From Thursday, the 12th till Sunday, the 15th of March 2020
The manner in which Josef Strauss composed dance and salon music, orchestrated, interpreted and performed it, pointed the way forward for the entire spectrum of light music in Vienna and Austria. Impressive confirmation of this is provided by the results of recent research.
Numerous previously unknown facts about his biography and his work – how he was seen by those who came after him, his relationship with his brother Eduard, his early death – have shown Josef Strauss in a new light, as both man and composer.
Many of his compositions reveal him as an attentive and sometimes even critical observer of contemporary life. The music itself, the titles of his pieces and the illustrations on the covers of the piano editions frequently document political, cultural, social, economic and other long since forgotten events in Vienna and Austria during the 1850s and 1860s, sometimes with humour and a smile, but sometimes drastically and sarcastically.
By performing parts of new works by foreign composers, even before these compositions had been played for the first time in their entirety in Vienna, he made an important contribution to the good reputation the city had as the musical centre of the Danube monarchy. He included extracts from operas by Wagner and by French composers in the programmes of his concerts more often than his brothers Johann and Eduard did. As a result stylistic loans and musical quotes from their works can be found in his own compositions. His curiosity, contemporary performance practice and the wishes of the public led Josef Strauss to arrange many quadrilles from the melodies of works for the stage by Offenbach and others, as well as pieces from more or less all musical genres.
Josef Strauss’s musical legacy has repeatedly been made use of, promising as it does artistic and economic success – first within his own family, and then by composers and arrangers both in Austria and abroad, right down to the present day. His music lives on!
With nineteen musicological presentations the 2020 Dance Signals has set a new record. In cooperation with the Danube University Krems a volume will be published in autumn 2020 which will include all the contributions to this year’s symposium and still more about Josef Strauss.
English translation: Leigh Bailey