Johann Strauss II - Kaiser-Walzer (Emperor Waltz), Op. 437

Strauss often played in the glittering Imperial balls, conducting the orchestra and playing the first violin at the same time.   The majestic launch of this fascinating waltz presents the backdrop of the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the hegemony of the Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph in 1888. Johann Strauss II was Music Director of the Dance Hesperides of the Imperial Court from 1863 to 1872 and composed on occasion for the celebration of an imperial anniversary. The ingenuity of the melody of the Emperor Waltz, which was originally orchestrated for a full orchestra, is such that it was easily adapted for the four or five instruments of a chamber ensemble by the Austrian composer Arnold Schoenberg in 1925. This waltz is a tender and somewhat melancholic work, which at times turns its gaze nostalgically to the old Vienna. The waltz praises the majesty and dignity of the old monarch, who was fully devoted to his people. It begins with a majestic, magnificent march, which soon re


Maracas (almost always used in a pair) is an important instrument of the Latin American orchestra. The distinctive rustling and soft rhythmic tone seem to represent the dancers' own movements.

The first maracas (now known as shakers) were dried pumpkins, whose seeds rattled when they moved. Later, they emptied the pumpkins from their content, scraped them and filled them with larger seeds or gravel to improve the sound of the instrument. Pumpkins were often selected on the basis of their shape - the neck could be used as an organ handle.

Maracas belong to the category of "empty rattles". They are among the oldest instruments and have been used for various purposes. They were associated with magec, used in religious ceremonies, as coordinators of the rhythm of dancers and more recently as rattles for babies.

From Cuba
The pumpkin rattle is their most widespread form. In places where pumplkins do not grow, the instrument is made from other materials. Ceramic versions are common and are often given the form of animals. Rattles made of turkey and wild duck skulls have been found in escavations of prehistoric tombs, while dried toad animal tome filled with pebbles was previously used by North American Indians.

The material used for filling also varies. In cases, only the seeds of a particular plant are acceptable - in parts of Central Africa is the canna plant. More recently, plastic pellets or even lead pops have been used, giving a heavy sound to the instrument.

How Maracas work
The sound produced by the maraca is determined by the size of the instrument, the material of its construction, as well as the weight and size of the pellets it contains. A certain degree of tonality can be differentiated between organs, although maracas can hardly reach tonics that would be characterized in more detail, beyond "low" or "high".

The maracas are usuall played with a shaking of the hand forward, with the right hand generally leading and interpreting the powerful beats. During the performance, the performer often uses many instruments of different tonality, to add the element of variety to the rhythms of the music.