Johann Strauss II, 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.
The Marco Polo Strauss Edition 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.
Little more than a year before the
premičre of Die Fledermaus, the curtain of Vienna's Theater an der Wien
rose on another Johann Strauss operetta. Entitled Der Carneval in Rom
(,Carnival in Rome'), it opened at the theatre on 1 March 1873 to considerable
critical and public acclaim. Set in Italy - a location for which the composer
had a special affinity - it is a romantic tale about a Swiss peasant-girl's
love for a handsome artist.
Johann based his orchestral waltz Garnevalsbilder
on melodies from Der Garneval in Rom, and conducted its first
performance on 9 July 1873 at a spectacular scenic festival with illuminations
in the grounds of the Blumensale der Gartenbaugesellschaft (Floral Halls
of the Horticultural Assocation) in Vienna. The listener's attention is drawn
to Waltz No. 2 (using music from the Act 2 Quintet and the Act 1
Introduction) which Oscar Straus was to arrange for his 1935 operetta Drei
Walzer (Three Waltzes) as the soprano aria "Ich liebe das Leben"
(better known in its French version: "Je t'aime").
Annen-Polka op. 117
It is ironic that a work as delicate as
Johann's Annen-Polka should have received its first performance in the
garden of an establishment on the Vienna Prater called 'Zum wilden Mann' (The
Wild Man). The polka was occasioned by the Name Day celebrations for St Anna on
26 July 1852 - one of the most popular red-letter days in the Viennese calendar
- although Johann presented his new work two days earlier, on 24 July, at an
open-air festival. One press reporter commented: "Johann Strauss has given
a lovely present to all the Annas, Ninas, Nanys, Nettchens etc, etc, with his
latest polka, which he has entitled 'Annen Polka' in their honour. It pleased
so much because of its charming, melodious and inviting dance tunes, that again
and again there were demands for it to be repeated".
Indigo-Marsch op. 349
Johann's swaggering Indigo-Marsch
draws its themes from the score of his first operetta, Indigo und die
vierzig Rauber (Indigo and the Forty Thieves), first seen at the Theater an
der Wien, Vienna, on 10 February 1871. Strauss's theatrical debut had been
eagerly awaited by the Viennese ever since the mid-1860s when he began making
some early abortive attempts at composing for the stage. The critics, as ever,
were divided in their opinions about Indigo, a re-working of a tale from The
Arabian Nights, but the record takings at the box-office registered a unanimous
verdict from the public.
With Indigo und die vierzig Rauber Johann
adopted a practice he was to continue for the rest of his life, namely that of
arranging melodies from his stage works as separate orchestral numbers. Thus,
besides his new-found preoccupation with operetta composition he could, with
minimum effort, still maintain a presence in ballrooms and concert halls around
the world. It was, however, Johann's brother Eduard who first introduced the
Viennese to the Indigo-Marsch, when he conducted it during his concert
in the Musikverein on 9 April 1871. The work is based on melodies from the Act
1 Finale and from Act 3.
Albion-Polka op. 102
Johann Strauss dedicated his Albion-Polka
to Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg (1819-61), the Consortof Queen Victoria.
However, the work predates by some sixteen years those dance pieces which the
composer wrote for his sole London visit in 1867, and was intended instead to
honour the Queen's newly accredited emissary and minister plenipotentiary to
the Imperial Court in Vienna, John Fane, 11th Earl of Westmorland (1784-1859),
recently arrived from Great Britain. The diplomat's presence in Vienna
reflected British concern over numerous Hungarian emigrants who had fled the
revolution in their own country and who were now seeking asylum in London.
The Earl and his wife, Priscilla, were
both accomplished musicians and composers, and they gave several balls,
concerts and other entertainments during their stay in Vienna. On several
occasions Johann Strauss performed with his orchestra at the Earl's residence
in the Palais Coburg, and for one of these festivities in autumn 1851 he wrote
his Albion-Polka. The work takes its title from the old Roman name for
Gedanken auf den Alpen, Walzer (Thoughts
in the Alps, Waltz) op. 172
Solo horn and clarinet in the opening of
this waltz immediately establish the tranquil setting with its alpine echoes,
inspired by the scenic mountainous surroundings of Bad Gastein.
At the beginning of August 1855 Johann
Strauss, on doctors' orders, again travelled to the spa resort of Bad Gastein,
south of Salzburg. Together with his servant, Johann stayed at the newly-built
Hotel Straubinger for some six weeks, returning to Vienna in late September. He
brought with him a new waltz, Gedanken auf den Alpen, which he had
composed in Bad Gastein, and which he presented for the first time at the
'Sperl' dance hall on 15 October 1855 on the occasion of a grand St Theresia
Name Day festival. Strauss dedicated his 'Gastein Waltz' to the music-loving
father of the Ernpress Elisabeth of Austria, Duke Maximilian in Bavaria (1808-88).
Festival-Quadrille nach englischen Motiven
(Festival Quadrille on English thernes) op. 341
The 'Waltz King' paid only one visit to
Great Britain - in 1867 - when he conducted the dance music at all 63 Promenade
Concerts at London's Royal Italian Opera House, Covent Garden, from 15 August
to 26 October. Among a number of new works specifically written, or arranged,
for his London audiences was the Promenade Quadrille, on Popular Airs,
first played on 7 October and encored. Some of the tunes are frorn American
minstrel songs, popularised by the London visits of the Christy Minstrels,
while others were taken frorn the music-hall repertoires of George Leybourne
and 'The Great Vance'. The quadrille quotes frorn "Pull, pull together
boys", "One a penny swells", "Any ornaments for your
firestoves", "Jog along, boys", "I'll go no more on the
Ohio" (known as "Pretty Jemima"), "Costermonger Joe",
"Come along boys, let's make a noise", "The Dancing Swell",
"Cool Burgundy Ben", "Going to the Derby in a four-in-hand"
and "Just before the battle, mother" (perhaps now more familiar in
the guise of "Jesus wants me for a sunbeam" or "Kiss me
goodnight, Sergeant Major!"). The original version of the quadrille
comprised just five sections, in accordance with English practice, but for its
Viennese publication (rnisleadingly entitled Festival-Quadrille nach
englischen Motiven) Strauss added newly-composed material for the missing
'Trenis' (Figure 4) section.
Habsburg Hoch! Marsch (Hail Habsburg!
March) op. 408
In 1273 Count Rudolph of Habsburg acceded
to the throne of Germany. Through force of arms he acquired certain territories
including Austria and Styria and, seeking to strengthen his own 'Hausmacht'
(dynastic power), as Emperor he bestowed these territories upon his two sons,
Albert and Rudolph, on 27 Oecernber 1282. Thus began the association between
the House of Habsburg and Austria, which was to exist until 1918.
27 Oecernber 1882 - 'Habsburg Day' - was
marked by celebrations throughout Austria, including a festive evening in
Vienna's Carl-Theater. Between a prologue by Josef Weyl and the premičre of
Ludwig Anzengruber's comedy, Die umkehrte Freit, Johann Strauss
conducted the first performance of his march Habsburg Hoch! The work, written
to mark 'the 600 years Commernoration of the most Illustrious House of
Habsburg', features snatches from Haydn's Austrian Hymn, the Prinz
Eugen-Lied and Strauss Father's Radetzky-Marsch.
The world of nature was a ready and
constant source of inspiration to the Strauss family when seeking to name their
innumerable pieces of dance music. Thus, on 1 July 1855 at Unger's Casino in
Hernals, Johann presented his polka-mazurka Nachtveilchen - a plant known to
English-speaking countries as dame's violet or dame's rocket (Hesperis
matronalis) with attractive white, mauve or lilac flowers which give off a
scent in the evening.
Lucifer-Polka op. 266
The first piano edition title-page of
Strauss's polka depicts a peacful wooded park-landscape. In the sky is Lucifer,
the 'light-bringer' - as the planet Venus is sometimes known when, as the
Morning Star, it rises above the eastern horizon before sunrise. Yet there is a
double-meaning in the title of Strauss's quick polka: the piano edition's
illustrator opted for the astronomical interpretation, while the composer
himself clearly had in mind Satan hirnself! This exciting work was especially
composed for the ball of the Vienna Artists' Association, "Hesperus",
held in the Dianabad-Saal on 22 February 1862, and is the companion piece to
Johann's Hesperus-Polka ('Evening Star', which appears in Volume 5),
written for the 1861 Hesperus-Ball.
Kaiser-Walzer (Emperor Waltz) op. 437
In the autumn of 1889 Johann Strauss
conducted five concerts in Berlin at the newly-opened Konigsbau concert hall.
Prior to the composer's departure for Germany the Viennese press reported that
he had sent his Berlin publisher a new waltz, entitled Hand in Hand.
This title referred to a toast made in August 1889 by the Austrian Emperor,
Franz Joseph I, on the occasion of his visit to the German Kaiser, Wilhelm II,
in which Austria had extended 'the hand of friendship' to Germany. The astute
publisher, Fritz Simrock, suggested to Johann that Kaiser-Walzer might prove a
more suitable title since, by not dedicating the work to either monarch, the
vanity of both would be satisfied. It was under this, now familiar, title that
the Waltz King's magnificent composition was first performed in Berlin on 21
October 1889 - though it should be noted thatthe illustrated title page of the
original piano edition is emblazoned with the Austrian Imperial crown!
The author is indebted to Professor Franz
Mailer for his assistance in the preparation of these notes.
Polish State Philharmonic
The Polish State Philharmonic was formed
in the Silesian city of Katowicze in 1945, one of the first orchestras to be
established in the post-war period. Since then it has assumed an important
position giving concerts in Katowicze and the principal cities of this heavily
industrialised region of Poland. The orchestra has visited England, Austria,
West Germany, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, France, Italy and the
Soviet Union and has taken part in a number of major music festivals.
Conductors appearing with the orchestra include Kyril Kondrashin, Hermann
Abendroth. Gennady Rozhdestvensky and Carlo Zecchi, and soloists of the
eminence of Sviatoslav Richter, Emil Gilels, Artur Rubinstein, Maurizio
Pollini, Henryk Szeryng and David Oistrakh.
Johannes Wildner was born in the Austrian
resort of Mürzzuschlag in 1956 and studied violin and conducting, taking his
diploma at the Vienna Musilhochschule and proceeding to a doctorate in
musicology. A member of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Johannes Wildner has
toured widely as leader of the Vienna Symphony Orchestra Johann Strauss
Ensemble and of the Vienna Mozart Academy. As a conductor he has directed the
Orchestra Sinfonica dell'Emilia Romagna Arturo Toscanini, the Budapest State
Opera Orchestra, the Silesian Philharmonic and the Malmo Symphony Orchestra. He
conducted performances of the Vienna Volksoper in the autumn of 1989 and has
been invited to Japan, China, Denmark, Sweden, Poland and Italy.