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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Much is said of the other Strauss, Richard, on this website, but I think Johann (no relation) is rather neglected. Johann Strauss II (1825-99) is undoubtedly well known by all of you, so he needs no introduction. His father was also a well-known composer in Austria, and despite his attempts to dissuade him from becoming a musician also, young Johann carried on the family tradition. There's also no need to inform you how he wrote many waltzes that are still popular, and are celebrated annually at the Vienna New Year's day concert. Indeed, the way that he led his own orchestra, with violin in hand, and became the waltz king of Europe is mirrored today by Andre Rieu who does virtually the same thing (though I'm not a big fan of Rieu).

But there is another side, I think, to Johann Strauss II. After re-acquainting myself with his most famous operetta, composed in the mid 1870's, Die Fledermaus (The Bat), I think he elevated this genre far above it's humble origins. Here is music that is quite complex when compared to other works in the genre, and has some very operatic writing for the voice, orchestra & chorus. I personally think that, depending on the interpretation (which seems more flexible than opera), this can be read as either as simply an operetta (Boskovsky's account), or a comic opera (Karajan's & Bohm's readings).

So if you are a fan of this work (like I am), or some of his other operettas and/or waltzes, then do post your thoughts here...
 

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Roses from the South has been one of my big favourites in the past. Tales from the Vienna Woods is a classic too, and of course numerous others. I suppose you can see him as coming towards the end of the classical music dance tradition, modernism seems to have had less time for dance music and certainly not dance music to be literally danced to (that was to be taken over by popular music).
 
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I like Die Fledermaus very much. The third act is pretty poor compared to the first wo though. Nevertheless a great work.
 

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I haven't explored Johann Strauss II yet, but I do enjoy waltzes. I have a double disc set on my amazon wishlist that is one of the first items I plan to buy after my spending freeze is over in February.
 

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I tend to get bored with Strauss pretty fast, I don't have a problem with his style nor do I consider it beneath me, I just think it's painfully obvious that most of his music was written as background music for the dance hall and it isn't as interesting as it could be. I like it but I don't, if that makes any sense.
 

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I love Johann Strauss II. Sometimes you are just in the mood for musical bon-bons, and almost no one does them better. Unfortunately, there are those who have the mistaken idea that a work of art lacking tragedy and angst-laden drama must inherently be "lightweight"... as if it takes less skill to express a joie de vivre than it does to wallow in suffering. I suspect that such a thinking is at the heart of the underestimation afforded to Strauss, Lehar, Offenbach, Bellini, Donizetti... even Chopin, Tchaikovsky and Mozart.

I love the old Willi Boskovsky recordings of Strauss' waltzes, Polkas, Marches... but even more-so (as to be expected of the opera lover I am) I am enamored of his operas/operettas.

Anyone ever heard/seen The Gypsy Baron operetta? I am looking for a good recording.

EMI recorded the so-called "Champagne Operettas" of Franz Lehar (Die lustige Witwe and Das Land des Lächelns); Friederich von Flotow (Martha), and Johann Strauss II's A Night in Venice, Weiner Blut, Die Fledermaus and Der Zigeunerbaron ("The Gypsy Baron") shortly after WWII (between 1953-55) and ALL of them, have yet to be bettered. The magic of these recordings lies in the fact that a great many of the conductors, musicians, and singers involved were essentially raised upon this music. I should mention that among the singers involved one might count Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Rita Streich, Nicolai Gedda, Erich Kunz, Eberhard Wächter and Hermann Prey:







 
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Interesting reading my first post here in 2009 and also moira's review of the Rieu concert. My opinion has changed about him, I like listening to his stuff now, esp. as a break from the more 'heavy' stuff.

So too with J. Strauss II. Naxos has been bringing out some of his less known operettas. I have 'Jabuka' (The Apple Festival), which is a delightful work, showing influence of Smetana, whose 'Bartered Bride' Strauss admired a great deal. An earlier review of mine of this cd here: http://www.talkclassical.com/1005-current-listening-1303.html#post325819.
 

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So Strauss wrote On the Beautiful Blue Danube and Artist's Life right around the same time. Both are considered two of his best pieces. Is there any debate between the two as to which is the best? I'm going to go out on a limb and proclaim Artist's Life the better of the two.
 

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There was a silly, schmaltzy, sentimental, and ultimately senseless movie made about a commoner from the USA and a Countess from the old Austro-Hungarian empire. The plot revolved about the romance between their respective dogs. The Countess's dog was an aristocratic poodle destined to be the consort of the Emperor's champion dog. The American's dog was cute and smart, the model for the old RCA Victor Gramophone adverts, but clearly not suitable for the fancy poodle. Naturally, the dogs and their respective guardians, fall for each other, a shocking pair of scandals.

The film was released in 1948. Frankly, coming so soon after WWII, the emphasis on the pedigree, or lack thereof, makes me slightly sick to my stomach. Perhaps that why, of all the directors in Hollywood at the time, Billy Wilder had a point to make in doing this absurd film.

I saw this film as a tiny toddler and loved it for the dogs. I was also imprinted with the Kaiser-Walzer and it remains to this day my favorite of all the Strauss waltzes.

 

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My all time favorite composer as his music just plain makes me happy - if he is considered the Waltz King, from my recent efforts playing arrangements of Die Fledermaus overture and the Emperor Waltz, I should now be considered the Waltz Pauper.
 
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