ON THE INTERPRETATION OF THE ANNEN-POLKA BY JOHANN STRAUSS II
The earliest known musical manuscript written by Johann Strauss II – apart from melodic sketches – was acquired by the Vienna City Library at an auction at the Dorotheum in Vienna on 4 December 2008. The composition in question is the Annen-Polka (Anna Polka), op. 117, composed and first performed in 1855, which is probably the best known and most famous work from the early years of Johann Strauss II’s career as a composer.
The single page, which contains the whole first section of the polka, also has a dedication written by Strauss, ‘As a kindly memento / from Joh. Strauss / 18 July 1854’. The date means that this must have been written while Strauss was staying at the spa resort of Badgastein in the summer of 1854. Both the music itself and the piano arrangement are, with one significant alteration in the bass line and the accompanying beats in bars 7 and 15 respectively, identical with the piano edition which was published by Carl Haslinger in Vienna. However, the extremely high value of this autograph manuscript of the Annen-Polka as a source comes from the notes made on it by Strauss regarding the manner of performance, as nothing like this is found in the previously known sources. The manuscript can be found in the Vienna City Library under the shelf-mark MH 21120/c.
In general it must be pointed out such annotations indicating the way that Strauss thought his music should be performed are extremely rare in extant manuscripts and printed editions, above all in the case of those compositions which date from the time when he himself was still in charge of Strauss Orchestra. The only known examples are to be found in the printed edition of first violin part of the polka L’inconnue, op. 182, (1857) and in a piano arrangement of the Tritsch-Tratsch-Polka, op. 214, which was published in Milan by Ricordi in 1874.
Norbert Rubey/Translation: Leigh Bailey