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8.223617 - STRAUSS I, J.: Orchestral Works
English 

Johann Strauss, Sr

Johann Strauss, Sr. (1804 - 1849)

Orchestral Works

 

Heiter auch in ernster Zeit, Walzer

(Happy, even when times are tough, Waltz), op. 48

In 1830 and 1831 the population of Vienna suffered a number of catastrophes. In February 1830 the Danube, which at that time was still divided into a large number of branches, overflowed its banks and flooded the adjacent areas. In the summer of 1831 the deadly cholera epidemic spread from the war-torn regions of Russia and Poland into the territory of the Austrian Empire and, from Cracow, moved inexorably towards the densely populated regions along the Danube. In the summer of 1831 it was already known in Vienna that there would be cases of cholera in the capital. "The mood was like that before a siege," wrote Max Schonherr in his book on Johann Strauss I and his time. But it was precisely for this reason that Strauss gave his new waltz (first performed at the Summer Festivity on 24 August 1831 in the Sperl in the Leopoldstadt, which was surrounded by the Danube) the title "Happy, even when times are tough". This charming work was greeted with lively applause by a public which, in spite of the circumstances, was very numerous. The title, however, became a Strauss motto: in tough times the vigour of this music became something that people really needed. This was demonstrated in 1846 when Johann Strauss I pulled this waltz out of the archive again and had it performed once more: again there was applause and jubilation. Today the cheering melodies of this waltz are almost forgotten, but the Strauss motto is still valid: "Happy, even when times are tough!"

 

Carnevals-Spenden, Walzer (Carnival Donations, Waltz), op. 60

According to the Theaterzeitung of 14 January 1833, the waltz Carnival Donations by Johann Strauss was written for the ball in aid of the poor of the Leopoldstadt and Jagerzeile (today the Praterstrasse), which was to be (and indeed was) held on 22 January 1833 in the Sperl.

 

In the announcement it says: "In addition to the most pleasing modern compositions, Johann Strauss will perform his newest, highly successful sequence of dances 'Carnival Donations"'. How the journalist knew that the latest dances, which had not yet received their first performance, were "highly successful" remains his secret.

 

Also of interest is a note in the Theaterzeitung of 25 March 1833. This refers to the afternoon entertainments in Wagner's Coffee House in the Prater (Ignaz Wagner's daughter Toni was the lifelong companion of the poet Ferdinand Raimund). On 7 March this series of events included one which was again in aid of the poor of the Leopoldstadt and Jagerzeile. This time the reporter wrote: "Our gifted Strauss felt inspired by the presence of many distinguished guests and performed with his excellent orchestra the choicest compositions of which we consider Carnival Donations to be the very best."

 

In his analysis of the waltz, Max Schonherr referred to the bold leaps in the introduction and in the first waltz, which he likens to a donkey's braying (in a daring way, the dominant seventh forms the base for its own dominant seventh): "Strauss executes the idea of the waltz with a bizarre, highly individual strength of form, with an artistic, logical consistency and with a plethora of melodies and figures which is indeed marvellous."

 

Tausendsapperment-Walzer (Devil take it!, Waltz), op. 61

In the 1833 carnival season, people in Vienna were particularly keen to dance. According to the author of the popular Hansjorgel letters, the large number of flyposters advertising dances in the establishments of the imperial city was quite amazing. Nevertheless, Johann Strauss came up with something new in order further to increase public interest in his benefit ball on 13 February 1833 in the Sperl. He had written a new waltz and invited the ball guests to make up a title for this work. The idea proved highly effective. There was avid demand for admission to Strauss' ball. All the rooms in the Sperl were full to capacity and in the ballroom itself there was such a crowd that only a third of those who wanted to dance could find sufficient space to move in merry circles as they wanted. Upon entering the ballroom each guest had received a slip of paper and had been requested to write a waltz title on it. These slips were put in a trunk. Around midnight the new waltz was played and, as the last note of the extensive coda died away, the trunk was opened and one slip was taken out. On this slip, to everyone's surprise, was written Tausendsapperment - Devil take it! Although the ball guests raised objections to this title and suggested other names, Strauss was as good as his word and had the new work printed under the title Tausendsapperment Waltz.

 

Note: Joseph Lanner, who imitated the example of his rival Strauss and also organised a title draw, had better luck than Strauss. For his work (op. 73) on 18 February 1833 in the Emperor of Rome, the beautiful title Flowers of Delight was chosen.

 

Erinnerung an Berlin, Walzer (Memories of Berlin, Waltz), op. 78

In October 1834, Johann Strauss travelled to Berlin with thirty musicians. For the time, this was a bold undertaking. Strauss knew that the fame of his name and his dances had already spread to the city on the Spree, and was confident that there would be plentiful audiences for his performances. Furthermore, he had been assured that he would find patrons in Berlin who would be well disposed towards him. That indeed proved to be the case. On 12 November 1834 Strauss gave an evening of musical entertainment in the Royal Theatre, attended by a large audience who quickly responded to his performances with tumultuous applause. For the 15 November the management of the Hoftheater organised a ball on their premises. On 18 November, Strauss provided the dance music for the King of Prussia's ball. The next day there was a concert for Strauss' own benefit in the Royal Theatre. The Russian ambassador invited him to his mansion on 20 November. On 22 November the Strauss Orchestra played for a soiree of dancing for Prince Carl of Prussia. On 25 November there was another concert, this time in the Konigstadt Theatre. During this concert, Strauss was invited to the palace of Prince Ludwig of Prussia immediately after the event. There the members of the court were assembled to hear him once again as conductor and composer. The king gave him a present of money, and the Tsar of Russia, who was there as a guest, gave him a golden tobacco-tin. The trip to Prussia had been a success in every respect. Via Leipzig, Dresden and Prague, Johann Strauss returned to Vienna. In his native city the reports of his successes had been followed with interest and envy .These reports were criticised as excessive and overrated. Strauss did not worry about such jealousy and, from 14 December 1834, resumed his concerts in Vienna. On 28 January 1835 Strauss made use of the opportunity afforded by the charity ball in aid of the "Association for the Support of Poor Adult Blind Persons" attended by many members of the Austrian Imperial court, to give the first performance of a new waltz entitled "Memories of Berlin". The work was dedicated to Augusta, Princess of Prussia, born Princess of Weimar (this artistically inclined lady was also to play an interesting role in the life of Johann Strauss II). The Theaterzeitung reported on 31 January 1835 that "the new waltz was greeted with loud applause. It flowed from the recognised genius of this champion of our dance music."

 

On 26 February 1835 the Theaterzeitung marked the publication of the composition by Tobias Haslinger's publishing house with the comment: "These dances by the popular composer flatter the ear and set the feet in motion almost involuntarily. In particular, the second and fourth waltzes are remarkable for their enchanting, piquant melodies."

 

An unauthorised printing of the work in Berlin further increased interest in this waltz, and thus Memories of Berlin became a high point in the creative life of the gifted musician Johann Strauss.

 

Heimath-Klange, Walzer (Sounds of the Homeland, Waltz), op. 84

On 30 September 1835, Johann Strauss left his home city of Vienna and, together with his musicians, set out on a journey to Germany. "He conquered city after city," runs a report of this tour, "Munich, Augsburg, Ulm, Heilbronn, Karlsruhe, Heidelberg, Mannheim, Wurzburg, Nuremberg, Regensburg and finally, on the return journey, Passau on the Danube." On 22 December 1835 the party of musicians arrived back in Vienna.

 

However, for the ball of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde, held on 26 January 1836 in the Redoutensalen of the Hofburg, Johann Strauss provided a clear acknowledgement of Vienna and the Austrian Empire, and gave the title Sounds of the Homeland to the dedication waltz for this ball. Even the introduction is reminiscent of the folk tunes of the city. In the various sections of the waltz, Strauss recalled his earlier works Little Doves and Tivoli Waltz, and in the coda "after preparatory, tension-building modulation" (according to Schonherr) he quoted the duet "Ja nur a Kaiserstadt, ja nur a Wien" (Only in the Imperial City, only in Vienna) which Wenzel Muller (1759- 1835) had written in 1822 for the magical opera Aline oder Wien in einem anderen Weltteil (Aline or Vienna in another part of the World), and which had since become extremely popular. Johann Strauss II was to repeat this quotation in his waltz "Telegraphic Despatches", op. 195, and also used it as the title for his polka, op. 291.

 

The waltz "Sounds of the Homeland" immediately received the recognition

it deserved from the artistically knowledgeable Musikfreunde society. At the Strauss ball on 10 February 1836 in the Sperl, 100 copies of the piano edition of the work were distributed as a much appreciated gift for the ladies.

 

Ferdinand Quadrille, op. 151

Emperor Ferdinand, known as "the Good", son of the Emperor Franz and his wife Maria Theresia who came from Naples, was born on 19 April 1793 in the Vienna Hofburg. He was a member of the house of Habsburg Lothringen, a branch not exactly favoured by good fortune. From his childhood, Ferdinand suffered from epileptic fits and thus, in the view of the politicians of the Austrian Empire, should have been excluded from his father's succession. But Franz I would have nothing of the sort and so, when his father died on 1 March 1835, Ferdinand took over the regency. The affairs of state were managed until 1848 by the Chancellor Clemens Prince Metternich (1773- 1859). Emperor Ferdinand was not respected by his subjects (he was popularly known as "Gutinand der Fertige" - Gutinand the Ready, a pun on "Ferdinand der Gutige") but was regarded with a tinge of sympathy. His musicality won him faithful friends in musical circles. He certainly deserved credit for the flowering of musical life in Austria during his reign, which lasted until December 1848.

 

On the occasion of a somewhat belated celebration of his fiftieth birthday and his saint's day, a special festival was arranged in the Imperial Volksgarten on 2 June 1843, with music provided by the Strauss orchestra and the band of the 19th Regiment of Infantry conducted by Andreas Nemetz, and ending with a magnificent firework display. On 7 June 1843 the Allgemeine Theaterzeitung, no.135, reported: "On Friday 2 June, to celebrate the glorious name-day of His Majesty the Emperor, there took place in the Imperial Volksgarten a special festival, which was blessed with a lovely summer evening. First prize for the evening was carried off by Strauss' latest composition, Ferdinand Quadrille. It is without doubt the most successful quadrille Strauss has ever written. We shall refrain from giving any detailed musical appreciation and merely refer to the fact that the piece had to be repeated three times, to jubilant applause."

 

The musical appreciation which the reporter on the Theaterzeitung declined to give was provided by Max Schonherr in his seminal book on Strauss Father. Here he writes: "It seems as if Strauss saved all his masterful skills for his quadrilles and concentrated all his craft into them. Look at the second part of no.1, how the violins keep the semiquavers going beneath the flute melody as if in perpetual motion, or the second part in no.2, how the horns with the strings take a few semiquavers from the principal theme and with them create the link to the chromatic bass line, or the tingling semiquavers in no.3 and in the second part of no.4, or the can-can-like final section in no.6; the six numbers are -for the musicians, too - a source of constant pleasure and delight."

 

So the unfortunate emperor, who was a discerning music-lover, was given a well-deserved tribute by Johann Strauss.

 

Orpheus Quadrille, op. 162

Johann Strauss composed the Orpheus Quadrille for a representative ball of the Imperial Austrian Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde, and first performed it at the ball on the night 30-31 January 1844. The legendary singer Orpheus who, according to Greek mythology, could tame wild beasts by the power of his singing and set inanimate nature in motion, was a splendid mascot for this ball, and thus the ideal representative of music in the title of this quadrille written for the music lovers of Vienna. Historical references to the distant Greece of mythology were absent from the composition. Rather, as Max Schonherr pointed out, Strauss "linked together playfully dazzling ideas". In the finale, the writer Moritz Gottlieb Saphir (1795 -1858) claimed to discern "a capricious French Biedermeier imp".

 

On the occasion of the publication of the printed edition of the Orpheus Quadrille by Tobias Haslinger's Widow and Son, an article was published in the Wiener Allgemeine Theaterzeitung on 12 November 1844 which contained the following passage: "Popular opinion long ago came to a conclusion regarding the merits of the compositions of the indefatigable Johann Strauss. Anyone who looks at Strauss' many achievements will have to admit with admiration that every new piece offers surprises and things which never existed before."

 

In spite of this evaluation, the Orpheus Quadrille by Johann Strauss subsequently slipped somewhat into oblivion. Only rarely did Johann Strauss II, who made his debut as a musical director and composer in October 1844 and thus began to compete with his father, remember this interesting quadrille.

 

Moldau-Klange, Walzer (Sounds of Moldavia, Waltz), op. 186

On 13 October 1845, clearly irritated by press comment in his native city which had taken the opportunity afforded by his competition with his successful son to indulge in strident polemics, Johann Strauss I set off on a tour via Prague, Reichenberg, Zittau, Dresden and Magdeburg to Berlin, from where he returned to Vienna on 21 November. In Prague Strauss appears to have made a promise which he fulfilled after his arrival in Vienna. On 31 December 1845 the Illustrierte Theaterzeitung reported:

 

"Our indefatigable Kapellmeister Strauss was invited by the students of law at the Prague University to compose a waltz for their ball which is to take place in the coming carnival season. Strauss has complied with this flattering invitation and has already sent his new waltz to Prague with the title 'Prague Lawyers' Ball Dances'." It is not at present possible to ascertain whether this waltz was indeed performed in Prague in the 1846 carnival season. There are several references to the first performance in Vienna of a waltz with the title Sounds of Moldavia which, according to the newspaper Der Wanderer, was dedicated to the lawyers of Prague, and which took place on 11 January 1846 at the opening ball in the refurbished halls in the Sperl. The Wanderer of 15 January 1846 wrote: "Herr Strauss was received with jubilation and his new waltz 'Sounds of Moldavia', which he played for the first time, was greeted with enthusiastic applause. This is another composition such as only Strauss can write, full of the electric rhythm and gifted individuality which won for him a monopoly of the waltz in Germany. Bravissimo, Strauss!"

 

Fest-Lieder, Walzer (Festival Songs, Waltz), op. 193

The waltz Festival Songs was composed in the spring of 1846 and was first performed at a festival concert in honour of the name day (saint's day) of Emperor Ferdinand Ion 2 June 1846 in the Imperial Volksgarten, presented by the composer Johann Strauss I at the head of his orchestra. The newspaper Der Wanderer (no.134) of 5 June 1846 reported the festival and the new waltz as follows: "Strauss Father, the man with a thousand waltz tunes and a noble talent for arranging, together with Herr Corti, proprietor of the popular Volksgarten Coffee House, organised a great festival three days ago (i.e. 2 June 1846) to celebrate the name day of the beloved father of our country. The success of this event can justifiably be described as sparkling, for a very large and elegant audience had gathered to feast on the wonderful melodies of our incomparable waltz master Strauss, on the wonderful evening and on Herr Corti's exquisite ice cream. A garland of beautiful ladies gave glory to this merry festival. Around the pavillion where Strauss played with his orchestra, wandering groups of listeners had formed who, in their enthusiasm, became like marble columns and totally blocked the way. Strauss, the man of the evening, composed for this festival a waltz called Festival Songs which combines all Strauss' strong points and which was received with such applause that it had to be repeated twice."

 

A further performance of the work at an afternoon event on 7 June 1846 in Unger's Casino in Hernals was recorded by the Wanderer of 12June 1846. The reporter linked his praise of the waltz Festival Songs with a polemic against Johann Strauss II. He concluded his report on the concert at Unger's with the words: "Anyone who has heard this hero of the waltz just once loses any desire to hanker after another musical director."

 

In his commentary on the waltz Festival Songs, Max Schonherr expressed the view that" Johann Strauss II was not yet able to compete with his father's most recent waltzes." One does not necessarily have to share this opinion, but one must recognise that Johann Strauss I's Festival Songs is a masterpiece.

 

Najaden-Quadrille (Naiads' Quadrille), op. 206

On 2 February 1847 Franz Morawetz, the founder and director of the Sofienbad in the Landstrasse suburb, organised a Naiads' Carnival Festivity in his establishment and invited the sport-loving ladies and girls who patronised the Sofienbad during the summer. For this occasion, Johann Strauss I composed his Naiads' Quadrille and dedicated the work to the entrepreneur's wife, Caroline Morawetz.

 

Although the 1847 carnival season was in no way a sparkling success, those who attended this festival must have had a very good time. At any rate, on 4 February 1847 there appeared in the Theaterzeitung an over-enthusiastic report which ran: "At the recent major ball festivity in the wonderful Sofienbad Hall, A Naiads' Carnival Festivity Night in honour of all friends of the noble art of swimming in Vienna, everything can be described as having gone- in keeping with the character of this festivity - swimmingly well. The splendid hall swam in a sea of lights; the ladies present swam in an ocean of reflected rays from diamonds like purest water; the whole assembled company swam in a River Plate of merriment and joy, and by one in the morning many of the happy throng were swimming in a roaring Niagara of champagne. So many sprightly waltzing bathing beauties were on hand that a foreigner called out loudly, 'These are not naiads, they are more like goddesses!' The Naiads' Quadrille which the court ball music director Strauss dedicated to this wonderful carnival festivity was so magically light and fragrant that with each bar of music the enticing words of our Danube naiad 'In my castle all is lovely; come, sir knight, and stay with me.' seemed to enter unbidden into one's feet."

 

The enchanting quadrille remained in the repertoire of the Strauss orchestra for a long time.

 

Note: The Danube naiad was a Danube river maiden, a popular figure of local mythology.

 

Stelldichein-Galopp (Rendezvous Galop), without opus number

According to Otto Schneider's Tanzlexikon (Dictionary of Dance -Vienna and Mainz, 1985), the energetic dance called the galop came into fashion around 1825 and spread from North Germany into Austria. It is true that galops are first found in Vienna around this period, but quick dances in two-four time were known and were popular in the years following the Congress of Vienna (1814/1815). The young musical directors Joseph Lanner and Johann Strauss published their first galop in 1827. The order of publication and the opus numbers given to the works do not, however, tell us anything about when each work was written. The age of the galop lasted in Vienna until 1840, reaching its climax in the late twenties and early thirties of the century .It is apparent that the galopades, recognised as being dangerous to health (the "Viennese disease", consumption, carried off many young people at the time, far too frequently girls and young women), fell into disfavour around 1840 and were finally replaced by the polkas which, at first, were more gentle.

 

The flood of galopades which occurred in the late 1820s and early 1830s meant that not all those by Johann Strauss -who at the time was already father to his subsequently famous sons Johann and Josef -were published. In the Vienna Stadt-und Landesbibliothek some of these dances have been preserved as manuscript copies.

 

The "Rendezvous Galop" (for orchestra consisting of ten wind instruments, three violins and bass) could have been written in the 1830s, for it was not until then that the orchestras of Strauss and Lanner had the necessary number of musicians. There are no records of the precise date and place of the first performance of this work. As already indicated, it never appeared in print.

 

Schauer-Galopp (Shudder Galop), without opus number

The comments on the "Rendezvous Galop" apply equally to the "Shudder Galop". The smaller orchestra (seven wind, three violins and bass) suggests that this work was written before the "Rendezvous Galop". It bears some relationship to the Sighs Galop by Johann Strauss, which was published as op. 9 on 15 September 1828 by Anton Diabelli & Go. Only the piano edition of this work has survived, so a comparison with the Shudder Galop is possible only to a limited extent because we have no information on the orchestration of the Sighs Galop.

 

@ 1994 Translation by Peter Eustace

The Johann Strauss Society of Great Britain


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