Lesson 14 The Strauss Waltzes For Piano

Waltz Music For The Piano

The Strauss Waltzes were originally intended for a small orchestra of the court.  But they are quite wonderful when played as a solo on the piano.

They have a captivating driving rhythm in 3/4 time, which is Waltz time, and they can be played simply, as is fitting for a beginning pianist, or wildly embellished as you please, as your skill permits.

The main thing to remember, in achieving a convincing performance, is to keep that rhythm regular and dynamic, but with a lightness of touch.  Sometimes parts of his waltzes are quite delicate.  But keep the time regular.

Of course, you can slow down in the parts where rituendo is required, to achieve a dramatic contrast, but then you will return to the dynamic beat.

Maybe go to the library to get a selection of these marvellous waltzes, transcribed for piano. They are worth putting into your repertoire.

Here is a wee bit of background on the more famous of the two Strauss composers from 19 century Vienna.

Johann Strauss the Younger: Known as ‘The Waltz King’

Johann Strauss was a Court Musician and Composer.

Johann Strauss was born in Austria, in Vienna, on October the 25th, 1825.

He was a charismatic and colourful figure, a composer, violinist and band leader who won the hearts of the 19th century Viennese.

Johann Strauss was the equivalent of a rock star today: His influence was huge, especially in popularizing the waltz and revolutionizing the way that people danced. The impact of his waltzes, which were originally designed for the courts, eventually were to became public property, ultimately to be enjoyed by many people all over the world, as dance and incidental music.

His lively performances which drew the crowds in massive numbers could be compared to the advent of swing, or rock and roll, or the Beatles.

He dominated the music scene of Vienna during his lifetime, composing and performing literally hundreds of many beautiful light-hearted and spirited waltzes for the elaborate courtly balls of the period. Such was his prolific output, and immense fame and popularity, that he became known as ‘The Waltz King’.

This was an inherited title which brought with it certain problems: This was because, until Johann Strauss the Younger arrived onto the scene, his father who was also called Johann, had been known as ‘The Waltz King’. Consequently, there was much rivalry and jealousy between them.

As well as the title “Waltz King’, Johann the Younger got to inherit the band which had worked with his father, and this band, combined with his own instrumentalists, became famous all throughout Europe under the baton of Johann Strauss the Younger.  Johann Strauss toured Europe with his band, playing in Germany, Austria, Poland, and St Petersburg, as well as keeping the courts back in Vienna happy.

Then, in 1872, he took his band to America, where he conducted fourteen concerts for the American Jubilee in Boston, and four more in New York.

Even today, the one and only ‘Waltz King’ still reigns.  His lovely romantic waltz tunes with their infectious rhythms and lilting tunes are hard to beat.

Some of the most famous waltzes of Johann Strauss the younger are:

The Beautiful Blue Danube

Tales of the Vienna Woods

The Artist’s Life

One Lives But Once

Wine Women and Song

A major work of Johann Strauss’ is his operetta Die Fledermaus

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