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

Chopin - Introduction

Painting of Chopin's portait

In Aleksander Ford's film "Youth of Chopin" the protagonist embodied a young man with an elaborate appearance, whose eyes looked on and yet were absent from the meeting scene... This young man never smiled, too bad, because it would look like he'd have a nice smile... Ford's film helped me more than my listenings helped me out 20 years ago, sketching composer Chopin.

Shortly afterwards I read another subversive "biographical" novel that troubled me again: he chronicled his contradictory life, presenting him as an unwitting, atrophiedly sensitive guy with eccentrically expresed melancholy. I was at the beginning of my pianist career and all this meant a lot...

Twenty years later, studying through the sources of his works and his life, I believe Chopin was a witty man, low-voiced but dynamic, a lover of beauty, a dreamy Apostle of Poland. No, Chopin was neither an enemy of life nor a victim of it. He allowed himself to become independent from the measure of others, avoided their own regularity.

He lived with his own rubato, what List described so nicely: "Look at the trees, the wind plays with the leaves, makes them flutter, but the tree stays still".

Chopin was a tree that ideally protected a delicate romantic soul and perfectly projected a maximum classic spirit.

(Efi Agrafioti)