The Vienna Dance Series for Chamber Ensembles
Johann Strauss Jr.
Leichtes Blut Polka, Op.319 for String Quartet or Piano Trio
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 piano trio? No. It's really for no specific ensemble. Almost as soon as he would compose a waltz or polka at the piano, Strauss 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 the Strausses 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, polkas, and galopps.
It is in this spirit that we present our arrangements for String Quartet and Piano Trio. (Our soundbite is of a group playing an arrangement for string quartet. The Leichtes Blut polka, Op.319, dates from March of 1867 and was premiered at the Strauss brothers' annual Revue Concert where all of the new dances written for the annual Vienna Carnival were presented. It is a Polka schnell, that is, a quick polka. The trio is almost as fast as the polka itself. Leichtes Blut--literally light blood in German--is perhaps best translated into English as "high spirits". For sure, this polka is lively, captivating and full of youthful energy. It makes a brilliant encore.