Tuesday, 11 March 2014

2014, Week 6: Tritsch Tratsch Polka by Johann Strauss II

Johann Strauss II  (or Johann Strauss Junior) was born in Vienna in1825, and he died in Vienna in 1899. 
Johann Strauss II

He was an Austrian composer and the son of Johann Strauss Senior (or Johann Strauss I), who was also a very famous composer. 

Strauss Senior wanted his son to become a banker, but young Johann took violin lessons in secret. 

When he was 18, he got his own orchestra together and performed some of his own music as well as some of his father’s.  Young Johann became very famous for his waltzes – he became known as the king of waltzes and the most famous musician in Austria -  and soon became more famous than his father. 

The waltz was a daring new dance and,  at the time, many people were scandalised  that people held each other so close for the entire dance. 

After his father died, Johann joined both his own and his father’s orchestras together. He became very busy during the annual Venice carnival when there were lots of balls in Vienna, the capital of Austria.  

 He travelled around Europe and Russia and even conducted some of Tchaikovsky’s  music. 

Johann Strauss II wrote two operas: Die Fledermaus (The Bat) and Zigeunerbaron (Gypsy Baron).

His two brothers, Josef and Eduard, were also very musical and they joined Johann to compose and play some of this most popular  waltz music of all time.  

Europe at the time of the death of Strauss.
Tritsch-Tratsch-Polka  was written in 1858 after Strauss returned from a successful tour of Russia.  O There are several thoughts on what the title means, but it is most likely to mean the same as “chit-chat”  and refers to the name for gossip - which was abundant in those days in Vienna,  as everyone wanted to know everyone else’s business. 

 Here is the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra playing the Tritsch Tratsch Polka at an outdoor concert - in Vienna.

Here's the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra playing the Tritsch-Tratsch polka in 1984.  You can see all the different instruments that are played in this, and you can see one of the many different styles of conducting 

Here's an excellent quality video of an orchestra performing the Tritsch - Tratsch polka. How many instruments can you name? Listen for the triangle. Copy the conductor's movements and you be the conductor for this performance. 

Watch the cymbals player in this video clip.

Here's Andre Rieu's orchestra having a lot of fun playing this polka on a tram in Vienna.

 Here is the Hungarian National Ballet rehearsing to this music. Can you see the story that is being told by the dancers? 

This is an excellent quality video of the Fernsehballet (a ballet company from Germany) performing a very fast version of the Tritsch - Tratsch polka, with a few variations. 

In this video, a group of male dancers tell the story of a soccer game to the music of the Tritsch Tratsch polka.  The quality of the video isn't great, but you will still get the idea.

This is a slower version of the Tritsch-Tratsch polka because there is a group of people dancing a polka to it. Even so, they have to move pretty quickly. How many different kinds of dance moves and steps can you see?

Here's how it looks when you play it on the piano. Can you see where the notes are ascending and descending? 

Here' the Vienna Boys Choir singing the Tritsch Tratsch Polka (it's in German - I think.)

Here's a drummer  doing his version of the Tritsch-Tratsch polka  - with some pretty clever lighting effects, and captions which say Merry Christmas  in many languages - including a few fun ones at the end.

This is fun. It's a musicogram of the Tritsch-Tratsch Polka, with drawings to represent the music. See if you can follow it.

This is one very clever young girl. See if you can do what she's doing.

Here's a fun cartoon version of part of this piece of music.

Here's another cartoon version - with Minnie Mouse.

Click on this link to see what the music looks like as it is being played by a piano.

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