was, in fact, filed from the Essex Institute in Salem on 12 February 1877 by the reporter for the Boston Globe: it concerned a lecture by Alexander Graham Bell, the Scottish ‘father’ of the telephone who, on 9 March 1876, patented the first telephone capable of transmitting sustained articulate speech. In truth, the first telephone to be demonstrated publicly had been built in Germany by a teacher, Johann Philipp Reis, in 1860, but this seems to have been capable of only spasmodic transmission of articulate speech. In 1877 the invention of the carbon microphone by the English-born David Edward Hughes, further established the fundamentals of telephone technology. At the International Electrical Exhibition in the Rotunde on the Vienna Prater in 1883 a telephone link was set up connecting the exhibition quarters to the Court Opera. The speed with which the new advance in communication became a symbol of everyday life was demonstrated as early as 19 May 1888, by the erection of a statue—the ‘Muse of the Telephone’—on the gable-end of the Federal Post Office building in Lucerne, Switzerland.

The first public performance of the Durch’s Telephon-Polka was heard in the Vienna Musikverein on 23 February 1890, when the Strauss Orchestra played it under the composer’s brother, Eduard. The Fremdenblatt (22.02.1890) wrote of the “fresh and melodious” work that “one will hear it frequently, and will always be gladdened by it”.

The concert, one of Eduard’s regular series of Sunday afternoon entertainments in the Musikverein, presented the traditional “Carnival Revue” of all the new dances which the Strauss brothers had written for the current year’s carnival celebrations. Besides Durch’s Telephon, other pieces receiving their public premières were Johann’s waltz Rathaus-Ball-Tänze (Op. 438, Volume 18) and five numbers by Eduard: an unpublished Mikado-Quadrille, his waltz Tanz-Candidaten (Op. 293) and the polkas Phonograph, Dastanzende Wien (Op.265) and the unpublished G’hupft wie g’sprungen.

Frühlingsstimmen. Walzer (Voices of Spring, Waltz), Op. 410

In the winter of 1882 / 83 Johann Strauss was invited to compose a vocal waltz for the Heidelberg-born coloratura soprano, Bianca Bianchi (1855–1947)—real name, Bertha Schwarz—who was at that time an acclaimed member of the Wiener Hofoperntheater (Vienna Court Opera Theatre). The waltz was to be given its first performance on 1 March 1883 at a grand matinée charity performance at the Theater an der Wien in aid of the [Emperor Franz Joseph and [Empress] Elisabeth Foundation for Indigent Austro-Hungarian Subjects in Leipzig. Strauss, after his success with choral waltzes, was excited by the challenge of writing a waltz for solo voice. The librettist, Richard Genée, with whom the composer was at that time collaborating on the operetta Eine Nacht in Venedig (1883), signified his willingness to provide the text to the waltz. In the event he was responsible also for the vocal setting of the new work.

Late autumn 1882 saw Johann Strauss in Budapest, Vienna’s sister city on the River Danube, for the first performance there of his operetta Der lustige Krieg (The Merry War,1881). He was accompanied for the first time by Adèle Strauss (née Deutsch), a young widow who was to become his third wife. According to contemporary reports, it was at one of the private soirées given in his honour during this visit that Johann gave an impromptu concert and played piano duets with another of the guests, Franz Liszt. The two men had known each other well for more than thirty years (Strauss had dedicated his waltz Abschieds-Rufe Op. 179 to Liszt in January 1856) and had met on a number of occasions. It seems highly probable that it was this visit which provided the impetus for writing the waltz Frühlingsstimmen, a work which is by no means a typical ‘Violin waltz’ but rather a waltz for the piano. The following February Strauss returned to Budapest to conduct another performance of Der lustige Krieg and, on 4 February, met Liszt again when the two men were among the guests at a soirée hosted by the Hungarian writer Gustav Tarnoczy. The Fremdenblatt (7.02.1883) was one of several Viennese newspapers which carried a report, reprinted from the Hungarian press, of the improvised concert which took place on this evening. The entertainment began with Weber’s Jubel Overture, played as a piano duet by Liszt and the lady of the house. “Strauss turned the pages. After this Strauss sat down at the piano and played his latest, as yet unpublished, compositions. [Another report refers specifically to the “Bianchi-Walzer”] After the concert there was a whist party, at which Liszt and Strauss sat opposite Messrs Moriz Wahlmann and Ignaz Brüll; as always, here also luck smiled on the Piano King (= Liszt). The soirée ended with dancing, for the commencement of which Strauss himself gave the signal by sitting at the piano and playing several of his waltzes. After that a gypsy band played until four o’clock in the morning”.

Johann was justifiably pleased with his Frühlingsstimmen Walzer and in February he notified interested parties of its publication by Cranz. He even sent a copy to a member of the Austrian Imperial Household, the Archduke Wilhelm Franz Karl who, on 17 February, replied to “Dear Strauss!”, thanking him for his “exquisitely successful concert waltz”. He continued: “Yesterday evening I couldn’t get enough of playing these capitivating melodies and had to begin again and again dacapo. Please number among the most ardent and oldest adherents of your musical creations your grateful Archduke Wilhelm”. Johann Strauss himself conducted the theatre orchestra at the première of Frühlingsstimmen on 1 March in the Theater an der Wien, and the performance was so well received by the audience that Bianca Bianchi had to repeat it immediately. The Neue Freie Presse (2.03.1883) highlighted Bianchi’s “brilliant virtuosity” and said of the new work: “The composition, an almost uninterrupted sequence of coloratura, staccati and trills, is less a dance than a concert piece, which the coloratura singers of all languages will immediately take into their repertoire”. Other critics were considerably less enthusiastic: the Fremdenblatt found it “too French”, Die Presse deemed it “too trifling”, and Die Wacht an der Donau dismissed the new work as “the most mediocre, too profusely coloratura, not very melodious spring waltz”. Bianchi, on the other hand, recognised the true value of Frühlingsstimmen and sang it just eight days later as an interpolated number in Delibes’s opera, Le Roi l’adit, at the Vienna Court Opera. Later she also performed it there as an additional number in Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia. Thus Frühlingsstimmen became the first of Johann Strauss’s own works to be heard at the Wiener Hofoper—not counting a performance on 11 December 1879 of his arrangement of musical reminiscences, entitled Alt-und Neu-Wien, which begins with a Haydn symphony!

In its purely orchestral version the Frühlingsstimmen Walzer was played for the first time on 18 March 1883 when the composer’s brother, Eduard Strauss, conducted it with the Strauss Orchestra at one of his regular Sunday afternoon concerts in the Goldene Saal (Golden Hall) of the Musikverein building in Vienna. This première also met with great success and the waltz had to be encored. A later Cranz edition of Frühlingsstimmen bears Johann’s dedication to his close friend, the pianist Alfred Grünfeld (1852–1924), whom the playwright and dramatic adviser Paul Lindau considered “the greatest master in presenting Strauss’s music, possessed of everything that is required for it: that velvety touch, the phenomenal technique, the wonderfully fiery rhythm and the spirited temperament of an Austrian”. Strauss, in all modesty, said of Grünfeld’s playing of the work: “The waltz really isn’t as beautiful as you play it”. (Grünfeld’s performance of the waltz, incidentally, is preserved for posterity on a Welte-Mignon piano roll). The popularity of Johann’s Frühlingsstimmen was further spread across Vienna by the various military bands and also through the artistic whistling of Baron Jean’, who performed it at concerts of the Celebrated Schrammel Quartet.

The performance recorded here is for orchestra alone.

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. 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.)

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