Johann Strauss, Jr. (1824 - 1899)
The Blue Danube
Perhaps the most famous waltz ever written, On the Beautiful Blue Danube was first performed as a choral work for male voice choir. It only became a great success after Strauss adapted it for orchestra, and you can occasionally still hear a performance with choir as well (though not tonight!). It always features in the famous Vienna New Year’s Day concert – an event as core to Austrian musical life as the Last Night of the Proms is to British music.
Overture "Die Fledermaus", RV 503
The Strauss family were three generations of Viennese dance composers, most of them called Johann. They were hugely popular & very successful, becoming very rich in the process. As well as dances they wrote several operettas, of which Die Fledermaus (1847) is by far the best. The title “The Bat” refers to a disguise worn by the hero at a fancy dress ball. The overture is a "trailer" for the tunes in the show to follow, and it starts loudly – a standard technique of the time to stop the audience talking!