About this Recording
8.223561 - STRAUSS, Josef: Edition - Vol. 1
English 

Josef Strauss (1827–1870)
Edition Volume 1

 

“Kakadu-Quadrille” (“Cockatoo Quadrille”), Op. 276

Josef Strauss arranged a great number of quadrilles from the melodies of many of the operettas by the Parisian (by choice) composer Jacques Offenbach. These quadrilles were performed when the operettas had their first performance on the Viennese stage. The last work of this series was written by Pepi Strauss in the Fasching of 1870. The occasion was the première of the operetta “Cockatoo” on 3 February 1870 in the Vienna Carltheater (This was the Viennese version of the opéra comique first performed in Parison 10 March 1869 under the title “Vert-Vert” by Jacques Offenbach). Although the Vienna performance did not live up to the high expectations of both the management and the public, Pepi Strauss immediately wrote the quadrille which had, by now, become the usual practice. The work contained the most successful numbers from the operetta. Thus Josef’s last quadrille was greeted with tempestuous applause at the memorable concert on 13 March 1870. On that date, all three Strauss brothers conducted their orchestra in the Golden Room of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde. The first edition of the work appeared on 6 March, before the performance in the Musikverein. The publisher had good reason to be in a hurry. Once an operetta had been dropped from the repertoire of the theatre, a quadrille based on its themes also faded from popularity. That was indeed the case with Josef’s highly effective “Cockatoo Quadrille”, forlateritmakeshardly any appearances on the concert programmes.

“Marien-Klänge”, Walzer (“Waltz for Marie”), Op. 214

During the 1860s the balls of the industrial societies took on an increasingly important role in the life of Vienna. The Emperor Franz Joseph I was a regular guest of the industrialists, and even the Empress Elisabeth appeared at her husband’s side at many an industrial ball in the Redoutensaal of the Hofburg Palace, in spite of her dislike of court occasions of every type. However, in the Fasching of 1867, Franz Joseph and Elisabeth did not attend any balls. The effects of the defeat on the battlefields of Bohemia in the summer of 1866 in the war against the Kingdom of Prussia kept the Imperial couple away from the dance festivities. Even the court balls were cancelled that year. This increased the significance of the Industrial Ball on 10 February 1867 in the Hofburg, the proceeds from which were destined for the war-related benevolent funds. A representative of the Austrian nobility, Princess Marie von Kinsky-Liechtenstein (1835–1905) had taken on the role of patron of the event. Of course, the Strauss orchestra played that nightfor the dancing in the Great Redoutensaal—in the smaller hall a military band gave a concert. The dedication waltz, which Josef Strauss composed and played himself, was dedicated to the patron of the ball, and was thus called “Waltz for Marie” (“Marienklänge”). The new piece which was first played as a concert piece at the ball, and was only danced to when it was encored, is one of the composer’s masterpieces. In the ball reports the waltz was given merely the customary plaudits: “The desire to dance was widespread, with the tingling melodies of this piece of music arranged for instruments (!)”, but at later performances of the waltz in the Volksgarten and in the Musikverein, the true significance of this work, darkened by quiet melancholy, yet still happy and full of the joy of life, came to be recognised.

Note: The polka “Queen of the Ball” by Eduard Strauss, Op. 34, was also dedicated to Princess Marie von Kinsky-Liechtenstein in February 1868.

“Etiquette”, Polka française, Op. 208

In the autumn of 1866, after the defeat of Austria by Prussia in the battle of Königgrätz (Sadowa), the mood of the Viennese population was understandably depressed: the view was widespread that 3 July 1866, when the superior weaponry of the Prussian troops caused terrible slaughter among the Austrian Northern Army, meant the beginning of the end for the Austrian monarchy. For the musicians whose job it was to promote the joy and happiness of the population, this mood gave rise to almost insurmountable problems. How, in such circumstances, were the fearful to be comforted, the desperate calmed, the sad cheered? In the summer of 1866, Johann Strauss escaped from reality into his dreams. His masterpiece waltz from this period, which he first performed on 18 November 1866, bore the title “Fairy Tales” (Op. 312). With his waltz “Palms of Peace”, Josef Strauss endeavoured to reflect in his music the end of the fighting and the conclusion of treaties with Prussia and Italy in August and October respectively, but even he accompanied this waltz, his Opus 207, with a cheerful, but in such times meaningless polka called “Etiquette”. Whom did he want to “label” with it (one meaning of “Etikett” in German)? Or did he in some way seek to encourage people to observe courtly traditions and other practices? In this polkatoo, we can observe a turning away from the events of the period, a denial of any reaction to the bitter realities of the political and social situation in the monarchy which had been so deeply affected by the defeat.

However, when Josef Strauss first performed his polka “Etiquette” on 18 November 1866 in the Volksgarten—after the first performance of his brother Johann’s waltz “Fairy Tales”, he had already overcome the mood of depression and was working on his masterpieces for the new year. This polka does give away one secret: even in a difficult time, Josef Strauss demonstrated his talent for inventing and shaping wonderful music.

“Thalia”, Polka Mazur, Op. 195

The 1866 Carnival period, which promised an impressive sequence of wonderful dance festivities, found the Strauss brothers in an advanced state of preparation. For those balls of which the organisers and patronesses had to be provided with dedication dance pieces, Josef had prepared in advance a series of carefully developed new compositions. For the Hesperus Ball, scheduled for 4 February 1866 in the Dianasaal, Josef Strauss had written a polka mazur with the title “Thalia”. However, Pepi Strauss did not wait for the climax of the Fasching season for the first performance of the work, but tried out the “Thalia Polka” at the first masked ball on 7 January 1866 in the “Sperl”. Both his own diary and the writings of the horn player Sabay agree on this. Then, on 4 February, the “official” first performance of the work took place at the Hesperus Ballinthe Dianasaal, together with the “Sylphs Polka” (“Dagmar Polka”, Op. 309) by Johann and the waltz “The Hesperides” (Op. 18) by Eduard Strauss. The printed edition of the “Thalia Polka” (17 February 1866) is most dutifully dedicated to the “Hesperus” artistic association.

“Gablenz-Marsch” (“Gablenz March”), Op. 159

At the beginning of 1864 the Austro-Hungarian monarchy took part in the King of Prussia’s campaign for Schleswig Holstein by sending the 6th Army Corps to North Germany. The commander of this undertaking which was apparently successful but in fact was extremely disadvantageous for the Austro-Hungarian cause, was Ludwig Freiherr von Gablenz (1814–1874). Josef Strauss considered it his patriotic duty to dedicate a march to the commander, and announced the first performance of the work for the concert in the Volksgarten on Easter Monday, 28 March 1864. However, as Pepi’s diary and the writings of the Strauss Orchestra’s horn player Franz Sabay show, the first performance of the “Gablenz March” did not take place until 3 April 1864 in the Imperial Volksgarten. The piano edition of the work followed on 7 May, the orchestra edition on 15 June. Towards the end of 1864 the dedication to the commander of the unpopular campaign had already been forgotten. The tragic death of the Freiherr by suicide, which was bound up in the confusion of the stock exchange disaster of 1873, did not exactly give cause for the “Gablenz March” to be remembered, either.

“Angelica Polka” française, Op. 123

In the spring of 1862, after his brother Johann had left for Russia, Josef Strauss directed the Strauss Orchestra’s concerts in Vienna, as had become the usual practice. Pepi certainly already suspected that Jean had decided to marry Jetty Treffz, but had not been informed of his brother’s plans. He was now in command as orchestra leader and as composer; with great skill and application he ensured that the orchestra had a rich repertoire which was not, of course, allowed to lack new pieces. Among the new compositions, Josef Strauss included the clever “Angelica Polka” in a Spring Concert on 1 June 1862 in the “Neue Welt” in Hietzing. This was one of the many works by Pepi Strauss to have feminine names or characteristics as their title. No record remains of a dedication to any particular Angelica, and it cannot be assumed that Pepi Strauss was thinking of a girl by this name when he composed it. For him, there was only his wife—Karoline!

Note: Max Schönherr has surmised that, in the melody of the first trio, Josef Strauss set to music the name “An-ge-li-ca”. A suitable thought for such a lovely melody.

“Fantasiebilder”, Walzer (“Fantasy Pictures” Waltz) Op. 151

In the joyless Fasching of 1864, which was already overshadowed by the threat of the campaign in Schleswig Holstein, the three Strauss brothers Johann, Josef and Eduard conducted and composed together. For several Fasching festivities Johann and Josef each provided a dedication piece; Josef alone was responsible for the Doctors’ Ball in the Sofiensaal on 11 January 1864. He wrote a waltz with the slightly odd title for a medical ball: “Fantasy Pictures”. He conducted the first performance and had the printed edition dedicated to “the students of medicine at the Vienna Hochschule”. As no less than 18 new compositions by the brothers (six works by Johann, nine by Josef and three by Eduard Strauss), from the 1864 Fasching were performed at the Carnival Review in the Imperial Volksgarten on 14 February 1864, this waltz did not make a particular impression. However, it remained in the repertoire of the Strauss orchestra for a long time, and justifiably so.

“Moulinet-Polka” française (“Little Mill Polka” française), Op. 57

Josef Strauss was an engineer and builder until, at the age of 26, he obeyed his mother’s instructions and joined the family waltz business as a conductor and composer. As an engineer, “Pepi” Strauss had headed up projects such as the construction of a weir for the Triesting River in the Lower Austrian district of Trumau. He thus had first-hand experience of the charm of the little mills on the banks of the watercourses of his native land. Nestling into the landscape, these buildings with their ever-turning wheels were familiar to him. To the eye of the observer, they were romantic and idyllic. To the farmers and millers they were intensely practical.

Naturally, when, shortly after his 31st birthday in the summer of 1858, Josef Strauss sketched out a polka with the title “Moulinet” (“Little Mill”), it was to become more than just another piece of dance music. The motif of the mill wheel with its unerringly regular motion had often before been tackled in music: the “mill by rushing brook” had been serenaded in folk songs and had at least been alluded to in symphonic works as well; thus a straight forward dance tune would not suffice if the familiar image of mill and wheel was to be evoked once again. Josef Strauss thus wrote a beautiful character piece in the rhythm of a polka; in this way two groups of people were satisfied: the connoisseurs of music had a distinctive tone painting, and the dance enthusiasts could step out their happy routines to its precise rhythm.

The first performance of Josef Strauss’ “Little Mill Polka” took place on 25 July 1858 in Unger’s Casino in Hernals. A few days later, Pepi Strauss, who had to stand in for his brother at the head of the Orchestra that Summer While Johann Was in Russia, also had the opportunity to perform the work at concerts in the Schloss Schönbrunn for guests of Archduchess Sophie, mother of the Emperor Franz Joseph I. Tempestuous applause came from the clients at Unger’s establishment in the suburbs and from the members of court society. This was noted in the newspapers of the imperial city. This recognition was well deserved: the “Little Mill Polka” by Josef Strauss can be safely placed alongside the famous “Anne’s Polka” (Op. 117) by his brother Johann.

“Bauern-Polka” Mazur (“Peasants’ Polka” Mazur), Op. 10

In 1853 Josef Strauss took up work as Kapellmeister and composer, but only with some reservations. He had still not finally decided to give up the profession for which he had trained, that of engineer and builder, to make himself available for the family’s waltz business. In 1854 he stayed in the country around Vienna for some time in Order to recover from the headaches which had set in when he was still in his childhood. The “Peasants’ Polka” mazur probably came into being during this period. In any event, publication by Haslinger did not happen until, in the summer of 1855, Josef Strauss was finally prepared to lead the Strauss Orchestra on an equal footing with his brother Johann. The first nine compositions by the Interim Kapellmeister (Josef Strauss’ own term) had been secured by the ambitious Spina publishing house. Now Carl Haslinger became the publisher of both Johann and Josef Strauss. On 23 March 1856 the “Theaterzeitung” announced that the waltz “Quickened Pulses”, Op. 175, and the “Poor Ball Polka”, Op. 176 by Johann Strauss would be published by the Imperial Court Music Dealer Carl Haslinger. On 15 April the “Peasants’ Polka” mazur and a number of other compositions by Josef Strauss would follow. On 20 April the “Wiener Zeitung” carried the notice of the first edition of “Peasants’ Polka” mazur, Op. 10.

“Wiegenlieder”, Walzer (“Cradle Songs” Waltz), Op. 18

On 18 May 1856 the “Wiener Theaterzeitung” announced that “the diligent conductor Josef Strauss has composed a new waltz with the title Schlummerlieder’ (Lullabies’) to mark the impending confinement of Her Majesty the Empress”. But it was not until July 1856 that the Empress Elisabeth was able to inform her husband Franz Joseph of the birth of their second daughter, who was baptised with the name Gisela. On 13 July the “Morgen-Post” contained the announcement: “To mark the happy occasion of the birth of a Princess, a festival concert will take place in the Imperial Volksgarten. At this event, J. Strauss will perform for the first time a waltz entitled ‘Wiegenlieder’ (‘Cradle Songs’), specially composed for the occasion”. Accordingly, in Josef’s diary 15 July 1856 is given as the date of the first performance of the work. On 17 July, the “Theaterzeitung” reported: “Josef Strauss’ new ‘Cradle Songs’ waltz was given a reception which was almost enthusiastic. It contains melodies of such charm that one is quite enchanted by them. The first and fifth waltzes are among the most fortunate inspirations imparted by the Strauss muse. Josef Strauss, who is totally worthy to walk in his brother Johann’s footprints, has once again proved with this composition that melody is at his command just as it is at his brother’s and was at his late father’s, whose worthy heirs are the Strauss brothers. The new waltz has already joined the ranks of the favourite pieces of the Viennese.”

Note: Some literature gives 15 July 1856 as the date of birth of the Archduchess Gisela. This date is incorrect.

“Eislauf”, Polka schnell (“Skating” quick polka), Op. 261

Around the middle of the 19th century, the Viennese gradually became enthusiastic about mass sports, and the brothers Josef and Eduard Strauss happily recognised this trend in the choice of titles for their compositions (for example “Run-up”—“Sturmlauf”—gymnasts quick polka, op. 136 by Josef Strauss, 1863). Skating, which had been a popular pastime since time immemorial was now organised as asport. On 3 February 1867 the Viennese Skating Association was founded, and soon after came the first skating display by the members in a square by the main customs office. On the “sharpening days”, orchestras (mainly military wind bands) were called upon to provide entertainment and, where appropriate, to enable dancing to take place. In the Fasching of 1869, Josef Strauss wrote his “Skating” quick polka, which was probably first heard that February at a Skating Association festivity.

The first announcement of the publication of a piano edition of the work appeared on 26 February 1869. Pepi Strauss, who is depicted in many biographies of members of the Strauss family as a lazy indoor-lover, was not only a walker of considerable endurance, but also an enthusiast of the various sports which became more and more popular in Austria in the second half of the century.

Prof. Franz Mailer
Translation © 1993 Peter Eustace
Strauss Society of Great Britain


Close the window