Marble Surface

August Lanner (attrib.)/ Johann Girsa

Die Ausbrecher, Walzer

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This is a bit of a curiosity. Before my last trip to Vienna in 2020 I noticed in the catalogue of the Wien Bibliothek a waltz, “Die Ausbrecher”, attributed to August Lanner. As I am interested in Lanner I ordered the piece to look at when I got there. I was delivered a set of parts for small orchestra of this waltz. I didn’t have time enough to do anything but glance at them. The title page has “Die Ausbrecher” and “Joh. Girsa” in big letters, with “von August Lanner” in small letters and in a different hand – not Lanner’s. It’s not dated. A quick look at the parts showed some Lannerish traits – he can’t spell “Picolo” (although that is not exclusive to August Lanner), the Violin II and Viola parts have some figures common in earlier pieces but not really by 1853, and the way repeated notes are written is the same as in Lanner’s works. I made a copy and have transcribed it here.

Stylistically it is not at all like Lanner’s mature works, if somebody who died at the age of twenty could be said to have any. It is, however, quite a good waltz. It was written by somebody who understood the waltz form and the Viennese style.

It could be early Lanner, but it feels too late in style and nothing in it bears any resemblance to the Lanner I know. I am really not convinced. I don’t actually see why what is on the title page is not correct and this was written by Johann Girsa. I had never heard of him, but a bit of Googling turned up a Johann Girsa, born in 1833 who is noted as a “Kapellemeister” in 1870 and a “Musikdirektor” in 1881 in Vienna. I can’t be sure, but that’s where my bet is.