STRAUSS II, J.: Edition - Vol. 20 (Alfred Walter/ Slovak State Philharmonic Orchestra) (Marco Polo: 8.223220)
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The Johann Strauss Edition
Johann Strauss II, the most famous and enduringly successful of19th-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 hisbrothers, Joseph and Eduard) achieved so high a development of the classicalViennese waltz that it became as much a feature of the concert hall as of theballroom. For more than half a century Johann II captivated not only Vienna butalso the whole of Europe and America with his abundantly tuneful waltzes,polkas, quadrilles and marches. The thrice-married 'Waltz King' later turnedhis attention to the composition of operetta, and completed 16 stage worksbesides more than 500 orchestral compositions - including the most famous ofall waltzes, The Blue Danube (1867). Johann Strauss II died in Vienna on3 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 'WaltzKing'. Despite their supremely high standard of musical invention, the majorityof the compositions have never before been commercially recorded and have beenpainstakingly assembled from archives around the world. All performancesfeatured in this series are complete and, wherever possible, the works areplayed in their original instrumentation as conceived by the masterorchestrator himself, Johann Strauss II.
Aurora-Ball-Tanze,Walzer (Aurora Ball Dances, Waltz) op. 87
The waltz Aurora-Ball-Tanze
was the first of four compositions (opp. 87, 165, 187 & 219) which theyounger Johann Strauss composed for the ball festivities of the short-livedViennese Artists' and Writers' Association, 'Aurora'. The Association took itsname from the beautiful Roman goddess of the dawn, and appropriately it is shewhose picture graces the cover of the first piano edition of Strauss's waltz.
Aurora is seen flying ahead of the tour fiery steeds which draw Apollo'ssun-chariot, escorted on its daily journey across the heavens by the Sun god'sattendants, the Hours.
It was usual forthe balls of the 'Aurora' to be held in modest surroundings, but on rareoccasions - as in the Vienna 'Fasching. (Carnival) of 1851 - theAssociation took over the spacious and fashionable 'Sperl' dance hall, and thusit was here, on 18 February that year, that Johann Strauss conducted hisAurora-Ball-Tanze for the first time.
Herzel-Polka (Little Hearts Polka) op. 188
While the firstpiano edition of Johann's Herzel-Polka shows Cupid's bow and severallittle hearts pierced by arrows, the title itself presumably refers to thegenerous hearts of those patrons of the Poor People's Ball for which the workwas written. The event took place at the 'Sperl' dance hall in Vienna on 3February 1857, when the Strauss Orchestra was conducted by the composerhimself.
Throughout theirlives the members of the Strauss family did much to further charitable causesboth at home and abroad, and in his successful petition of 20 February 1863 forthe conferment of the prestigious honorary title of 'k.k.
Hofball-Musik-Direktor' (Director of Music for the Imperial-Royal Court Balls),the younger Johann listed among the justifications for the granting of hisrequest the fact that "with the least possible regard for his owninterests, he himself has not missed any opportunity to allow his orchestra tobe used to make music for various charitable purposes or to organise suchproductions himself"
Dinorah-Quadrillenach Motiven der Oper: Die Wallfahrt nach Plo?â?½rmel von G. Meyerbeer (DinorahQuadrille, on themes from G. Meyerbeer's opera 'The Pilgrimage to Plo?â?½rmel')op. 224
At the height ofhis powers the German composer Giacomo Meyerbeer (born Jakob Liebmann Beer,1791-1864) dominated European opera houses, and his musical creations provideda rich fund of melodic material for the arrangers of dance music to plunderindeed, the Strausses were to make use of music from no less than six ofMeyerbeer's operas for their quadrilles, cotillons and galops.
Meyerbeer'sthree-act opera comique, Le Pardon de Plo?â?½rmel - more universally knownas Dinorah, by which name the work was first styled - was given its premi?â?¿re atthe Paris Opera Comique on 4 April 1859, in the presence of the EmperorNapoleon III and the Empress Eugenie. The plot, based on an old Breton legend,is set in the village of Plo?â?½rmel where each year the inhabitants - among themDinorah - make a pilgrimage to the Chapel of the Virgin. Not until 11 March1865 at the Hof-Operntheater was a complete production mounted in Vienna, underthe title Dinorah oder die Wallfahrt nach Plo?â?½rmel - more than fiveyears after Johann Strauss's Dinorah-Ouadrille had introduced many ofthe opera's musical highlights to the Viennese public. Strauss had in factarranged the quadrille for his 1859 summer season in Pavlovsk, where he gaveits first performance at a festival concert on 13 August (= 1 August, Russiancalendar), while audiences in the Austrian capital were introduced to the newwork on 20 November 1859 at an afternoon concert in the Volksgarten markingJohann's first public appearance after his return from Russia.
Erhohte Pulse,Walzer (Raised Pulses, Waltz) op. 175
Chronicling one ofthe many festivities which accompanied the Congress of Vienna in 1814-15, CountAuguste de la Garde observed: "After the departure of the sovereigns theorchestras began to play waltzes. Immediately, an electrical stimulus seemed tobe communicated to the whole innumerable gathering. One has in Vienna to watchhow in the waltz the gentleman supports his lady after the beat, and lifts herup in a whirling run, and how she gives herself up to the sweet magic and aslight touch of dizziness lends her look an indefinite expression whichincreases her beauty. But one can also understand the power which the waltzexercises. As soon as the first bars are heard, faces brighten, eyes comealive, a tremor of joy passes through everyone".
It is preciselythis sense of mounting excitement with which Strauss imbues the briefIntroduction to his Erhohte Pulse, before the first melting waltz themeunfolds. Waltz 2B, with its shifts into the minor key, produces one of the mostlangorous of Johann's waltz tunes, reminiscent of his brother Josef's style.
The ingeniouslyentitled waltz Erhohte Pulse was dedicated to the medical students of ViennaUniversity during the Carnival of 1856, and first performed at their ball on 8January in the Sofienbad-Saal. Although the Carnival in this year was extremelyshort, there were nevertheless more balls, festivals in the palaces andconcerts to play than formerly, and Johann and Josef were kept busy with thedemands of composing and conducting. Moreover, since during this Fasching (Carnival)Johann conducted all Court- and Chamber-Balls, he formally applied to begranted the official position of a 'Hofball Musikdirektor' (Director of Musicfor the Court Balls). But after due deliberation, the Court bureaucratsdeclined his request...
Ein Herz, einSinn. Polka-Mazurka (One Heart, One Mind. Polka-mazurka) op. 323
On 26 October 1899the curtain of Vienna's Carl-Theater rose on the premi?â?¿re of a new JohannStrauss operetta entitled Wiener Blut (Vienna Blood), after the waltz(op. 354) of that name. But the composer was not present to receive theapplause of the public: he had died almost five months previously, hav