Today’s the first of my Strauss works posts.
I’m taking you back to 1870 when my favourite Strauss composition was performed for the first time. It’s not only going to be a small history lesson, but I’ll let you hear the composition too.
Freuet Euch des Lebens
Johann Strauss Son composed this waltz, op. 340, “Enjoy your life” in English, for the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde (Society of the Friends of Music) in Vienna.
Theophil Hansen (1813-1891, a Danish architect, who later became an Austrian citizen) designed the Society’s new concert hall: the Musikverein, known nowadays as venue of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra’s New Year’s Day Concert.
It was going to be a “special” Strauss working venue: Johann returned here several times and Eduard conducted the Sunday Strauss Concerts here for many years.
All three Strauss brothers performed during the inaugural ball on 15 January 1870 and each conducted a composition they had written for the opening of the building – Johann his waltz “Freuet Euch des Lebens”, op. 340 (Enjoy your life), Josef his polka française “Künstlergruss” op. 274 (Artist’s Greeting) and Eduard his polka-mazurka “Eisblume” op. 55 (Frost-flower).
“Freuet Euch des Lebens” was published by A. Spina. This is the title page of the first edition of the waltz. The picture was kindly put at my disposal by Helmut Reichenauer, director of the “Museum of the Johann Strauss Dynasty” in Vienna.
The composition has a powerful beginning and a, as is so often the case with Strauss waltzes I think, dreamy middle part. It has been on the programme of the New Year’s Day Concert many times.
Have a listen yourself what it sounded like during the 1997 New Year’s Day Concert. I hope you’ll like it.