|About this Recording
8.554525 - STRAUSS II, J.: 100 Most Famous Works, Vol. 9
Johann Strauss II
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). Johalm 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.
 Eine Nacht in
Venedig (A Night in Venice) Overture
The overture to Eine Nacht in Venedig is a masterpiece of variety, although it contains only a fraction of the splendid melodies in the operetta. The opening Allegro commences with a series of fifth leaps, a figure probably based on the beginning of Annina's Act 3 'Spottlied' (No. 16), to the words "Ein Herzog, reich und mächtig". After a link passage, the Temo di marcia, quasi maestoso features music from the chorus section of the Act 2 Finale (No. 13), "Horch! Von San Marco der Glokken geläut"', while the Allegro which follows is untraceable in the published score and may perhaps comprise material discarded before the Viennese production of the stage work. The Tempo di Valse passage quotes almost complete from the duet for Annina and the Duke in the Act 2 Finale (No. 10), commencing with the words "Ach, was ist das?". A further link passage leads to the Andante mosso taken from Caramello's famous 'Gondellied' (Gondola Song: "Komm' in die Gondel") from the Act 1 Finale (No. 7a). Agricola's "So ängstlich sind wir nicht" from Act 2 (No. 8a) provides the theme for the Allegro moderato section, which is followed by a repeat of material used earlier in the overture: the untraceable Allegro, the Tempo di Valse, the Quasi maestoso and the Allegro moderato (now marked Allegro), and these all combine to form an effective and rhythmical conclusion to the overture.
(The above analysis is based on the definitive original version of Eine Nacht in Venedig as established by the first performance in Vienna, published in the Johann Strauss Gesamtaugabe (Complete Edition), Doblinger-Universal Edition, Vienna 1970.)
After he himself had conducted the Viennese première of Eine Nacht in Venedig on 9 October 1883, Johann Strauss left it to his brother Eduard to introduce the first concert performance of the operetta's overture. Eduard lost no time in scheduling the piece for his opening concert of the 1883/84 season with the Strauss Orchestra in the Golden Hall of the Musikverein building on Sunday 14 October 1883. Moreover, Eduard took this opportunity to play some couplets from Eine Nacht in Venedig, arranged by himself in polka form, while the concert also featured more serious music by such composers as Rossini (Overture: The Thieving Magpie), Mozart (Quintet from Cosí fan tutte), Moszkowski (Serenata, concert piece for piano, orchestrated by Eduard Strauss) and Charles Oberthür (Bonnie Scotland, Fantasia on Scottish folk songs, for harp).
 Motoren, Walzer
(Motors, Waltz) Op. 265
obvious - Motoren.
 Éljen a Magyar!
Polka schnell (Long Live the Magyar! Quick polka) Op.332
 Wo die Citronen
At the Teatro Regio in Turin, on 9 May, Johann gave the first performance of an "especially composed" new waltz entitled Bella Italia (Beautiful Italy) which, for its Viennese première on 10 June that year, was renamed Wo die Citronen blüh’n! The new title of this lovely work derives from the first line of Goethe's famous poem in his novel Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre -"Kennst du das Land wo die Citronen blüh’n?" (Do you know the land where the lemon-trees blossom?)
(Bandits Galop) Op. 378
Almost immediately after the operetta's première Johann, accompanied by his wife Jetty, left Vienna to fulfil engagements in Paris. The return trip was made via Baden-Baden, where Strauss had enjoyed great success in 1871, that the composer gave the first performance of his Banditen-Galopp (played under the title Sapristi).
(Treasure Waltz) Op. 418
One of the highlights in the operetta is the moment when Sándor Barinkay, the young exile recently returned to his ancestral home in Hungary, locates the hoard of treasure that his late father had hidden on the estate. Joined by Saffi and Czipra, Barinkay sings the Act 2 trio "Treasure Waltz" ("Ha, seht es winkt, es blinkt, es klingt"). The melody of this number also features in the entrancing orchestral waltz which Strauss compiled from themes in Der Zigeunerbaron and which he entitled, appropriately, the Schatz-Walzer. The sources of the material used in the waltz may be summarised as follows:
To great public jubilation, the composer himself conducted the first performance of the orchestral Schatz-Walzer on 22 November 1885 at his brother Eduard's concert in the Vienna Musikverein. Around a week earlier he had written in characteristically self-deprecating manner to a friend, possibly the librettist Schnitzer: "I'm asking you to get Messrs Kalbeck and Dömpke [both journalists] to forget about the concert (Sunday, Musikverein). The two gentlemen would really be bored; - my contribution there is too small for me to be responsible for their visit. If I still played the violin - then I could at least show them how a waltz is really played! But to perform a waltz with the baton in the hand is too crazy!"
Walzer (Pamphlets, Waltz) Op. 300
One of the loveliest of Johann's three waltz contributions to the 1866 Vienna Fasching was that written for the annual ball of the Vienna Authors' and Journalists' Association, 'Concordia', held in the Sofienbad-Saal ballroom on Sunday 21 January. The piece, dedicated to the 'Concordia', was aptly entitled Flugschriften (‘Pamphlets’), and its first piano edition, bearing the composer's dedication to the 'Concordia' and depicting a winged Pegasus being ridden across the skies over Vienna by a carnival character gleefully strewing pamphlets behind him as an owl flees for its life, actually went on sale the day before the Concordia Ball. Unusually, however, FIugschriften was a rare example of a dedication work which did not receive its première at the ball for which it was written: four days earlier, on 17 January, Johann had conducted the first performance of the waltz at a Court Ball in the Rittersaal of the Imperial Hofburg Palace attended by the Austrian Emperor Franz Josef I and the Empress Elisabeth.
While the title of Strauss's Fiugschriften Walzer may be unfamiliar, audiophiles and ballettomanes alike will doubtless recognise an arrangement of the plaintive melodies of Waltz 2 and part of the Coda as comprising the music for 'The Opening of the Ball'dance in Antal Dorati's 1940 pastiche ballet, Graduation Ball. A recapitulation of Waltz 2A is also to be heard towards the close of the ballet's 'Finale'.
 Egyptischer Marsch
(Egyptian March) Op. 335
The opening of this artificial waterway created considerable interest around the world, and in Vienna gave rise to Anton Bithler's burlesque, Nach Egypten (Into Egypt), presented at the Theater an der Wien on 26 December that year. It was here as a processional march for Egyptian warriors before the final scene, that the Viennese public first became acquainted with the sinuous themes of Johann Strauss's Egyptischer Marsch. The composer, ever mindful of current affairs, had in fact written the piece for his 1869 summer concert season in Pavlovsk – shared that year with his brother Josef – and had conducted its première at the Vauxhall Pavilion there on 6 July (= 24 June, Russian calendar) at a benefit concert for the two brothers.
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