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Johann Strauss II (1825-1899
) Aschenbrodel: Quadrille
Der lustige Krieg
Der Zigeunerbaron
Die Gottin der Vernunft
Eine Nacht in Venedig: Akt 3
Simplicius
Eine Nacht in Venedig: Akt 1
Jabuka: Akt 3
Waldmeister

Slovak State Philharmonic Orchestra, Kosice

The J ohann Strauss Edition Edition

The Johann Strauss Edition

Edition : Volume 49

 

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 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). 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.

 

[1]        OVERTURE: DER LUSTIGE KRIEG (The Merry War)

 

Throughout much of 1881 Vienna"s pressmen enjoyed a field day recording the various musical projects upon which Johann Strauss was reported to be working. By no means did all these projects come to fruition: for example, in April he was reported to have promised a ballet score for the Hof-Operntheater and in March he was understood to have started composing an operetta by the French librettist Néolès Alfred Hennequin (1842-87). On 16 February 1881, however, the Fremden-Blatt accurately stated that the highly successful librettist "firm" of F. Zell (real name: Camillo Walzel, 1829-95) and Richard Genée (1823-95) had drafted a new libretto for the composer. Indeed, Strauss had begun work on Zell and Genée"s latest offering immediately after the 150th jubilee performance of Die Fledermaus at the Theater an der Wien on 8 February 1881, an event which the eminent conductor and composer Hans von Bülow (1830-94) had attended as Johann"s special guest.

 

As is clear from a report in the Fremden-Blatt on 2 July 1881, Strauss made rapid progress with the new operetta, the title of which had been revealed in May to be Der lustige Krieg (The Merry War). At a gathering on 30 June 1881 at Johann"s country retreat in Schonau-bei-Leobersdorf, Lower Austria, the composer was joined by Franz Steiner (1855-1920), Director of the Theater an der Wien, and the two librettists. Zell passed around the complete libretto, while Strauss astonished his guests by announcing that he had already composed two acts of the operetta. It was thereupon agreed that Der lustige Krieg would be presented as the theatre"s main attraction during its next season, probably around December 1881. Only a month after its initial report the Fremden-Blatt (3.08.1881) announced that work on the operetta had progressed so swiftly that it was hoped to present it during November 1881.

 

Rehearsals for Der lustige Krieg commenced on 31 October, and the curtain of the Theater an der Wien duly rose on the premiere of the new three-act Strauss operetta on Friday 25 November 1881. The performance and the work exceeded all expectation, and there was universal praise for the cast which included Therese von Braunecker-Schäfer (as Artemisia), Caroline Finaly (Violetta), Alexander Girardi (Marchese Filippo Sebastiani), Ferdinand Schütz (Umberto Spinola) and Felix Schweighofer (Balthasar Groot). The stage work is set in and around the garrisoned Mediterranean city of Massa during the first half of the 18th century, and concerns a dispute between two states. The "war" between them is played out as a game of love between, on the one side, the widowed Countess Violetta and, on the other side, the commander-in-chief of the Genoese army, Colonel Umberto Spinola. To add to the carefree atmosphere of this unwarlike and highly improbable tale, there is no bloodshed among the opposing troops of Massa-Carrara and Genoa, for there is no actual fighting in this "merry war".

 

Johannes Brahms (1833-97), who attended the dress rehearsal on 24 November, enthused to the composer and critic Richard Heuberger (1850-1914) about "all kinds of fine stuff" to be heard in Der lustige Krieg, though strangely he could not detect one "hit" in the score. (Quoted from Richard Heuberger: Erinnerungen an Johannes Brahms. Edited by Kurt Hofmann, Tutzing 1976). The reporter for the Fremden-Blatt newspaper (26.11.1881), however, expressed no such reservations, and plundered his lexicon for pertinent martial terms: ""The war" [= Der Krieg] to which Johann Strauss has supplied the merry [= lustige] music, ended with a thoroughly splendid victory and a complete triumph for the celebrated, popular Viennese maestro. On this occasion the composer has selected the surest weapons from the arsenal of his invention and imagination, has sent into battle a legion of charming melodies and has totally captivated the public with them. The public, however, was awarded a victory prize in the memory of the superb music which will this season dominate the concert- and ball room, the programmes of the military bands, and will be played and sung in all possible arrangements wherever a piano is to be found ... The operetta was received enthusiastically. Johann Strauss was greeted by a long-lasting storm of applause, which was repeated during the overture when the first waltz [the Act 1 Quintet, "Kommen und geh"n, ohne zu seh"n"] resounded, and at the end of it".

 

As a light-hearted aside, the evening edition of the same day"s Fremden-Blatt (26.11.1881) reported that the "Kung Fu" penny-in-the-slot machine in the Silbersaal (Silver Hall) of the Vienna Musikverein had been asked the question: "How many times will "Der lustige Krieg" be given?". The device had replied: "84 times!". It was wrong: the first run of Der lustige Krieg ended on 15 February 1882, after 69 performances.

 

The Andantino maestoso passage which commences the overture to Der lustige Krieg comes from the final ensemble in the Act 3 Trio (No. 18) for Violetta, Marchese Sebastiani and Umberto, "Süsse Friedensglocken, Himmelsmelodie", heard at the eventual union of Violetta and Umberto. For the Allegro, which presents the accompaniment to Artemisia"s words "Commandirt, instruirt hab" ich manche Compagnie" (Act 2 Introduction, No. 8), the music is as playfully warlike as the civilian lohann strauss could make it. A Più moto section, untraceable in the published piano/vocal score of the operetta and possibly comprising material discarded from the final version of the stage work, is followed by the first waltz in the overture. For this Moderato grazioso section, Strauss took material from what he himself considered the most valuable idea in the operetta: the Act 1 Quintet (No. 6), "Kommen und geh"n, ohne zu seh"n", sung by Violetta, Marchese Sebastiani, Umberto, Fortunato Franchetti and Carlo Spinzi. A Tempo di Marcia passage which follows features music from the Act 2 Finale (No. 14) for chorus and soloists, commencing with the words "Der Handstreich ist gelungen". For the second waltz theme in the overture the composer borrowed directly from the Walzertempo dance scene in the Act 2 Finale (No. 14), before repeating the infectious Allegro section from Act 2 ("Commandirt, instruirt hab" ich manche Compagnie"). The Più viva and Più mosso passages draw upon music not elsewhere traceable in the published piano/vocal score, but which Strauss built up into the overture"s effective final section.

 

Johann Strauss, who conducted the première of Der lustige Krieg on 25 November 1881, was applauded tempestuously after the playing of the overture. Just over two weeks later, on 11 December 1881, the piece triumphed again when the composer also conducted its first concert performance during his brother Eduard"s Sunday benefit concert with the Strauss Orchestra in the Golden Hall of the Musikverein.

 

NOTE: The resounding "hit" of Der lustige Krieg, the waltz-aria "Nur für Natur" ("Only for Nature"), does not appear in the overture. According to the Fremden-Blatt of 26 October 1881, Strauss only composed this number for the actor and tenor Alexander Girardi in the rôle of the Marchese Sebastiani "at the last moment" - presumably after the overture had been completed.

 

[2]        OVERTURE: EINE NACHT IN VENEDIG (A Night in Venice)

 

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.

 

Strauss had commenced work on the libretto of Venezianische Nächte (Venetian Nights) - later re-titled Eine Nacht in Venedig - at the request of his second wife, a young and modestly-talented singer named Angelika Dittrich (1850-1919), who hailed from Breslau (now Wroclaw in Poland, but at that time part of Prussian Silesia). The success of her husband"s 1881 operetta, Der lustige Krieg, had made her aware of Johann"s special affinity for subjects with Italianate settings, and she urged him to accept the new book from the experienced librettist team of F. Zell (the pseudonym of Camillo Walzel, 1829-95) and Richard Genée (1823-95). Strauss commenced the composition in spring 1882. Much later, however, an irritated Walzel complained to the composer (letter dated 15 July 1886) about persistent interference from the stage-struck "Lili": "The time, location, characters, even the setting for the 3rd act [St Mark"s Square, Venice] were dictated to us (likewise by Frau Lili), and it would perhaps have turned out quite differently, if we had been able to work on our own free initiative!". But in September 1882, while Johann Strauss was working on the score of Eine Nacht in Venedig in Vienna and at his Lower Austrian country villa in Schönau-bei-Leobersdorf, Lili left him and moved into the very "home" of Strauss"s operettas in Vienna, the Theater an der Wien, as advisor and lover of the 29-year-old director, Franz Steiner (1855-1920). Johann Strauss immediately interrupted his work on the operetta.

 

Not until the beginning of 1883, with his divorce from Lili behind him, could Johann recommence work in earnest on the composition of Eine Nacht in Venedig.

By this time he had at his side the reliable and assured Adèle Strauss (née Deutsch, 1856-1930), the woman who was to become his third wife. Even before completing the operetta, Strauss had quite understandably determined that it would not be given its première at the Theater an der Wien: he wanted nothing more to do with Lili or Steiner. After discussions with the rival Carl-Theater and the Hof-Operntheater foundered, it was announced on 1 May 1883 that the stage work would open at the Neues Friedrich-Wilhelmstädtisches Theater (the former Woltersdorff-Theater) in Berlin. This was a perfectly logical step, since from about 1874 the director of the newly-refurbished German theatre, Julius Fritzche (1844-1907), had mounted several notable productions of Strauss operettas at the old Friedrich-Wilhelmstädtisches Theater before that establishment was renovated, renamed the Deutsches Theater and reopened as a playhouse. Adèle, who accompanied Johann to Berlin for the rehearsals, informed their friend Josef Priester on 20 September 1883 that the composer was "pleased with the cast beyond his wildest expectations", though she entrusted: "But I must tell you, in confidence, that we have every reason to be afraid of the public"s verdict with regard to the book. Not a trace of wit, still less of an interesting situation or an absorbing plot".

 

On the evening of 3 October 1883, Johann Strauss presided over the world première of Eine Nacht in Venedig at the theatre in Berlin. As the morning edition of the Berliner Tageblatt (4.10.1883) reported, he "was welcomed by the heartiest cheers upon his appearance at the conductor"s desk, and every lilting tune in the first act was received with loud applause". However, as the evening progressed, Johann was aware of increasing unrest in the auditorium, though he had no way of knowing it was directed at the "foolishness and tediousness" of the text rather than at his music. When in Act 3 Sigmund Steiner (1854-1909), the Linz-bom tenor singing the rôle of the Duke of Urbino, started the "Lagunen-Walzer" (in translation, the original text of this began: "At night upon the lagoon ..."), and eventually arrived at the inadvertently comic line "At night all cats are grey; at night they tenderly "miaow" away", the unrest turned into laughter and signalled the participation of would-be feline impressionists among the audience. The remainder of the performance passed without incident, and at the end there was once again friendly applause.

 

A period of hurried musical and textual reworking preceded the first Viennese performance of Eine Nacht in Venedig which, after Strauss had relented, was scheduled for the Theater an der Wien on 9 October 1883. By this time, however, Johann was utterly disaffected with the piece: on the first page of the manuscript of the overture he wrote the dedication: "To my dear brother-in-law Josef Simon as a bound stack of toilet-paper. Hope it goes down well!". The composer"s ill feeling towards the work can be understood, but he was doing his operetta an injustice. The reviewer for Die Presse (10.10.1883) captured the celebratory mood of the opening night in Vienna: "A tumult of applause, lasting several minutes, greeted the maestro who had come home from abroad. The jubilation was actually so great, and expressed in such a noisy fashion, that one could scarcely hear the fanfare which the orchestra had begun to play. The hurricane-like roar of applause eventually gave way to the silence which is usual in Vienna during the overture. It would certainly weary our readers if we were to record in detail all the fiery ovations which were heaped on Johann Strauß this evening. We would simply note that there was tumultuous demand for several repetitions of almost every number in the operetta".

 

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 Tempo 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 Gesamtausgabe (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 Così fan tutte), Moszkowski (Serenata, concert piece for piano, orchestrated by Eduard Strauss) and Charles Oberthür (Bonnie Scotland, Fantasia on Scottish folk songs, for harp).

 

[3]        VORSPIEL ZUM 3.AKT DER OPERETTE EINE NACHT IN VENEDIG (Prelude to Act 3 of the operetta A Night in Venice)

 

In "Strauss circles", the major publishing event of 1970 was the appearance of the definitive original score of Eine Nacht in Venedig, as established at the operetta"s first performance in Vienna on 9 October 1883. Painstakingly researched by Professor Dr Fritz Racek (1911-75) on behalf of the Johann Strauss Society of Vienna, the volume was published by Doblinger and Universal Edition in Vienna as Volume 9 (Series II) of the Johann Strauss Gesamtausgabe (Johann Strauss Complete Edition). With the publication of this masterly thesis, most of the outstanding riddles concerning the genesis of Strauss"s ninth stage work appeared to have been resolved.

 

It is therefore understandable that the subsequent emergence of a full score for a hitherto unknown prelude to Act 3 of Eine Nacht in Venedig, written throughout in Johann Strauss"s own hand, caused justifiable excitement. It is apparent that this orchestral prelude - or "Entre Akt" as the composer himself styled it - was not heard at the operetta"s première in Berlin on 3 October 1883 or at the first Viennese production six days later. It may be assumed, therefore, that the composer chose to drop the piece, at the latest during rehearsals for the Berlin première at the Neues Friedrich-Wilhelmstädtisches Theater. Certainly, such last minute excisions were commonplace, and frequently a stage work did not achieve its final, definitive form until after a run of performances. The reason for the specific cutting of the Act 3 "Entre Akt", however, remains unclear.

 

Yet, while the extant letters written by Strauss and his wife-to-be, Adèle (née Deutsch, 1856-1930), during the rehearsal period offer no solution, one theory has recently been advanced by the musicologist and noted Strauss authority, Professor Dr Eberhard Würzl (b. 1915). Following examination of the Strauss manuscript, Professor Dr Würzl suggests that Strauss"s excision of the piece may have resulted from his recognition that the melody of the Act 1 Quartet (No. 6a in the full score), a waltz with the words "Alle maskiert" (Everyone masked) - which appears in the prelude after 11 bars of introduction - has already appeared a total of four times in the operetta. In the manuscript prelude the five-part rondo form of the number has been reduced, and the Coda has also been shortened. Nevertheless, the composer"s work is of particular value in enabling the full glory of the piece to develop through the rich instrumentation possible in a prelude. At a recent production of Eine Nacht in Venedig at the Vienna Volksoper, conducted by Professor Ernst Märzendorfer, the "Entre Akt" was interpolated into the performances and was rapturously applauded. It is, moreover, worthy of a permanent place in the final, definitive version of Strauss"s operetta.

 

[4]        OVERTURE: DER ZIGEUNERBARON (The Gypsy Baron)

 

During November 1882, the German-Hungarian journalist and author Ignaz Schnitzer (1839-1921) submitted an operetta libretto for Johann Strauss"s consideration. Nothing came of this particular project, but on 31 January 1883 Strauss informed Schnitzer that while he considered the plot of the delivered libretto too "thin", he hoped to receive a more suitable book from him.

 

In late November 1882 Strauss travelled to Pest (now Budapest), where he was scheduled to conduct performances of his operetta Der lustige Krieg (1881). His travelling companion was Adèle Strauss (née Deutsch, 1856-1930), the young widow whom he would eventually marry in 1887. According to Adèle, it was during this journey to Pest that she urged Johann to visit the great Hungarian writer Jókai Mór (1825-1904) to discuss the possibilities of a stage work with an Hungarian subject. What is certain, as the Hungarian press reported on 5 December 1882, is that the composer twice attended evening performances of "Hungarian folk music", and himself played Hungarian pieces at the piano during a soirée at the home of the political representative Gusztáv von Tarnóczy (1843-1906), who was married to Ida Gutmann, Adèle"s cousin. No mention of Johann and Adèle"s joint visit appeared in either the Viennese or Hungarian press.

 

The early days of February 1883 found Johann once again in Pest to conduct further performances of Der lustige Krieg: once more, Adèle accompanied him. Strauss probably made initial contact with Jókai during this visit, and discussed with him the possibility of a joint theatrical project. It is known that during November 1883 - at the very latest -Strauss confirmed his willingness to write the music for a libretto based on Jókai"s novel, Saffi. There was agreement, too, regarding the title for the planned opera (Der Zigeunerbaron) and that Jókai would send German text in prose form to Schnitzer in Vienna who would turn them into rhyming verse. From documentary evidence recently uncovered by Professor Dr Eberhard Würzl for his article "Neues zum "Zigeunerbaron": Eine Dokumentation seiner Entstehung" (New Information about "Der Zigeunerbaron": A Documentation of its Genesis), published in the Österreichische Musikzeitschrift (1995, Volume 7), it is clear that Jókai played a far more active rôle in the development of Der Zigeunerbaron than had hitherto been thought. He did not simply offer his novel Saffi (together with a scenario of the first act) as the basis for Schnitzer"s libretto, but he supplied a complete libretto which Schnitzer adapted as necessary, in consultation with the author. Jókai also created two additional humorous characters (apparently Ottokar and Zsupán) not to be found in his novel. Furthermore, he suggested original Hungarian musical motifs to Strauss, including one which is to be heard in the Act 2 "Werberlied" ("Her die Hand"). Strauss himself, it seems, only embarked upon the composition of Der Zigeunerbaron during February 1884, even though the Budapest press reported at this time that he had just completed the composition of Act 1. Remarkably, the Waltz King made so little headway with the composition that on 28 June 1884 Schnitzer wrote to Jókai: "Strauss makes only little progress, and he does not want to commit himself to complete the composition by the end of January [1885] ... On Wednesday I shall visit him at his estate - if he does not give me a binding undertaking then, I would have - though with a heavy heart - to withdraw the entire thing from him. In this case, perhaps Suppé would do the composition; he would at all events give us the guarantee that the first performance could take place early in February ¡K I have told Strauss that further changes to the book will absolutely not be made ...".

 

Johann Strauss worked on the score of Der Zigeunerbaron for longer than had hitherto been his practice with stage works. During this period, the project changed from its conception as an Hungarian comic opera into an Austro-Hungarian operetta. At the operetta"s opening night at the Theater an der Wien on 24 October 1885, coincidentally the eve of the composer"s 60th birthday, the Viennese public was aware it had witnessed a masterpiece. In his assessment of the "great, exceedingly splendid triumph" achieved by Der Zigeunerbaron at its opening night, the critic for the Fremden-Blatt (25.10.1885) observed: "The man who for decades has delighted the music-loving world through his creations, appears now to have reached the zenith of his creative power". The reviewer for the Morgen-Blatt (25.10.1885) was no less impressed by what he had witnessed: "The music by Johann Strauss brought surprises in many respects. Firstly, it is certainly more carefully worked, more richly instrumented and more significant in its style of construction than any of his earlier stage works. Secondly, it makes a noticeable effort to grasp the style of grand opera, which may perhaps have been brought about by the libretto ... The first finale, with its great tension, the energetic build-up and the effective use of all the colours in the musical palette, breaks out from the artistic form of operetta and could hold its own with honour in a grand opera".

 

The first-night critic for the Illustrirtes Wiener Extrablatt (25.10.1885) sketched a colourful portrayal of the scenes inside the Theater an der Wien: "The house was packed to the rafters and hearts were full. The audience forgot that the evening had been bought at a high premium, and one orgy of applause after another was celebrated. When the maestro"s head, with its black curly hair, appeared in the orchestra, the first storm roared forth, and when the overture had finished the racket began again, growing or subsiding according to circumstances as the action progressed ... And the famous composer was not niggardly with his talents. He established a flowing spring from which songs and dance tunes splash about uninterrupted and practically submerge the libretto under music". In more succinct terms, the Fremden-Blatt (25.10.1885) confirmed the observations of its rival: "The tempestuous applause with which Herr Strauss was greeted, and which broke out after every theme in the overture, repeated itself after every vocal number".

 

In his biography, Johann Strauss: Ein Wiener Buch (1922), the journalist and critic Ernst Decsey (1870-1940) gave a pertinent description of the beginning of Strauss"s Zigeunerbaron overture: "With the first four bars the harmony of the Hungarian world rings out; there begins the minor-key domain of syncopation, cascades of demi-semi-quavers, the pauses, free cadenzas, the cimbalom-like sounds, rhapsodic music, the wild melancholy of the puszta, against which the Viennese style works as a contrast. In the overture both colours are bound together and heighten each other with a complementary effect, like red and green. The two halves of the [Austro-Hungarian] monarchy, ensnared in a perpetual struggle for compromise, were brought together with effortless ease by the musician".

Strauss cornrnenced his overture for Der Zigeunerbaron with music based on the orchestral Allegro moderato passage accompanying the Act 1 Finale (No. 7) ensemble, "Dschingrah, Dschingrah", a scene in which the gypsies return to their native region. A flute cadenza leads into the Andantino section of the overture, comprising thematic material from a later section of the Act 1 Finale, sung by Saffi to the words "Hier in diesem Land Eure Wiege stand". By way of a lighthearted contrast, the Allegretto moderato which follows is taken from the Act 2 Trio (No. 9) for Saffi, Czipra and Barinkay to the words "Darum nur klopfe, klopfe, klopfe, klopfe, klopf¡¦ an jedem Stein". After a melodramatic intermezzo (marked Più Allegro in the August Cranz published piano/vocal score, but otherwise untraceable in the operetta), Strauss offers for the Tempo di Valse passage the stage work"s principal waltz theme from the Act 2 Finale (No. 13), "So voll Fröhlichkeit", sung first by Arsena and Mirabella. An Allegro moderato follows which appears as an orchestral interlude in the Act 1 Finale, and then comes a 7-bar quotation from Count Homonay"s Act 2 "Werberlied" (No. 12½, "Her die Hand"). Next is heard a 10-bar Andantino section taken from the chorus "Das wär kein rechter Schifferknecht" from the Act 1 Introduction (No. 1). Strauss now reintroduces as the Tempo di Valse passage the second part of the Act 2 Finale (No. 13) waltz ("So voll Fröhlichkeit"), sung by Arsena and Mirabella to the words "Ja dahin, dahin lasst uns Alle zieh"n". Gypsy rhythms dominate the final Allegro sections of the overture, but whereas the first is nowhere traceable in the published piano/vocal score (and may have been excised before the operetta reached production), the second directly quotes the powerfully syncopated orchestral Allegro passage which closes the Act 1 Finale (No. 7).

 

After the composer himself had presided over the world première performance of his overture to Der Zigeunerbaron at the stage work"s opening night on 24 October 1885 at the Theater an der Wien, he left it to his brother Eduard to conduct the first concert performance of the piece. Accordingly, Eduard featured the overture as the closing item in the first half of his afternoon concert in the Golden Hall of the Vienna Musikverein on Sunday 8 November 1885. There are no press reviews of this performance, but the overture to Der Zigeunerbaron swiftly became a staple of Viennese concert repertoire and has justifiably remained so to the present day.

 

[5]        OVERTURE: SIMPLICIUS (Simplicius)

 

In mid February 1887 Vienna"s press broke the news that Johann Strauss had chosen a libretto by Victor Léon (the nom de plume of Viktor Hirschfeld, 1858-1940) as the subject for his next operetta project. The young, and at that time relatively untried, Viennese writer later recalled in an article for the Wiener Tagblatt (26.08.1928) that Strauss"s friend and billiard-partner, Josef Priester (1836-1904), had been the first to propose he write a book for Johann Strauss. Understandably taken aback by this unexpected approach, the librettist of the successful operetta Der Doppelgiinger (The Double, 1887) for Alfred Zamara (1863-1940) responded to the challenge by offering Strauss the libretto for Simplicius Simplizissimus. Although Johann had made no secret of his desire to compose a stage work "with a German subject" and considered Léon"s adaptation of H.J.C. von Grimmelshausen"s novel, Der abenteuerliche Simplicissimus (Adventurous simplicissimus, 1669), "the most outstanding of all books of modern times" (letter to Gustav Lewy , circa 1.07.1887), the resulting operetta, called Simplicius, was not crowned by the success which his best efforts - nor the presence of Alexander Girardi (1850-1918) in the rôle of the hero, simplicius - really deserved.

 

It hardly helped that on the night of the première, 17 December 1887, the audience at the Theater an der Wien was unsettled by a minor alarm on stage when an actor"s feather plume touched a gas flame, and instantly re-awoke memories of the fire that had raged through Vienna"s Ring-Theater six years earlier, claiming 386 lives. Once the capacity house had again settled, there was little light relief to be gained from this ponderous tale set at the time of the Thirty Years War, and even Johann Strauss"s exquisite score could not secure for the work a run of more than 29 performances. (Two subsequent revivals of Simplicius, in 1888 and 1894, fared even less well.) The "gentlemen of the press" were, for once, generally united in recognising the shift in emphasis in the new Strauss stage work towards a more serious musical style. "Opera or operetta?" was the question posed by Oskar Teuber in the Fremden-Blatt on 18 December 1887, his uncertainty echoed by the reviewer for the Allgemeine Zeitung (21.12.1887) who observed that the music "varies between operetta and opera: the composer has somewhat too hastily burned behind him the bridge which took him out of the realm of operetta, and because he lacks the ability to throw a bridge across to opera, he sits between the two stools - neither flesh nor fish".

 

Simplicius was to prove the last of Johann Strauss"s stage work premières to be conducted by the composer himself. A capacity house, which included Archduke Wilhelm (1827-94) and Archduchess Elisabeth Marie (1883-1963, daughter of Crown Prince Rudolf and Crown Princess Stephanie) in the Imperial box, greeted the Viennese maestro enthusiastically upon his appearance at the conductor"s desk. Referring to the score of the new work, the Wiener Tagblatt (18.12.1887) considered that "the music of our worthy Strauss constitutes an impressive climax to his creative powers". Yet, for all the many fine musical moments the stage work possesses, its overture lacks the unity of other Strauss operetta overtures. With its quiet, almost gloomy opening, it evokes a mood which is more to be expected in the opera house than in the Theater an der Wien. (After the first performance of Simplicius, the composer was accused of obvious "Wagnerisms". Such claims by, for example, the Illustrirtes Wiener Extrablatt (23.12.1887), were indeed justifiable, for the stage works of Richard Wagner always had a special significance for Johann Strauss.)

 

The Simplicius Overture opens exactly as the Act 1 "Introduction" (No. 1) of the operetta, with 14 bars Allegro moderato. The remainder of this opening section, though specifically untraceable, presents material reminiscent of other motifs in No. 1. After a short fanfare comes a Marcia passage, which appears here in 2/4 time but is played in the operetta as an orchestral interlude in common time during the Act 1 Finale (No. 10). The next section of the overture comprises a series of alternating 6/8 and 2/4 bars, which are untraceable in the published piano/vocal score and may constitute material excised from the operetta before its opening night. The Act 3 "Walzer-Romanze" (No. 12) "Ich denke gem zurück", sung by the Hermit, provides the music for an Andante passage, played first staccato in 2/4 and then in waltz time. This melody, which later formed theme 1A of Strauss"s orchestral Donauweibchen-WaIzer op. 427 (Volume 11 of this CD series), was also used as the final ensemble (No. 17, "Schluss") of the operetta simplicius. A repeat of the alternating 6/8 and 2/4 section leads to an excerpt from the Act 2 "Introduction" (No. 6), sung by the chorus to the words "soldatenhandwerk, schönstes auf der ganzen Welt". To close the overture, Strauss utilises an Allegro vivace and Più allegro, which build from pianissimo to a final fortissimo flourish.

 

(NOTE: The aforegoing analysis of the overture is based on the piano/vocal score of Simplicius, issued by the August Cranz publishing house in Hamburg. As this score describes the stage work as an "Operetta in 3 Acts" - rather than an "Operetta in a Prelude and 2 Acts" as shown on the first night playbill - Act 1 should be understood as synonymous with the Prelude.)

 

The first concert performance of the Simplicius Overture - described on the printed programme as the "Introduction to the operetta "Simplicius"" - took place in the Golden Hall of the Vienna Musikverein on St Stephen"s Day, Monday 26 December 1887. This festive occasion also afforded Eduard Strauss and the Strauss Orchestra the opportunity to include the first performance of an orchestral transcription (flugelhorn solo: Herr Birnbaum) of another piece from Simplicius: the "Frühlingslied" ("Spring Song"), "Der Frühling lacht" (No. 12½ in the published piano/vocal score), sung in the operetta by Karl Streitmann (1858-1937) in the rôle of the law student, Arnim. Subsequent performances of the Simplicius Overture became less and less frequent, and eventually the work was almost forgotten.

 

[6]        VORSPIEL ZUM 3.AKT DER OPERETTE JABUKA

(Prelude to Act 3 of the operetta Jabuka)

 

"Storms of applause, which vibrated through the house for minutes on end, shouts of

"encore" which could not be silenced, acclamations, floral bouquets, laurel wreaths, rejoicing from a thousand voices and - tears, tears of joy which glittered in the eyes of so many beautiful Viennese women, when the maestro, whose day of glory had come, appeared on the stage for the first time - those were the manifestations with which yesterday"s theatrical event, the première of the operetta "Jabuka", took place".

 

With these words, the critic for the Vienna Fremden-Blatt (13.10.1894) commenced his review of the opening night of Jabuka (Das Apfelfest) - Jabuka (The Apple Festival) - at the Theater an der Wien on 12 October 1894. Adolf Müller junior (1839-1901) conducted the première, and the performance signalled the beginning of a whole series of festive events to mark the Waltz King"s Golden Jubilee as composer and conductor. Fifty years earlier, on 15 October 1844, the 18-year-old Johann Strauss had stood for the first time in public at the head of his own orchestra for a soirée dansante at Dommayer"s Casino in the Viennese suburb of Hietzing.

 

Jabuka (originally entitled Joschko, after one of the principal characters in the operetta) is set in late 19th-century Serbian south-Hungary and concerns itself with events surrounding the traditional Serbian "Festival of Apples". The librettists of the piece, the authors Max Kalbeck (1850-1921) and Gustav Davis (the pseudonym of Gustav David, 1856-1951), fashioned a story with a Slavic backdrop at the specific instigation of Strauss himself. In voicing his request, Johann recalled not only the success enjoyed in Vienna by Smetana"s opera Die verkaufte Braut (The Bartered Bride) in 1892, but also the part Slavic music had played during his own early years as a Kapellmeister and during his frequent summer seasons conducting in Russia. Johann"s two librettists were of a high pedigree. Kalbeck was a skilled translator of foreign language operas and, besides providing the Jabuka song-texts, was also able to draw Johann"s attention to a Serbian national melody which was to find its place in the" Apfellied" (Act 2 Finale). Davis, formerly an officer in the Austrian army and editor of a military journal, was a successful author of stage comedies who concentrated on the plot and the prose dialogue of the new operetta. Despite this, Jabuka suffered at their hands through their inadequate communication with each other, and with the composer. The jubilation of the audience which had marked the opening night, and which was manifestly directed at the composer himself, could not be sustained and, after only a short initial run, the operetta was taken out of the schedule of the Theater an der Wien.

 

Jabuka has no overture, but instead commences with a very brief prelude. Following the operetta"s première, however, it was principally the atmospheric prelude to Act 3 (No. 13a) that was played in the concert halls. Several journalists reviewing the first night of the operetta regarded this orchestral interlude (termed "Entre Akt" in the published piano/vocal score) as a highlight of the score. The critic for the Neue Freie Presse (13.10.1894), for example, observed: "Remarkably, an instrumental piece in the Strauss operetta made an absolutely thrilling impression: the orchestral prelude to the third Act, starting off in waltz-time, exhibits uncommonly tender feeling and overflows with melodic sweetness. The audience could not hear enough of this entr"acte music, and it had to be repeated: everyone thought instinctively of the dazzling success which Mascagni"s Intermezzo enjoyed at the first performance [20.03.1891] of "Cavalleria rusticana" in our [Court] Opera Theatre". Strauss assembled the prelude entirely from music in the Act 3 Quartet (No. 17) for Jelka, Mirko, Anitta and Vasil. The first of the themes (Andante con moto) in polka-mazurka rhythm, "Siehe die Sonne verglüh"n in Pracht!", was also used as theme 1A for the orchestral polka-mazurka Sonnenblume op. 459 (volume 37 of this CD series). The second part of the prelude, played in waltz time, is to be found in the quartet in 6/8 time with the words "Ich bin dir gut seit ich dich sah", and this theme gave the title and theme 1A to the orchestral waltz Ich bin dir gut! op. 455 (volume 32).

 

On Sunday 28 October 1894, the Fremden-Blatt newspaper carried an advertisement announcing a concert that same day in the Gartenbau-Restaurant (situated in the buildings of the Vienna Gartenbau-Gesellschaft at Parkring 12), given by the conductor Carl Wilhelm Drescher (1850-1925) and his civilian orchestra. Drescher"s musical bill of fare included the première of a piece entitled "Fragmente aus Johann Strauss" Operette "Jabuka"". For reasons which will become apparent, was this perhaps the first concert performance of the prelude from Act 3 of Jabuka?

 

As far as the Strauss Orchestra"s own performance of the Act 3 Prelude is concerned, Eduard wrote to his brother Johann on 10 November 1894: "From the orchestral parts for the prelude to Act III passed over to me by [the publisher, Gustav] Lewy, I saw that it consists solely of [a] mazurka theme and the waltz theme. However, as I announced the prelude as a novelty, I feared my regular public would be disappointed. I then came up with the idea of giving this prelude a "supplement" from the other themes, and when making the choice came up with my favourite of all the themes: the one in 6/8 time in B major ["Ja, einen solchen feurig süssen", sung by Mirko in his Act 1 (No. 7) duet with Jelka] ... This theme, with its expressly lyrical character, is the most beautiful and meaningful - and my favourite - number. With a transition section a few bars long into F major, I then attach the abovementioned prelude in F major and call this combination: Fragments from the operetta (that is how you will see it announced today and tomorrow. I am pleased that the work (the quick arrangement and writing of parts was successful, so that I was able to rehearse it today. The theme - as it was not sung badly or squawked) pleased me even more. I am sorry you cannot hear it". Eduard duly conducted the first concert performance of his own arrangement of the Act 3 Prelude in the Golden Hall of the Vienna Musikverein on 11 November 1894. The work, performed as the fifth item in the first half of the concert, appeared on the printed programme as Eduard had notified Johann, under the title "Fragmente aus der Operette: "Jabuka" (Das Apfelfest)". It would seem to have been this arrangement (announced as the "Intermezzo" from Jabuka) which Eduard and the Strauss Orchestra brought with them to London the following summer for their three-month engagement at the Imperial Institute in Kensington, and which they played there for the first and only time on the evening of Tuesday 16 July 1895.

 

[7]        OVERTURE: WALDMEISTER (Woodruff)

 

Even before the première of his operetta Jabuka at the Theater an der Wien on 12 October 1894, Johann Strauss had commenced work on his next project for the stage. Long before this news reached Vienna"s press, which was otherwise preoccupied with events leading up to the Waltz King"s Golden Jubilee, the composer had written from Bad Ischl on 12 September 1894 to his friend and personal advisor, Josef Priester: "The weather: 5 degrees below zero, mountains white with snow, leaves nothing to be desired. Thanks to this, the first scene of "Waldmeister" not only drafted, but partly instrumented as well. The opening of the operetta "Waldmeister" is so full of genuine feeling - exceedingly charming, that I could not stop working on it. I lost interest in "Jabuka" long ago. Farewell beloved! Now on to another!!! It was ever thus!"

 

Strauss"s enthusiasm for the Waldmeister libretto, the work of the journalist and writer Gustav Davis (real name Gustav David, 1856-1951), manifested itself in an outpouring of fresh and inspired melodic invention. The score unequivocally gave the lie to those critics who had declared publicly that the "eternally young" Waltz King was exhausted, and who privately voiced the opinion that the composer"s hitherto unquenchable creative flame had finally burned itself out. At the forefront of his musical ideas was an original waltz theme, which cleverly contained an inverted arpeggio of the first three notes in his famous Blue Danube Waltz (An der schönen blauen Donau op. 314 of 1867). Searching for further themes in his new stage work, Johann even drew upon a song written in his youth, which he interpolated into the operetta to the text "Klipp, klapp, klipp, klapp, rasch dem Glücke nach" (see programme note on op. 466, Volume 22 of this CD series). For his part, Gustav Davis brought with him from the Hof-Burgtheater and the Deutsches Volkstheater a reputation as a successful writer of comedies such as Das Heiratsnest and Die Katakomben, before working with Johann Strauss as co-librettist of Jabuka.

 

Davis had initially discussed his plans for Waldmeister with Strauss during summer 1894, and the contract they signed with Alexandrine von Schönerer (1850-1919), directrix of the Theater an der Wien, required delivery of the completed musical score on 15 October 1895. Strauss duly adhered to the delivery date, advising Fräulein von Schönerer: "Never in my youthful years did I work so indefatigably". The composer was not disappointed, for Waldmeister was to enjoy an initial run of 88 performances in Vienna, and proved to be the most successful of his later stage works. There was general praise for the entire cast, and Alexander Girardi (1850-1918), in the rôle of the dialect-speaking Saxony Professor of Botany, Erasmus Müller, was again triumphant. (The following year the tenor buffo transferred to the rival Carl-Theater, and Waldmeister was the last original Strauss operetta in which he appeared.)

 

Among the celebrities attending the opening night of Waldmeister was Johannes Brahms (1833-97). In Erinnerungen an Johannes Brahms (edited by K. Hofrnann, 1971), the music critic Richard Heuberger (1850-1914) recalled a conversation with the north German composer. "Brahms was very enthusiastic about the "Waldmeister" performance. In particular, he praised the excellent piece and the clever, concise verses: "... which I would like to set to music straight away! - and the orchestral sound! How magnificently Strauss orchestrates! He would certainly have crafted the music itself better in former times, but the thing as a whole! The piece!"". Dr Eduard Hanslick (1825-1904), editor of the Neue Freie Presse, was also present at the première and recalled in Die Moderne Oper (Vol. IX, 1900) that Brahms had said how Strauss"s "splendid" orchestration "reminded him of Mozart".

 

Reviewing Waldmeister for the Neue Freie Presse on 6 December 1895, Eduard Hanslick opined that the new work"s immediate predecessors, at least in some scenes, had teetered on the "dangerous brink of tragic or sentimental style ... "Waldmeister" turns back much more to the familiar paths of Strauss"s most effective operetta, "Die Fledermaus", not only in its innocuous middle-class material, but also in the logically-structured comedic character of the music". The critic for the Fremden-Blatt (5.12.1895) also filed an enthusiastic copy, observing of the music: "It flows invigoratingly into our ears and veins. It is true Strauss ...". The reporter for the Neues Wiener Tagblatt (5.12.1895) closed his analysis of the première with a brief summary of the evening"s events: "The overture was conducted by Johann Strauss in person. When he appeared at the conductor"s desk a storm of applause broke out in the house, which was repeated at the end and for which Strauss had to give thanks again and again. Then he handed over the baton to Capellmeister [Adolf] Müller [1839-1901], and this excellent musician conducted the performance with great energy. There were repeats, applause during scenes as well as after the ends of acts, and after these also numerous calls for the entire cast and for Johann Strauss, whose "Waldmeister-Walzer" will certainly soon become popular in Vienna".

 

On 8 December 1895 Strauss personally conducted the first concert performance of the Waldmeister Overture at his brother Eduard"s benefit concert with the Strauss Orchestra in the Golden Hall of the Vienna Musikverein. The novelty closed the first half of an interesting programme which also featured music by Ambroise Thomas, Liszt, Benjamin Godard, Robert Schumann, Paderewski, Mascagni, Mendelssohn and Eduard Strauss. The Illustrirtes Wiener Extrablatt (9.12.1895) noted that Strauss"s initial attempt to gain the orchestra"s attention by tapping the desk with his baton was drowned out by the tempestuous applause which greeted his arrival at the conductor"s podium. After an "exemplary" performance of the overture, the tightly-packed house showed its approval through further hurricanes of applause.

 

The structure and composition of the Waldmeister Overture are simple, yet highly effective, prompting the Illustrirtes Wiener Extrablatt (5.12.1895) to remark: "With its sparkling orchestral ingenuity, even the overture called forth the applause of the house". The dominant theme - with many variations - is the waltz from the Act 2 Finale, to the words "Trau, schau, wem!" ("Take care in whom you trust!"). Particular delight was engendered by the repetition of the drawn-out three-note theme (the "inverted Danube Waltz", mentioned earlier), to which Strauss composed a haunting countermelody for the violins. It was not long before it was rumoured that Johannes Brahms had written this countermelody into the score for his friend Johann Strauss. As Professor Franz Mailer has so charmingly written: "Perhaps Strauss heard this rumour while he was still alive - it has lasted obdurately to the present day. He may have smiled and been proud that the symphonic composer Brahms, whom he admired without envy, should have ascribed to himself [Brahms] what in fact was the invention of Strauss, the erstwhile suburban musician". Indeed, a calligraphic study of the Waldmeister autograph full score (now in the archives of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde) reveals only the hand of Johann Strauss.

 

The Allegro introductory bars of the overture are based loosely on ideas in the operetta score, leading into an Andante 3/4 section. There follows a Più moto, ma non troppo passage, taken from the "Gemässigtes Walzertempo" (moderate waltz tempo) section of the Act 2 Finale (No. 14) sung by the ensemble to the words "Hm, hm, hm, So in der Näh"". After some development a later section in this same ensemble (No. 14), sung first by Pauline with the words "Trau", schau", wem? Freundchen, sei auf der Hut!", provides the Gemässigtes Walzer-Tempo passage in the overture. The Allegro moderato quotes from the third and last orchestral Melodrama in the Act 2 Finale (No. 14), although its Staccato second section is nowhere traceable in the operetta"s published piano/vocal score. A link passage follows, possibly based on a motif from the Act 2 Ensemble und Arietta (No. 10), while the Andantino presents music from the Act 2 Duet (No. 11) for Botho von Wendt and Freda, sung first by Botho to the words "Bin Dir van Herzen ergeben". In the Allegretto ben moderato a hunting-style wind section, dominated by horns, foreshadows a song from the Act 2 Ensemble und Arietta (No. 10) sung by Botho to the words "Der Jäger nimmt, So wie"s geziemt" (Strauss"s parody of the "Hunting Chorus" from Weber"s 1821 opera, Der Freischütz?). Another Gemässigtes Walzer-Tempo linking section (based again on "Hm, hm, hm, so in der Näh"") is followed by a repeat of "Trau", schau", wem? Freundchen, sei auf der Hut!", and the overture is brought to a scorching conclusion by a recapitulation of the untraceable Vivace staccato passage heard earlier.

 

[8]        OVERTURE: DIE GÖTIIN DER VERNUNFT (The Goddess of Reason)

 

On 11 July 1896 the Illustrirtes Wiener Extrablatt and Fremden-Blatt newspapers jointly informed their readers that "Johann Strauss who is at present on his summer break at [Bad] Ischl, as every year, has there commenced the composition of a new three- act operetta. The libretto for this is being written by A.M. Willner and Bernhard Buchbinder. Maestro Strauss, who has set about working on the new piece with great creative joy, expects to have it completed for autumn 1897". Later, it became known that the new stage work was to be called Die Göttin der Vernunft (The Goddess of Reason).

 

In the event, Johann"s "great creative joy" was short-lived, as a series of disagreements soon arose between him and his librettists. Although Strauss had received the texts for the first three numbers of the operetta on, or about, 12 July 1896, Willner (1859-1929) and Buchbinder (1871-1922) did not submit their completed scenario to the composer until the beginning of the following month. Now able to read the entire plot for the first time, Strauss felt only distaste for a tale which sought to derive entertaining ideas from the period of the anticlerical and republican French Revolution of 1789-99, and he immediately attempted to release himself from his contract with the two librettists. His protests, however, were in vain and, under threat of legal action if he reneged on his agreement with Willner and Buchbinder, a disenchanted and ill-tempered Strauss saw the project through to its completion. Die Göttin der Vernunft was to be the Waltz King"s final operetta.

 

The contract with Alexandrine von Schönerer (1850-1919), directrix of the Theater an der Wien, was signed by Strauss and his librettists on 14 January 1897, the opening night of Die Göttin der Vernunft being scheduled for 10 March. In the early days of March it was announced that the première had been postponed until the 16th of the month. It was then reinstated for the 10th and eventually took place at the Theater an der Wien on Saturday 13 March 1897. Apparently suffering from "harmless bronchial catarrah", Strauss himself stayed away from the première, being kept informed of the operetta"s reception by telephone. The theatre orchestra at the première was conducted by Adolf Müller junior (1839-1901) and there was praise not only for the cast, but also for the orchestra"s Czech-born leader, František Drdla (1869-1944), later famed internationally as the composer of numerous salon pieces.

 

The opinions of the press towards Strauss"s twilight stage work differed markedly. While the Deutsche Zeitung (14.03.1897) opined: "Inventiveness and power of execution have both deserted the aged composer; what is left only succeeds in a few places in rising above banality", the Fremden-Blatt (14.03.1897) concluded: "Without a doubt, the "Goddess of Reason" will reign for a considerable time at the Theater an der Wien". This critic"s prophesy was misjudged, and Die Göttin der Vernunft disappeared after a total of 36 performances. By that time, antagonistic Viennese journalists had long been writing and speaking only of "Die Göttin der Unvernunft" (The Goddess of Absurdity).

 

The new Strauss operetta lacked not only the presence of its illustrious composer at its opening night: it also lacked an overture. Moreover, a notice in the evening edition of the Fremden-Blatt of 24 March 1897 showed that Strauss had been in no hurry to furnish one. "Johann Strauss has composed an overture for "Die Göttin der Vernunft", which will be played on the occasion of the 25th performance". (For this occasion, Strauss also composed a waltz aria, "Schöne wilde Lieutnantszeit", for Josef Josephi in Act 2 and a march couplet, "Vorwärts greifet zu", for Julie Kopácsy-Karczag, Annie Dirkens, Karl Streitmann and Fritz Werner in Act 3.) In due course the Fremden-Blatt reported in its edition of 7 April 1897: "For the 25th performance of his "Göttin der Vernunft" Johann Strauss has provided a musical surprise, which the public yesterday [= 6 April] greatly enjoyed. First of all an overture in the full form and scope. It draws its themes from Bibi"s little song [Act 1, No. 5] and the "Nachtigall-Duett" [Act 2, No. 8], is saturated with pleasing sound and rich in delightful instrumental effects". The Illustrirtes Wiener Extrablatt (7.04.1897) also registered the emergence of the overture, considering it "a charming bouquet of melody from the operetta" and noting that it received "tempestuous applause".

 

After that first performance at the Theater an der Wien on 6 April 1897, the overture to Die Göttin der Vernunft was only rarely heard outside the theatre. By the time Johann eventually furnished the overture, the Concert season for Vienna"s civilian and military bands had drawn to a close. For his part, Eduard Strauss conducted his last concert of the 1896/97 season with the Strauss Orchestra in the Golden Hall of the Vienna Musikverein on Sunday 28 March 1897. He then gave two concerts in Graz before travelling with the orchestra to London to fulfil a three-month engagement at the Imperial Institute in Kensington. Eduard had clearly hoped to perform the overture to Die Göttin der Vernunft during his London season, for on 9 May 1897 he informed his brother: "At your instigation Berté promised the overture in writing, but hasn"t sent it!!! Dreadful!". In the event, no performance of the overture can be traced in London during Eduard"s visit. Indeed, not until 21 November 1897, at Eduard"s fifth Sunday concert of the 1897/98 season in the Musikverein, did the overture to Die Göttin der Vernunft appear on the programme of a concert by the Strauss Orchestra.

 

The score of Die Göttin der Vernunft shows Strauss, even at the age of seventy-one, as an inventive composer of genius. The overture commences with one of those "instrumental effects" spoken of by the Fremden-Blatt - a drum roll, alluding to the guillotine. The introductory bars (Allegretto moderato) lead into Captain Robert"s melody from the Act 2 "Oath Scene" (No. 10), to the text "Du musst uns folgen treu". A short Più vivo follows, whereby eight alternating bars of triplets and a rhythmic figure are used to modulate into an Andante poco con moto section comprising music from Countess Nevers"s Act 1 "Entrance Song" (No. 5) to the words "Nur in die Schule sang ich Lieder fromm und lang". For the Allegro this is repeated in a different orchestration, with the end section extended and developed with various modulations, leading into a ¾-time passage for solo violin commencing with a sparkling cadenza and then 20 bars from the Act 2 "Melodrama" (No. 8). For the Tempo di Valse section, Strauss offered Bonhomme"s ardent Act 2 "Solo Waltz" (No. 9), "Schöne wilde Jugendzeit" ("Wonderful, wild time of youth", which also forms Waltz 1A of Strauss"s purely orchestral waltz on themes from the operetta, Heut" ist heut" op. 471-Volume 35 of this CD series). A link passage follows, based on that section of the Act 2 "Zwischenactmusik" (Entr"acte) which also utilizes Bonhomme"s "Solo Waltz". The first part of this "Solo Waltz" is then repeated. A vigorous finale is provided first by an Allegro based on Ernestine"s Act 3 "Lied" (No. 14), "Über Felder, über Hecken", then building to a Presto final section again using vital rhythms and a triplet figure.

 

NOTE: After Strauss"s death in 1899 the music of Die Göttin der Vernunft was resurrected, arranged by Oscar Stalla (1879-1953) and married to an entirely new text by Ferdinand Stollberg (also known as Felix Salten, the pseudonym of Siegmund Salzmann, 1869-1945). The resulting new three-act operetta, Reiche Mädchen (Rich Girls), opened at Vienna"s Raimund-Theater on 30 December 1909, enjoying considerably more success than Die Göttin der Vernunft. The overtures to the two works, though naturally sharing many themes, are not identical.

 

[9]        ASCHENBRÖDEL-QUADRILLE (Cinderella Quadrille) o. op

From music for the ballet AschenbrÖdel (Cinderella)

 

Johann Strauss II had almost reached the end of his life when, in 1898, he commenced work on his first and only full-length ballet score. Regrettably, although the composition was in an advanced state when the Waltz King died on 3 June 1899, it was not given to him to complete his work. The ballet, entitled Aschenbrödel (Cinderella), had resulted from a "Prize Competition" organised by the Viennese journal Die Wage, and it was intended that the new work would receive its world première on the stage of the renowned Wiener Hof-Operntheater (Vienna Court Opera Theatre) under the conductorship of its young Artistic Director, Gustav Mahler (1860-1911). At the proposal of Johann"s widow, Adèle Strauss (1856-1930), the task of completing Aschenbrödel from the Waltz King"s fragments and sketches passed to Vienna"s most successful composer of ballet music, Joseph Bayer (1852-1913), with the contractual stipulation that the completed stage work should present only music by Strauss, "except where technically necessary considerations dictated otherwise".

 

Though not totally satisfied with Bayer"s work, Adèle Strauss at least permitted him to finish the score. But while Bayer busied himself with the orchestrations, a major obstacle suddenly arose: Mahler announced that he was fundamentally unable to reconcile himself with the musical arrangement, questioned Johann Strauss"s authorship, and promptly withdrew his earlier agreement to mount Aschenbrödel at his opera house. In a fury, Adèle and the work"s publisher, Josef Weinberger, sought to have Aschenbrödel produced elsewhere. Thus it was that on 2 May 1901, Johann Strauss"s final stage work was brought to life at the Königliches Opernhaus (Royal Opera House) in Berlin, with the Italian-born ballerina Antonietta dell"Era (1861-?) - the first Sugar Plum Fairy in Tchaikovsky"s Nutcracker ballet (1892) - in the title rôle.

 

The Josef Weinberger publishing house seized upon the Berlin première of Aschenbrödel as the occasion to issue seven dance pieces compiled from themes from the ballet score. The list included the Aschenbrödel-Quadrille. It can be safely assumed that none of these arrangements was the work of Strauss himself, although the extent of Bayer"s involvement in their preparation has still to be clarified. Weinberger announced the publication of these dance pieces (together with two potpourris, a fantasy and an entr"acte) in May 1901, but the Wiener Hof-Operntheater"s rejection of the stage work severely limited the exposure this delightful dance music might otherwise have received. Even when Aschenbrödel was eventually staged at the Wiener Hof-Operntheater on 4 October 1908, and Weinberger reissued the ballet"s dance arrangements, they were heard on only a few occasions.

 

Aside from its charm as an orchestral number, the Aschenbrödel-Quadrille is interesting, for each of its first three figures ("Pantalon", "Eté" and "Poule") includes  material which cannot be traced in the ballet"s published piano score. This suggests a number of alternative explanations. Firstly, as the first printing of the piano score was pulped at an early stage to permit a revision of the libretto, music may have been excised; secondly, sections of the music may have been cut from the ballet score during rehearsals; thirdly, Bayer may have strayed from the terms of his contract and resorted to composing fresh material. All that can be said for certain is that the sources of the material used in the Aschenbrödel-Quadrille may be summarised as follows:

 

Pantalon       -   Act 2, very loosely based on the "Langsamer" section of Grete"s (Cinderella"s) "Egyptian Slave-Girl"s Dance"; the 2nd theme is absent from the piano score (but appeared on a Johann Strauss autograph sketch-leaf auctioned at Sotheby"s, London, on 27.11.1987); Act 1, based on the Allegretto dance by Grete"s step sisters, Fanchon and Yvette

 

Eté                -   1st theme untraceable; Act 2, very loosely based on the A-flat section of the "Aschenbrödel Walzer" danced at the ball, but with tempo altered to 2/4 time

 

Poule            -   Act 2, opening section of Zwischenspiel (Prelude); 2nd theme untraceable; Act 1, "Langsamer" waltz section (as Grete feeds her pet doves), but with tempo altered to 6/8 time

 

Trénis           -   Act 2, part of "Marschtempo" section, where a group of lieutenants at the ball try to unmask Fanchon and Yvette; the ball guests are arranged in formation, to the accompaniment of a theme from the "Aschenbrödel Walzer" (here altered to 2/4 time)

 

Pastourelle   -   Act 1, 1st "verse" of "Musical Self-Portrait", in which Franz, the store-owner"s brother, describes himself as "stylish, elegant, rich and irresistible"; preceding section; Act 2, adaptation of "Mazur Tempo" section following Grete"s "Egyptian Slave-Girl"s Dance"

 

Finale           -   Act 2, 2nd melody of Allegretto section at opening of Act, where the last figure of a quadrille is being danced in the ballroom (Theme also appears on a Johann Strauss autograph sketch-leaf auctioned at Sotheby"s, London, on 27.11.1987); preceding passage of Allegretto section

 

In the first-night press reviews of Aschenbrödel, special attention was paid to the quadrille danced at the opening of Act 2 (themes from which comprise the "Finale" section of the Aschenbrödel-Quadrille), though the interest arose less from the music itself than from Emil Graeb"s choreography. Among those noting a turning point for ballet was the reporter for the Vossische Zeitung of 3 May 1901: "A ballet from which the old ballerina costume of the little balloon-skirt is totally banished, [and] which is danced only in long, softly-flowing, generally "secessionist" garments without belts or waistlines, selected as the most choice and with the utmost good taste, and with colours toned in with each other. Indeed, in the wonderful quadrille by the ladies Urbanska [as Yvette], Kierschner [as Fanchon], Gasperini and Greiner ... danced in golden-yellow silk princess gowns with enormous trains. In handling these trains, which are thereby lifted up, a completely new kind of graceful movement of the body and limbs is inspired, of a type which the art of our ballerinas, up until now, did not know".

 

© 1996 Peter Kemp

(The Johann Strauss Society of Great Britain)

 

The author is indebted to Professor Franz Mailer for his assistance in the preparation of these notes.

 

Slovak State Philharmonic Orchestra (Košice)

 

The East Slovakian town of Košice boasts a long and distinguished musical tradition, as part of a province that once provided Vienna with musicians. The State Philharmonic Orchestra is of relatively recent origin and was established in 1968 under the conductor Bystrik Rezucha. Subsequent principal conductors have included Stanislav Macura and Ladislav Slovák, the latter succeeded in 1985 by his pupil Richard Zimmer. The orchestra has toured widely in Eastern and Western Europe and plays an important part in the Košice Musical Spring and the Košice International Organ Festival.

 

For Marco Polo the orchestra has made the first compact disc recordings of rare works by Granville Bantock and Joachim Raff. Writing on the last of these, one critic praised the orchestra for its competence comparable to that of the major orchestras of Vienna and Prague.

 

Alfred Walter

 

Alfred Walter was born in Southern Bohemia in 1929 of Austrian parents. He studied at the University of Graz and in 1948 was appointed assistant conductor to the Opera of Ravensburg. At the age of twenty-two he became conductor of the Graz Opera, where he continued until 1965, while serving at Bayreuth as assistant to Hans Knappertsbusch and Karl Böhm. From 1966 until 1969 he was Principal Conductor of the Durban Symphony Orchestra in South Africa, followed by a period of fifteen years as General Director of Music in Münster. In Vienna he has worked as guest conductor at the State Opera and in 1986 was given the title of Professor by the Austrian Government. In 1980 he was awarded the Golden Medal of the International Gustav Mahler Society. For Marco Polo, Alfred Walter has recorded more than twenty volumes of the label"s Johann Strauss II Edition, works by von Schillings, von Einem, de Bériot, Reinecke and all the symphonic works of Furtwängler and Spohr.

 
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