STRAUSS II, J.: Waltzes, Polkas, Marches and Overtures, Vol. 5

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Johann Strauss II (1825 -1899)

To many theStrauss family has been seen as the epitome of the golden age of Vienna, the city that setEurope dancing, with its waltzes and polkas. As the capital of an Empire that embraced themost musical parts of Europe, Bohemia, Slovakia and Hungary, as well as a good part ofNorthern Italy and the German-speaking peoples closer to hand, Vienna proved the mostfertile ground for music that the world has ever known. One reason for this may lie in theinevitable cross-fertilisation of races and cultures, of which the Strauss family providesan example.

The firstrecorded member of the family was Johann Michael Strauss, a native of the Hungarian townof Ofen, who moved to Vienna in the service of Count Franz von Roggendorff in 1750. Jewishin origin, Johann Michael became a Christian and settled in the city as an upholsterer.

His second child, Franz Strauss, married the daughter of a: coachman and worked as awaiter before taking the tenancy of a small drinking-house, Zum heiligen Florian, in theLeopoldstadt district of the city. It was here, on 14th March. 1804, that Johann Straussthe elder, founder of the Strauss musical dynasty, was born.

On thedeath of his father in 1816, Johann Strauss was apprenticed by his guardian to abook-binder. Even at this period he earned a living for himself playing the viola in aband run by the somewhat disreputable violinist Michael Pamer. In 1819 he joined a rivalband started by the Pamer violinist Josef Lanner: in 1824 he became second conductor underLanner, and the following year established his own orchestra. He married on 11th July,1825: on 25th October his first son was born and named after his father.

The youngerJohann Strauss, even more prolific and successful than his father, studied music at firstby stealth, until his father abandoned the family in favour of his mistress in 1842. Twoyears later he launched his own dance orchestra and went on to unparallelled success, inwhich he compelled his younger brothers to share, although all three of them had beenoriginally destined for other professions. In 1863 Johann Strauss was appointed ImperialMusic Director for the balls held at court, a position he relinquished in 1871, when hewas succeeded by his youngest brother, Eduard. His career took him abroad, to London,Paris, Budapest and regularly to the Russian Vauxhall at Pavlovsk. For the theatre hewrote a series of operettas, from Indigo and theForty Thieves in 1871 and Die Fledermaus

three years later to the final Goddess of Reason in 1897. By the time of his death in 1899Strauss had written some 500 pieces of music, waltzes, polkas, quadrilles and stage works,evidence of prolific talent and an enormous capacity for work.

The New Pizzicato Polka had been written in 1892 forconcerts to be given under Eduard Strauss in Hamburg. Johann Strauss later inserted it asa ballet between Acts II and III of the operetta FurstinNinetta (Princess Ninetta), a work completed reluctantly but successfullystaged at the Theater an der Wien, its first performance attended by the Emperor. Thewaltz Freut euch des Lebens (Enjoy Life)was written for the Vienna Gesellschaft derMusikfreunde (Society of the Friends of Music) and first performed at the newMusikverein building in 1870. Its title seems to suggest the popular view of the spirit ofthe age.

The quickpolka Vom Donaustrande (From the Shore ofthe Danube) was drawn from the score of Der Carneval

in Rom, Strauss's second operetta, staged as was to be the custom, at the Theater an derWien in 1873. Five years earlier Strauss had written one of his most famous waltzes, G'schichten aus dem Wiener Wald (Tales from theVienna Woods), in praise of his native city and not without a musical reference to thework of his father, who had dominated Viennese musical entertainment until his death in1849. The waltz, breathes the spirit of the Heurigen.

The March of the Persian Army, designed for Pavlovsk, andlater abbreviated for Vienna to a simple Persischer Marsch, was composed and performedfirst in 1865. The Liebeslieder Waltz is a much earlier work, written in 1852, andoriginally entitled Liebes-Gedichte and later Liebes-Standchen. Whether song, poem orserenade, the waltz smells as sweet. The cheerful Kreuzfidel Polka was written in 1866 andwas one of the works included in Strauss's programmes for America, where, in Boston in1872, he conducted massed orchestras of some two thousand musicians.

The Schatz-Walzer (Treasure Waltz) was issued in 1886,drawn from the score of the very successful operetta The Gypsy Baron, a work that isdistinguished by a livelier libretto than some of the other Strauss operettas. Das Spitzentuch der Konigin (The Queen'sHandkerchief), first staged in 1880, succeeded in restoring the fortunes of the Theater ander Wien under the new director Franz Steiner, after the death of his father. Strauss'soperetta, based on Cervantes, was welcomed by critics and public alike, seen by many as amost worthy successor to Die Fledermaus.

Item number 8550340
Barcode 4891030503403
Release date 12/01/2000
Category Romantic
Label Naxos Classics
Media type CD
Number of units 1
Composers II, Johann Strauss
II, Johann Strauss
Conductors Walter, Alfred
Lenard, Ondrej
Walter, Alfred
Lenard, Ondrej
Orchestras Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra
Slovak State Philharmonic Orchestra
Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra
Slovak State Philharmonic Orchestra
Disc: 1
Das Spitzentuch der Konigin: Overture
1 Neue Pizzicato-Polka
2 Freut euch des Lebens, Waltz
3 Vom Donaustrande, Polka
4 G'schichten aus dem Wiener Wald, Waltz
5 Persian March
6 Liebeslieder, Waltz
7 Kreuzfidel, Polka
8 Schatzwalzer
9 Das Spitzentuch der Konigin: Overture
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