Johann Strauss II


Op. 279 • “Morning Papers”

About this work

Strauss' Morgenblätter (Morning Papers), Op. 279, was commissioned by the Concordia Journalists' and Writers' Association for their annual ball in 1862. The work was printed in May 1864, only a few months after the composer had been appointed Imperial Hofballmusikdirektor (Court Ball-Music Director). Morgenblätter differs from Strauss' later waltzes in its lack of new bridge material between the waltz pairs. Instead, Strauss returns to the first part of each pair to round out the structure before moving on to the next. The rhythmic ingenuity that informs his melodies is as vital as it would ever be. Groups of long and short notes open a duple-meter introduction that evokes the rhythms of a printing press. Morgenblätter's best-known melody, which clearly articulates the triple meter of the waltz, opens the first pair of waltzes; for the second member of the pair, however, Strauss disguises the triple meter by employing the duple-meter pattern from the introduction. The second pair of waltzes follows the same pattern as the first, closing with a repeat of the first half and moving directly into the next pair. Waltz No. 3 follows with yet another melody that initially subverts the triple meter with its motion and pattern of accents before the piccolo takes over with a truly waltz-like tune. Pizzicato strings assume the lead in the first part of No. 4, whose rhythms resemble those of No. 1. Low brass and trumpet abruptly open the fifth pair of waltzes with an angular tune that contrasts with the sustained, static string melody of the second half. Instead of following the fifth waltz with a coda, Strauss reprises No. 2 in its entirety, varying the repeat of the second half in a manner that leads to a return of the first waltz. A coda featuring intense string tremolo bring the work to close.