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8.554522 - STRAUSS II, J.: 100 Most Famous Works, Vol. 6

Johann Strauss II (1825-1899)
100 Most Famous Works Vol. 6

Johann Strauss II, the most famous and enduringly successful nineteenth century light music composer, was born in Vienna on 25 October 1825. Building upon the firm musical foundations laid by his father, Johann Strauss I (1804-1849) and Joseph Lanner (1801-1843), the younger Johann (along with his brothers, Josef and Eduard) achieved so high a development of the classical Viennese waltz that it became as much a feature of the concert hall as of the ballroom. For more than half a century Johann II captivated not only Vienna but also the whole of Europe and America with his abundantly tuneful waltzes, polkas, quadrilles and marches. The appeal of his music bridged all social strata, and his genius was revered by such masters as Verdi, Brahms and Richard Strauss. The thrice-married "Waltz King" later turned his attention to the composition of operetta, and completed 16 stage works (among them Die Fledermaus, Eine Nacht in Venedig and Der Zigeunerbaron) besides more than 500 orchestral compositions - including the most famous of all waltzes, The Blue Danube (1867). Johann Strauss II died in Vienna on 3 June 1899.

The Marco Polo Strauss Edition, from which these recordings were selected, is a milestone in recording history, presenting, for the first time ever, the entire orchestral output of the "Waltz King". Despite their supremely high standard of musical invention, the majority of the compositions have never before been commercially recorded and have been painstakingly assembled from archives around the world. All performances featured in this series are complete and, wherever possible, the works are played in their original instrumentation as conceived by the "master orchestrator" himself, Johann Strauss II.

[1] Die Göttin Der Vernunft (The Goddess of Reason) Overture
After the first performance at the Theater an der Wien on 6 April 1897, the overture to Die Göttin der Vernunft was only rarely heard outside the theatre.

By the time Johann eventually furnished the overture, the concert season for Vienna's civilian and military bands had drawn to a close. For his part, Eduard Strauss conducted his last concert of the 1896/97 season with the Strauss Orchestra in the Golden Hall of the Vienna Musikverein on Sunday 28 March 1897. He then gave two concerts in Graz before travelling with the orchestra to London to fulfil a three-month engagement at the Imperial Institute in Kensington. Eduard had clearly hoped to perform the overture to Die Göttin der Vernunft during his London season, for on 9 May 1897 he informed his brother: "At your instigation Berté promised the overture in writing, but hasn't sent it!!! Dreadful!". In the event, no performance of the overture can be traced in London during Eduard's visit. Indeed, not until 21 November 1897, at Eduard's fifth Sunday concert of the 1897/98 season in the Musikverein, did the overture to Die Göttin der Vernunft appear on the programme of a concert by the Strauss Orchestra.

[2] Liebeslieder, Walzer (Love Song's, Waltz) Op. 114
It took the younger Johann Strauss around three years to establish himself on Vienna's musical scene as a worthy successor to his father, following the latter's death in September 1849. During the 1852 Carnival he was summoned for the first time to conduct at the Court- and Chamber-Balls, and an article in the Theaterzeitung, praising his talents, affirmed: "It now turns out for certain that Strauss Father has been fully replaced by Strauss Son".

Johann's Liebeslieder may be considered the first of the composer's 'master waltzes', demonstrating the young Waltz King's individuality, sometimes through daring developments in melody, harmony and rhythm. Originally announced under the title Liebesgedichte (‘Love Poems’), and given its first performance by Johann in the Vienna Volksgarten on 18 June 1852 under the title Liebesständchen (‘Love Serenade’), the enchanting Liebeslieder Walzer even won over the usually austere music critic, Eduard Hanslick. Writing in the Wiener Zeitung he observed: "Those bad-tempered, old-fashioned people, whose narrow-mindedness goes so far as to call today's dance music contemptible, should be serenaded with ashaming generosity by the 'Liebeslieder' of the young Strauss."

[3] Vom Donaustrande, Polka schnell
(From the Banks of the Danube, Quick polka) Op. 356
Johann Strauss chose to dub his second stage work, Der Carneval in Rom [Première: Theater an der Wien, Vienna. 1 March 1873], "my polka opera" and from its score he crafted a total of five separate orchestral numbers – a waltz (op. 357), a quadrille (op. 360) and three polkas (opp. 356, 358 and 359). With one exception – the polka Nimm sie hin op. 358 – the titles of these dances had no connection with the plot of the operetta but rather anticipated the Vienna World Exhibition which opened in the Prater on 1 May 1873.

The polka Vom Donaustrande presents material from Acts 2 and 3 of the operetta, specifically; Theme 1A – Act 2 Duet (No. 9); Theme 1B – Act 3 Finale (No. 16); Trio 2A – Act 2 Finale (No. 12); Trio 2B – Act 3 Ballet music (No.16 Finale).

[4] Cagliostro-Walzer Op.370
Cagliostro in Wien (‘Cagliostro in Vienna’), the fourth of Johann Strauss's operettas, received its première at Vienna's Theater an der Wien on 27 February 1875, and was to mark the start of the composer's successful collaboration with Vienna's most famous team of librettists, F. Zell (the nom de plume of Camillo Walzel) and Richard Genée.

While the first-night reviewers identified many highlights in Strauss's score for Cagliostro in Wien, they were universally agreed on the sheer beauty of the waltz duet "Könnt' ich mit Ihnen fiegen durchs Leben" ('Could I but fly with you through life'), splendidly sung in Act 2 by Henriette Wieser (as Frau Adami) and Alexander Girardi (as the servant, Blasoni). The Neues Fremden-Blatt (28.02.1875), for example, considered this waltz "one of the most enchanting and freshest which Johann Strauss has ever written; it provoked such all enthusiastic response that it had to be sung three times". Ludwig Speidel, the reviewer for the Fremden-Blatt (3.03.1875), also noted the special quality of this waltz duet, "in which there breathes the dancing soul of Vienna". Speidel expanded further "When you imagine that Strauss has already played his best cards, he finally produces another waltz which 'out-trumps' everything". Strauss, too, recognised the worth of his creation in three-quarter-time, not only elevating it to a principal position in his orchestral Cagliostro-Walzer, based on melodies from the operetta, but later (1882 or 1883) jotting down its opening eight bars on a love note to Adele Strauss (née Deutsch), the woman who was to become his third wife.

[5] Klipp klapp-Galopp, Schnell-Polka
(Click-clack, Galop, Quick polka) Op. 466
Waldmeister (‘Woodruff’) was Johann Strauss's penultimate original operetta, receiving its première at the Theater an der Wien, Vienna, on 4 December 1895. Despite its relatively brief stage life, Waldmeister was, in many respects, the most successful of the composer's later theatre works, and contained some delightful moments, such as a "Lawn-Tennis-Chorus" for the ladies! In his obituary notice for Johann Strauss, written in June 1899, the retired Viennese music critic, Eduard Hanslick, wrote: "What stands out even in Strauss's less inventive operettas is the genuine musical feeling, the natural flow of song and, finally, the wonderful orchestration. At the première of 'Der Waldmeister', Brahms remarked to me that Strauss's orchestrations reminded him of Mozart".

Strauss created a total of six separate orchestral numbers from the score of Waldmeister, among them the quick polka Klipp klapp, echoing the rhythmic sound of a working mill. The galop's title and principal theme derive from the Act I ensemble, "Klipp, klapp, klipp, klapp, rasch dem Glücke nach", although it should be mentioned that this same theme is re quoted in purely orchestral form (in the correct key of F) in the 'Melodrama' section of the Act II Finale. The sources of the remaining melodies are as follows.

Theme B -

Act 1:

Jeanne's Entrance Couplet, "Das, das ist wahrhaftig kein Spass"

Trio A -

Act 1:

Ensemble, " So lang für dich die Welt noch blüht "

Trio B -


2nd theme of Allegretto moderato section

The world première of the Klipp klapp-Galopp (‘Schnell-Polka’) was given by the Strauss Orchestra under the direction of the composer's brother, Eduard, at the annual ball of the Vienna Authors' and Journalists' Association, 'Concordia', held in the Sofienbad-Saal on 10 February 1896. The first public performance of the new piece followed just under two weeks later, on 23 February, when Eduard Strauss again conducted it with the orchestra at one of his regular Sunday concerts in Vienna's prestigious Musikverein.

[6] Erinnerung an Covent Garden, Walzer
(Greetings to Covent Garden, Waltz on English Popular Melodies) Op.329
On 8 August 1867 the attention of music-loving readers of London newspapers, such as The Times and The Morning Post, was attracted to a lengthy announcement by John Russell, the late Alfred Mellon's successor as Director of the Promenade Concerts at the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden. The notice read in part: "The Director cannot refrain from expressing his satisfaction (which will doubtless be shared by the musical public in general) on being able to announce that he has succeeded in making an engagement with that most celebrated conductor and composer of dance music Herr JOHANN STRAUSS, Kaiserlich, Königlicher, Hofball Musik Director to his Imperial Majesty the Emperor of Austria".

The programme of music announced for the promenade concert given on the evening of 27 September 1867 included the first performance of a "new' festival valse comique on popular melodies, composed by Johann Strauss". Such was the enthusiastic reception for this charming tribute to the Waltz King's London audience, that it had to be repeated. The Morning Herald (30.09.1867) deemed the novelty "spiritual, and amusing as such a thing could be", and classed it as one of the "popular successes of the season" alongside Strauss's waltz An der schönen blauen Donau (By the beautiful blue Danube), remarking that both works "can hardly fail to aid him in achieving that special pre-eminence here which he indisputably enjoys abroad". Charles Sheard announced the publication of The Festival Valse Comique just two days after the work's première, and its piano score gave additional publicity to Sheard's catalogue by identifying the individual melodies:

Waltz 1 -

"Champagne Charlie" (1866, composed by George Leybourne and Alfred Lee)

Waltz 2 -

"The Flying Trapeze" (1866, Leybourne & Lee)

Waltz 3 -

"The Mousetrap Man!" (1865, H. J. Whymark & R. Hughes, adapted from The Mouse Trap Man Waltz by W. H. Montgomery)

Waltz 4 -

"Beautiful NeIl" (1867, Stacey Lee & R. Coote)

"Sweet Isabella" (1867, Leybourne & Lee)

All the above numbers were originally sung and made famous by "The Lion Comique", George Leybourne (1842-1884), with the exception of "Beautiful Nell", which was first performed by his music hall rival "The Great Vance", the stage name of Alfred Peck Stevens (1839-1888).

The Introduction and Coda of The Festival Valse Comique also quote from "Champagne Charlie" as well as from Henry R. Bishop's popular ballad "Home, Sweet Home", from his opera Clari, or the Maid of Milan (1823). The interpolation of the latter in Strauss's waltz had a dual relevance: not only was Bishop's opera first performed at Covent Garden, but the ballad was one with which Johann's wife, the mezzo-soprano Jetty Treffz, had enjoyed tremendous success during her 1849 concert visit to London, and which she sang again during the 1867 Covent Garden Promenade Concerts where she was engaged as a soloist.

[7] Perpetuum mobile. Ein musikalischer Scherz
(Perpetual motion. A musical jest) Op. 257
Perhaps the highlights of the 1859 and 1860 Vienna Carnivals were the Strauss benefits organised by Johann and Josef Strauss, each advertised as a 'Monster Ball' under the title "Carnevals Perpetuum mobile, oder: Tanz ohne Ende" (‘Carnival's Perpetual Motion’, or ‘Non-Stop Dancing’). On both occasions, the two Strauss brothers each appeared at the head of a separate orchestra and jointly played their way uninterruptedly through no less than fifty dances.

Like its predecessors, the 1861 festivity promised 50 dances during the course of the evening which was likewise subtitled "Carnival's Perpetual Motion, or Non-Stop Dancing". Although the Strauss brothers contributed no original new dance pieces on this occasion, the event itself seems to have inspired Johann to write one of his most lastingly popular and effective novelties. Announced as "Perpetuum mobile, characteristic fantasy piece for orchestra", the work was heard for the first time on 4 April 1861 at Schwender's establishment in the Viennese suburb of Rudolfsheim, and marked Johann's farewell concert prior to departing for his fifth 'Russian summer' at the Vauxhall Pavilion in Pavlovsk near St. Petersburg. The novelty piece, which created little interest in Vienna at the time, was intended by Strauss as "a musical jest" ridiculing a commonplace practice of the day, whereby the musical virtuosity of individual orchestral players was sometimes emphasised to such an extent that the music itself suffered. Strauss skillfully makes his point, for Perpetuum mobile consists of variations on a theme only eight bars long.

Johann recognised the problem of ending a musical piece symbolising perpetual motion, and the printed parts simply indicate "Fine ad lib". On this present recording the conductor Alfred Walter has taken his own decision, with the words "Und so weiter!" (“And so on!”) ...

[8] Gross-Wien., Walzer (Great Vienna, Waltz) Op. 440
Johann Strauss's waltz Gross-Wien, which came into being in early 1891, chronicles the work then underway to extend the boundaries of the Austrian capital, and was composed as a choral waltz for performance by the famous Wiener Männergesang-Verein (Vienna Men's Choral Association) during that year's Vienna Carnival, with a text by Franz von Gernerth. When the Association suddenly resolved to give only one 'Liedertafel' (Programme of Songs) per year, the performance was postponed until the autumn. There then arose the possibility of a performance by a rival choral society to be arranged by the Vienna Authors' and Journalists' Association, 'Concordia', but on 18 April 1891 Strauss notified a correspondent: "I felt the time was already too far advanced and I promised the first performance of the waltz to the military committee for the Grand Concert on May 10 in the Sängerhalle, but only for orchestra... Should you ever intend to organise something with the participation of the Männer-Gesangverein… then the promise originally given will remain in force, that is, the first performance of the waltz Gross-Wien, with the contribution of the Männer-Gesangverein". (In the event, the choral première did not take place until 4 October 1891, when the Wiener Männergesang-Verein, conducted by its chorus-master Eduard Kremser, performed it at their concert in the Sängerhalle, accompanied by the Freiherr Ferdinand von Bauer Infantry Regiment No.84).

On 30 April 1891 the 65-year-old composer advised his Berlin publisher, Fritz Simrock. "I shall personally conduct the first performance at the Monster Concert. Over five hundred musicians is no small exertion". Strauss did not exaggerate, for at the orchestral première of the new work, heard on Sunday 10 May 1891 as the second item in the second half of the concert given by "the entire regimental bands of the Vienna garrison" in the immense wooden Sängerhalle (Singers' Hall) in the Vienna Prater, 500 musicians (including 250 violinists) from the combined military orchestras of Vienna played under his baton. Much was made in the press of the fact that this was the first occasion on which an Austrian military orchestra had been directed by a civilian conductor. Included in the audience of 20,000 were members of the Austrian royal family, the King and Queen of Denmark and the Duke and Duchess of Cumberland.

[9] Tritsch-Tratsch-Polka (Tittle-tattle Polka) Op. 214
Shortly before Johann Strauss returned to Vienna after completing his third summer concert season at Pavlovsk near St. Petersburg, an announcement appeared in the Wiener Allgemeine Theaterzeitung on 24 September 1858: "Herr Kapellmeister Johann Strauss has completed the following compositions during his stay in St. Petersburg this year, and they will appear in due course from Carl Haslinger: 'Mes adieux á St. Petersbourg' [op. 210], 'Bon-Bon' – Polka française [op. 213], 'Tritsch-Tratsch' Schnellpolka, 'Szechenyi-Täze' Walzer [= Gedankenflug Walzer op. 215]." Yet, while Tritsch-Tratsch may well have been sketched, or even completed, in Russia, Strauss did not perform it there until the following season, on 22 May 1859 (= 10 May, Russian calendar).

Although Strauss may have conceived the Tritsch-Tratsch-Polka in Russia, the stimulus for the polka's title most definitely stemmed from Viem1a. On 7 March 1858 a new paper had appeared on Vienna's news-stands: entitled Tritsch-Tratsch and described as a "humorous, satirical weekly publication", it was a successor to the short-lived Der Teufel in Wien (‘The Devil in Vienna’) which had ceased with its issue of 25 February 1858. The new publication was edited by the successful writer and folk singer Anton Varry and counted among its principal contributors O.F. Berg and Josef Wimmer- all three of whom were friends, or at least acquaintances, of Johann Strauss. The Wiener Allgemeine Theaterzeitung (7.03.1858) praised the appearance of this "Viennese popular weekly", noting particulary that "It is handsomely put together; paper, print and especially the woodcut met with very great approval". The woodcut referred to was A. Carl's entertaining masthead engraving on the front page, showing the title Tritsch-Tratsch and depicting an elephant clambering from the mouth of a jovial carnival jester – an allegoric portrayal of "telling whoppers" – together with a small inset of the Stephansdom (St. Stephen's Cathedral) in Vienna. Yet if Varry's publication was new, his choice of title for it harked back a quarter of a century to 1833 to Der Tritschtratsch, a one-act burlesque (with music by Adolf Müller senior) by the great Austrian dramatist and actor Johann Nepomuk Nestroy (1801-62), which was still in the repertoire of Vienna's theatres.

[10] Rosen aus dem Süden, Walzer (Roses from the South, Waltz) Op. 388
"It was an eventful evening; the house was filled to the gables in order to hear a new work by our Strauss, for Strauss enjoys the increasingly rare title 'our' which is the ultimate superlative for all artist:



Herr Strauss






"Our Strauss!"

So wrote the Fremdenblatt newspaper (3 October) in its review of the highly successful première of Johann Strauss's operetta Das Spitzentuch der Königin (‘The Queen's Lace Handkerchief’), which opened at Vienna's Theater an der Wien on 1 October 1880. The composer himself, though delighted by the reception accorded his latest stage work, was unconvinced that it would enjoy a lasting success. But he had no such doubts about the magnificent orchestral waltz, Rosen aus dem Süden, which he had hurriedly assembled from themes in his operetta, and whose piano edition his publisher, Cranz, was able to advertise in the press (together with the first Spitzentuch potpourri) just four days after the theatrical première! The honour of conducting the first performance of Rosen aus dem Süden fell to Johann's brother, Eduard, who was still on a concert tour of Germany when Spitzentuch received its première. Not until 7 November, therefore, at Eduard's Sunday afternoon concert in the Musikverein, did the waltz begin its triumphant conquest of the world, comprising, as it did, many of the musical highlights from the operetta. Two numbers which had drawn especial praise from the Spitzentuch first-night reviewers were the King's Act 1 Trüffel-Couplet ("Stets kommt mir wieder in den Sinn" – the refrain of which Strauss claimed he had rewritten twelve times!) and Cervantes's Act 2 Romance, "Wo die wilde Rose erblüht", and these both appear in Rosen aus dem Süden, as Waltz 1 and Waltz 2A respectively.

[11] Hoch Österreich! Marsch (Hail Austria! March) Op. 371
Johann Strauss's operetta Cagliostro in Wien [Première Theater an der Wien, Vienna. 27 February 1875] was the result of Strauss's first association with the librettist team of F. Zell (the pseudonym of Camillo Walzel) and Richard Genée, and was also the first original work by the two writers who previously had only collaborated on German language versions of operettas by Émile Jonas and Jacques Offenbach. It was Genée who also provided the title and text for the choral march Hoch Österreich! – one of six individual pieces which Strauss had arranged from melodies in Cagliostro – when it was first performed in an arrangement for male voice choir and orchestra at the première of the operetta in the Theater an der Wien. The first verse of Genée's text reads: "Recht in Freud und Lust/Aus der vollen Brust/Klingt der Ruf: 'Hoch Österreich!'/ Wo er schallet/Wider hallet/Weckt er Echo donnergleich" (“Full of joy and merriment, from the depths of the heart sounds the cry: 'Hail Austria!' Where it rings and resounds it wakens the echoes like thunder”). The thematic content of the march derives from the first two numbers of Act 1, although the second theme of the Trio section is not traceable in the published piano score of the operetta and may perhaps have been discarded from the final version of the stage work.

In its purely orchestral version, as performed on this recording, Johan’s march Hoch Österreich! was given its first performance by the Strauss Orchestra under Eduard Strauss's direction 25 June 1875 in the Vienna Volksgarten.

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