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8.223565 - STRAUSS, Josef: Edition - Vol. 5

Josef Strauss (1827–1870)
Edition • Volume 5


[1] Quadrille über beliebte Motive der komischen Oper “Die Großherzogin von Gerolstein” von Jacques Offenbach. (Quadrille after favourite motifs from the comic opera “La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein” by Jacques Offenbach) Op. 223

In order to have another successful piece for the visitors to Paris for the great World’s Fair of 1867, Jacques Offenbach and his librettists dashed off the opera buffa La Grande-Duchesse and, at the censor’s request, added the words “de Gérolstein” to the title. In this way, the burlesque story was relegated to a fantasy land and none of the visitors to the World’s Fair could claim that it was aimed at their country.

But naturally this Gérolstein was a caricature of a middle European grand-duchy. By the mid-nineteenth century, there was hardly any need to caricature the remaining tiny states, as they had already become a parody of themselves long before.

In Offenbach’s operetta, a wilful, pretty and unmarried grand-duchess keeps postponing the requirement that she make an appropriate match with an aristocratic suitor. She is in love instead with a simple soldier and right away promotes her Fritz to General. The young man, however, loves a peasant girl and spurns the duchess’ hand. He is then immediately demoted again to a mere soldier. Now an open conflict breaks out with the dismissed General Boum, who is ready to wage war anyway under any pretext against any enemy. All is not well that ends well: the duchess remains unmarried and Gérolstein remains the way it was until the next scandal.

The work contains a major rôle, that of the grand-duchess, which the zestful diva Hortense Schneider modelled after her far-from-chaste life. The première on 12 April 1897 was, as expected, a triumphant success. The drama had, finally, political meaning as well: when Prince Bismarck attended the operetta, he was inspired not by the diva Hortense but by the story. He is reported to have said: “We will rid ourselves of the Gérolsteins, soon there will be no more. I am thankful to the Parisian artists for showing the world the way it laughably was.”

From Paris, Offenbach’s opera buffa started on its triumphant tour through the European states in 1867; in Vienna the work was first performed on 13 May 1867 in the Theater an der Wien with Marie Geistinger as the diva. The Paris success was repeated in Vienna, where the political message received less attention than the droll parody of a warlike state.

As always, after the evening of the première, Josef Strauss was inspired to write a quadrille containing the motifs of the work as soon as possible. In the case of La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein this was not at all difficult for him: Jacques Offenbach’s music could have served as the basis for numerous quadrilles. Josef cleverly chose the most effective motifs and thus made Offenbach’s success his own with the première of the Gérólstein-Quadrille on 7 June 1867 in the Volksgarten. The piano score for the quadrille had already been made available to music stores on 23 May.

[2] Die Marketenderin. Polka française (The Camp Follower. French Polka) Op. 202

Josef Strauss chose the striking character of a camp follower as the title for a polka composition on two occasions: once in 1859, when he presented a polkamazurka called Die Marketenderin vom Wienerwald to the public at the Grosser Zeisigo establishment on 25 May, and then in the early summer of 1866; the second time, however, it was a French Polka. The press review mentions only the polka-mazurka, which was praised as a “delightful, charming and fiery piece of music” in the Wiener Theaterzeitung on 9 July 1859. This work belongs to the numerous works by Josef Strauss which remained unpublished and which, therefore, must be presumed lost.

The French Polka Die Marketenderin fits right into the scene of events in the summer of 1866, when the Danube monarchy’s troops, divided into a Northern Army and Southern Army, were deployed in Bohemia and Italy, respectively, and thus mobilised for the impending war against the Prussians, on the one hand, and the Italians, on the other. In this turbulent time, in all likelihood on 22 June 1866 in the Volksgarten, the Marketenderin French Polka was first performed for the public. The piano score of the work, issued on the same day, shows on the title page a plucky camp follower (Cf. Austrian dictionary: “a woman offering schnapps and accompanying a military unit, today only an infantry band”) before an encampment. The polka is by no means warlike; quite the contrary, it is about a lovely, rather capricious young woman who maintained her gaiety and female charms even in the midst of a group of soldiers.

[3] Vorwärts! Polka schnell (Forward! Quick Polka), Op. 127

In the summer of 1862, Josef Strauss had to travel to Russia unexpectedly to replace his brother as concert director at the Vauxhall Pavillion in Pavlovsk, near St Petersburg. Johann had sent word that he was sick and wanted to return to Vienna as soon as possible. Upon his arrival in Pavlovsk, “Pepi was very surprised, as he stated in a letter, to find that his brother was not ‘sick’ at all. Nevertheless, Johann insisted on going back home immediately. On 6 August 1862, after a brief report on his début on 2 August, Josef Strauss wrote to publisher Carl Haslinger about his future plans: “I am writing a polka-mazurka here, a polka, a quadrille, and a fantasy piece with a sighing, pining cello and an enthusiastically twanging harp.” From the programmes for his Pavlovsk concerts, it can be surmised that Josef Strauss did, indeed, fulfil his intentions. He took the polka-mazurka Brennende Liebe (Ardent Love), Op. 129, with him back to Vienna; the polka, to which he had given the title Vorwärts! (Forward!), he presented for the first time on 26 September 1862 in Pavlovsk. After his return to his home city, Josef Strauss scheduled his first appearance on 9 November 1862 at the ‘Sperl’ dance hall and for this concert chose the following novelties: the Freuden-Grisse waltz, op. 128; the Brennende Liebe polka-mazurka, the Vorwärts! polka, and in addition to this, a Japanesischer-Marsch (Japanese March), which he had also composed in Pavlovsk. In the highly detailed review of “Pepi’s return engagement at the Sperl” dance hall, which appeared in the theatre trade newspaper Zwischenaki on 11 November 1862, mention was made only of the Freuden-Grisse waltz and the Japanesischer-Marsch (which unfortunately must be presumed missing since that time). According to Franz Sabay’s notes, the first performance of the Vorwärts! polka in Vienna took place at a benefit concert by the Strauss brothers on 22 November 1862. On this evening, Johann made his first public appearance since his summer vacation, which he had used for his marriage to Jetty Treffz and their honeymoon, and he played, among other things, his Carnevals-Botschafter (Carnival Ambassador) Waltz, Op. 270, and the amusing Demolirer-Polka (Demolition Polka), Op. 269. Josef’s polka was a welcome addition to the programme. This work had already been printed by Haslinger on 20 November 1862.

[4] Geheime Anziehungskräfte (Dynamiden). Walzer (Secret Powers of Attraction, or Dynamiden. Waltz) Op. 173

The Geheime Anziehungskrifte (Dynamiden) Waltz, which Josef Strauss wrote for the 1865 Industrialists’ Ball and which was played for the first time on 30 January at the Redoutensaal at the Imperial Palace, ventured into realms not explored as a rule by dance music. Perhaps it was the title, suggested by the composer, that was to extend the traditional waltz form to the boundaries of symphonic music: Geheime Anziehungskräfte, which he also called Dynamiden, following a suggestion by mechanical engineer J.F. Redtenbach. Obviously, swirling atoms were on his mind when he penned this work. Josef Strauss perceived in this composition downright uncanny, supernatural forces, which wish to hide behind what appears to be reality. Accordingly, even the introduction to the waltz builds to a dreamlike effect: a soft call awakens a feeling of longing, a powerful escalation turns it into a complete display of emotion. Then a cautious, controlled passage leads into the waltz, which does so nevertheless very softly, as if sounded from afar: finally the intense main motif of the waltz begins, only to subside again immediately, and is only carried forward by the marked rhythm of the accompaniment; it modulates into a minor key, but lifts itself out of melancholy right away, building to a shining triumph! A masterpiece! It is certainly no coincidence that Josef Strauss’ Dynamiden waltz is unmistakably echoed in Richard Strauss’ Rosenkavalier-Walzer.

A few days after the première of the Geheime Anziehungskrifte (Dynamiden) waltz, Josef Strauss lost consciousness at his home. A new attack of his persistent illness warned the composer that he would face an early death.

[5] Defilir. Marsch (Parade. March), Op. 53

In 1849, shortly after the revolution was crushed in Vienna, Josef Strauss categorically refused in a letter to his father to embark on a career as a soldier. However, nine years later, the former revolutionary, then a music director, composed the Defilir-Marsch, although clearly the Strauss Orchestra had never participated in any parade march for any commander or statesman. The civilian orchestra director had an incentive to compose not only one but several military marches: the Strauss orchestra performed at most festival concerts during the 1850s, especially at the festivities in the Volksgarten, alternating with a military band. For the most part, such occasions called for, at the very least, a joint production by both musical groups, and since the infantry regiment band was organised almost exclusively as a brass band, it was natural to expect a precisely articulated, rhythmic march to be performed at these joint productions. Ideally suited to this purpose was the Defilir-Marsch, first performed on 6 June 1858 at Unger’s Casino as part of a joint programme together with the military band under band director Josef Kovacs (infantry regiment No. 27), and later played many times with the same group in the Volksgarten. At the Strauss benefit concert on 15 June 1858 in the Volksgarten, Josef Strauss presented the public with an amazing, first-rate programme. It included a medley of Richard Wagner’s opera Tannhäuser and a concert waltz titled Ideale (which unfortunately did not appear in print and was ultimately destroyed by Eduard in 1907), as well as other novelties; once again the finale was the Defilir-Marsch, performed jointly by the Strauss and Kovacs groups. The review of this concert in the Theaterzeitung of 17 June 1858, States: “The finale of the musical production consisted of Strauss Defilir-Marsch, which had to be played da capo. It has already been promoted to Favourite March.”

[6] Csikos. Quadrille (Csikos. Quadrille), Op. 37

An engineer by training and later a music director, Josef Strauss’ fondness for the sport of horse racing is corroborated by numerous compositions. In the spring of 1857, “Pepi dedicated his Csikos-Quadrille to the daring riders of the Puszta. (The title page illustration for the first edition of the score of this striking work shows one of these horsemen on a fiery steed under a dramatic cloud cover.) Understandably, the music of this quadrille is crafted in the “Hungarian” style, not in the sense of true Hungarian folk music, which was first made known to music lovers by Béla Bartók and Zoltán Kodály in the twentieth century, but rather in the style of popular works preferred by Gypsies.

Pepi Strauss not only employed rousing and striking motifs, he also incorporated sounds suggestive of whips and spurs to render his Csikos as realistic as possible throughout the six parts of his quadrille. Properly played, the piece is still strikingly effective, even now, when a cowboy or horseman on his steed in the heart of the Puszta is a rare sight.

According to a report in the Fremden-Blatt newspaper on 31 May 1857, the première of the Csikos-Quadrille took place the following day, that is, on 1 June 1857 in the afternoon concert at Unger’s Casino in Hernals.

[7] Huldigungslieder. Walzer (Songs of Tribute. Waltz) Op. 255

On 29 March 1869, before their trip to Russia, Josef and Johann Strauss gave their final concert of the season in the flower halls of the Gartenbaugesellschaft (Garden Society) on Vienna’s Ringstrasse. On the programme appeared, among other works, two pieces dedicated to King Ludwig of Portugal (1838–1889): the Königslieder (Songs for a King) waltz, Op. 334, by Johann, and the Huldigungslieder waltz, by Josef Strauss. These were belated thirtieth birthday wishes to the Regent who came into the world in Lisbon (on 31 October 1838) and belonged to the House of Coburg, whose members were scattered throughout Europe. What direct occasion there may have been for these best wishes cannot be ascertained, unfortunately, either in Vienna or in Lisbon.

In the reviews of the concert in the flower halls, both waltzes were mentioned but no assessment of the compositions was made. Whilst Johann Strauss Königslieder Waltz remained in the Strauss orchestra’s repertoire, later performances of the Huldigungslieder cannot be verified. All that has been found is a short notation with motifs from the work, signed by Josef Strauss.

[8] Mignon. Polka française (Mignon. French Polka), Op. 89

As a notice in the Fremden-Blatt newspaper on 3 July 1860 proclaimed, Josef Strauss had prepared an auspicious programme for his benefit concert scheduled for this date in the Volksgarten. At that time, rehearsals in the Royal Opera House for the scheduled première of Richard Wagner’s opera Tristan und Isolde had been cancelled, since the work had been categorised elsewhere as “unperformable”. At his concert Josef Strauss offered fragments of this work with his own arrangement. Unfortunately, this fascinating glimpse into Viennese musical history has been lost. Even the Julius Ceasar Overture, which was written by Robert Schumann and which Josef Strauss performed at this same evening benefit concert, has practically disappeared from the concert repertoire of our time. Thus the unassuming little Mignon-Polka must serve as the sole reminder of the event. It was termed a “new composition” by Josef Strauss, a sample of Viennese music of 1860, in a concert of ambitious performances of symphonic works. Moreover, there is also a literary reference associated with this polka: Mignon is the name of a lovely young maiden in Goethe’s novel Wilhelm Meister; she was later the heroine of an opera by Ambroise Thomas (premièred in Paris in 1866, performed in Vienna on 24 October 1868).

[9] Die Gazelle. Polka-Mazurka (The Gazelle. Polka-mazurka), Op. 155

At the 1864 carnival revue, held on 14 February in the Volksgarten, the Strauss brothers—Johann, Josef and Eduard—repeated their compositions played for the first time during that year’s carnival season: these included two waltzes by Johann Strauss, following his recovery from an illness at the beginning of 1863, as well as four of his polkas; Josef Strauss presented four waltzes and three polkas. In addition, two works were premièred at this concert: the Herold-Quadrille, (Herold Quadrille) Op. 157, and finally the polka-mazurka Die Gazelle. Eduard contributed two carnival compositions and also premièred the Maskentreiben polka, which did not appear in print.

At this concert, the most applauded works were the waltz masterpiece Morgenblitter (Morning Journals) Op. 279; the rousing quick polka Vergnigungszug (Pleasure Train), Op. 281, by Johann, and the lively Rudolfsheimer-Polka, Op. 152, by Josef Strauss. However, Josef Strauss was also very satisfied with the warm reception given to his unusual polka-mazurka Die Gazelle. It was not the speed of the African animal, known in Europe only in zoos, that inspired the composer, but its ability to leap. Josef Strauss in fact succeeded in imitating the leaps of a gazelle in all four sections of the composition. The polka-mazurka appeared in print in March 1864.

All reference to the gazelle’s homeland, i.e., Africa, was absent from the title page of the piano score. The time of the great expeditions to this continent had not yet arrived.

[10] Flammen. Walzer (Flames. Waltz), Op. 101

The Flammen waltz was composed by Josef Strauss no later than January 1861. This work may have been inspired by a series of devastating fires in central Vienna, but that is not certain. In any case, the composer did not make this interesting work available for the ball repertoire during the 1861 carnival season, but performed it first at the carnival revue on 17 February 1861 in the Volksgarten. It was published in July 1861. The work soon disappeared from the Strauss orchestra’s programmes.

[11] Maiblümchen. Polka-Mazurka (May Flowers. Polka-mazurka), Op. 17

On 25 April 1856, the Fremden-Blatt newspaper announced the reopening of the garden esplanade at Unger’s Casino in the suburb of Hernals. The first concert, under the Direction of J. Strauss, was scheduled for Sunday, 27 April. Since Johann Strauss had already left for his first season in Pavlovsk near St Petersburg, “J. Strauss” presumably referred to his brother Josef. Even the series of new pieces scheduled for this concert seemed to indicate Josef Strauss: along with the last pieces he had composed, such as Avantgarde-Marsch (Avantgarde March), Op. 14, and Die Vorgeiger (The First Violinist, or The Leader), Op. 16, a new polka-mazurka, titled Maibliimchen, was promised. Whether this work was actually performed on this date cannot be confirmed. It was first mentioned on 15 May in the Wiener Theaterzeitung, specifically in a review of the first spring festival in the Volksgarten that had taken place on 13 May. “The lovely Maiblithen-Mazurka (!) had many encores.” This confirmed that Josef was perfectly capable of replacing his brother Johann whilst the latter was in Pavlovsk.

Whether Maiblimchen or Maiblithen, in either case the title of the polka referred to the lilies of the valley which are in splendid full bloom around Vienna in the spring.

Franz Mailer
English translation by Dr. Luis de la Vega

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