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

Franz Liszt - Hungarian Rhapsody No.14 (Fantasia on Hungarian Folk Melodies)

Portrait of Franz Liszt with
Hungarian national costume.
In 1852, while living in Weimar, Franz Liszt developed one of the Hungarian Rhapsodies he had composed for piano, into the Hungarian Fantasy for piano and orchestra. The folk music that Liszt uses here is actually more influenced by Gypsy music than by the dances and songs of the Mayars, which are the real music of his native country Hungary.

The full title of Liszt's Hungarian Fantasy, Fantasia on Hungarian Folk Melodies, is rather incorrect. Almost all of the themes Liszt uses come from the gypsy orchestras he listened to in Vienna, but these musicians often played melodies adapted by other composers. Liszt knew little about the music of the Mayars, the tribe that had travelled from Asia in the old days to eventually settle in Hungary.

Those who revealed the ancient songs and dances of the Mayars as the true national Hungarian music were two composers younger than Liszt, Bella Bartok and Zoltan Kontoyi.

Nevertheless, Liszt offered a lot by focusing attention on the richness of popular music, highlighting the momentum, color and emotion of this folk music in his work and especially in this Fantasia.

The music begins in a melancholy mood, with the horns and bassoons playing in a minor tone. The melody is a adaptation of a Hungarian folk song "Mohac's Field".

After a few virtuoso passages, piano and orchestra again present the purpose, this time in a major tone. Some gypsy-style melodies appear with an additional reference to the opening tune. A quiet inoculated (interlude) prepares the most exciting theme - piano and orchestra gallop towards the end, with a final reminder of the original melody of the Hungarian folk song "Mohac's Field".