Josef Strauss


Op. 57

About this work

This work is called a Polka française, but the listener should not expect to hear anything overtly French in its music; it exhibits a Viennese atmosphere and that graceful, Strauss-family character. This is not to suggest that Josef wrote music in some generic Straussian style. Indeed, he struck out a path quite different from that of his more famous brother, the "waltz king" Johann II. Josef's music was not as light and colorful, but was brilliantly orchestrated and often exhibited a depth and darkness of expression (to the extent that "light" music can divulge deep and dark elements at all). That said, this polka is a relatively early work and does have a less-striking individuality than is found in many of Josef Strauss' compositions from the 1860s. Still, it is a fine work that presents a bright, chipper theme in the opening, underpinned by tick-tock accompaniment and lively rhythms. The middle section divulges a playful humor in its equally colorful instrumentation and energetic sense. The main material returns in the latter part, bringing along its cheerful music and leading to a relatively tame coda. This delightful polka typically has a duration of three minutes.