The Viennese Dance Series for Chamber Ensembles
Johann Strauss Jr.
Kaiser-Walzer (Emperor's Waltzes), Op.437
For String Quartet
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 string quartet? 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, 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 String Quartet is presented. The Kaiser-Walzer, Op.437, were composed to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Austrian Emperor Franz Josef's rule. They are among his most substantial set of waltzes and consist of an introduction, four waltzes and a lengthy coda. Lovely, and easy to play, musicians from Brahms to Fritz Kreisler and Gregor Piatagorsky to the Budapest String Quartet have all enjoyed playing Strauss' music in this format.