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8.578287 - STRAUSS II, J.: Johann Strauss at the Opera
English 

Johann Strauss II (1825–1899)
Johann Strauss at the Opera

 

Johann Strauss II (or the Younger), the most famous and enduringly successful of 19th-century light music composers, 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 thrice-married ‘Waltz King’ later turned his attention to the composition of operetta, and completed 16 stage works 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.

Of all the dances popular in 19th-century Europe, above all in Vienna, none was so much a ‘snapshot’ of contemporary musical life as the quadrille. Its six distinct sections demanded a large number of separate themes, thus providing the ideal vehicle for exploiting the musical highlights of the latest theatre pieces, including opera, operetta and ballet. Many of the stage works themselves soon disappeared from the repertoire, but their melodies were enshrined in the numerous quadrilles that flooded onto the market. Johann Strauss II, as also his father and brothers, was at the forefront of those fashioning quadrilles from the music of others; later, when he himself began writing for the theatre, he habitually plundered his own scores for suitable melodies to confect into orchestral marches and dances—including quadrilles.

[1] Zigeunerin-Quadrille (The Bohemian Girl Quadrille), Op. 24

The Zigeunerin-Quadrille was the second of three dance music compositions by Johann Strauss II to draw upon material from a stage work by the Irish-born composer Michael William Balfe (1808–70). In this instance Strauss arranged his quadrille on melodies from the most successful of all Balfe’s operas, The Bohemian Girl, based on Miguel de Cervantes’s novel La Preciosa. The opera had its première at the Drury Lane Theatre, London, on 27 November 1843, and was mounted at Vienna’s Theater an der Wien (as Die Zigeunerin) on 24 July 1846, where it ran for thirty-one performances until the end of March 1848.

At this time a successful theatrical première was the signal for the outbreak of fierce competition as Vienna’s composers of dance music, above all Johann Strauss the Elder (1804–49), vied with one other to arrange quadrilles on themes from the new work. Both Strausses, father and son, were attracted to Die Zigeunerin but, in this instance, the race was won by the younger man.

Slovak State Philharmonic Orchestra • Alfred Walter
Producers: Rudolf Hentšel and Gejza Toperczer
Recorded at the House of Arts, Košice, Slovakia,
9–13 June 1989 • ⓟ 1990
[From Marco Polo 8.223216]

[2] Quadrille nach Motiven aus der Oper: Die Belagerung von Rochelle (Quadrille on themes from the opera ‘The Siege of Rochelle’), Op. 31

With more than two dozen operas alone to his credit, the Irish-born Michael William Balfe (1808–70) was Britain’s most commercially successful and prolific composer in the first half of the 19th century. The opera which established Balfe was his highly successful The Siege of Rochelle, mounted in London on 29 October 1835.

Balfe himself conducted the Viennese première of the opera, now entitled Die Belagerung von Rochelle, at the Theater an der Wien on 24 October 1846. The 21-year-old Johann Strauss, like his father, had already arranged quadrilles on earlier Balfe stage works, and he now hurriedly prepared one on themes from this latest opera. The plan, however, misfired: by the time of the quadrille’s première on 15 November at Dommayer’s Casino in Hietzing, the opera had been dropped from the repertoire after just three performances.

Slovak State Philharmonic Orchestra • Alfred Walter
Producer: Teije van Geest
Recorded at the House of Arts, Košice, Slovakia,
February 1989 • ⓟ 1989
[From Marco Polo 8.223213]

[3] Martha-Quadrille (Martha Quadrille), Op. 46 (orch. Ludwig Babinski)

The four-act opera Martha oder der Markt von Richmond (Martha, or The Fair at Richmond), written especially for Vienna by the German composer Friedrich Freiherr von Flotow, (1812–83), opened at the k.k. Hof-Operntheater on 25 November 1847. Within days, melodies from Flotow’s tuneful score were being sung, played and whistled throughout the Austrian capital.

The first piano edition of the younger Johann’s Martha-Quadrille was published by H.F. Müller on 13 January 1848, while its composer was absent from Vienna on a tour of the Balkans. The Wiener Allgemeine Theaterzeitung (13.01.1848) commented: ‘In this quadrille Strauss Son has demonstrated in most brilliant fashion his talent as a composer of dance-music. The choice of themes for the figures has turned out most successfully, and will make this quadrille one of the favourites of this year’s Carnival.’ Flotow’s opera proved such a moneyspinner that another eight or nine composers opted to fashion quadrilles on themes from Martha.

Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra • Michael Dittrich
Producer: Karol Kopernicky • Engineer: Hubert Geschwandtner
Recorded at the Concert Hall of Slovak Radio, Bratislava,
Slovakia, 3–6 December 1993 • ⓟ 1994
[From Marco Polo 8.223241]

[4] Melodien-Quadrille nach Motiven von G. Verdi (Melodies Quadrille on themes by G. Verdi

Almost nine years before his Neue Melodien-Quadrille, Op. 254 [track 10], based on airs from operas by Donizetti, Bellini and Verdi, Johann Strauss the Younger had written a Melodien-Quadrille, with themes drawn exclusively from the stage works of Giuseppe Verdi (1813–1901). The earlier quadrille was prompted by the Viennese première of Verdi’s opera Rigoletto at the Kärntnertor-Theater on 12 May 1852. Though his opera was savaged by the Viennese critics, the Italian composer was able to count on the outspoken support of two important advocates of his work—the Emperor Franz Josef I and Johann Strauss the Younger, of whom Verdi later said: ‘I revere him as one of my most highly gifted colleagues.’ Strauss’s Op. 112, first performed at a Volksgarten concert on 16 July 1852 as the Hesperiden-Quadrille, was subsequently published that September with the amended title: Melodien-Quadrille, nach Motiven von G. Verdi. The quadrille quotes themes from the operas Macbeth (1847) and Rigoletto (1851).

Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra • Alfred Eschwé
Producer: Günter Appenheimer
Recorded at the Concert Hall of Slovak Radio, Bratislava,
Slovakia, 22–24 September 1989 • ⓟ 1990
[From Marco Polo 8.223217]

[5] Indra-Quadrille (Indra-Quadrille), Op. 122

After a six-week absence owing to ill health, the 26-year-old Johann Strauss reappeared with his orchestra on 16 January 1853 for a concert in the Vienna Volksgarten. He greeted his admirers with a new composition, arranged during his illness, on themes from Friedrich von Flotow’s latest opera, Indra, das Schlangenmädchen (Indra, the Snake-Girl), which had received its première at Vienna’s Kärntnertor-Theater on 18 December 1852. Perhaps surprisingly, Strauss’s tuneful Indra-Quadrille did not enjoy the success of his earlier quadrille (Op. 46) [track 3] on melodies from another Flotow opera, Martha, and it was soon dropped from the Strauss Orchestra’s repertoire.

Slovak State Philharmonic Orchestra • Alfred Walter
Producers: Günter Appenheimer and Martin Sauer
Recorded at the Concert Hall of the Slovak State Philharmonic
Orchestra, Košice, Slovakia in July and August 1988 • ⓟ 1989
[From Marco Polo 8.223202]

[6] Nordstern-Quadrille. Nach Motiven von G. Meyerbeer (Polar Star Quadrille. On themes by G. Meyerbeer)

Towards the end of July 1854 Johann Strauss returned from a rest-cure in Bad Gastein, near Salzburg, to resume his position at the head of the Strauss Orchestra. His first appearance in public was at Unger’s Casino in Hernals on Sunday 30 July, and among the compositions performed was his new quadrille on themes from Meyerbeer’s opéra-comique, Der Nordstern. As L’Étoile du Nord, Meyerbeer’s opera had received its world première in Paris on 16 February 1854, but a production was not mounted in Vienna until the following year.

Slovak State Philharmonic Orchestra • Oliver Dohnányi
Producers: Rudolf Hentšel and Gejza Toperczer
Recorded at the House of Arts, Košice, Slovakia,
2–9 January 1989 • ⓟ 1989
[From Marco Polo 8.223206]

[7] Quadrille nach den Motiven der Oper: Des Teufels Antheil (Quadrille on themes from the opera The Devil’s Share), o. Op. (arr. Christian Pollack)

The music of Daniel François Esprit Auber (1782-1871) loomed large in the repertoire of the elder Johann Strauss (1804–49), whose concerts during the 1830s and 1840s frequently included one or more of the French opera composer’s overtures. Auber’s music also played an important rôle in the fledgling career of the younger Johann Strauss, who was anxious to prove himself and his orchestra fully proficient at interpreting more serious fare alongside dance music.

An announcement in autumn 1847 that a new version of Auber’s opera La Part du Diable (The Devil’s Share, 1843) was to be produced in Vienna was thus greeted with considerable interest by both Johann Strauss the Elder and his son. Johann the Younger performed his Des Teufels Antheil-Quadrille on 3 October 1847 at Dommayer’s Casino in the suburb of Hietzing. However, not only must he have been bitterly disappointed that Vienna’s critics ignored his latest composition, but it seems he experienced some difficulty in finding a publisher for the piece as the Haslinger edition of his father’s quadrille was already on sale. As only a piano version of the younger Johann Strauss’s Quadrille nach den Motiven der Oper: Des Teufels Antheil was issued, the conductor Christian Pollack has prepared an orchestral arrangement for this recording.

Slovak State Philharmonic Orchestra • Christian Pollack
Producer: Rudolf Hentšel • Engineer: Gejza Toperczer
Recorded at the House of Arts, Košice, Slovakia,
13–16 November 1992 • ⓟ 1995
[From Marco Polo 8.223243]

[8] Dinorah-Quadrille nach Motiven der Oper: Die Wallfahrt nach Ploërmel von G. Meyerbeer (Dinorah Quadrille, on themes from G. Meyerbeer’s opera The Pilgrimage to Ploërmel), Op. 224

At the height of his powers the German composer Giacomo Meyerbeer (born Jakob Liebmann Beer, 1791–1864) dominated European opera houses, and his musical creations provided a rich fund of melodic material for the arrangers of dance music to plunder. Indeed, the Strausses were to make use of music from no less than six of Meyerbeer’s operas for their quadrilles, cotillions and gallops.

Meyerbeer’s three-act opéra comique, Le Pardon de Ploërmel—more universally known as Dinorah—was given its première at the Paris Opéra Comique on 4 April 1859, in the presence of the Emperor Napoleon III and the Empress Eugénie. The plot, based on an old Breton legend, is set in the village of Ploërmel where, each year, the inhabitants—among them Dinorah—make a pilgrimage to the Chapel of the Virgin. It was not until 11 March 1865 at the Hof-Operntheater that a complete production was first staged in Vienna, under the title Dinorah oder die Wallfahrt nach Ploërmel—more than five years after Strauss’s Dinorah-Quadrille had introduced many of the opera’s musical highlights to the Viennese public. Strauss had in fact arranged the quadrille for his 1859 summer season in Pavlovsk, where he gave its first performance at a festival concert on 17 September (= 5 September, Russian calendar), while audiences in the Austrian capital were introduced to the new work on 20 November 1859 at an afternoon concert in the Volksgarten marking Johann’s first public appearance after his return from Russia.

Slovak State Philharmonic Orchestra • Alfred Walter
Producers: Rudolf Hentšel and Gejza Toperczer
Recorded at the House of Arts, Košice, Slovakia,
12–15 September 1989 • ⓟ 1990
[From Marco Polo 8.223220]

[9] Orpheus-Quadrille Op. 236

In 1858, determined to break free from the constraints of one-act stage works, Jacques Offenbach (1819–80) acquired from the authorities a new theatre licence allowing him to utilize a larger cast than the limiting four characters previously permitted. His first full-length work, the two-act opéra bouffon Orphée aux Enfers (Orpheus in the Underworld), was written for his own theatre, the Bouffes Parisiens in Paris, where it received a rapturous public reception at its première on 21 October 1858.

It was not until 16 October 1858 that a resident Viennese theatre company introduced local audiences to the delights of an Offenbach operetta, when the one-act Le Mariage aux Lanternes (1857) was staged at the Carl-Theater—as Hochzeit bei Laternenschein—with a German text by Karl Treumann and orchestrations by the theatre’s house conductor, Carl Binder (1816–60). News about the triumph of Orphée aux Enfers inevitably reached Vienna, and on 17 March 1860 the curtain of the Carl-Theater rose on the first German-language production of Offenbach’s parody of Greek mythology, Orpheus in der Unterwelt. Sitting among the audience in the stalls was Johann Strauss. Enraptured by Offenbach’s tuneful score he quickly fashioned a quadrille from some of the stage work’s most attractive themes. The first performance of Strauss’s Orpheus-Quadrille took place on 18 April 1860, when Johann himself conducted the new work at a concert in the tavern ‘Zum grossen Zeisig’ in the Viennese suburb of Neubau.

Slovak State Philharmonic Orchestra • Johannes Wildner
Producers: Rudolf Hentšel and Gejza Toperczer
Recorded at the House of Arts, Košice, Slovakia,
12–19 March 1990 • ⓟ 1990
[From Marco Polo 8.223221]

[10] Neue Melodien-Quadrille (New Melodies Quadrille) Op. 254

Although the almost daily exertions of the busy 1861 Vienna Carnival season left Johann Strauss exhausted, his productivity was undiminished. On 17 March in the Dianabad-Saal he conducted his Neue Melodien-Quadrille on airs from Italian opera. The work quotes themes from Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor (1835) and La Fille du régiment (1840), Bellini’s La sonnambula (1831) as well as Verdi’s Rigoletto (1851), II trovatore (1853) and La traviata (1853).

Slovak State Philharmonic Orchestra • Alfred Walter
Producer: Teije van Geest
Recorded at the House of Arts, Košice, Slovakia,
February 1989 • ⓟ 1989
[From Marco Polo 8.223213]

[11] Un ballo in maschera, Quadrille nach Motiven aus Verdi’s Oper (A Masked Ball, Quadrille on themes from Verdi’s Opera), Op. 272

Apart from providing its customary light musical entertainment at concerts and balls, the Strauss Orchestra also fulfilled an important social function by introducing into its programmes selections from operatic works that many of its audiences might not otherwise have taken the trouble to hear. Although Giuseppe Verdi’s opera, Un ballo in maschera, was first staged at the Teatro Apollo, Rome, on 17 February 1859, a complete production was not mounted in Vienna until nearly eight years later. Johann Strauss pre-empted this, however, when on 8 May 1862 (= 26 April, Russian calendar), in Pavlovsk, Russia, he conducted the first performance of his quadrille on themes from Verdi’s opera. Viennese audiences had to wait until 21 December that year before Johann introduced the new work to them.

Polish State Philharmonic Orchestra • Oliver Dohnányi
Producers: Peter Breiner and Otto Nopp
Recorded in Katowice, 6–13 February 1989 • ⓟ 1989
[From Marco Polo 8.223208]

[12] Faust-Quadrille sur des thèmes de l’opéra Faust et Marguerite de Ch. Gounod (Faust Quadrille on themes from C. Gounod’s opera Faust and Marguerite [Op. 277]

Johann Strauss’s Faust-Quadrille was among the cache of compositions which the 38-year-old Viennese Kapellmeister wrote for Russian audiences attending his 1864 summer season of concerts at the Vauxhall Pavilion in Pavlovsk. Although he naturally wished to take advantage of the production of Faust at St Petersburg in January 1864, it remains wholly unclear why he troubled to make this arrangement from the Gounod opera, rather than turn to the Faust-Quadrille which his brother Josef had already composed and first performed at Schwender’s Neue Welt establishment in Hietzing on 11 August 1861. Whatever the reason, Johann’s own Faust-Quadrille appeared for the first time on the programme of his concert at Pavlovsk on 11 May 1864 (= 29 April, Russian calendar), just six days after the opening (5 May / 23 April 1864) of his ninth season under Russian skies. The new quadrille proved popular with the Pavlovsk audiences and was performed a total of 15 times during the five-month engagement. Although published in Russia (as Op. 277) a printed edition of Strauss’s quadrille was never issued in Vienna.

Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra • Johannes Wildner
Producer: Karol Kopernicky • Engineer: Hubert Geschwandter
Recorded at the Concert Hall of Slovak Radio, Bratislava,
Slovakia, 1–4 February 1994 • ⓟ 1995
[From Marco Polo 8.223247

[13] Die Afrikanerin. Quadrille (The African Woman. Quadrille), Op. 299

Die Afrikanerin, the last of three quadrilles which Johann Strauss based on the music of Meyerbeer’s operas, was first heard in the Vienna Volksgarten on 7 July 1865 during a musical novelty festival with fireworks. The performance, conducted by Josef Strauss, the composer’s younger brother, featured the Strauss Orchestra, possibly augmented by the band of the Freiherr von Rossbach Infantry Regiment which was also involved in the festivities. Meyerbeer’s opera, L’Africaine, had received its world première ten weeks earlier, on 28 April, at the Paris Opéra, and as early as 26 June the Strauss Orchestra had presented concert performances of excerpts from the work in the Volksgarten. However, it was not until 27 February 1866 that a full production of the opera (under its German title: Die Afrikanerin) was staged in Vienna, in the Wiener Hoftheater (near the Kärntnerthor).

Slovak State Philharmonic Orchestra • Alfred Walter
Producer: Martin Sauer
Recorded at the House of Arts, Košice, Slovakia,
4–11 May 1989 • ⓟ 1989
[From Marco Polo 8.223211]

[14] Fledermaus-Quadrille, Op. 363

Die Fledermaus, the third Johann Strauss operetta to be staged, opened at Vienna’s Theater an der Wien on Easter Sunday 5 April 1874. The success of the work was assured from its first performance, although only with the passage of time has it come to be regarded as the premier stage work in the entire operetta genre.

On 1 May 1874, less than four weeks after the première of Die Fledermaus, Johann Strauss left Vienna for a concert tour of Italy with the Julius Langenbach Orchestra of Germany. His preoccupation with this project limited the time available to him for composing the eagerly-awaited dance pieces arranged from Die Fledermaus, and only three of the eventual seven works were rushed on to the market by his publisher. Among these was the Fledermaus-Quadrille, which provides the listener with an exhaustive tour of the rhythmical and melodic delights of this most celebrated of operettas. The work was probably first played at one of brother Eduard Strauss’s concerts in Vienna between April and June 1874.

Slovak State Philharmonic Orchestra • Alfred Walter
Producer: Rudolf Hentšel • Engineer: Gejza Toperczer
Recorded at the House of Arts, Košice, Slovakia,
9–11 September 1989 • ⓟ 1993
[From Marco Polo 8.223236]


Adapted from notes © Peter Kemp, The Johann Strauss Society of Great Britain.
For more detailed notes visit www.naxos.com/johannstraussedition


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