The Viennese Dance Series for Chamber Ensembles
Johann Strauss Sr.
Exeter Polka, Op.249 for String Quartet
Johann (1804-1849) Johann Strauss Sr. (1804-1849) founder of the waltz dynasty that not only included the “Waltz King”, his oldest son Johann Jr., but also two younger sons, Joseph and Edward, was, along with Josef Lanner the most popular composer of Viennese dances from the Biedermeier period: 1815—1848. At least in Vienna, if not elsewhere, many of his works, such as the Radetzky March, the Kettenbrucken Waltzes, the Sperl Polka, the Champagne, Chinese, Jugendfeuer, Indianer and Gitana Galopps, and the Bajaderen Waltzes have remained as popular as Junior’s compositions.
In one short movement, the Exeter Polka takes its name from the Exeter Hall in London where it was first performed in 1848. The London critics praised it profusely and when Strauss brought it back with him to Vienna, it was published and remained quite popular.
Was this music specifically written for string quartet? The Exeter Polka originally appeared in two versions, one for small chamber orchestra of around 10-15 players and the other for string quartet. But like most of his works, Strauss Sr. immediately authorized arrangements for all different kinds of ensembles.