|About this Recording
8.223229 - STRAUSS II, J.: Edition - Vol. 29
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.
Brünner-Nationalgarde-Marsch (Brno National Guard March) op. 58
The unexpected death of the Viennese composer/conductor Joseph Lanner at the age of forty-two on 14 April 1843 created a vacancy for the position of Kapellmeister (Bandmaster) of the 2nd Vienna Citizens' Regiment. Since 1832 the post of Kapellmeister of the 1st Vienna Citizens' Regiment had been entrusted to the hands of Lanner's former friend and later rival, Johann Strauss I (1804-49), father of the future 'Waltz King'. Lanner's former incumbency was to remain unfilled for more than two years, until an announcement appeared in Der Wanderer on 12 November 1845 naming Johann Strauss Son as Lanner's successor. The conferral of this honour upon the 20-year-old musician reflected the high regard which official circles had for his talents, and was all the more remarkable since it came little more than a year after he had made his professional debut with his orchestra.
With the Revolutionary events of 1848 the Citizens' Regiments were disbanded and in their place appeared the National Guard. Returning to Vienna in May 1848 after a lengthy concert tour to the Balkans, the younger Johann accepted the position of Kapellmeister of the National Guard in the Leopoldstadt suburb of the city. On 30 July 1848 a deputation from the Brno National Guard arrived in Vienna on a four day visit as guests of the Vienna National Guard. Johann Strauss Father welcomed the visitors with his Brünner-National-Garde-Marsch op. 231. Vienna and Brno (the capital of Moravia) had long enjoyed a close association, and the establishment of the connecting railway link between them served only to heighten friendly relations between the two cities. The success of this visit led to a reciprocal trip, as the Wiener Allgemeine Theaterzeitung announced on 10 August 1848: "A grand festival will be celebrated in Brno on 15 August, at which several thousand Viennese National Guardists want to appear. Johann Strauss Son and his entire band of musicians will also be engaged at this festival". It was for this occasion that the younger Johann composed his own Brünner-Nationalgarde-Marsch. According to a handwritten note on performing material of the march in the Pfleger musical archive of the Wiener Stadt- und Landesbibliothek, the work was written as a commission from a citizen of Brno and was first performed in an arrangement for brass. Strauss's publisher, H.F. Müller, issued no orchestral parts for the march and it is not known whether an instrumentation was made for the usual composition of the Strauss Orchestra. As with the printed editions of Johann's other works (opp. 52, 54-57 and 60) written during the Revolutionary period, that of the Brünner-Nationalgarde-Marsch is said to have been confiscated by the police upon its publication.
This present recording utilises an orchestral score of the march found in a library in Brno and prepared by the military bandmaster Arthur Max Schweiger.
Orakel-Sprüche. Walzer (Oracular Decrees. Waltz) op. 90
The younger Johann Strauss inherited from his father not only his gift for melody but also a love of spectacle, and this showed itself repeatedly at the many scenic festivals he organised for the Viennese public. These impressive entertainments boasted names like 'Ball in Vesuvius' (1850) and 'The Journey into the Lake of Fire' (1851) and for them Strauss would, of course, provide a new dance composition which generally encapsulated the theme of the evening in its title. On 9 February 1851 the Wiener Allgemeine Theaterzeitung carried an announcement for one such event:
"Johann Strauss will give his benefit ball on Monday 10 February 1851 in the Sofienbadsaal under the title 'The Delphic Oracle'. Everything will be done at this ball to ensure pleasure and cheerfulness. The genies of Fasching [=Carnival] will throw out of the door the bad-tempered old one, known as 'Zeitgeist' [Spirit of the Age], which is causing us so much vexation in political life; no one will call this an excess: complete freedom will reign in dancing, equality will reign in our good spirits and brotherliness in our social life. Three ladies will receive prizes from a lottery, consisting of 1. an elegant velvet album, in which the latest waltz, 'Orakel-Sprüche', is written down in his own hand by the composer as a souvenir, 2. a lady's ball fan, 3. flower vase with a genuine bouquet of camelias. Without doubt Vienna's beauties and the dance-loving Viennese will not fail to be present at this ball festival".
Strauss's 'Delphic Oracle' benefit, which attracted a large crowd, had been planned well in advance, the Wiener Zeitung announcing the event as early as New Year's Day 1851. The waltz Orakel-Sprüche evidently came into being during the winter of 1850/51. Interestingly, its themes 1A, 4B and 5A all appear on the same page of Strauss's earliest known sketchbook (now housed in The Houghton Library of Harvard University) in which he jotted down musical ideas as they occurred to him for possible future use. As for the choice of waltz title itself, Johann apparently had a change of mind shortly after the Wiener Allgemeine Theaterzeitung published a laudatory article about him in its edition of 19 January 1851. One of its paragraphs read: "The benefit of the conductor will take place this Fasching in the Sofienbadsaal. It carries the title 'The Delphic Oracle'. It will be patronised by the dance-loving youthful world, for the beneficiary will perform his latest and most popular compositions, in addition a very special waltz 'Wiener allgemeine Vergnugungswalzer' [Viennese General Entertainment Waltz]". Orakel-Sprüche was patently a more fitting name for the occasion, and it was under this title that it was subsequently advertised and first performed, and then issued in late summer 1851 by Pietro Mechetti's publishing house. The lithograph title page adorning the first piano edition of the work portrays the ancient shrine of Apollo at Delphi, where the ancient Greeks would seek guidance from the Pythian priestess in the form of authoritative, though often ambiguous, oracles purporting to have come from the god Apollo.
Une Bagatelle. Polka-Mazur (A Bagatelle. Polka-mazurka) op. 187
With the close of the 1857 Vienna Carnival the Wiener Allgemeine Theaterzeitung (25.02.1857) published an account of Johann Strauss's benefit ball two days earlier at the 'Sperl' - the last ball at which the composer would conduct prior to departing for his summer concert season in Russia. The review reads in part: "Johann Strauss's productivity for this carnival has been uncommonly fruitful, as he has provided no fewer than seven new dance compositions. The fiery 'Paroxysmen' [op. 189], the fanciful 'Controversen' [op. 191], the richly tuneful 'Phänomene' [op. 193] and the ländler 'Wien, mein Sinn' [op. 192], which was played for the first time the day before yesterday, also the brilliant 'Demi-Fortune' Polka française [op. 186], the enticing 'Herzl-Polka' [sic! op. 188], the gracious 'Berceuse-Quadrille' [op. 194] and the enchanting 'Bagatelle'-Polka Mazur [op. 187] are the fruits of seven weeks of activity. Each of these compositions is worthy of comparison with the best dances of Father Strauss and Father Lanner, and exceeds by way of rich and singable melodies all that appears at present in this genre. The Muses seem to have specially favoured Strauss and have given him a huge cornucopia of fantasy, for he creates melody after melody with fabulous ease".
The polka-mazurka Une Bagatelle was written for the Vienna Artists' and Writers' Association, 'Aurora' (forerunner of the 'Hesperus' Artists' Association) and was first performed by the Strauss Orchestra under Johann's direction at the' Aurora' ball in the 'Sperl' dance hall on 11 February 1857. Immediately before the ball itself, given for Vienna's writers, composers, painters and actors, those present at the Sperl had been entertained by the Carnival Theatre of the Aurora, who presented a tragedy, Der neue Samson, and an heroic romantic opera entitled Die schwarze Lacke. It is clear from an announcement in Die Presse on 1 February 1857 that Strauss had originally intended his contribution to the 'Auroraball' to be a French polka, to which he had given the title Tanzrecht (Dance Privilege). In the event, and for reasons which are unclear, the composer preferred to unveil Une Bagatelle at the festivity, and its date of first performance is further confirmed by entries in the diaries of both Josef Strauss and the horn-player Franz Sabay. The promised Tanzrecht-Polka française did not appear, and no work by this name is to be found in the Strauss family's catalogue of published works.
Une Bagatelle was amongst those carnival novelties which Johann Strauss took with him to Russia later that year to beguile his audiences at Pavlovsk, introducing it at his opening concert on 14 May 1857 (= 2 May, Russian calendar). Indeed, the polka seems to have enjoyed greater popularity there than in his native city: reporting on the "extraordinary sensation" created by Strauss's performances in Russia with his newly organised orchestra, comprising mainly north German musicians, the Wiener Allgemeine Theaterzeitung (27.06.1857) remarked: "Of his compositions especially the waltzes 'Controversen' [and] 'Juristenball-Tanze' [op. 177], the polka 'Etwas Kleines' [op. 190] and the 'Bagatelle-Polka Mazur' have swiftly become favourite pieces with the residents on the Newa". Johann himself endorsed this view in a letter written during May of that year to Carl Haslinger, his publisher in Vienna: "I am very happy with our reception by the Russian audiences... Controversen and Une Bagatelle also go down better than any other waltz or polka-mazurka, as a result my recent pieces which were played in the first concert, such as: Etwas Kleines, Une Bagatelle, Controversen (I did not yet want to play any of the other new compositions) once again allowed me to achieve a wonderful success".
While Une Bagatelle has failed to hold its place in the standard Viennese concert repertoire, its themes may be familiar to ballettomanes through their inclusion in the score of Antal Dorati's pastiche ballet, Graduation Ball (1940), where the polka forms part of the 'Mazurka' dance (No. 11 ).
Volkssänger. Walzer im Ländler-style
(Folk Singers. Waltz in Landler style) op. 119
Johann Strauss showed his musical versatility to great effect with the compositions he presented in the summer of 1852. The Sachsen-Kürassier-Marsch (op. 113, Volume 33 of this CD series) and the Wiener Jubel-Gruss-Marsch (op. 115, Volume 32), both prompted by events at the Imperial court, contrasted starkly with works like the graceful Annen-Polka (op. 117, Volume 9) and the waltzes Liebes-Lieder (op. 114, Volume 3) and Lockvögel (op. 118, Volume 24) which brim over with Viennese 'Gemütlichkeit' - a term which defies adequate translation into the English tongue, yet which evokes 'old world' feelings of cosiness and geniality. To this latter category belongs another of Johann's compositions for 1852: the waltz in Landler style, Volkssänger. The title pays homage to those itinerant singers of popular songs, both male and female - the label 'folk singers', though an accurate translation from the German, can regrettably prove restrictive in the images it conjures up in the late 20th century - who travelled the length and breadth of the country with their repertoire consisting not only of genuine 'Wienerlieder' (Viennese popular songs of the day) but also songs based on contemporary dance melodies to which the street-singers added texts. (See note on Wien, mein Sinn! Walzer op. 192, Volume 23). In this way singers like Anna Ulke, Johann Fürst and Johann Baptist Moser helped to spread and popularise the melodies of Vienna's dance music composers.
Over the years the annual parish festival celebrations in the Viennese suburb of Hernals were marked by the members of the Strauss family with a succession of new dances, including Johann I's waltzes Die Landjunker (op. 182) and Ländlich, sittlich! (op. 198), Johann II's Vöslauer-Polka (op. 100, Volume 14) and waltz Nachtfalter (op. 157, Volume 5) and Josef's waltz début Die Ersten und Letzten (op. 1). All of these works were given their first performance at Unger's Casino, whose owner traditionally organised a grand ball to celebrate the parish festival. Thus it was for the ball arranged by Franz Unger in his Casino on 30 August 1852 that Johann wrote the waltz Volkssänger, which he conducted with the Strauss Orchestra. Unger's establishment boasted a huge and delightful garden, as well as a dance hall, and both were tightly packed for the evening's entertainment which lasted until 3 o'clock the next morning. Johann must have been more than satisfied by the review of his new waltz which appeared in the Wiener Theaterzeitung on 1 September 1852: "This, his latest composition, is exquisitely in keeping with its title. There are genuine, vigorous tunes, songs of the people, charming, piquant themes, brilliantly instrumented and surpassing his earlier compositions not only in melody but also in effect. Given this excellence, it is understandable that Strauss had to repeat his waltz five times to tempestuous applause. It becomes ever more apparent that this tirelessly energetic maestro has no rivalry to fear. He enjoys the universal goodwill of the public".
The waltz Volkssänger was to retain its popularity, and among its adherents was the conductor Hans von Bülow (1830-94). On 2 June 1889, some thirty-seven years after its composition, he wrote to Johannes Brahms in connection with his engagement at the Hamburg Exhibition: "I have set up the programme according to local conditions. Just German names, nothing particularly heavy or wintery - every day a larger or smaller piece by you and Mendelssohn - also a sinfonietta by the Hamburg [C.P.E.] Bach; however, for the highlight of the old building two old waltzes by the young Strauss: Volkssänger and Phönixschwingen". Von Bülow was, in fact, the dedicatee of Phönix-Schwingen op. 125 (Volume 1 of this CD series), written in 1853, in which year Strauss also performed the march from von Bülow's incidental music to Julius Caesar - one of several compositions by von Bülow which he was to take into the repertoire of the Strauss Orchestra.
Hellenen-Polka (Hellenes Polka) op. 203
During the very brief duration of the 1858 Vienna Carnival Johann Strauss's whirlwind round of conducting activities, as in previous years, encompassed both public and private ball festivities. Immediately following the close of that year's Fasching (= carnival) celebrations, a most revealing article appeared in the Wiener Allgemeine Theaterzeitung on 17 February. This read, in part: "In several newspapers Strauss has been accused of appearing at the head of the orchestra for only a short time at the so-called 'public balls'. If, in this short carnival season, Strauss, like the other Kapellmeisters, had only one ball to conduct each evening, such behaviour towards the public would deserve a strict reproach; but Strauss had to put together five or six orchestras nearly every evening [and] almost daily there was a ball in the apartments of the Imperial family or in the highest-ranking aristocratic circles. If, therefore, Strauss used the intervals between these ball festivities to fulfil his obligations to the general public, and - even though only for a short time - conducted that orchestra, this merely demonstrates the regard in which he holds the public. But in no way, as the gossips love to assert, does it show disdain".
Amongst the festivities for "the highest-ranking aristocratic circles" at which Johann was engaged to conduct the dance music was a 'Greek Ball', a house ball held at the Palais Sina. This residence was the home of the Greek Ambassador in Vienna, Baron Simon Georg Sina of Hodos and Kizdiá (1810-76), and for the event Johann composed his aptly-entitled Hellenen-Polka. The work was dedicated to Baroness Marie Sina of Hodos and Kizdiá, whose identity remains something of a mystery since none of the ladies in the Sina household bore this name. The wealthy Baron Sina - whose family hailed not from Greece but from the Turkish province of Bosnia, and was Greek only in its religion, was married to Iphigenie, née Ghika de San Salva, who bore him four daughters: Anastasia, Irene, Iphigenia and Helena, while his mother was called Irma. In the absence of more positive identification, one may postulate that Baroness Iphigenie was also known as Marie.
The Greek Ball must have taken place either during January or in the first days of February 1858, for in its announcement of the programme for a Strauss benefit ball to be held in the Sofienbad-Saal on 8 February under the curious title "Carnival's Hope for the Golden Hydrangea", this first mention of the ebullient Helenen-Polka [sic!] is merely listed amongst "the new compositions of Johann Strauss". Only when the polka was announced again on the programme of another Strauss benefit, this time a "Grand Ball entitled 'Carnival's End of the World in the Sperl"', to be held in the Sperl dance hall on 15 February 1858, is the dance piece identified as having been written for the 'Greek Ball'. The correct spelling, and thus the origins, of the Hellenen-Polka escaped Vienna's pressmen until publication of the sheet music on 9 April 1858: until then the incorrect spelling, Helenen-Polka, was unanimously adopted. The error was perhaps understandable because of Baron Sina's daughter Helena (in German, Helene); indeed, Josef Strauss was later to dedicate to her his own Helenen-Walzer op. 197 (1866). It is of passing interest to note that in 1862 Helena married Prince Gregor Ypsilanti, who assumed the rôle of Greek Ambassador to Vienna in succession to his father-in-law, and that she died in 1893 after her husband had squandered the colossal fortune which she had inherited.
Whilst the Hellenen-Polka is seldom performed nowadays, one of its melodies may be familiar to listeners through its appearance in the score of Oskar Stalla's pastiche operetta, Die Tänzerin Fanny Eissler (The Dancer Fanny Eissler, 1934), based on the music of Johann Strauss II. The Act 1 Finale (No. 6), set in the palace of Prince Esterházy in Eisenstadt, features a chorus number with the text "Ist ein Tropfen rein und echt", the melody for which is provided by the first theme (2A) of the Trio section of the Hellenen-Polka.
Waldmeister-Quadrille (Woodruff Quadrille) op. 468
The tuneful Waldmeister-Quadrille, recorded here in an arrangement by L. Kuhn, presents an excellent example of the melodic riches which undeservedly lie neglected in the lesser-known operettas of Johann Strauss II. The dance was one of six separate orchestral numbers which the composer fashioned from themes in his fifteenth stage work, Waldmeister (Woodruff), which had its première at Vienna's Theater an der Wien on 4 December 1895. Even the austere music critic of the Neue Freie Presse (6.12.1895), Dr. Eduard Hanslick, confessed that "the performance of 'Waldmeister' belongs to the best of the Theater an der Wien... It was not merely creditable, but magnificent. Maestro Strauss can be perfectly satisfied with the evening. We were as well". Waldmeister was presented a total of eighty-eight times before disappearing from the repertoire of the Theater an der Wien, having proved to be the most successful of Strauss's later operettas.
In the second half of the nineteenth century it was a commonplace practice for Vienna's numerous orchestras and military bands to vie with one another to give the first public performance of the individual dances and marches based on the latest theatrical works - often with amusing results (see especially note on the Pásmán-Polka, Volume 26 of this CD series). The military bands were frequently the victors, their respective bandmasters - up until 1897 - hurriedly making arrangements from the editions published for piano. In the case of Johann Strauss's own orchestral arrangements of material from his stage works, it generally fell to his brother, Eduard, to conduct the Strauss Orchestra in the première performances. Waldmeister was no exception, and five of its six separate orchestral numbers were first heard under Eduard's direction. The exception is the Waldmeister-Quadrille, unveiled during the 1896 Vienna Carnival, but for which no exact date of first performance has yet been established. The piece is not to be found in any of Eduard's regular Sunday afternoon concerts in the Musikverein, and it was almost certainly given its premiere by one of the military bands in the Austrian capital.
The thematic material of the Waldmeister-Quadrille is drawn from all three acts of the operetta, apportioned across the six sections of the quadrille as follows: No. 1 'Pantalon' (Act 2), No. 2 'Été' (Acts 1 and 2), No. 3 'Poule' (Acts 1 and 2), No. 4 'Trénis' (Act 1), No. 5 'Pastourelle' (Acts 1 and 2) and No. 6 'Finale' (Act 3). The 'Finale' section will, moreover, be recognisable to listeners familiar with the march Es war so wunderschön (op. 467, Volume 26), for it comprises the same melodies used by Strauss for the first and second themes of the march - both works taking as their source Tymoleon's Act 3 (No. 15) aria "Die ganze Nacht durchschwärmt", sung at the première of the operetta by the baritone Josef Josephi.
"Deutsche". Walzer ("German". Waltz) op. 220
The title of Strauss's "Deutsche" Walzer refers not to the popular 18th-century fast turning dance for couples in 3/8 time - the 'Deutsche' or 'Deutscher Tanz' - that was one of the antecedents of the classical Viennese Waltz, but to the contemporary political situation.
By the close of 1848 the revolutions that had rocked the Habsburg Empire that year had been largely quelled. Through the brilliant campaign of Field Marshal Radetzky, octogenarian Commander-in-Chief of the Imperial Austrian army, Lombardy and Venetia were secure, while the duchies of Tuscany and Modena were being ruled by Habsburg princes. Within Italy, however, this occupation by a foreign power continued to rankle. The Crimean War (1853-56) saw Austria entering into an agreement with France and Britain to defend the Danubian principalities against Russia, but she refrained from declaring war on Russia and from active military participation. When Russia was forced to accept the humiliating Peace of Paris, the consequences for the Habsburg monarchy were dire: Russia, formerly Austria's ally, now sided with her enemies, while France and Britain were dissatisfied that Austria had not become a combatant in the war. In retaliation they supported the cause of Italian unification which was skilfully engineered by the Sardinian prime minister, Count Camillo Benso Cavour. The cunning Cavour recognised that continuing Austrian domination in the peninsula was the greatest obstacle for the realisation of Italian unification and forged an alliance with Napoléon III who was anxious to weaken the power of Austria. When, in April 1859, Sardinia ignored an Austrian ultimatum for her to disarm, Austria found herself at war with France and Sardinia. That summer the Austrian army was defeated at Magenta and Solferino, and under the terms of the ensuing peace Austria gave up all her possessions in Italy, except Venetia, while Tuscany and Modena were ceded to the Kingdom of Sardinia.
During the early months of 1859, before war actually broke out, large sectors of the Austrian population already foresaw the imminent conflict with France and Sardinia and looked to the German federal states for assistance. In the event this help was not forthcoming. The widespread hope of German support even found an echo in Vienna's ballrooms during the 1859 Carnival when Johann Strauss not only chose to give his benefit in the Sperl dance hall on 7 March 1859 under the banner title "German Sympathies in the Dance World (Victory of the Waltz)", but composed for it his "Deutsche" Walzer. Johann and Josef Strauss were due to have shared the conducting of the Strauss Orchestra at this benefit, but as a report read in the Wiener Theaterzeitung on 11 March: "On the day of his benefit ball at the Sperl on the 7th of this month, Johann Strauss was overcome by such serious nervous over-excitement that medical assistance had to be summoned with the utmost speed. In his place his brother Josef assumed sole direction of the ball, which was most numerously attended, and also performed the waltz 'Deutsche' which Johann had written for this evening. On account of its plethora of melodies this gave so much pleasure that it had to be repeated several times".
The new work was published by Carl Haslinger towards the end of April 1859, and drew from the Wiener Theaterzeitung (28.04.1859) the comment: "There are very attractive dance tunes which ring out to us from this waltz; also - note for the young pianist - they are by no means difficult to play. The presentation is a credit to the publisher". Rather surprisingly, none of the reviewers remarked on the fact that Johann had chosen to incorporate into the Coda of his "Deutsche" Walzer the opening melody (Waltz 1A) of his late father's waltz Deutsche Lust oder: Donau-Lieder ohne Text op. 127 (German Delight, or Danube Songs without Words) of 1841.
Secunden-Polka française (Seconds. French polka) op. 258
The Russian capital, St Petersburg, was still under a thick carpet of snow and its lakes iced over when Johann Strauss arrived in May 1861 to commence his fifth season of summer concerts at the Vauxhall Pavilion in nearby Pavlovsk, and an audience of no fewer than 6,000 attended his first public appearance on 26 May (= 14 May, Russian calendar). During the course of a letter written the following month to Carl Haslinger, Strauss informed his Viennese publisher: "The mood against Austria has become, if possible, even worse. Only the weather has improved. I am even playing in the open air. I would ask that the Hellmesberger-Polka should be christened by him, and I shall send it in a few days in full score. I want to have it performed earlier in Vienna, that is, by Josef. Also it would be to your advantage to send this polka here from Vienna before I play it here. Büttner (Strauss's Russian publisher in St Petersburg] is a very noble (towards me in recent times) human being, but miserly towards his colleagues". (The reference to the worsening mood between Russia and Austria harked back to the Crimean War of 1853-56 and would reach its height in 1863/64.)
Six triumphant years in faraway Russia had brought Johann into contact with influential writers, musicians and virtuosi, and he recognised the need to gain footholds within artistic circles in Vienna. Accordingly, his "Hellmesberger-Polka" was dedicated to the celebrated violinist, conductor, composer and wit, Joseph Hellmesberger senior (1828-93), Director of the highly prestigious Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Wien (Society of the Friends of Music in Vienna). As Strauss had requested, it was indeed Hellmesberger who chose to christen the graceful work the Secunden-Polka. The title has nothing to do with the unit of time, but rather to the construction of the polka's first main theme which uses chord intervals of seconds as the melody progresses in an upward scale, accompanied by suspensions. It is this measure which actually determines the character of the piece.
Despite his clearly expressed intention to play the polka in Pavlovsk, it was until recently thought that Strauss had not actually done so and had instead conducted the world première personally after his return to Vienna in autumn 1861. However, a comparison between the diary of F.A. Zimmermann, a viola-player in Strauss's orchestra in Russia who detailed the programmes of each concert, and the catalogue of the Büttner publishing house, suggests something different. On 27 August 1861 (= 15 August, Russian calendar), at the orchestra's benefit concert at Pavlovsk, Zimmermann records the first performance of a work by Johann entitled Ein Strausschen Polka (A Little Bouquet). Nowhere does a polka by this precise title feature in the catalogue of published Strauss works. Ein Sträusschen obviously proved successful since Zimmermann logs a further 22 performances during the remaining 54 concerts of the 1861 season. The orchestral score of the "Hellmesberger-Polka" which Johann sent to Haslinger bears his dedication to "Herr Josef Hellmesberger", together with the title Ein Sträusschen der Erinnerung (A Little Bouquet of Memory) - under which name Büttner published the work in Russia. This was also the title of the polka which Der Zwischenakt (29.10.1861) announced would shortly appear from Haslinger's publishing house and which was duly published on 17 November 1861 with its title amended to the Secunden-Polka. It seems reasonable to conclude that the polka Johann played at Pavlovsk as Ein Sträusschen is identical to that published in St Petersburg as Ein Sträusschen der Erinnerung and in Vienna as the Secunden-Polka.
Johann himself conducted the Viennese première of his Secunden-Polka, together with that of his Furioso-Polka (quasi Galopp) op. 260, on 17 November 1861 in the Sofienbad-Saal at his first public appearance in his native city after his return from Russia. The piece drew unanimous praise from the Viennese press, with Der Zwischenakt (20.11.1861) remarking: "Johann Strauss's latest dances composed in St Petersburg, 'Secunden-Polka', 'Chansonetten-Quadrille' etc. are full of those piquant and alluring melodies which characterise each of his compositions and have made these popular so swiftly. The Viennese passed a very merry evening".
Tausend und eine Nacht. Walzer
(Thousand and One Nights. Waltz) op. 346
Before eventually reaching the stage on 10 February 1871 as Indigo und die vierzig Räuber (Indigo and the Forty Thieves), Johann Strauss's début stage work had undergone several changes of name, and one can imagine the confusion in the minds of Vienna's theatre-going public as they read in their newspapers first of Ali Baba, then Fantaska and then Vierzig Räuber. The Morgen-Post (4.12.1870) found the situation laughable: "They still shilly-shally between the names 'Fantaska', 'Espritta', 'Hildalga', 'Grazietta', 'Gitana', 'Varietta', 'Amora', 'Amanda', 'Zizine', 'Florinde', 'Lorina', 'Zerbina', 'Bimbona', 'Friola', 'Dryana', 'Uldalma', and several dozen more sonorous women's names". (Thirty-five years later, in 1906, Strauss's operetta was triumphantly re-worked under yet another title: Tausend und eine Nacht, a name harking back of to Antoine Galland's original 18th-century translation of this collection of oriental tales, The Thousand and One Nights).
Tausend und eine Nacht was also the evocative title Johann Strauss gave to the splendid orchestral waltz he arranged from melodies in his first-born operetta. The composer had intended to unveil the waltz as his dedication dance for the ball of the powerful Vienna Authors' and Journalists' Association, 'Concordia', to be held in the Sofienbad-Saal on 7 February 1871. When the date set for the premiere of Indigo was postponed until 10 February, however, he found himself in the embarrassing position of having promised the waltz to the 'Concordia', yet wishing to avoid pre-empting the première of his operetta with an orchestral selection of what he knew to be its most charming melodies. In the event, believing that he depended upon the goodwill of the journalists, he presented the Association with his Tausendundeine Nacht-Polka - based on themes from the operetta - which he personally conducted at their ball, and which was later published under the amended title: Shawl-Polka française op. 343. It was therefore left to Eduard Strauss to perform the première of the waltz Tausend und eine Nacht at his Sunday promenade concert in the Golden Hall of the Vienna Musikverein on 12 March 1871. The programme of music also included the Indigo Overture and the Indigo-Quadrille op. 344.
Reviewing the first night of Indigo und die vierzig Räuber in the Fremden-Blatt on 12 February 1871, the journalist Ludwig Speidel observed: "How lightly skipping, how charmingly gossiping, how irresistibly coquettish are his polkas and his quadrilles, how cosy, convivial, piquant and ingenious they are. But if all these charms do not avail, the magician has one last remedy that never fails - he has his waltz! It is his 'Pied Piper of Hamelin'; there is nothing for it - everyone has to join in. Strauss has proved his magic powers in that Trio of the first Act which culminates in a waltz. It is a Viennese waltz of truly elemental power, born not very far from Lerchenfeld [a suburb of Vienna], stirringly melodic, of piquant, rhythmic features and bewitchingly instrumented". Another eyewitness, the journalist Josef Wimmer, praised the same vocal waltz: "And when the star number of the evening, the waltz 'Ja, so singt man, in der Stadt wo ich geboren' [Yes, that's how they sing in the city where I was born], was played, the whole house broke out into a jubilant shout, the occupants of the boxes and the stalls began to dance and the gallery was overtaken by a regular Viennese * 'sell my clothes mood'. One almost believed that Strauss would tear the violin from the hands of the first violinist and strike up the dance as in the days of old at the 'Sperl' and the 'Zeisig', at 'Dommayers' and 'Unger', and at the 'Straussl' and 'Schwenders"'.
Little wonder, therefore, that Strauss should have awarded pride of place to the melody of "Ja, so singt man" in his orchestral waltz Tausend und eine Nacht; indeed, this number provides the music for the entire first waltz section, including the Trio. Waltz 2 comprises material exclusively from the waltz section in the Act 2 (No. 16) Bacchanal, "Lasst frei nun erschallen das Lied aus der Brust", sung by Fantasca with the chorus of bayadere. Waltz 3A also owes its origins to the Act 2 Bacchanal, to the second waltz tune "Die Freiheit lacht für diese Nacht", whilst the final waltz section (3B) is to be found with the text "Esel, nur Esel, nur Eseltreiber All"' in Act 1 (No. 3), sung by Alibaba, the donkey-driver, and chorus.
* A term referring to an old Viennese custom whereby, at times of great joy, the rich citizens sold their clothes and donated the proceeds to the poor.
Die Bajadere. Polka schnell (The Bayadere. Quick polka) op. 351
In Johann Strauss's first operetta, Indigo und die vierzig Räuber (Indigo and the Forty Thieves), mounted at Vienna's Theater an der Wien on 10 February 1871, the principal female rôle is that of Fantasca, a part created by the famed prima donna and co-director of that theatre, Marie Geistinger (1836-1903). Fantasca, a Viennese girl shipwrecked in a storm, has become the favourite temple dancer, or bayadere, of Indigo, the ruler of Macassar, a faraway land which is the setting for this tale very loosely based on The Arabian Nights. Whilst immensely popular with Vienna's theatre-going public, Indigo und die vierzig Räuber attracted widely divergent opinions from the critics, and Eduard Hanslick's dismissive viewpoint (Neue Freie Presse, 12.02.1871) that "a man of Johann Strauss's reputation and talent would have done better not to have had anything to do with it" must be set against that of Ludwig Speidel, who concluded his review in the Fremden-Blatt on 12 February 1871: "All in all, the first step that Johann Strauss has taken on the stage has turned out well, and let us hope that we shall encounter the excellent maestro many more times on the road he has embarked upon... Strauss without Vienna is as unthinkable as Vienna without Strauss".
There was, however, general praise for the music in Indigo. The critic Speidel, for example, found the third act Ballet (No. 18a) "full of piquant moments", and it is the Coda of this ballet music which provides the opening section of the quick polka Die Bajadere, one of the nine separate orchestral pieces Strauss arranged on themes from this abundantly tuneful operetta. The remaining themes in Die Bajadere are drawn from Act 2 is and elsewhere in Act 3, as follows:
In common with all the separate orchestral numbers fashioned from the score of Indigo, it was left to Eduard Strauss, the composer's brother, to conduct the première of Die Bajadere. Although C.A. Spina's publishing house issued the piano score of the quick polka (together with those of opp. 347 and 349-350) on 28 May 1871, the first orchestral performance of the new work was not given until 16 June. The occasion was an evening concert for the benefit of Eduard Strauss in the form of a "Grand Festival with Gas Illuminations and Decorations" which attracted to the Vienna Volksgarten an audience comprising the aristocracy and elegant citizenry. The importance of the Strauss Orchestra to the fabric of Vienna's cultural life may be seen from the programme of music which Eduard presented that evening. Besides three works by Eduard himself and the overture to Indigo, as well as the first performances of two dances from the operetta - the polkas Lust'ger Rath op. 350 and Die Bajadere - the public heard two operatic pieces: the overture to Wagner's Rienzi (1842) and a scene from Meyerbeer's Les Huguenots (1836).
Schatz-Walzer (Treasure Waltz) op. 418
By the early 1880s Johann Strauss, who already had about a dozen operettas to his credit, including the French versions of Indigo und die vierzig Rauber and Die Fledermaus, felt free and secure enough to venture into the realm of high operatic art, which he had always regarded with somewhat respectful awe. As early as March 1883 the management of Vienna's prestigious Hof-Operntheater (Court Opera Theatre) had announced: "If he [Strauss] were to decide to compose a comic opera, there would be an endeavour to obtain a suitable libretto which would satisfy the requirements". Behind the scenes, however, Strauss had already decided upon the composition of an Hungarian opera, based on the novel Saffi, about a young gypsy girl, written by the one-time Hungarian freedom fighter Jókai Mór (1825-1904). The great author declined to undertake the stage treatment of his story himself, instead entrusting the work to another Hungarian, Ignatz Schnitzer (1839-1921). Composer and librettist worked closely together for two years on the adaptation, entitled Der Zigeunerbaron (The Gypsy Baron), from the outset intending it as an opera for the Hof-Operntheater. Strauss was subsequently to encounter certain obstacles which forced a reshaping of the work as an operetta and, after a good deal of contractual wrangling between the managements of the Hof-Operntheater and the Theater an der Wien, Der Zigeunerbaron eventually received its triumphant première at the latter venue on 24 October 1885 - the eve of the composer's sixtieth birthday.
One of the highlights in the operetta is the moment when Sándor Barinkay, the young exile recently returned to his ancestral home in Hungary, locates the hoard of treasure that his late father had hidden on the estate. Joined by Saffi and Czipra, Barinkay sings the Act 2 trio "Treasure Waltz" ("Ha, seht es winkt, es blinkt, es klingt"). The melody of this number also features in the entrancing orchestral waltz which Strauss compiled from themes in Der Zigeunerbaron and which he entitled, appropriately, the Schatz-Walzer. The sources of the material used in the waltz may be summarised as follows:
To great public jubilation, the composer himself conducted the first performance of the orchestral Schatz-Walzer on 22 November 1885 at his brother Eduard's concert in the Vienna Musikverein. Around a week earlier he had written in characteristically self-deprecating manner to a friend, possibly the librettist Schnitzer: "I'm asking you to get Messrs Kalbeck and Dömpke [both journalists] to forget about the concert (Sunday, Musikverein). The two gentlemen would really be bored; - my contribution there is too small for me to be responsible for their visit. If I still played the violin - then I could at least show them how a waltz is really played! But to perform a waltz with the baton in the hand is too crazy!"
Der lustige Krieg. Marsch (The Merry War. March) op. 397
Not only did Johann Strauss's operetta Der lustige Krieg [Première: Theater an der Wien, Vienna. 25 November 1881] provide its composer with material for more separate orchestral numbers than any other of his stage works, but it is the only one from which Johann felt moved to create two marches. Clearly the subject of the operetta - lighthearted though it was, concerning the waging of a 'bloodless' war between two armies, one of them comprising only women - demanded music of a martial mood, and Strauss responded with two of his most stylish compositions in this genre: the Lustige Krieg-Marsch and Frisch in's Feld! (op. 398, Volume 28 of this CD series). Reviewing the operetta, Der lustige Krieg (The Merry War), the humorous publication Hans Jörgel (Volume 49, 1881) observed: "With this, his latest work, Johann Strauss has achieved the most brilliant success. He has surpassed himself. One only has to hear this catchy music and, when the music starts, watch how the large audience changes into as many dancers who happily swing and sway in the tuneful marches, and one cannot but come to the conclusion that this pearl of an operetta can be compared with the best which has been offered in this genre to date, and all this in spite of the inflexible, uninteresting libretto".
Johann plundered all three acts of his operetta for the source material of the Lustige Krieg-Marsch, specifically:
The piano score of the Lustige Krieg-Marsch was in print by December 1881 and was among the first batch of published works (opp. 397-400) based on melodies in the operetta. Present day research has, however, so far failed to determine the date and venue of the march's first performance.
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 many successful volumes to the complete compact disc Johann Strauss II and for Naxos has recorded a varied repertoire.
Alfred Waller was born in Southern Bohemia in 1929 of Austrian parents. He studied at the University of Graz and in 1948 was appointed assistant conductor to the Opera of Ravensburg. At the age of 22 he became conductor of the Graz Opera, where he continued until 1965, while serving at Bayreuth as assistant to Hans Knappertsbusch and Karl Böhm. From 1966 until 1969 he was Principal Conductor of the Durban Symphony Orchestra in South Africa, followed by a period of 15 years as General Director of Music in Münster. In Vienna he has worked as guest conductor at the State Opera and in 1986 was given the title of Professor by the Austrian Government. In 1980 he was awarded the Golden Medal of the International Gustav Mahler Society. For Marco Polo, Alfred Walter has recorded more than 15 volumes of the label's Johann Strauss II Edition, works by von Schillings, von Einem, de Bériot, Reinecke and all symphonic works of Furtwängler. He is currently engaged in recording the complete symphonies of Spohr.
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