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Johann Strauß (Sohn) Geschichten aus dem Wienerwald
Duration of performance: 11 minutes 8 seconds

Form scheme In his symphonic waltzes Johann Strauß joins several waltzes that form a waltz string.
The structure can easily be understood from the chart. 

Strauß starts the introduction with a bagpipe melody in waltz time. Not to be missed: the bare fifth in the bass. It does not yet prepare an elegant Viennese waltz but a rural "Landler".

This bar with the flute solo, called Cadenza by Strauß, reminds us of birdsong. A definite allusion to the Vienna Woods close by!

The Zither as a solo instrument
During the introduction of the waltz the zither is used as a solo instrument. The melody is that of a Landler, closely linked to traditional folk music, the starting point for Lanner’s and Strauß sen.’s dance music. Alpine tunes are reflected in this movement for two voices. The theme can already be traced in the Concordia waltz "Die Publizisten" (The Publicists) op.321. It is rarely performed today.

First waltz
The impulse of this first waltz theme results from a sixth which is always preceded by a minor second of the down scale. With its parallel sixths this waltz still reminds of folk music, although raised to a higher artistic level. The first waltz has the unusual length of 44 bars.

Second waltz
The second waltz is the same as the zither waltz of the introduction, played in full orchestration. The "Landler" has become an elegant waltz. 
For Strauß the "Landler" was an important stylistic device to gain a particular melodic quality. However, it is not an imitation of the Landler airs with their eight bars but a stylised form that just alludes to the Landler element and is developed in sixteen bars.
Strauߒ concert waltzes have often been called waltz symphonies. The basic principle of a symphony is the musical interplay which results from the fracturing of various themes. Johann Strauß invented melodies but did not transform them. Thus he himself described the main parts of his compositions as waltz 1, 2, often up to 5. Every part consists of two waltz themes. That means that one composition may consist of 10 waltz melodies.

Third waltz
The third theme is in E-flat major. The theme suggests that Strauß conducted his orchestra as a standing violinist.

How did Strauß conduct?
According to modern terms Strauß would have to be called a "show conductor", dancing up and down the stage, every gesture, every movement came out of the music that he tried to give a shape. A comparable interpretor of the 20th century was Willi Boskovsky, who as a leading and standing violinist conducted the New Year’s Concerts of the Vienne Philharmonic Orchestra for 25 years, giving them a world-wide TV presence.

Fourth waltz
The fourth waltz is in B-flat major and starts with a B-flat triad.
Like in all Strauß waltzes the melody has as its basis the monotonous Hm-ta-ta of the waltz rhythm. The Hm of the basses on stress one is succeeded by the Ta-ta of the second violins. Many melodies composed with large interval leaps are built on the stereotype Hm-ta-ta. This creates a mysterious element in the waltz that makes it so typically Austrian. We must not forget that the 19th century, the century of the waltz, comprised an enormous cultural scope, ranging from Johann Nestroy to Artur Schnitzler, from Ferdinand Raimund to Hugo von Hofmannsthal and from Joseph Lanner to Arnold Schönberg. The Danube monarchy, the imperial Austria danced to its death in an ecstasy of beauty.

Fifth waltz
Two quavers and the ensuing crotchet form the impulse for the 5th waltz in the string of waltzes "Geschichten aus dem Wienerwald" dar.
The waltz, especially the great concert waltz, must not be performed with rhythmical precision. Strauß waltzes are rubato waltzes, which means that the melodies demand a constant rhythmical change from bar to bar. The 2nd crotchet follows the first one more quickly than it is rhythmically correct. Such is the interpretation of the 5th waltz in E-flat major. That explains why short, unknown, even unimportant waltzes are better suited for dancing than the great concert waltzes, which were mainly intended for listening to.
The CODA repeats the main waltz "Geschichten aus dem Wienerwald" and a waltz from the second string. At the end of the waltz we hear again the 2nd waltz in solo zither and in Landler fashion. 
On listening to this passage at the end of "Geschichten aus dem Wienerwald" one feels that this waltz was conceived in the spirit of dance music but is not dance music itself. This music needs an act of precise listening because its long and slow introduction rouses the expectation of a dance but transforms it into a simile of dance. The physical act of dancing becomes an inner experience. The waltz must not be robbed of its individuality and that unfolds when the uniform ¾ rhythm is abandoned in favour of many small, almost unnoticeable tempo changes.

Waltz in solo zither
At the end of this concert waltz Strauß links up with the introduction by reverting to the sound of the solo zither.

"Geschichten aus dem Wienerwald“ closes in furioso waltz beat.

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