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8.554525 - STRAUSS II, J.: 100 Most Famous Works, Vol. 9
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Johann Strauss II (1825-1899)
100 Most Famous Works Vol. 9

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.

[1] Eine Nacht in Venedig (A Night in Venice) Overture
The sixteen stage works which Vienna's Waltz King was to complete were all first performed in his native city - with one exception: the three-act comic operetta, Eine Nacht in Venedig. In contrast, this was first produced in Berlin at the Neues Friedrich Wilhelmstädtisches Theater (the former Woltersdorff-Theater) on 3 October 1883. The work, which had endured a troubled beginning was, however, ultimately a success.

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).

[2] Motoren, Walzer (Motors, Waltz) Op. 265
Despite the growing musical stature of his younger brother, Josef, Johann Strauss once more reigned supreme over the numerous festivities of the busy 1862 Vienna Carnival. Among more than sixty balls at which Johann conducted during the season was that of the technical students at Vienna University, held in the Sofienbad-Saal on 10 February. The wide vocabulary employed by the ever-innovative engineering profession provided an unending source of apposite titles for Vienna's dance composers and for his new waltz, dedicated to the technical students, Johann lighted upon one of the more

obvious - Motoren.
By the close of the l862 Carnival 'campaign' Strauss was physically drained. Soon afterwards Vienna's newspapers carried the news that Eduard Strauss, Johann's youngest brother, was to make his début with the family orchestra that April as a conductor of concerts. It is clear that Johann desired Eduard, rather than Josef, to deputise for him at the head of the Strauss orchestra during his absences abroad, and to be the interpreter of his (Johann's) music.

[3] Éljen a Magyar! Polka schnell (Long Live the Magyar! Quick polka) Op.332
Immediately after the close of the official 1869 Vienna Carnival calendar, Johann and Josef Strauss began preparations for their joint Russian summer season of concerts in Pavlovsk from 9 May (= 27 April, Russian calendar) until 10 October (= 28 September). But a number of concert engagements had to be fulfilled before their departure, including a journey by the Strauss orchestra under the direction of all three brothers, Johann, Josef and Eduard, to the Hungarian town of Pest on the banks of the Danube. To coincide with the opening of Pest's imposing new Redoutensaal building, the brothers had organised two concerts there on 16 and 17 March. It was at the first of these that Johann conducted his quick polka Éljen a Magyar!, composed especially for the occasion and dedicated "to the Hungarian Nation". From his early days as a composer Johann was as much at home with the music of Hungary as he was with that of his native Vienna, and this exciting work, further enhanced at its première by the participation of the Budapest Men's Choral Association, was triumphantly applauded and had to be repeated several times. The Coda of the work features a fleeting quotation from the Rákóczi March, which Berlioz had earlier utilised in his Damnation of Faust (1846), but which owes its origins to the patriotic Magyar Rákóczi song.

[4] Wo die Citronen blüh'n! Walzer
(Where the Lemon-Trees blossom! Waltz Op. 364)
On 1 May 1874 - barely a month after the successful première of his operetta Die Flederaus – Johann Strauss left Vienna for a series of twenty-one guest concerts throughout Italy at the head of the Langenbach Orchestra from Germany. The Strauss Orchestra, under Eduard Strauss, was at that time fulfilling engagements in Vienna, and so was unavailable for the tour.

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?)

[5] Banditen-Galopp (Bandits Galop) Op. 378
The wild Banditen-Galopp belongs to those orchestral numbers which Johann Strauss arranged from tunes in his comic operetta Prinz Methusalem (Première: Carl-Theater Vienna, 3 January 1877). The galop's title derives from the appearance in the stage work of a bandit gang intent on overthrowing the reigning Prince, and its principal melody is to be found in the Act 3 duet with chours, "In der stille ganz verstohl’n werden wir Schätze hol’n". The Act 1 Finale provides the source of the galop's remaining themes.

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).

[6] Schatz-Walzer (Treasure Waltz) Op. 418
By the early 1880s Johann Strauss, who already had about a dozen operettas to his credit, including the French versions of Indigo und die vierzig Räuber and Die Fledermaus, felt free and secure enough to venture into the realm of high operatic art, which he had always regarded with somewhat respectful awe. As early as March 1883 the management of Vienna's prestigious Hof-Operntheater (‘Court Opera Theatre’) had announced: "If he [Strauss] were to decide to compose a comic opera, there would be an endeavour to obtain a suitable libretta which would satisfy the requirements". Behind the scenes, however, Strauss had already decided upon the composition of an Hungarian opera, based on the novel Saffi, about a young gypsy girl, written by the one-time Hungarian freedom fighter Jókai Mór (1825-1904). The great author declined to undertake the stage treatment of his story himself, instead entrusting the work to another Hungarian, Ignatz Schnitzer (1839-1921). Composer and librettist worked closely together for two years on the adaptation, entitled Der Zigeunerbaron (The Gypsy Baron), from the outset intending it as an opera for the Hof-Operntheater. Strauss was subsequently to encounter certain obstacles which forced a reshaping of the work as an operetta and, after a good deal of contractual wrangling between the managements of the Hof-Operntheater and the Theater an der Wien, Der Zigeunerbaron eventually received its triumphant première at the latter venue on 24 October 1885 - the eve of the composer's sixtieth birthday.

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:


Introduction -

Act 1 Finale (No. 7): Czipra,

"Du kannst den Zigeunern ganz vertrau'n"


Waltz lA & 1B -

Act 2 Finale (No. 13): Arsena and Mirabella,

"So voll Frohlichkeit "


Waltz 2A -

Act 2 Trio (No. 9): Saffi, Czipra and Barinkay,

"Ha, seht es winkt, es blinkt, es klingt"


Waltz 2B -

Continuation of the same number to the words

"Nun will ich das Lebens mich freuen"


Waltz 3A -

Act 2 (No. 12): Morality Commission's couplets,

"Nur keusch und rein"


Waltz 3B -

Act 1 (No. 2): Barinkay's entrance aria (waltz section),

"la, das Alles auf Her"

Waltz 4A -

Act 2 (No. 9) Trio: Final section,

"Doch mehr als Gold und Geld "


Waltz 4B -

Act 1 (No. 1) Introduction: Chorus,

"Das wär' kein rechter Schiffersknecht"


Coda -

Comprises material from the aforegoing numbers



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!"

[7] Fledermaus-Polka Op. 362
Even when Johann Strauss turned his attentions to the composition of operetta he maintained a presence in the ballroom by arranging melodies from his stageworks as individual orchestral numbers. Die Fledermaus [Première: Theater an der Wien, Vienna, 5 April 1874], the third and most enduring of all his operettas, was no exception, and Strauss arranged six separate dance pieces from its tuneful score.

The Fledermaus-Polka was heard for the first time on 10 February 1874, in the Sofienbad-Saal, at the ball of the Vienna Artists' and Journalists' Association, 'Concordia'. The polka, which was played at this initial performance by the Strauss Orchestra under the direction of the composer, comprises melodies from the opening and Finale of Act 2 of the operetta.

[8] Flugschriften, Walzer (Pamphlets, Waltz) Op. 300
The Vienna Carnival (‘Fasching’) of 1866 witnessed a previously undreamed of abundance of new dance compositions by the three Strauss brothers, and at their traditional 'Carnival Revue' in the Volksgarten on 18 February the triumvirate presented a total of 22 novelties, comprising seven by Johann, ten by Josef and five by Eduard. Only in the 1867 Vienna Carnival would their joint tally exceed this figure, when they created a record number of 25 new dance pieces for the various festivities.

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'.

[9] Egyptischer Marsch (Egyptian March) Op. 335
The formal opening of the Suez Canal – linking Port Said, on the Mediterranean Sea, and the Egyptian port of Suez, on the Red Sea – was celebrated on 16 November 1869 by an inaugural ceremony at Port Said. On the following day sixty-eight vessels of various nationalities began the passage, arriving at Suez four days later.

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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