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Marble Surface

Johann Strauss II

Burschen Lieder, Walzer, Op. 55

Arr. CPE Strauss

00:00 / 07:33

My orchestration from the Müller piano score of this waltz by Johann Strauss II. The original orchestration does not survive. The piece was written during the 1848 revolution in Vienna when Strauss became the dance composer of choice with the revolutionaries – mostly students, hence the title. This made him unpopular with the ruling classes after the revolution was suppressed. In the longer term it prevented his becoming Director of Music for the Court Balls in succession to his father and in the shorter term caused the music for several of his “revolutionary” pieces to be suppressed, including this one.

There are a few interesting comparisons to be made, if you are that way inclined.

I recently orchestrated Carl Bendl’s “Die Engländer”. It was written in the same year as this piece. Bendl was a well established conductor and composer at the time. The Strauss waltz is immeasurably superior in invention, technique and ambition, despite the age of the composer.

My transcription of Johann Strauss I’s waltz “Sorgenbrecher”, Op.230 is on here and was also written in 1848. I would hate to have to decide which is the better waltz although father Strauss has the advantage of a full size orchestra

The recording of this waltz made as part of the Naxos complete edition is available on youtube. I have to say I like it, but it illustrates the difference between my approach and a “Viennese” reading of the piece. It is scored for a much bigger orchestra and sounds as if it were written 30 years after its date of composition. There’s a lot of rubato, none of it marked (and Strauss in much later pieces marked where he wanted rubato) and the instrumentation is anachronistic. As a trivial example, Strauss almost never uses the side drum to play the offbeat rhythmic crotchets in the accompaniment. At this period I can’t think of a single instance, and I am not actually sure he had a side drum at all in the band in 1848. He does occasionally use it much later, but not as much as Ziehrer and Komzak. I think if you use an orchestra similar to Strauss’s then it changes the way you think. This piece is virtually chamber music and a lot of the delicacy is lost if you play it on a big orchestra. I’m even feeling guilty about my side drum, second trumpet and trombone. This is just my opinion of course, and I’m quite happy to listen to the Naxos version.

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