About this work
In 1852 Strauss, at the age of 27, had achieved such success as composer and director of dance music that he was no longer looked upon as "the son of" Johann Strauss, Sr. (1804-1849), but as the rightful leader in his field. Strauss had merged his father's orchestra with his own shortly after his father's death, and in a few years would begin touring Europe. In May of the same year, Strauss was asked to guest conduct his Annen-Polka, Op. 117, at court, an appearance which led to frequent court performances and his eventual appointment to Hofballmusikdirektor in 1863.
Composed relatively early in Strauss' career, the Annen-Polka embraces none of the innovations prevalent in Strauss' later polkas such as Vergnügungszug, Op. 281, or Leichtes Blut, Op. 319. Also unlike these two particular works, Annen-Polka is in a moderate polka tempo, not that much faster than the Schnell-Polka. All four melodies of Annen-Polka have distinct eight-measure halves and are repeated in their entirety. Additionally, section A is rounded out by the return of its first half. Whereas the strings dominate section A, the woodwinds are prominent in B, which closes with a trill and a slow, rising figure in the brass that introduces the return of section A. Strauss does have one surprise in store: only the first melody of A returns, and this stops abruptly two measures short of completion before the flute takes over with a new tune to close the piece.
Curated by Chanda VanderHart, Pianist and Musicologist