The Viennese Dance Series for Chamber Ensembles
Die Mozartisten, Op.196 for String Quartet
Die Mozartisten Waltzes date from 1842, the year before Lannerís death. The manuscript bears the inscription in Lannerís own hand, ďDedicated to the revered and immortal Mozart.Ē Interestingly, he also appended the note that these were waltzes, but not for dancing. While today, we may hold Mozartís music sacrosanct and consider it a travesty to make arrangements of his melodies into waltzes, this was not so in Lannerís day and certainly not in Mozartís. Upon arriving in Prague in 1787 for the premiere of Don Giovanni, Mozart noted with delight that ďHis PragersĒ had arranged themes from his Marriage of Figaro in waltzes and quadrilles. Die Mozartisten, one of Lanner's most substantial works, begins with a lengthy introduction and is followed by four waltzes and a coda. The first and fourth waltzes are based on a selection of themes from The Magic Flute while the middle two waltzes contain melodies in Don Giovanni.
Josef Lanner (1801-1843), although not so well-known as either Johann Strauss Sr., was one of the original pioneer "Waltz Kings" of Vienna. Today, outside of Vienna, he is all but forgotten. But some extraordinarily lovely music came from his pens. And all of it was originally intended for small chamber music ensembles. Josef Lanner, a violinist, was largely self-taught. At first a member of a small local Viennese dance orchestra, Lanner formed a string quartet and went out on his own. He met with immediate success and after a few years increased the size of his group to a small string orchestra which included Johann Strauss, Sr. who served as Lanner's deputy leader.
Was this music specifically written for string quartet? There is no clear answer, although most likely it was. The Viennese publisher Tobias Haslinger received all of Lannerís compositions as piano scores and shortly thereafter arrangements either by Lanner or a colleague for three violins and bass, orchestra, piano four hands etc. Our new edition is based on the 1842 Haslinger Edition of Lannerís arrangement for three violins and bass.