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Name of Work

Strauss, Jr., Johann (1825-1899)
Liebeslieder Waltzer (Love Song Waltzes), Op. 114

Liebeslieder Waltzer


Oct 25, 1992

Oct 26, 1992

STRAUSS - The Viennese Waltzes and Polkas

Haydn and Brahms, Mozart and Beethoven, and other adopted musical children of Vienna are renowned, but so also are such natives as Josef Lanner, Johann Schrammel, and the members of the Strauss dynasty, who devoted their endeavors almost fulltime to the writing of dance music, and established a tradition that has survived the demise of empire, the decline of aristocracy, and even the virtual disappearance of formal ballroom dancing. The music that Maurice Ravel once described as "the celebration of a useless pastime" can still delight and charm, as a worldwide television audience discovers anew each January 1st, while watching the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra's annual New Year's concert.

Such concerts have accustomed 20th-century listeners to the idea that Viennese waltzes, polkas, and galops are always played by a full orchestra; in fact, only the most gala occasions and richest patrons ever commanded such large instrumental forces. Johann Strauss Sr. and Jr. took large ensembles on tour, and called them up at home for events like the Emperor's birthday, but at other times, music for dancing was provided by smaller groups. Using arrangements by the Viennese music scholar Alexander Weinmann, which parallel the original scoring, the Chicago Chamber Musicians will re-create the sound as it was heard when it was new, chamber music for dancing, played by flute, clarinet, two horns, two violins, viola, and double-bass.

The mood is set with a lively and engaging polka by Johann Strauss Sr. (1804-1849), the founder of a family and a family tradition that would last well into the 20th century. "Eisele und Beisele Sprünge" were cartoon characters from a Munich newspaper. Johann's eldest son, Johann II (1825-1899), won the title of "Waltz King," and the father was apparently more than a little jealous. "Wo die Zitronen blühn" is one of the lesser-known among Johann II's hundreds of compositions; its title means "Where the citrons (lemon-trees) bloom," and it evokes a warm and sunny Mediterranean atmosphere. Johann Sr.'s polka "Jugendfeuer," Fire of Youth, is appropriately energetic; it was written not for a formal ball but for summertime festivities at a Viennese inn, and we can almost see the lanterns strung through the garden, bathing the dancers in a radiant glow.

Program Notes by Andrea Lamoreaux

Performed Oct 25 and 26, 1992

Performance Audio

The audio file for this performance is unavailable at this time.