Pay­back in three-quar­ter time Die Fle­d­er­maus

Pasatiempo - - PASATIEMPO - James M. Keller The New Mex­i­can

AN invit­ing stretch of down­town Vi­enna is given over to the Stadt­park, where lo­cals linger on benches near the Vi­enna River while tourists make a bee­line for the gilded statue of Jo­hann Strauss II. Vi­enna has been home to a dis­pro­por­tion­ate num­ber of fa­mous com­posers — Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schu­bert, Brahms, Bruck­ner, Mahler, Schoen­berg, We­bern, Berg — but of the bunch, it is Strauss whose mu­sic is most in­deli­bly at­tached to the city. His melodies in three-quar­ter time have made him Vi­enna’s smil­ing am­bas­sador to the world, and when the world comes call­ing, it can’t re­sist snap­ping a selfie be­neath his mus­ta­chioed vis­age and his up­raised vi­o­lin.

Strauss is uni­ver­sally ac­knowl­edged as the “Waltz King,” and for good rea­son. A pro­lific com­poser, he left a cor­pus of 479 pub­lished works. Waltzes are the most nu­mer­ous among them, ac­count­ing for 183 pieces in the schol­arly cat­a­logue of his com­po­si­tions. Dur­ing his peak years — the 1860s and early 1870 — he be­stowed on the world such quin­tes­sen­tial mas­ter­pieces of the Vi­en­nese waltz as Ac­celler­a­tio­nen (Ac­cel­er­a­tion); An der schö­nen, blauen Donau (On the Beau­ti­ful Blue Danube); Kün­stler­leben (Artist’s Life); Geschichten aus der Wiener­wald (Tales from the Vi­enna Woods); Wein, Weib und Ge­sang (Wine, Women, and Song); and Wiener

Blut (Vi­enna Blood). Even in his later years, when he was ex­pend­ing more of his en­ergy on stage works, he still found time to turn out waltz mas­ter­pieces, such as Früh­lingsstim­men (Voices of Spring) in 1883 and

Kaiser-W (Em­peror Waltz) in 1889. He was prac­ti­cally born into his pro­fes­sion. In the be­gin­ning was Jo­hann Strauss I, who achieved great pop­u­lar­ity as a Vi­en­nese orches­tra leader. He hoped his three sons — Jo­hann II, Josef, and Ed­uard — would do bet­ter in the world, en­cour­ag­ing them to en­ter busi­ness or the mil­i­tary.

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