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8.223575 - STRAUSS, Josef: Edition - Vol. 15

Josef Strauss (1827–1870)
Edition • Volume 15


[1] Ungarischer Krönungsmarsch (Hungarian Coronation March), Op. 225

Josef Strauss composed the Ungarischer Krónungsmarsch, as well as the waltz score Krónungslieder (Coronation Songs), Op. 226, in the year 1867 in connection with the coronation of the Austrian imperial couple Franz Josef I and Elisabeth as king and queen of Hungary. The solemn coronation ceremony, which was among the celebration events to be held from 8th until 10th of June 1867 in Ofen”, sealed the constitutional compromise within the Danubian monarchy: In exchange for receiving internal autonomy, Hungary agreed that the empire should still be a single great state for purposes of war and foreign affairs, while Franz Josef and his consort would be emperor and empress of Austria and also king and queen of Hungary. This compromise was a consequence of the defeat of the Austrian Northern Army by the troops of the Prussian kingdom in July 1866 at Königgrätz.

On the evening before these festivities in Ofen, namely on 7th June 1867, a solemn celebration with fireworks was held in the Volksgarten on Vienna’s Ringstrasse. There, Josef Strauss performed both of his new works; the waltz score Krónungslieder and the Ungarischer Krónungsmarsch. This commemorative march is modelled on the melodious and rhythmic Verbunkos music of the Magyars and does not refer to the Viennese style until the last part of the trio. By 8th June 1867, the work had been published by C. A. Spina in Vienna and in Hungary.

* In 1872, Ofen and Buda were joined with the settlement on the opposite bank of the Danube to form Budapest.

[2] Amouretten-Polka (Amoretti, Polka), Ор. 147

According to studies of classical antiquity, amoretti are those little winged love-gods which have come down to us from Roman mythology. Understandably, poets and storytellers of the Austrian monarchy also took up the term amoretti and embellished poems and novels with it. Even the title page of the first edition of this pleasant polka by Josef Strauss depicts a quartet of tiny amoretti fluttering over the earth. One of these graceful beings bears a violin which, in relation to his own size, is downright weighty. This coincides more or less with the Roman tradition. But in Vienna there was yet another, second meaning to the word amoretti. In the musical comedies and burlesques of Old Vienna, the plot frequently revolved around amours, which could refer to both romantic liaisons as well as lovers. The diminutive form, amouretten, could be what we refer to nowadays as “trysts”, involving the ancient game of love and attraction, temptation and promise.

Josef Strauss performed the pretty, pleasing tone sketch that is his Amouretten-Polka before the Viennese public in the summer of 1863. It may be that he had already dreamt it up in the year 1862, when he conducted the concerts in Pavlovsk, near St Petersburg, in his brother’s place. That may be the reason why this work is not mentioned in his own notes, nor in those of horn-player Franz Sabay, who did not in fact travel to Pavlovsk. Another possibility is as follows: the Amouretten-Polka was announced as a new work for a concert on 27th June 1863 at the “Neue Welt”. Since there was no report on this event, one must believe the announcement in the Viennese newspapers. The work first appeared in print in November 1863.

[3] Gedenke mein! Polka schnell (Think of Me, Quick polka), Op. 38

Along with the waltz Perlen der Liebe (Pearls of Love), Op. 39, the little polka Gedenke meinl prepared the way for the most important day in the life of composer Josef Strauss, the day of his marriage to Caroline Josefa Pruckmayer. On 6th June 1857, he gave his bride the concert waltz Perlen der Liebe, which also became his musical wedding gift; on 7th June 1857, at Unger’s Casino in Hernals, he played the quick polka Gedenke meinl for the first time—in the presence of his bride. It was on the eve of his wedding, which took place the next day, on 8th June 1857, at the Parish Church of St John in Leopoldstadt.

The title Gedenke meinl conjures up different sentiments. In this work by Josef, joy and love are represented in a manner devoid of pathos. For a long time the work was considered a rarity, for only the piano score was known. The orchestra parts of the polka were discovered subsequently.

[4] Lustschwärmer, Walzer (Pleasure-Seeker, Waltz), Op. 91

On 3rd July 1860, Josef Strauss announced in the newspaper Fremden-Blatt that on that evening in the Vienna Volksgarten a festival concert would be organised for his benefit. He promised to perform some new works, including excerpts from Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde, the Overture to William Vincent Wallace’s opera Loreley and Schumann’s Overture to Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, none of which had been heard in Vienna. Of his own compositions, his waltz Lustschwärmer and the Polka française Mignon were promised, and the finale was to include fireworks by Anton Stuwer.

The waltz Lustschwärmer was not among the pieces in fact played on that evening in the Volksgarten. According to the composer’s notes, as well as those of horn-player Franz Sabay, the first performance of this amusing work actually took place on 24th July 1860. One can imagine that the performance of the excerpts from Tristan und Isolde required numerous rehearsals. It was owing to Josef Strauss’s historical efforts that the music to Wagner’s opera, which was deemed “unplayable” and rejected by the directors of the Imperial Opera Theatre, was presented to the audience at his concert by first-class musicians. Unfortunately, his arrangements have not been preserved. The first performance of Tristan und Isolde did not take place until 1865, in Munich and conducted by Hans Guido Bulow.

Naturally, one wonders what the composer had in mind when he chose the title Lustschwärmer. For the illustrator of the piano score title-page, the person alluded to is a man in his prime in a moment of reverie at a festive ball, with a cigar in his hand and a bottle of wine nearby. The picture also shows a pair of sweethearts in a drawing room and another couple entwined and suspended in the air. Contemporary reports give no information regarding the musical content of the waltz: the listener is thus instructed to follow his own imagination. It is a thoroughly merry, varied and, on the whole, very melodious work. The piano and orchestral scores of the Lustschwärmer waltz were published by Carl Haslinger in October 1860.

[5] Theater-Quadrille, (Theatre Quadrille), Ор. 213

For the masked ball that took place on 12th January 1867 in the Diana-Saal, Josef Strauss placed a Theater-Quadrille at the disposal of dance instructor Novodworsky (a dancer with the Imperial Opera House). The era of flamboyant masked balls in the Diana-Saal was already over by then; the predominant and flashy demi-monde of these events had migrated to the Sperl establishment. With his quadrille in the Diana-Saal, “Pepi” Strauss could entertain a rather middle-class audience, which also made up the bulk of theatre-goers. With these spectators, he could count on their understanding a quadrille drawn from all of the current Vienna stage repertoire.

Strauss chose motifs from the following plays: No. 1:

Melodies from the spectacular show Die Eselshaut (The Donkey’s Hide), which featured music by Adolf Müller Sr. (ahit play at the Theater an der Wien) and from Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera, which was performed for the first time in Vienna on 19th November 1866 at the Imperial Opera House. No. 2: Motifs from Suppé’s operetta Leichte Cavallerie (Light Cavalry), (which received its first performance on 21st March 1866 at the Carl Theater), and from the ballet Flick und Flock, with music by Hertel (first performed on 4th October 1865 at the Imperial Opera House). No. 3: Additional motifs from Die Eselshaut. No. 4: Motifs from Meyerbeer’s Dinorah (first performed in Vienna on 11th March 1856) and Die Afrikanerin (The African Woman), (premièred at the Carl Theater on 2nd December 1856). No. 6: A motif from Offenbach’s Donauweibchen (Danubian Maidens) and a couplet from his operetta Bluebeard (first performed in Vienna on 21st September 1866 at the Theater an der Wien).

Nothing is known of the success of the Theater-Quadrille at its first performance. The work also appeared on the programme for the wide-ranging 1867 Carnival Revue which took place on 10th March in the Volksgarten. It had long since appeared in print, published by C. A. Spina.

[6] Vielliebchen, Polka Mazur (Sweetheart, Polka Mazurka), Op. 7

In the period between 1853 and the summer of 1855, when Josef Strauss worked in the family waltz business’ merely as acting orchestra conductor, relieving his brother Johann at the helm of the orchestra, “Pepi” composed very little. Of these scant works, only a few later appeared in print. It was not until the summer of 1855 that Josef Strauss was able to persuade the publisher C. A. Spina to issue his first compositions. In total, nine works were entrusted to the up-and-coming Spina. Subsequently, Johann’s publisher, Carl Haslinger, also undertook the publication of Josef’s compositions and executed new contracts with both brothers.

The polka mazurka Vielliebchen, which was composed in fact during the summer of 1855, belongs among the early works published by C. A. Spina. The illustrator of the title-page of the piano score was obviously of the opinion that the composer had chosen the name of a flower for his composition, and encircled the type on the title-page with a garland of leaves and flowers which cradled the figure of a maiden. However, in nineteenth-century Vienna, another usage was given to the word in certain party circles—a man and a woman would eat a piece of pastry from either end until the partners’ lips met in a kiss. This custom was known as Vielleibchen-Essen, or eating “sweethearts”. It is impossible to say whether Josef Strauss wrote his polka mazurka in the summer of 1855 in homage to gardens in bloom, or to a merry social diversion. In any case, the result was a singularly pleasant work, which furthered Josef’s reputation as a particularly sensitive composer in the polka mazurka category. Unfortunately, only the piano score of this early masterpiece has survived.

[7] Combinationen, Walzer (Deductions, Waltz), Op. 176

Josef Strauss wrote the Combinationen waltz for the Engineer’s Ball of 1865, which was held on 14th February in the Diana-Saal. The fact that the publication log of C. A. Spina publishers only mentions the score of the work for piano, as well as for violin and piano, makes it possible to surmise that no orchestra score was issued for this inconspicuous waltz. Neither has any transcript of the parts been unearthed. Josef’s Combinationen waltz belongs among the composer’s least-known works.

[8] Plappermäulchen, Polka schnell (Chatterboxes, Quick polka), Op. 245

The quick polka Plappermäulchen by Josef Strauss is most accurately characterised as a “musical joke”. It can, accordingly, be considered a companion piece to his brother Johann’s ingenious musical joke, Perpetuum mobile. Both works also have in common that they were not understood at their first performance and were thus more rejected than celebrated. However, Josef Strauss’s musical joke had a more difficult time gaining general acceptance than Johann’s companion piece did. When the work appeared on the musicians’ stands for the first time—this was on 26th April 1868 at the huge amusement park “Neue Welt” in Vienna-Hietzing—it was called Die Plaudertasche (Chatterbox). The musicians may have smiled a little when they caught a glimpse of this title, for they knew the chatterbox well. It was none other than the composer / conductor’s little daughter, Karoline Anna Strauss, who was about ten years old and who was appropriately referred to by her father as “the little mouth”. When one translates this constant chattering into music, a type of perpetuum mobile very understandably comes into being. One merely needs to choose the precise instruments in order to bring about this effect.

It proved even more difficult for Josef Strauss to make the composition understandable to his publisher. The first version of this work appeared in a souvenir book for the visitors to the German Marksmanship Festival in the summer of 1868. Since the publisher was of the opinion that the Viennese expression, Die Plaudertasche, would not be understood by the participants of this festival, he issued the work under the title Plappermäulchen.

The orchestral parts printed at this time show that Josef’s ingenious composition was published without the later, very effective, coda. In this version just three closing chords follow the repeat of the first part. The grandiose finale first surfaced in the piano score of Plappermäulchen, which was published much later. In 1868 and the following years, the work, which was recorded in the orchestra’s archives also as Böse Zungen (Malicious Tongues) — received very few repeat performances. Plappermäulchen was eventually heard more widely and won the favour of music-lovers everywhere.

[9] Hesperus-Ländler, Op. 220

The Hesperus Artists’ Association, which derived its name from the morning star (or the evening star, as the case may be, also the planet Venus), reached the height of its popularity in 1867. That made it possible for the board of directors to organise two fêtes during Carnival that year. Before the representative “Hesperus-Ball”, which was held on 18th February 1867 in the Diana-Saal, a Hesperus-Bauernball (Hesperus Peasant’s Ball) was also held on 27th January 1867 in the Blumensälen at the Garden Society on Vienna’s Ringstrasse. According to press reports, this evening must have been very lively and merry. The guests appeared in peasant dress or imaginative costumes and they danced, among other things, to cheerful ländlers from the Alpine region of Austria. Josef Strauss got into the spirit of things with his dedication piece for the ball, a country waltz, which he called In Hemdsármeln (In Shirtsleeves). Whether his orchestra in fact played at this ball without jackets cannot be surmised. Nonetheless, the work’s presentation and encore were received with gaiety and merriment.

The pleasant composition was published by C. A. Spina by March 1867, under the title Hesperus-Ländler. The piano score bore the legend: Hesperus-Ländler, composed for, performed and personally dedicated by Josef Strauss for the HESPERUS Artists’ Association Peasant Evening. This genuine ländler, the sole piece of its kind in his body of works, was particularly distinctive, a welcome complement to the traditional dance repertoire during carnival in the imperial city of Vienna.

[10] Winterlust, Polka (schnell) (Winter Pleasure, Quick polka), Op. 121

In the hurly-burly of Carnival season of 1862, entrepreneur Hassa turned the masked balls arranged by him at the new Diana-Saal into an attraction. Even Friedrich Uhl, the otherwise restrained reporter from the Botschafter, sang the praises of the learned decorator Hassa, stating that he had a remarkable novelty attraction which should appeal to natives and foreigners alike. Hassa took the utmost pains to ensure variety at the masked events. Folichon and Amazonen balls succeeded one another (each featuring a new quadrille by Josef Strauss). On 27th February 1862, the invitation was to a masked ball which featured skating on a specially-built ice-rink in the ballroom. On 1st March, the penultimate masked ball in the Diana-Saal was advertised with a general race on ice-skates and a masked event with snow flurries. On this date in his journal, Josef Strauss noted the first performance of his Schlittschuh-Polka (Ice Skates Polka). On 3rd March, the annual “Strauss Ball” took place at the Diana-Saal, although for a long time these had been held at the “Sperl” establishment. The theme of the ball was “The wilder”, the better, and promised endless carnival spectacle with fifty new dance pieces by Johann and Josef Strauss.

In the reports in the Viennese press, the “Strauss Ball” in the Diana-Saal was mentioned as the high point of an otherwise terrible Carnival season. Johann Strauss’s waltz score Wiener Chronik (Vienna Chronicles), Op. 263, which was performed for the first time on that evening, was certainly noticed, but the rest of the repertoire was not mentioned—it seems to have been lost in the hurly-burly. In Josef Strauss’s diary and in horn-player Franz Sabay’s notes, it is stated that on this evening Josef Strauss’s Winterlust-Polka was also played for the first time. (There is no mention of a Schlittschuh-Polka.) According to the notes of Josef Strauss and Franz Sabay, it can be assumed that the first performance of the Winterlust-Polka took place on 3rd March 1862. However, ice-skating races and masked events with snow flurries had already been offered to the public in February and in the programme for the 1862 Carnival Revue, next to the Winterlust polka, both Johann and Josef Strauss noted: masked ball at the Diana-Saal.

But it is hardly of any major consequence whether this amusing and original work was first performed on 1st March as the Schlittschuh-Polka or, possibly in a revised form, on 3rd March as the Winterlust Polka. The piano score was published in any case under the name “Winterlust”, with a particularly beautiful title page: a radiantly sparkling ballroom in a winter landscape.

[12] Die Naßwalderin, Ländler im Tempo einer Polka Mazurka (The Nasswald Forest Maiden (Ländler in polka mazurka time), Op. 267

The Nasswald forest is located on the northern slope of the Rax, a 2,000-meter high massif some 100 kilometres south of Vienna. In the mid-nineteenth century this region was still considered forbidding. A group of woodcutters had long worked in this rough forest area and finally founded a colony. In order to aid the desperately poor woodworkers and their families, storyteller August Silberstein (1827–1900) organized an aid society, which through social events raised money for provisions and equipment for the people in the Nasswald. Every year a married couple was also ceremoniously provided for. August Silberstein prepared a report on the region, Land und Leute im Naßwald (Land and People in the Nasswald), which was as well-known to Josef Strauss as Silberstein’s short story collection, Dorsfschwalben aus Ósterreich (Country Swallows of Austria), which inspired his famous waltz of the same name (Op. 164).

According to newspaper reports, on 27th February 1869, during a gathering of people from the Nasswald at Grossen Zeisig on the castle glacis, Josef Strauss appeared with some musicians and played a melodious composition entitled Die Naßwalderin for the first time at this event. This work, as expressly indicated in the second part of the title, combines a ländler with the rhythm of a polka mazurka. “The people of the Nasswalder region were honoured”, according to a contemporary report. The piano score of the composition, which appeared on 4th April 1869, bore the dedication: “To the Nasswalder Society in memory of the final dance gathering of the 1869 season on 10th April.” On this day, too, the composition must have been presented in its original version for just a few musicians, the version in which it appeared in print. Whether Josef Strauss did the instrumentation for a later orchestra version, which has not survived, cannot be ascertained. In both versions,however, the distinctive composition has always enraptured the listener.

[13] Mein Lebenslauf ist Lieb’ und Lust, Walzer (My Life is Love and Pleasure, Waltz), Op. 263

Josef Strauss composed his waltz masterpiece, Mein Lebenslauf ist Lieb’ und Lust, in 1869 for the Vienna University Students Ball. Accordingly, the student song, Ich hab’ den ganzen Vormittag (I have the whole morning) is cited in the introduction and the melody of the text that gave the waltz its title is heard in the coda.

Viennese newspapers reported with remarkable restraint on this ball, which took place on the Monday of Carnival, 7th February 1869, in the ballroom at the Imperial Palace. The dedication compositions by Josef and Eduard Strauss, both of whom conducted the orchestra interchangeably during the ball, were hardly mentioned. The reporter for the Fremden-Blatt did not like the waltz Mein Lebenslauf ist Lieb’ und Lust at all, rather, he preferred Eduard Strauss’s polka Studentenstreiche (Student Pranks), Op. 48, which was played for the first time on the same evening but which is now virtually forgotten. Thus nobody was informed of the affinity which existed between this waltz and its title. It conveys exuberance as well as light-hearted gaiety and graceful charm, alternating with passionate jubilation, and above all, it contains a striking optimism that is hardly ever found in Josef Strauss’s works. Indeed, whoever hears it will realise that in this waltz the composer was likewise bidding farewell to youth and to belief in a happy future, since by then he at least suspected that the days of his life and work would come to an end in the not too distant future. During the Carnival season of 1869, the chronic ailment from which Josef Strauss had suffered since childhood and to which he would succumb in a little over a year’s time, was already so far advanced that its symptoms could no longer be ignored. The composer and music director had to set down his pen and his violin for shorter or longer periods of time on account of being stricken with frightening headaches and sudden fainting spells. A short convalescence trip in the summer of 1867 had no enduring effects. In fact, Josef Strauss forcibly rejected all rest, all relaxation. With dogged energy, he conducted concerts and balls, wrote one masterpiece after another. In marked contrast to his condition, he chose markedly optimistic titles for his new compositions: thus for the charity ball of the fourth district of Vienna, held in the Blumensälen of the Garden Society on 27th January 1869, he wrote the polka Frohsinn, Op. 264, and in the summer of 1869, from Pavlovsk near St. Petersburg, where he conducted the concerts in Vauxhall together with his brother Johann, he sent his publisher in Vienna the waltz Frohes Leben Op. 272 and, in addition to this, a rousing quick polka, Ohne Sorgen, Op. 271. With the polka Heiterer Muth, he led off the series of his dedication pieces for the Carnival season of 1870, the last one of his short life. The main work of this group, however, was the waltz, Mein Lebenslauf ist Lieb’ und Lust, a composition dedicated to youth’s love of life, which at the same time is an exhilarating farewell to life, which could only be produced in Vienna.

Franz Mailer
English translation by Dr. Luis de la Vega
Professional Translating Services, Miami, Florida, U.S.A.

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