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8.225345 - STRAUSS I, J.: Edition - Vol. 25
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Johann Strauss Snr • Edition • Vol 25


[1] Die Friedensboten (The Messengers of Peace), Walzer, Op 241

After the suppression of the 1848 revolution a state of siege was imposed on Vienna. It was as though life in the city was paralysed and it is little wonder that the mood in the following Carnival was far from joyful. But the private dance bands were dependent on the proceeds from the seasonal business and so, undaunted, continued to offer their services. On 28 January 1849, in the Sophienbad Hall, Johann Strauss the Elder put on a celebratory ball, for which he provided a new set of waltzes called The Messengers of Peace. In the run-up to the event every publicity stunt was used to generate interest: “[…] we are convinced in advance that these bearers of peace will bring such an agreeable and sweetly-sounding message of peace that everybody will dance for joy to them and no more burning desire will be felt than the prolonging of this peace business.” The review of the event which appeared a few days later was nevertheless somewhat restrained in comparison with the rave reviews of earlier times: “Last Sunday countless jovial people had gathered for the second celebratory ball in this room, to abandon themselves happily to the joys of Carnival. Strauss had provided some new waltzes which, as is always the case with works by this inexhaustible master, were full of character, were heard to general applause and were excellent.”

[2] Soldaten-Lieder (Soldiers’ Songs), Walzer, Op 242

It is known that Emperor Franz Joseph I was in the habit of spending the night on a camp bed, even into extreme old age. His penchant for all things military is supposed to have started shortly after he came to power, otherwise Strauss would hardly have chosen Soldiers’ Songs as the title of the new set of waltzes which he first performed on 18 August 1849 in the Volksgarten as part of the musical birthday celebrations for the young monarch. It is noteworthy that scarcely two weeks later a collection of songs by different composers to poems by Johann Nepomuk Vogl was published which also had the title Soldiers’ Songs. Could it be possible that Strauss was familiar with the content of this volume even before it appeared in print? Be that as it may, with a little imagination one may discern in the waltz themes of Nos 1a, 2a and 2b echoes of melodies from the Vogl collection, especially in Jacob Dont’s Soldatenmanier and in Vom deutschen Kameraden by Gottfried Preyer.

[3] Almacks-Quadrille (Almack’s Quadrille), Op 243

Almack’s was an exclusive social club in London which in the decades following the Congress of Vienna was governed by a consortium of patronesses from the highest social circles of the British capital. Those who wished to be admitted to the club did not necessarily have to be of noble birth or have a lot of money but they had to be well educated and have impeccable manners. A unique activity of Almack’s was the putting on of balls, which always took place on Wednesday evenings. To this end, and subject to the above criteria, a limited number of nontransferable season tickets was issued. But in 1849, when the patronesses were able to engage Strauss, who was expected in London, for their balls, the rules were not so strict. For the opening ball on 10 May the Society expected 600 guests, an extraordinarily high number by their standards. Strauss introduced himself with a new work, written specially for the occasion, the Almack’s Quadrille. As was customary in English quadrilles, the Trénis section was omitted. The piano reduction score which was published by Cocks in August 1849 carries a dedication to the Countess of Jersey, one of Almack’s patronesses. The Viennese publisher Haslinger published the work only in September 1850, a year after Strauss’s death.

[4] Jellacic-Marsch (Jelačić March), Op 244

Count Josip Jelačić, the Ban of Croatia, along with his troops, was instrumental in the suppression of the 1848 Vienna Revolution. Thereafter he fought in battle, with changing fortunes, against the insurgent Hungary, always in the service of the Habsburg central power. After the decisive victory of the imperial army, which was won only with the help of the Russians, Jelačić, like Radetzky, was officially hailed as a hero. Strauss’s first biographer, Ludwig Scheyrer, reports that Strauss played “the newly-composed” Jelačić March on 16 September 1849 at his final appearance in Unger’s Casino, by which time he would already have been aware of the illness which was to kill him. As it happens, the Jelačić March was probably the last completed work from Strauss’s pen. There is no mention of the première in the newspapers of the time, but it probably took place a few days or weeks before the performance described by Scheyrer. In view of its significance, two events could be considered at which the first performance might have taken place: either at the “Grand Evening Celebration” held in the Volksgarten on 3 August, whose proceeds were donated to the wounded soldiers of the imperial army, or at the celebration held in the same location on 11 September and called “Austria’s Triumph, or Heroes’ Glories”. Strauss makes reference to Jelačić’s homeland, while he uses a Croatian song in the trio and at the end even eight bars of a kolo, the national dance of Croatia.

[5] Wiener Jubel-Marsch (Viennese Jubilation March), Op 245

No reference can be found in the newspapers of the time to the first performance of a Viennese Jubilation March by Strauss. If Strauss did actually play the work in public, the “patriotic celebration” which took place on the Wasserglacis on 16 August 1849 would have been a suitable occasion at which to present it. It was intended as “…preliminary celebration of the birthday of His Majesty our much-loved Emperor Franz Joseph I” under the slogan which he chose for the duration of his reign “Viribus unitis” [with united forces]. Once again, the proceeds from this event went to the wounded of the imperial army.

[6] Wiener Stadt-Garde-Marsch (Viennese City Guard March), Op 246

Behind the Viennese City Guard March is hidden a work which dates from Strauss’s final stay in London. It has to do with the March of the Royal Horse Guards which Strauss played for the first time on 6 July 1849 in a public concert in the Knightsbridge Barracks. The march and the trio were reversed in the Viennese version, however, and it was in this form that the work was published in August 1849 by the London publisher Cocks & Co. If the change of the title of the edition first published by the Viennese publisher Haslinger in September 1850 is understandable, it remains unclear why he altered the musical order of the work and if this was perhaps even prompted by Strauss himself. In this context it must also remain open as to whether Strauss ever performed the work in Austria and, if so, under what title.

[7] Deutsche Jubellaute (German Sounds of Joy), Walzer, Op 247

During his lifetime there was no mention of waltzes by Strauss with the title German Sounds of Joy. On the other hand it is verified that he advertised a set of waltzes called The Carrier Pigeon which was played in a “Carnival Folk Festival with Ball with the title: California’s Gold Mines in Vienna” in the Sophienbad Hall on 11 February 1849, but which was never published under this title. Even if the two named works are identical it needs to be explained why the title was changed. A completely different attempt at a solution could be that the set of waltzes in question has to do with Strauss’s final trip, which took him to London via many German cities. In the German principalities, which were still in a state of ferment, Strauss was vilified as a reactionary and he could have tried to respond to the prevailing struggle for a nation state with a work with the above title.

[8] Quadrille ohne Titel (Quadrille Without Title), Op 248

The designation Quadrille Without Title and the posthumous publication suggest that such a work was found among Strauss’s effects after his death and that the publisher Haslinger, not knowing the circumstances of its genesis or of its possible first performance, decided upon this somewhat prosaic, yet honest, solution to the question of the work’s title. Instead of the six sections of the quadrille usually played in Austria, this work has only five; the Trénis section which usually came fourth, is omitted here. This form of the quadrille is typical of the English way of playing the dance and is an indication that this work of 1849 could have been written during Strauss’s final stay in London. In any event, there is no mention of a second new quadrille, along with Almack’s Quadrille (see above), in any of the English reviews of the time. Even so, it is conceivable that the Quadrille Without Title is identical to another quadrille, Der Fasching ein Traum, which was first performed in the Sophienbad Room on 4 February 1849. There is no evidence of the publication of a composition with this title, which is certainly unusual for a mature work by Strauss. The omission of the fourth section could well be explained by the fact that perhaps Strauss himself removed it when he intended to perform it in London and that it was this version of the manuscript which found its way to the publisher.

[9] Exeter-Polka (Exeter Polka), Op 249

Alongside his presentations in the Hanover Square Rooms and in Almack’s Assembly Rooms in London in 1849, Strauss also appeared in two “Grand Vocal and Instrumental Concerts” in the huge Exeter Hall in the Strand. The first of these two events, at which the Exeter Polka was first performed, took place on 14 May and was very well attended. Apart from Strauss there appeared the up-and-coming German tenor Georg Stiegele, known professionally as Giorgio Stigelli, the Czech pianist Wilhelm Kuhe and the singer Jetty Treffz from Vienna, who was in the city for only a short time. Treffz had already enchanted London’s public with her rendition of English folk-songs, and especially Home, sweet home. It would surely never have crossed Strauss’s mind that this lady would one day become the wife of his eldest son. The Exeter Polka was published by Cocks & Co in the month of its first performance, while Haslinger, with an epic delay, did not publish the work until February 1851.

[10] Radetzky-Bankett-Marsch (Fragment) (Radetzky Banquet March (fragment))

After the suppression of the revolutions in Vienna and Prague and once the rebel Italians and Hungarians had laid down their arms the newly restored former rulers organized a series of large-scale victory celebrations for the generals of the imperial army. In honour of Field Marshall Radetzky, who prevented the defection of the crown territories of Lombardy and Venice from the Habsburg Empire, the local council of the city of Vienna put on a celebratory banquet in the large Redoutensaal of the imperial-royal Hofburg on 22 September 1849. Strauss was chosen to provide the musical entertainment and with it the opportunity of presenting one of his own new works. But he did not appear at the event and only twenty complete bars of the new composition were finished, together with four rudimentarily-orchestrated bars and a few sketchy jottings. The publisher Carl Haslinger noted in his biography the reason for the subsequent non-completion of the work: “During the orchestration Strauss the Elder succumbed to scarlet fever and died after three days.” Haslinger published a piano reduction of the work within two months, with the title Last Thought of Johann Strauss. Incomplete sketches of the Radetzky Banquet March.

Thomas Aigner
English translation by David Stevens

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