The Viennese Dance Series for Chamber Ensembles
Johann Strauss Jr.
Egyptian March, Op.335 for Wind Quintet
The Egyptian March, Op.335, dates from 1869. This was the year that the Suez Canal was completed and opened. To commerate this great event, Strauss wrote the march. In Vienna, as throughout Europe, there was great interest. All sorts of plays and operettas were written. One such play was Anton Bittner's comedy, Nach Egypten (Into Egypt) which opened in Vienna at the Theater an der Wien in December of 1869. Bittner used Strauss' march to accompany the procession of the Egyptian warriors. During the middle part of the march, Bitter had the actors singing along "la, la, la..." with the music. Strauss, thought it clever and placed instructions into the music asking the musicians to duplicate what he had heard in Bittner's play.
Johann Strauss Jr. (1825-1899) needs no introduction. The Viennese Waltz King will forever remain famous as long as music is played. Was this music specifically written for wind quintet? No. It was originally intended for Strauss' small chamber orchestra of about 30 players. However, almost as soon as he would compose a waltz at the piano, he would start making arrangements. First for his orchestra and then for the other combinations which his publishers demanded. In the beginning, Strauss' ensemble was small--a few players. Perhaps 2 violins, a viola and a cello or bass. Maybe a piano or a wind quintet, too. They played in cafes and restaurants and at small parties. Later, when fame came, he created an orchestra. At first 10 to 12 players, then 16-20 and on special occasions perhaps 25 to 30. But one combination he certainly never envisioned was the modern day 100 member symphony orchestra--probably the least valid arrangement of all. No, the music of Strauss Junior and Senior, of Joseph Lanner and the other Viennese waltz masters, first and foremost, was intimate chamber music. This is the time-honored way in which most Viennese then and now have listened to their beloved waltzes. It is in this spirit that our arrangement for wind quintet is presented.