Leichtes Blut

Johann Strauss II

Leichtes Blut

Op. 319 • “Light as a Feather”

About this work

Strauss' Leichtes Blut, Op. 319, is a Schnell-Polka, which was influenced by the galop, a rapid, simple dance in 2/4 meter. The title is difficult to translate, for it suggests an easy-going, light-hearted personality, not simply "thin blood." Leichtes Blut was published in Vienna by Carl Anton Spina (1827 - 1906) in 1867, shortly after the waltz, An der schönen, blauen Donau, Op. 314, had skyrocketed Strauss to international fame and made Spina wealthy. Although Leichtes Blut was composed at the height of Strauss' maturity, the polka is simpler is some respects than its predecessors, particularly in its ABA format and that it contains only four melodies. However, Strauss' manipulation of the melodic material is quite advanced. In section A, each of the 16-measure tunes is repeated, but the repetitions are slightly re-orchestrated and the melodies and harmonies varied. Also, after the repeat of the second melody of section A there is a four-measure extension before the return of the first melody, which is played through only once. At the close of section B, Strauss uses the four-measure introduction to the piece to usher in the return of section A in its entirety. Strauss creates variety in this frivolous polka through both melodic and instrumental contrast: the leaping and falling melodies of section B are performed legato on string instruments, producing a more lilting sound than is possible with woodwinds, which perform the more detached, aggressive tunes of section A.