In the Revolution of 1848, Johann Strauss II (or Jr) had sided with the dissidents—the anti-Habsburg faction—while Strauss Sr his father had been an avowed royalist, composing the Radetsky March in honor of the great general who played a large part in suppressing the Revolution. For some time the court looked with misgivings and suspicion at Strauss Jr, however important he proved to the Austrian image.

There’s a file of a police interrogation where the younger Strauss was asked why he had dared to play the Marseillaise. In an Austria of strict censorship, that was a loaded question. Strauss answered, “Because it is good music and good music is what concerns me.”

But the wounds of the revolution gradually healed. Soon Austria had a new emperor. When the emperor celebrated the 40th anniversary of his accession in 1888, Strauss composed a waltz in honor of Franz Josef.

My signal, my flame, my beloved John Wilson conducted this piece in Stockholm 29 March 2019.

daniel-barenboim-strauss.jpegDaniel Barenboim conducts the Berliner Philharmoniker in Strauss’s grandest waltz.

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