Bridget Mermikides arranges and transcribes the most famous waltz of all time for you to play on classical guitar.
It Is temptIng to think that in their day the great ‘classical’ composers only appealed to the appreciators of high art, their music listened to in silent and still reverence in a concert setting. Well, this is certainly not the case in regards to the Austrian composer Johann strauss II, who was essentially a highly successful ‘pop songwriter’ in the late 19th century. During his very busy and successful career, his many waltzes were central to a fashion that can be aptly described as a dance craze. In fact, strauss wrote so many popular waltzes that he became known as ‘the Waltz King’. Behind the engaging waltz rhythms, is a melodic and harmonic elegance of a master musician, and his music has endured through the ages and spread from the dance halls to the concert stage and countless films and TV shows. You will doubtless recognise his ever-popular Blue Danube – which I’ve arranged here – in many films including Austin powers, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, the Jungle Book, titanic, the Last emperor and most powerfully perhaps as a principle theme in stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A space Odyssey.
the Blue Danube (An Der schönen Blauen Donau, Op. 314) was composed in 1866 to a modest reception. However it has since flourished (in a choral as well as orchestral version) to become a mainstay of the orchestral repertoire, and often thought of as the unofficial Austrian national anthem. structurally, it is quite interesting in that it is a good example of a strophic form; this is essentially a medley of different melodic themes, with only one recapitulation of the main theme at bar 161. I’ve changed the original opening key of A major to D major (with dropped D tuning), and adapted the form to make it practical and satisfying for us to play as a solo guitar arrangement.
the main technical challenge here is to maintain the functions of the melody, chords, and bass line throughout. the melody often needs to be legato and lyrical whereas the chords are crisp and short. Once you can do this fluently (using the tab captions), you’ll be able to evoke the alluring waltz atmosphere that has enchanted so many people for almost one and a half centuries.
The challenge is to maintain the functions of the melody, chords and bass line; the melody is legato while the chords are crisp and short.
Strauss;: The Waltz King and a top pop composer of his generation