JOHANN STRAUSS II
1825 — 1899
“Fruhlingsstimmen” (“Voices of Spring”) 1883
Johann Strauss II was the son of Johann Strauss I, himself a composer, as were brothers Josef and Eduard. As the most famous of the family, Johann II was known as “The Waltz King,” having brought the form from peasant dance to sparkling entertainment for the royal Habsburg court. When the elder Strauss passed away, the business-oriented Johann II merged his and his father’s orchestras and engaged The Strauss Orchestra (including his brothers) in commission writing and tours across the continent. It was the choral waltz The Blue Danube that earned his place in the annals of music history.
In “Fruhlingsstimmen,” (“Voices of Spring”) the composer regarded the soprano voice as another solo instrument, providing the same kind of long, soaring, wide-range melodic lines that appear in the orchestra. The treatment of the voice results in the sounding of a single syllable with a long stream of notes creating a glorious sound but the song’s lyrics are not overly conducive to audio comprehension.
This well-known waltz tune begins with loud chords in waltz tempo and quickly moves into a gentle, swirling melody. Section two embodies the joys of spring with flute imitating birdsongs and sounds of pastoral awakening. A plaintive and dramatic third section is suggestive of spring showers and the fourth section breaks out of a pensive mood into a cheerful tune. The first waltz melody makes another grand entrance before strong chords, a timpani drumroll and a warm brass flourish end the work.
Steven Errante, conductor
Unless indicated, all program notes are researched and written by Joan Olsson.