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8.223626 - STRAUSS, Josef: Edition - Vol. 24
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Josef Strauss (1827-1870)

Orchestral Works Vol. 24

[1] Aus der Ferne. Polka Mazur (From Afar. Polka Mazurka), Op. 270

In the spring of 1869, Johann and Josef Strauss accompanied by Johann’s wife, Jetty, travelled to Russia to conduct once again the summer concerts in the Vauxhall of Pavlovsk, near St Petersburg. The goal of the project was to create a source of income for Josef, as well, during the coming summers in Pavlovsk, but in Warsaw, already seriously ill, ‘Pepi’ was overcome with longing for his wife Caroline, who had stayed behind in Vienna. He wrote her yearning letters and started composing a melancholy polka mazurka, to which he gave the title Aus der Ferne. Dolcissimo is written at the beginning of the work over the violin parts: the Slavic colouring enhances the basically melancholy mood, and suddenly one senses a hint of despair in the swells of the melody. In the Trio, the strict rhythm of the mazurka takes over, and the small but expressive psychological portrait becomes a dance piece once again, but when the first part is reiterated, there is a return to melancholy and longing. This greeting from afar to his beloved wife bears a close resemblance to the music of Frédéric Chopin.

Eduard Strauss performed the polka mazurka Aus der Ferne for the first time on 2nd July 1869 in the Viennese Volksgarten. It was not until 25th August/6th September 1869 that Josef Strauss played it in Pavlovsk for Russian audiences, proof that this work was a salute by ‘Pepi’ to his wife Caroline in Vienna.

[2] Liebesgrüsse. Walzer (Love’s Greetings. Waltz), Op. 56

Josef Strauss composed his charming waltz Liebesgrüsse in the spring of 1858 and first presented the work to the public at a festival with fireworks on 1st June in the Volksgarten, as confirmed by a report in the Theaterzeitung trade paper of 3rd June 1858 (No. 125): "Josef Strauss performed his new waltz Liebesgrüsse for the first time. The waltz is, like all compositions by Strauss, extraordinarily melodious and brilliantly orchestrated. It had to be repeated several times."

On 19th September 1858, the publisher Carl Haslinger advertised the printed edition of the work, which caused the Theaterzeitung of 23rd September 1858 (No. 218) to comment: "His [Josef Strauss’] waltz Liebesgrüsse in Lanner’s style possesses so many melodious elements, that people are already humming it." Until 1859, the work was featured in the programmes of the Strauss orchestra, and did not completely disappear from the repertoire in subsequent years.

[3] Unknown March (without Opus number)

In the estate of composer Josef Strauss, who died during the summer of 1870, only a few manuscripts were found. To his brothers’ great surprise, no hand-written scores were discovered. The printing templates, written by copyists, of several of his works created before 1863, came from the estate of the publisher Carl Haslinger, who died in 1868. This makes the discovery some years ago of the score of a march, in which, without a doubt, the young Strauss’s handwriting can be recognised, all the more astonishing. The work, which is complete, has no title. Now, it is known from newspaper reports that during the first years of his activity, when he saw himself only as an "interim conductor" (or "auxiliary piece of furniture," as he used to say), did Josef Strauss indeed compose some marches. These were not published, such as, for example, a Viennese Garrison March, which was played for the first time on 23rd July 1854 at Unger’s casino in Hernals, and was repeated several times. There is no absolute certainty, however, as to whether this manuscript is one of the works that did not appear in print, the existence of which is only known from newspaper accounts. The surviving Untitled March could be a draft, which the composer might not have wanted published at all. The work is by no means perfect. It could be included among the group of Military Marches which Josef Strauss wrote at the beginning of his career, as circumstances required. One could cite, as examples, the Avant-garde March, Op.14, of 1854, or the Austrian Army March, Op.24, of 1856. If the Untitled March, recorded as Unknown March, is indeed, a preliminary study for the young composer’s military marches, then it offers welcome proof of how quickly and deftly Josef Strauss grew into the task assigned to him by his family and which was to be his destiny, especially given the fact that he did not want to become either a conductor or a composer of dance melodies. Josef Strauss is unique in that he, an engineer and architect, was forced against his will to develop a talent and attain immortality in a sphere outside his chosen field of expertise.

[4] Glückskinder (Children of Fortune) Waltz, Op. 124

Josef Strauss composed the waltz Glückskinder in the spring of 1862. The first performance was advertised for the charity concert of the Strauss orchestra, which was to have taken place on 17th June 1862 at Weghuber’s establishment on the former Burgglacis, where the Volkstheater now stands. A rainy period, however, forced the festival to be postponed several times, and so the composer decided to save the waltz for another event, the traditional celebration for the feast of St Anne, which accordingly took place on 25th July in the garden of Weghuber’s coffee-house. This date is confirmed by the entry in Josef’s notes and the annotations of the horn player Franz Sabay. Perhaps Josef Strauss was already aware that he had to travel to Russia in a few days’ time, in order to take the place of his brother Johann in conducting the summer concerts in Pavlovsk, near St Petersburg. Nevertheless, he did not feel like a child of fortune. He only made the trip because his mother asked him to. By the time that the waltz Glückskinder appeared in print on 17th September 1862, the painful separation from his beloved wife Caroline was almost over.

[5] Sternschnuppen. Walzer (Shooting Stars. Waltz), Op. 96

For the Hernals church festival of the year 1860, celebrated with a festive concert and a ball on 27th August in Franz Unger’s casino, Josef Strauss wrote a waltz entitled Sternschnuppen. The work had its basis in fact, as during the summer of 1860 many meteorite showers were seen over Vienna. The work and its performance were advertised on 24th August 1860 in the Fremden-Blatt. Even though no report about this festival has been found until now in the press, there is no doubt that these musical Shooting Stars were admired on this evening in Hernals. The première of this waltz has been recorded in the notes of both Josef and Franz Sabay. In the novelty concert held by Josef Strauss on 31st August 1860 in the Volksgarten, the waltz was repeated, as well as in the final concert in Unger’s casino on 7th October, in the programme of which, as a counterpart to the Carnival revue, all the summer compositions by Josef Strauss were also included. The waltz Sternschnuppen seems to have been a great success, because on the occasion of its appearance in print by the publisher Carl Haslinger, the trade paper Zwischen-Akt wrote on 3rd February 1861: "Josef Strauss’ popular waltz Sternschnuppen has just been published in an elegant edition. These fresh melodies were very well received at the end of the Carnival."

[6] Fortunio-Magellone-Daphnis-Quadrille, Op. 103

In an undated letter, which is most likely from the spring of 1861, Josef Strauss wrote to his publisher:

Dear Mr von Haslinger:

The most incredible thing has happened. From different spheres of the public, inquiries have been directed towards me, requesting that I play something from the operetta Fortunio. Today I looked it up: I had not yet heard it and wanted to write a quadrille from it, but it does not have enough suitable melodies. So I took Daphnis and Chloe, the Magellone, and at four o’clock I started to write my quadrille, and lo and behold — I finished it completely by 7.30, including everything. Since you probably do not have much time now, and are perhaps not in the mood to go through a boring arrangement, I sat down again and completed the arrangement precisely at eight o’clock. As quickly as the publisher C. Haslinger prints, so does the telegraph Josef Strauss write. If you want to start on it immediately, so that, when I play it on Sunday, you can share the limelight with me, then you would make your most devoted Josef Strauss very happy.

P.S. I leave the christening of this quick birth joyfully up to you. Perhaps only these three names: Fortunio-Magellone-Pan. (They would make a pretty title page). Quadrille after popular motifs from the above mentioned operettas.

Carl Haslinger stuck exactly to the suggestions made by the composer. Even the proposal for the title page (Pan eavesdropping on the lovers Daphnis and Chloe) was taken into account. Offenbach’s operettas were performed at that time in Karl Treumann’s Quai-Theater: Meister Fortunio starting on 25th April 1861, Die schöne Magellone starting on 6th April, Daphnis und Chloe starting on 2nd March 1861. Josef Strauss first performed his quadrille on 15th May 1861 at the Grosser Zeisig on the Burgglacis, and shortly afterwards Haslinger published the piano edition.

[7] Transactionen. Waltz, Op. 184

The title of the waltz Transactionen conjures up thoughts of the stock exchange, shares, capital, interest, and so on, because, according to the dictionary, transactions are financial deals of all sorts. The artist of the title page of the first edition of this masterwork suspected the entrepreneur to be none other than the god of love Amour, who places a man’s right hand into a woman’s left. Therefore, these transactions would be the passionate reunion of two lovers or, perhaps, their reconciliation. There may, however, be another interpretation of the title given to these sensitive waltz melodies. During the Carnival season of 1865, the 38-year-old Josef Strauss collapsed in the middle of the ball season because of a seizure caused by his serious and — as it would turn out later — incurable brain disease, and had to stay away from the dance halls for a time. Seriously ill, he probably knew how to interpret the signs, but he did not give up and appeared unexpectedly soon again at the helm of the orchestra. Josef Strauss had started the Carnival of 1865 with a waltz "dedicated to the law students of the Viennese School" and which received the title Actionen, Op.174. During the first performance, attentive listeners noticed the strangely contained and depressing introduction, which, however, lasts only a few measures. The sadness passes quickly.

In the summer of 1865, Josef Strauss had to go on vacation, which only became possible when Eduard Strauss returned to Vienna from Russia, where he had taken the place of his brother Johann. Meanwhile, the exhausted Josef had to remain at the helm of the orchestra and conduct all the events in Vienna. Only then could he put down the violin and the baton, but before embarking on a trip through the marvellous countryside of his homeland, Josef Strauss presented, at a charity concert on 2nd August 1865 in the Volksgarten, a work which still reflected his frightening experience during the Carnival season. It is a waltz that, while danceable, borders on symphonic music of impeccable beauty which is permeated by the premonition of another even more harmonious sphere — beyond all earthly affairs. Therefore, Josef Strauss called the work Transactionen.

[8] Blitz-Polka, Op. 106

Since the times of Empress Maria Theresa (1717-1780), the Stuwer family, which emigrated from Bavaria, had been responsible for the fireworks displays in Vienna. Since a huge audience could be expected at any of their shows, Maria Theresa’s son, the Emperor Joseph II. (1741-1790), assigned the Stuwer family a plot of land in the Vienna Prater, popularly known as Feuerwerkswiese (Fireworks Meadow). Nowadays, this is known as the Jesuitenwiese (Jesuits’ Meadow). Starting in 1819, Anton Stuwer held the position of master pyrotechnician, and, as of 1858, his like-named son followed in his footsteps. Both developed pyrotechnical displays of a richness of colours theretofore unknown. Nevertheless, Anton Stuwer the younger, in particular, frequently had bad luck with his shows: no sooner did he advertise a festival in the Prater, than rain would pour down. It went so far that the joke in Vienna was: "Stuwer announces the rain!"

In May 1861, Anton Stuwer invited the population of Vienna to a "fireworks spectacle such as has never existed before" in the Prater. This time, the ingenious pyrotechnician was lucky, and the newspapers reported on 14th May 1861: "The fireworks from the day before yesterday took place in the most marvellous weather, and enjoyed massive attendance". Josef Strauss also foresaw great popular interest and gave a concert on 12th May 1861 in the Second Coffee-House in the Prater. From his notes, he did perform his new Blitz-Polka for the first time on this occasion.

The artist of the title page of the piano edition depicted a lightning bolt emitting downward from a cloud, but Josef Strauss, unlike his brother Johann, who in his quick polka Unter Donner und Blitz, Op.324, indeed knew how to evoke the mood of a thunderstorm, might have had pyrotechnician Anton Stuwer’s lightning in mind when he composed his amusing Blitz-Polka. It is no surprise that this novelty did not receive much notice. Everybody was under the spell of Stuwer’s art, but the Blitz-Polka never did receive its due recognition.

[9] Die Ersten und Letzten. Walzer (The First and the Last. Waltz), Op. 1

In December 1852, Johann Strauss collapsed immediately after his return from an exacting concert tour throughout Germany. According to physicians, his exhaustion was life-threatening. Therefore, his mother, Anna Strauss, determined that Johann’s younger brother, 25-year old Josef Strauss, should interrupt his career as an architect and join the family’s "waltz business," in order to relieve the ailing Johann. Josef was not happy about this decision, but he complied with his mother’s wishes. Before appearing for the first time at the helm of the Strauss orchestra as an "interim director" on 23rd July 1853, he wrote to his fiancée Caroline: The inevitable happened, I play for the first time at ‘Sperl’s.’ I regret with all my heart that this has happened so suddenly.... Two days later, Johann Strauss travelled to Bad Gastein and then to Bad Neuhaus in Lower Styria (present-day Slovenia). Among the obligations of the Strauss orchestra was to provide the music for the balls in Unger’s Casino on the occasion of the yearly Church festival in Hernals. The date of this festivity, 29th August 1853, was fast approaching, and Johann Strauss still had not composed the new waltz expected for this event, nor sent it to Vienna. Therefore, Josef also had to take over for his brother as a composer. He had often enough watched Johann composing and orchestrating in the Hirschenhaus, so that this was no strange task for him. In order not to disappoint the organizer of the Ball and, as was to be expected, the very numerous audience, Josef wrote the traditional dedication, a waltz, in the style of a Ländler, but he gave the work the title The First and the Last. In other words, once and never again! Josef Strauss wanted to perform his composition only once, precisely at the Hernals festival on 29th August 1853, but the work was received with enthusiastic applause, and had to be repeated. During the following days, encouraging reviews appeared, such as in the Wanderer of 30th August 1853 (Evening edition):

Josef Strauss is a definite musical talent. It would be a pity if he were to retire so soon from public appearances. His waltzes are full of freshness and vitality, of that electricity which seems to be the sole property of the Strauss family. The thunderous applause and the never-ending encores will hopefully encourage Mr Josef Strauss to write a new composition.

Josef Strauss could read similar positive reviews in other newspapers, as well. He let himself be won over, and soon afterwards continued with his career as a composer of Viennese music, thus assuring himself, for the time being against his will, a place in immortality.

[10] Cyclopen-Polka (Cyclops Polka), Op. 84

During the Carnival season of 1860, Josef Strauss took his inspiration from the underworld, as had Jacques Offenbach two years before, upon accompanying the legendary singer Orpheus across the mystic River Styx. Strauss, who trained as an engineer, was fascinated by the Cyclopes, Uranus’s three sons according to Greek mythology, whose task it was to forge Zeus’s thunderbolts. The title page of the piano edition of the polka shows the scenario that inspired the composer. In the depths of a smoking volcano, the three Cyclopes (Brontes, Steropes, and Arges, as described by the writer Hesiod) are forging glowing arrows. A porter arrives with new material. It seems, however, not to have been a difficult task for ‘Pepi’ Strauss to forge his Cyclopen-Polka, which is so rich in special effects. After a four-bar introduction, there follow two sets of eight bars containing the first polka motif, succeeded by thirteen bars containing the second motif, which was not the norm. With the repetition of the first motif, the first part comes to an end. Two sets of eight bars, which are repeated, respectively, form the Trio, and the "Polka da capo," brings it to an end. The usual finale has been omitted.

The première of the Cyclopen-Polka had been advertised for the charity ball of the brothers Johann and Josef Strauss on 20th February 1860 at Sperl’s establishment in Leopoldstadt. For this evening, Johann Strauss had composed the waltz Immer heiterer, Op.235. In the Theaterzeitung ball report, only ‘Jean’s’ dedication was mentioned, but on 29th February 1860, the first concert in the Zum grossen Zeisig establishment at the Burgglacis took place. This time, the Theaterzeitung of 1st March 1860 wrote: Yesterday, the first concert of the Strauss brothers took place on the premises of the Grosser Zeisig. They presented an all-novelty programme, which pleased the dancing youth at the Carnival. The waltz in Ländler-style Immer heiterer by Johann, and the Cyclopen-Polka by Josef Strauss were greeted with a veritable storm of applause.

[11] Amanda. Polka Mazurka, Op. 72

The polka mazurka Amanda was probably created in the early summer of the year 1859. Its première may have taken place during one of the numerous concerts which Josef Strauss managed to give at Hietzing, Hernals, and the Prater, despite the unfavourable political climate. The situation at the time was very difficult for Viennese conductors, because the population, upon hearing the reports about the defeats and heavy losses suffered by the Austrian troops in Upper Italy, showed little interest in theatre performances and concerts. This minor work is not mentioned in Josef’s notes at all. It appears only in the advertisement for the Hernals church festival, celebrated on 29th August 1859 in Unger’s Casino, which states that Josef Strauss would "perform Waldbleamln (Op.79), the waltz written expressly for the ball of the church festival, in addition to his newest compositions", among which was the polka mazurka Amanda. This hint gives evidence to the hypothesis that the polka mazurka Amanda dates from the early summer of 1859.

The name ‘Amanda’ was known to Viennese theatre aficionados from the popular works by Johann Nestroy. In his original magic play, Der konfuse Zauberer oder Treue und Flatterhaftigkeit (from 1832), Amanda appears onstage as the niece of Fidelity. Nevertheless, Amanda (the beloved one) was not among the popular, commonplace women’s names of the times.

Franz Mailer

Translated by: Dr. Luis de la Vega, Professional Translating Services, Miami, Florida, U.S.A.

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