The Viennese Dance Series for Chamber Ensembles
Johann Strauss Sr.
for 3 Violins & Cello/Bass or 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 Kettenbrucken Waltzes, the Sperl Polka, the Champagne, Chinese, Indianer and Gitana Galopps, and the Hof-Ball-Tänze (the Court Ball Dances) have remained as popular as Junior’s compositions.
The Hof-Ball-Tänze consist of five dances and a coda. Composed in honor of the crown prince Ferdinand's 1831 wedding to the daughter of the King of Sardinia. They were premiered the following year at the famous Sperl dance hall and enjoyed an immediate success. Was this music specifically written for string quartet? The Hof-Ball-Tänze were written for a small chamber orchestra of around 10-15 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. In our arrangement, the third violin part is in a low register and designed so as to also be played by the viola. Thus it is with pleasure that we make it available again in a version for string quartet