Johann Strauss II
Rosen aus dem Süden, Walzer, Op. 388
It’s that time again and time for 2021’s Christmas Folly. This is my transcription of this very famous waltz by Johann Strauss II, on themes from his operetta Das Spitzentuch der Königin.
My very first Strauss record (black with a hole in it) was “The World of Johann Strauss” a reissue of performances by the VPO under Willi Boskovsky of some of Strauss’s greatest hits. My favourite was this one mainly because I played the horn and liked the VPO’s horn section smacking out waltz 4B fiftissimo. Needless to say, when I looked at the score it was one horn playing forte!
Apart from indulging myself in a little nostalgia, there is a serious point to doing these famous pieces in that what’s in the score is not what is normally done.
Listen to the rubati – not where they are normally played and in some non-intuitive places where they are in the score. We really have lost how these composers played these works under a century and more of “interpretation”. The tempo changes, when the composer bothers to write them in the score, are rarely where I expect them to be.
Similarly, even at this late date, Strauss’s scoring is very light, both in instrumentation and dynamics. The trombones and piccolo must have been bored to death. Strauss rarely goes beyond piano and forte in either direction. Apart from the last dozen bars there are only a few bars of fortissimo in the entire waltz.
The second iteration of the big tune really is marked forte, despite nobody else playing it so.
This should not sound like Bruckner. It is a dance and presumably people would have treated it as background music. In my opinion, it is the best background music ever written, however.