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    written by Prof. Norbert Rubey
    8. April 2023

    Extract from an unidentified waltz by Johann Strauss I, written on a menu

    Johann Strauss I, autograph manuscript of part of an unidentified waltz, for piano, with two themes in A major forming a complete section, dated and signed by the composer, ‘Frankfurt, 4 December 1835 / Strauss’. This composition cannot be found in any known musical source, either printed or handwritten, for the works of Johann Strauss I. It thus constitutes a rarity of the first order. As Strauss put the date and his signature on this waltz extract, which seems to have been written in great haste, it can be assumed that this is one of his own compositions – not by another composer, which he gave or dedicated to someone – or possibly offered in lieu of money. Sketches or drafts of compositions by Johann Strauss I are different in appearance and as a rule are not dated and not signed.

    Strauss wrote these waltz themes on the back of a menu written by an unknown hand on the same day, 4 December 1835, at the Weidenbusch (Willow Bush) Inn on Steinweg in Frankfurt. Menus from this period are also rare, and so the menu itself is also a very unusual find. Strauss and his musicians stayed at this inn for several days on two occasions on his concert tour in autumn 1835, and they played for two balls held there. It was on the day before the end of their second stay that Strauss wrote down this extract from an as yet unidentified waltz, as described above.

    On 30 September 1835 Johann Strauss I and his orchestra had left Vienna to start a long concert tour of Germany. Johann Thyam, a musician in the orchestra, kept a diary, documenting precisely the course of the journey, and all the places where they stayed and performed. According to this, Strauss and his musicians left Wiesbaden in a mail-coach at six in the evening and arrived in Frankfurt at ten o’ clock, taking rooms in the Weidenbusch Inn on Steinweg. On 20 November they gave a concert in the Oranienburg; on 22 November they played for a ball in the hall of the Weidenbusch Inn, and on 23 November for another ball at the Harmoniegebäude in Frankfurt, before leaving on 24 November. One week later, on 1 December 1835, Strauss and his orchestra were back in Frankfurt, again staying at the Weidenbusch Inn, where they played for another ball on 2 December 1835. On 3 December they played at a ball in Offenbach and on 4 December gave a concert in the Zum goldenen Ross (Golden Horse) Hall in Frankfurt, before they all travelled on to Heidelberg on 5 December.

    Norbert Rubey

    English translation: Leigh Bailey