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8.223566 - STRAUSS, Josef: Edition - Vol. 6

Josef Strauss (1827–1870)
Edition • Volume 6


[1] Victor. Marsch (Victor. March), Op. 138

Josef Strauss chose a festival concert in Vienna’s Volksgarten to première a march dedicated to the youngest brother of Emperor Franz Josef, Archduke Ludwig Victor (1842–1919). The première of the march was planned for 13 May 1863, that is, two days before the 21st birthday of the then virtually unknown third son of the proud Archduchess Sophie and her spouse, Archduke Franz Carl. The young man seems to have behaved himself suitably in the family circle, as witnessed by the copious correspondence addressed to the latter by Empress Elisabeth, who had been disappointed with the Vienna imperial court (above all with her mother-in-law Sophie). Later, he seems to have developed a less affable personality. He was reputed to be an eccentric, to whom one could not entrust important tasks. Historians passed deprecatory judgements on him: “He was shady, malicious, and scheming. Finally, after an incident in a Vienna bathhouse, from which he is said to have escaped with a slap on the wrist, the emperor banished him to Salzburg, where he died in the Castle of Klesheim in 1919” (Franz Herre: Emperor Franz Josef of Austria, Cologne, 1978).

However, all that lay farther in the future, and the Victor-Marsch, which was soon forgotten, was not premièred in May 1863 but—as it is recorded both in the composer’s as well as in horn-player Franz Sabay’s notes—on 12 June, in the Vienna Volksgarten. The work was published in July 1863.

[2] Die Industriellen. Walzer (The Industrialists. Waltz), Op. 158

During the 1861 carnival season, the Industrialists Association of the Danubian monarchy organised its first masked ball in the halls of the Imperial Palace (Redoutensaal). The sponsors of this event, who wished to demonstrate their place in Austrian society through first-rate balls attended by even Emperor Franz Josef himself, included the banks, railway companies and representatives of the incipient heavy-industry sector. The importance of the moneyed sector was not lost on Johann Strauss, who gave the first dedication piece for the Industrial Companies’ Ball on 15 January 1861 the title of Dividenden (“Dividends”).

As director of the ball during the 1864 carnival season, it fell to Josef Strauss to contribute the dedication waltz: he named his work Die Industriellen, thereby calling attention to the importance of the Austrian businessmen who had achieved great progress in emulating the industrialists of England and France, then the leading industrial nations of Europe. In the reports on the Industrialists Ball which took place on 19 January 1864 at the Redoutensaal at the Imperial Palace, Josef’s waltz was hardly mentioned. The “hit” of the evening’s dance repertoire was the quick polka Vergnigungszug (Pleasure Train), Op. 281, by his brother Johann.

[3] Tanz-Regulator. Polka française (Dance Regulator. French Polka), Op. 238

During the carnival of 1868, the engineers of Vienna dispensed with holding a big ball, contrary to the tradition of previous years. The time of the great technical advances, which had marked the 1850s and early 1860s, seemed to have passed. Accordingly, the students of the Technical College contented themselves with a small gathering in the flower halls of the Gartenbaugesellschaft (Garden Society), that is, in a scaled-down but still beautiful venue. The Strauss orchestra was nevertheless on the scene and quickened the dancing couple’s feet with its exhilarating pieces. Josef Strauss brought an amusing polka, which was dedicated to the Engineers’ Ball Committee; suitably titled Tanz-Regulator, it features chronometric pounding on the snare-drum, which sounds like a device for setting a machine into steady motion or—to remain in the realm of music—like a metronome. This polka apparently found great favour with the engineers, and on the evening of the ball, on 22 January 1868, it had to be replayed many times. In the composer’s workbooks, it is a companion piece to the Moulinet-Polka (Windmill Polka), Op. 57, in which the snare-drum also sets the rhythm (in this case, emulating the motion of a windmill).

[4] Carriere. Polka schnell (Gallop. Quick Polka), Op. 200

With his Opus 200, Josef Strauss again took up the theme of horseracing, which clearly enthralled him, for carriere refers to the fastest gait at which a horse can be ridden. In the summer of 1866, right after the news was received of the Austrian Northern Army’s defeat in the Battle of Königgrätz against the Prussian troops, the work that had already been issued in June by the Verlag Spina publishers was performed for the first time in the Volksgarten. Shortly after the appearance of the printed score, it was scheduled for many performances, but in Josef’s diary and in Franz Sabay’s notes it is confirmed that the Carriere-Polka schnell was first presented on 4 July 1866 at Vienna’s Volksgarten. It was the “Day after Königgrätz” and, as a result, the lively polka went virtually unnoticed. In the shadows of the battle, music for the sport of horse racing became incidental, and so the lovely work received scant attention. Later, however, Carriere occasionally appeared on the Strauss orchestra’s programmes, indicating that this quick polka was not forgotten.

[5] Waldröslein. Polka-Mazurka (Wood Roses. Polka-mazurka), Oр. 63

In the summer of 1858, Josef Strauss added the polka-mazurka Waldröslein to the series of compositions which he named after flowers. This lovely work, the first part of which is dominated by the defined rhythm of a mazurka, whilst the trio is pervaded by that of a country waltz, was performed for the first time in the Volksgarten on 25 September 1858. Unfortunately, there is no useful, contemporary assessment of this work, which would have proved a valuable tool in measuring the initial reception of the same. The reports upon the appearance of the printed score in January 1859, where the polka-mazurka was referred to as “piquant” in the Theaterzeitung and as “brilliant” in Der Zwischenakt, were merely routine. Dozens of novelties were described with these and similar words in both of these newspapers. But the Waldröslein polka-mazurka gave pleasure to music lovers for many years: it appeared again and again on the Strauss orchestra’s programmes.

[6] Figaro. Polka française (Figaro. French Polka), Op. 83

The Figaro-Polka française is among the compositions penned by Josef Strauss in January 1860. Its title was mentioned for the first time on 6 February 1860 when Johann and Josef Strauss sent out invitations for their benefit ball which was to take place on 13 February at Sofiensaal. The theme for the huge ball, at which each of the two music directors conducted his own orchestra, was “Perpetuum mobile, non-stop dancing”. In total, fifty dances were scheduled for this evening, including understandably all the novelties from the 1860 carnival season. The Figaro-Polka française figured among these new works.

The origin of this polka can probably be traced to the first meeting of the association of journalists and writers, Concordia, founded in 1859. The polka’s title derives from the humorous periodical Figaro, which was published every week in Vienna starting on 4 January 1857. The publication existed until 1916 and was the most important humorous publication in the Danubian monarchy.

It is interesting to note that the Figaro-Polka by Johann Strauss (Op. 320) is also devoted to a publication, the Parisian newspaper Le Figaro.

[7] Nilfluthen. Walzer (Nile Waters. Waltz), Op. 275

The Concordia Ball which took place during the 1870 carnival season had as its theme the opening in November 1869 of the Suez Canal by Ismail Pascha (with the attendance of Emperor Franz Josef and numerous dignitaries from around the world). Journalists had covered, commented upon and analysed this major political and economic event. Now the events surrounding the opening of the Suez Canal also provided the occasion for every detail of the Concordia Ball, which was held on 25 January 1870 in the Sofiensaal. The ball announcement and the ladies’ gifts reflected the theme, and so the dedication waltz by Josef Strauss was titled Nilfluthen - an odd name for a Viennese waltz, though explicable given the theme of the 1870 Concordia Ball. The first waltz among the novelties, it managed to evoke its title: one seemed to hear the movement of the Nile waters in its elegant, gliding motif. The work remained permanently in the Strauss orchestra’s repertoire.

[8] Joujou. Polka (Toy. Polka), Op. 23

Josef Strauss wrote his clever Joujou-Polka for a concert that took place on 6 July 1856 at Unger’s Casino in Hernals. The title promised the public an amusing musical toy, intended for children as well as adults. The composition fulfilled this promise completely, for the work was to be found on all the programmes of the remaining concerts of the summer 1856 season. The polka first appeared in print in October 1856, but the score was only for piano and a small orchestra. The Haslinger publishing house did not wish to risk too much (yet) on the works of its young orchestra director. But even with this score, which lacked the Strauss orchestra’s power and was arranged by the late Johann Strauss Sr.’s brother-in-law, Karl Fux, the polka could hold its own.

[9] Musen. Quadrille (The Muses. Quadrille), Op. 46

The Musen-Quadrille was composed during the 1858 carnival season, and was first performed by Josef Strauss at the Artists’ Ball at the “Sperl” dance hall on 18 January. This was actually the small Artists’ Ball, which was organized by the modest association of painters and writers. On 2 February 1858, there was another Artists’ Ball in the larger venue of the Sofiensaal: on this occasion Johann Strauss presented his Künstler-Quadrille, Op. 201, for the first time. Whereas the Musen-Quadrille by Josef Strauss contained original motifs, Johann Strauss incorporated motifs from the world of opera and symphonic music, rendering his work professionally controversial. The nine muses, which are portrayed all together on the title page of the piano score, clearly inspired the composer in writing his quadrille: the result was a stirring, richly modulated work.

[10] Causerie. Polka (Chatting. Polka) Op. 180

On 5 March 1865 the Strauss brothers—Johann, Josef and Eduard—staged their carnival revue, at which all the dance pieces composed by the three of them for that year’s carnival were performed in concert. An extensive programme was offered: six novelties by Johann, nine by Josef and five by Eduard Strauss. In the 14th spot on this programme appeared: “Causerie”, Polka française (masked ball at the “Sperl” dance hall). Both Josef’s records as well as horn-player Franz Sabay’s notes provide this information: the première of this charming chat in polka rhythm took place on 27 February 1865 at the Strauss brothers’ benefit masked ball at the Sperl dance hall. It is assumed that Eduard Strauss presented the work, since Josef Strauss became seriously ill during the 1865 carnival season and had to take time off from his duties as orchestra director.

[11] Krönungslieder. Walzer (Coronation Songs. Waltz), Op. 226

In the summer of 1866, the Danubian monarchy’s Northern Army was decimated by the Prussian troops. As a result of this defeat, Emperor Franz Josef was forced to agree to a political settlement between the Austrian empire and the Hungarian kingdom of Hungary. The Danubian monarchy was thus reorganised: accordingly, Empress Elisabeth and Emperor Franz Josef (of Austria) had to allow themselves also to be crowned in Budapest as King and Queen of the Hungarians. The ceremonies took place from 8 to 10 June 1867. Before the high altar of the Buda parish church, located within a historic centre of the Hungarian capital, Prince Primate János Simor and Prime Minister Julius Graf Andrássy placed the crown of St. Stefan on Franz Josef’s head. Thereafter, the imperial-royal monarchy became the imperial and royal monarchy—a distinction of constitutional law that was (and is) not easily understandable to later generations! Josef Strauss used the coronation ceremonies in Budapest as the occasion for two compositions: the UIngarischer Krónungsmarsch (Hungarian Coronation March), Op. 225, and the Krönungslieder waltz. The waltz was premièred by the Strauss orchestra under the composer’s baton at a celebration in Vienna’s Volksgarten on 21 June 1867.

Franz Mailer
English translation by Dr. Luis de la Vega

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