The Viennese Dance Series for Chamber Ensembles
Johann Strauss Sr.
Gabrielen Waltzes, Op.68 for String Quartet
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 Kettenbrücke Waltzes, the Sperl Polka, the Champagne Galopp, and the Gabrielen Waltzes have remained as popular as Junior’s compositions.
The Gabrielen Waltzes date from 1834 and are dedicated to the then Austrian Emperor's brother, Archduke Anton Victor, the patron of the Vienna Philharmonic Society as well as the Society for the Support of the Impoverished Blind. The first performance of the Gabriel Waltz took place on 20 January 1834 at what the Viennese called the 'Blind Ball'. Was this music specifically written for string quartet? The Gabrielen Waltzes were written for a small chamber orchestra of around 15-20 players. However, at the same time, Strauss Sr. authorized arrangements for smaller ensembles. He was a violinist and had begun his career with a small ensemble--a string quartet, in fact. They played in cafes and restaurants and at small parties. Later, when fame came, he created an orchestra. At first 10 players, then 16 to 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. This type of music, first and foremost, was meant to be intimate chamber music. This is the time-honored way in which most Viennese then and now have listened to their beloved waltzes. Thus it is with pleasure that we make it available again in a version for string quartet