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  • Radetzky-Marsch – Urfassung
    written by Prof. Norbert Rubey


    Link to the history of composition

    Norbert Rubey

    English translation: Leigh Bailey


    The original version of the Radetzky March is based on the earliest extant source, that is to say the handwritten score which I discovered in the Vienna City Library (then the Wiener Stadt- und Landesbibliothek, now Wienbibliothek im Rathaus) in 1999. According to the entries made by the engraver this score served as the basis for the editions published by Tobias Haslinger’s Widow & Son in 1848. I have provided a detailed account in an article on the discovery of the copy and the original version of the march published in Die Fledermaus (Mitteilungen 11-13,  p. 221,  August 2000, Verlag Hans Schneider, Tutzing 2000), the journal of the Wiener Institut für Strauss-Forschung.  This original version was chosen by Nikolaus Harnoncourt to open the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra’s New Year’s Concert he conducted in 2001.

    In 2004 my editions of the score and parts were published in Vienna by Doblinger (Diletto Musicale DM 1378). These can still be purchased. See:





    This major differences between the ‘original version’ and the numerous versions usually performed, whatever their origin, are above all a fascinatingly more transparent and ‘thinner’ orchestration, which nevertheless produces a full-bodied sound. In particular Johann Strauss I does without cymbals, a characteristic of his which Philipp Fahrbach senior had noted in an essay he had written in 1847 on the history of dance music in the previous twenty-five years. (‘Geschichte der Tanzmusik seit 25 Jahren’ in Wiener allgemeine Musik-Zeitung, 20-25 March 1847, reprinted in: Die Fledermaus (Mitteilungen 2,  Vienna 1990, published by the Wiener Institut für Strauss-Forschung. The melodic deviations in the trio are discussed in my article on the discovery of the copy and the original version of the march published in Die Fledermaus (see above). In addition the edition published by Doblinger provides for the first time an accurate realisation of the many passages in the accompanying parts which are shown in the contemporary printer’s copy by means of repetition marks – in fact, numerous transcription errors are already to be found in the copies of the score and the printed editions of the first publisher, Carl Haslinger in Vienna.  The present reconstruction reveals a subtle accompaniment which is derived from the bass parts and the melody line and which displays a finely nuanced rhythm, unleashing an exciting effect – features which are not found in the ‘usual’ versions of the march.