Showcase Sommerfest 2014 - page 28

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MINNESOTA ORCHESTRA SHOWCASE
Albion
Polka, Opus 102
Strauss didn’t visit London until 1867, but years earlier
he wrote his
Albion
Polka, taking its title from the
old Roman name for Great Britain. Though Strauss
dedicated this polka to Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg,
husband of Queen Victoria of England, his true intent
was to honor the British emissary to the Imperial
Court in Vienna, John Fane, Earl of Westmorland. The
Earl and his wife were accomplished musicians and
composers, and among the balls and concerts they
gave in their residence, the Palais Coburg, were several
at which Strauss and his orchestra performed. He
composed the
Albion
Polka for one such festive occasion
in autumn 1851.
On the Beautiful Blue Danube
, Waltz, Opus 314
For our closing waltz, the one everyone is waiting
for, the one that speaks “Strauss” like no other, we
hear the immortal
An der schönen, blauen Donau
(no
translation required!). Originally written in 1867 as a
choral piece for the Vienna Men’s Choral Association,
with a text by Josef Weyl, the words were soon
discarded in favor of a purely instrumental version, the
form in which it is familiar today. The
Blue Danube
never fails to sweep listeners into its magical flow,
sending them home radiantly happy after a night in
Vienna.
Program notes by
Robert Markow
.
in one’s soul beautiful memories, a kind of reverie in the
moonlight on a beautiful spring night.”
rondo: vivace.
Following without pause is the finale,
whose origin in dance makes it perfect for tonight’s
program. The
krakowiak
to which it bears resemblance
is a fast, syncopated Polish dance associated with the
city of Krakow; the form, known as the
Krakauer
,
became a popular ballroom dance in Vienna and Paris.
Johann Strauss, Jr.
Lagunen
(Lagoon) Waltz
More than any other kind of music, it is the waltz that
conjures up visions of Vienna as a kind of romantic
never-never land. A steady stream of waltzes flowed
from the pen of Johann Strauss, Jr.—more than 150
of them—and as the “Waltz King” he was Austria’s
longest-reigning monarch. Strauss’ first published work
was a waltz,
Sinngedichte
(Witty Sayings), written when
he was a teenager, and his waltzes continued to appear
until just a few months before he stopped composing.
The first of Strauss’ waltzes we hear tonight, the
Lagunen
(Lagoon) Waltz, was written in 1883. This
graceful work, with moods varying from subdued to
jaunty to joyous, takes its melodies from the composer’s
very popular operetta
Eine Nacht in Venedig
(A Night
in Venice), a romantic comedy set in the festive
atmosphere of the Carnival of Venice.
Frühlingsstimmen
(Voices of Spring) Waltz,
Opus 410
Also written in 1883 was the
Frühlingsstimmen
(Voices
of Spring) Waltz, one of Strauss’ loveliest.
Voices of
Spring
is unusual in that it was introduced not as an
instrumental work but as a vehicle for coloratura
soprano. This waltz—actually a whole string of them,
as are all of Strauss’ great waltz titles—was written to a
text by Richard Genée for a charity event at the Theater
an der Wien. Egon Gartenberg sums up the enduring
appeal of this masterpiece in calling it “a creation of
elfin grace, a vision of flowing gowns and bare feet
whirling through the Vienna Woods.”
Vienna’s nightly balls were “entertainments, beginning
around 8 or 9 p.m. and lasting late into the night.…
Men were expected to dress formally in black
frocks, silk breeches, black stockings and maroquin
[Moroccan leather] shoes. For women of the upper
and middle class, ball gowns were an indispensable
part of any wardrobe. Wealthy women often owned
a number of gowns, with which they wore their finest
jewelry or fresh flowers.”
— Alice M. Hanson,
Musical Life in Biedermeier Vienna
Sommerfest
A Night in Vienna
july 12
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