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Marble Surface

Johann Strauss I

Künstler Ball Tänze, Walzer, Op. 150

00:00 / 07:16

My transcription from the manuscript of this waltz by Johann Strauss I held in the Wien Bibliothek im Rathaus. This is the second of his two waltzes with the same name.

It is my antidote to the Czibulka waltz I did a couple of weeks ago.

I never used to have a high opinion of Johann Strauss I but am rapidly changing my mind, largely due to my having the opportunity to copy original manuscripts and play what’s written at a reasonable speed rather than rely on the generally poor quality of most of the available recordings.

Strauss’s music is perhaps less sophisticated than his contemporary Lanner’s. I think all of the themes in here are 16 bars long and the harmonies are usually relatively simple. Although he uses more or less the same orchestra as late Lanner it is used in a much lighter manner. He has four trumpets but they only play together for 14 bars out of 304 bars in the piece, not counting repeats, in contrast to the powerful way Lanner features them in the majority of his late works.

“Lighter” and “less sophisticated” does not mean worse. The orchestration in this piece is light as a feather, almost Rossini like in places. The themes are jolly and memorable. I think Lanner writes technically better music but perhaps Strauss is better dance music. I have much the same view of the music of Josef Strauss and Johann II.

Regardless of that, I think this is a delightful waltz of the period.

You might like to compare it to the version in the Marco Polo complete edition which illustrates my problem with Johann Strauss I recordings. Perhaps it’s just me.

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