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

Bedřich Smetana - Libuše Overture

The beautiful Prague where Smetana came to study. He'd rather watch the concerts than go to school.

In 1848 liberal revolutions broke out throughout Europe. Most of them crashed, but their effect gave ordinary people an unprecedented pride in their national identity. This feeling was particularly strong in Bohemia, where the Czechs were for centuries under the rule of the Habsburgs, the monarchs of Austria.

This revival of patriotism was conveyed by Bedřich Smetana to the music of Libuše's three-act festival opera, which he wrote from 1869 to 1872. As Smetana was an excellent craftsman of the symphonic poem, his operas had freshness and dramatic intensity.

Although deeply influenced by Richard Wagner and Franz Liszt, he created a highly personal, sensational music that praised the spirit of the Czech people. The opera refers to the legendary events that led to the establishment of the first Royal Bohemian Přemyslid dynasty in the 13th century.

The opera was not just a stage work, but rather an epic destined to be presented in great festive occasions. "I regard this opera as my most perfect dramatic work," Smetana himself said of Libuše. Seventy years later, when the Nazis occupied Czechoslovakia during World War II, they realized that opera was still axing the patriotism of the Czechs and banned it.

The imposing fanfare of the trumpets, which resonates at the beginning of the Libuše Overture, invokes the legendary royal world which is also the theme of opera. However, the softer and more lyrical part of the flute and the oboe that follows, states that Libuše refers to both human passions and royal magnificence and heroic feats.

The orchestra picks up the lyrical theme from the woodwinds and develops it by adding new elements of royal grandeur, to return to a melancholy mood. The initial fanfare sounds distant before the dramatic return of the orchestra, announced by the rhythmic beat of the drums. This intensely patriotic and moving work ends with a serene note.