The Viennese Dance Series for Chamber Ensembles
A Medley of Themes from Gräfin Mariza (Countess Mariza)
For Piano Quintet (Piano, 2 Violins, Cello & Bass)
The music to the operetta Gräfin Mariza, of course, was originally intended for a small pit orchestra of perhaps 15-20 players, of the type one commonly found in Viennese operetta theaters. But like the operas of Johann Strauss Jr, the music became so popular that arrangements of it for much smaller and more intimate groups were almost immediately made from the time it was published so that the wonderful melodies from it could be heard in the cafes and coffee houses throughout Vienna. In is in that tradition that we offer our Medley of themes from Gräfin Mariza for Piano, 2 Violins, Cello and Bass. We could not find a recording just for piano quintet. Our soundbite has a piano, 2 violins, cello, bass, flute & clarinet. It presents about half the work.
Emmerich Kálmán (1882-1953 Imré Kálmán in the Hungarian form) was born in the Hungarian resort town of Siófok near Lake Balaton. His parents were Jewish and changed their surname from Koppelstein to Kálmán while Emmerich was in grade school. In a strange twist of fate, Hitler so-loved Kálmán's music that when he took over he offered Kálmán the very rarely given honorary Aryan status so that he could remain in Austria and the Third Reich unmolested. Kálmán turned him down and emigrated. As a boy Kálmán studied the violin and later the piano but his parents pressured him to become a lawyer and he took a degree in law at Budapest University. However, his heart was not in it and he subsequently attended the Franz Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest where he studied composition with Hans Koessler, the famous teacher of Bartok, Dohnanyi, Kodaly, Weiner and many others. At first he pursued a career as a serious classical composer, and though his music won several prestigious prizes, it gained little traction. In the meantime, he discovered that his lighter salon music was becoming very popular and henceforth, he devoted himself exclusively to it, subsequently becoming one of the most important 20th century composers of light opera and along with Franz Lehar is considered the finest composer of the so-called Silver Age of Viennese operetta. Among his many operettas are not only Gräfin Mariza, one of the most famous, but also Die Csárdásfürstin (The Gypsy Princess), Ein Herbstmanöver (Autumn Manoeuvres), and Die Herzogin von Chicago (The Duchess from Chicago) all of which were and still are produced world wide. His style combines elements of the Viennese waltz with the Hungarian csárdás. One also hears the influence of Puccini and Tchaikovsky.