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Strauss, Josef (1827-70) - Waltz: Music of the Spheres

When Dr. Burney described the waltz (1805) as a “riotous modern invention”, whose name implied “to wallow, tumble or roll in the dirt”, he might have been denouncing rock 'n' roll in 1956. When he wondered “how uneasy an English mother would be to see her daughter so familiarly treated”, he could have been lambasting the lambada in the 1980s. This salacious popular entertainment hit it big when Johann Strauss Vater formed his rock - sorry, dance - band (1825). Eventually, the family elevated the waltz from the Kaffeehäuser (c.f. disco) to the regal ballrooms of Europe. 

Josef Strauss composed copiously for his own band. To amuse the punters, pieces received catchy, but not always musically justified, titles. Whilst polkas, mazurkas (etc.) were short and snappy, waltzes were indeed the “symphonies by Strauss”. Music of the Spheres opens with suitably “celestial” sounds, but once past the gimmick it’s “business as usual” - so prepare to sway in your seats! 

Note originally commissioned by the Vancouver Symphony for a concert given on 01 May 2004  
 


© Paul Serotsky
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