May the fourth be with you

Daniel Kreps wrote for Rolling Stone on 4.5.2020:

“To celebrate the Star Wars holiday May the Fourth, Deutsche Grammophon has shared video of the series’ composer John Williams leading the prestigious Vienna Philharmonic through a rendition of his “Imperial March.”
“It was honestly one of the best presentations of that March I’ve ever heard,” Williams said of the performance. “They played it as though they owned it.”…

“Imperial March” wasn’t initially a part of the evening’s program, but the Vienna Philharmonic’s brass section lobbied for its inclusion. “We played two rehearsals with the orchestra, at the end of which the orchestra management said: ‘Can we play the ‘Imperial March’ from Star Wars?’ And I hadn’t programmed that. I thought I had already asked the brass to play quite enough big music,” Williams said (via Classic FM).

YouTube quoted comment from orchestral player:

“It’s the new Radetzky,”

From the CLASSIC fM app:

“Johann Strauss senior was a major figure in Viennese musical life – but nowadays, he’s not the Strauss most people remember.

While Strauss the elder wrote some popular tunes (not least this, his Radetzky March), it’s his first-born son, Johann Strauss II, who is revered as the ‘King of the Waltz’.

Like his son, Strauss senior made his living not just as a composer, but also as a conductor and violinist. He loved Vienna, having been born a stone’s throw from the famous River Danube, and he would regularly walk along the river as a child, enjoying performances from the wandering musicians who worked there.

The Radetzky March was composed in 1848 and is so named because of its dedication to Field Marshal Radetzky, a senior member of the Austrian army who successfully led an assault in Italy that same year. Nowadays, the piece is rarely heard without incessant clapping over the top; it’s always played to end the famous New Year’s Day concert in Vienna, with the audience encouraged to applaud the arrival of another year.

There’s a bittersweet element to the piece: it was due to be premiered in the autumn of 1849, but Strauss strangely failed to turn up. His publisher later explained, “During the instrumentation of the march, Strauss became ill with scarlet fever and died three days later”.”

Valerie Hopkins wrote for the Financial Times of 31.12.19:

“When the Vienna Philharmonic embarks on its annual rendition of the Radetzky March at its New Year’s Day concert, a connoisseur of the music of Johann Strauss Sr may notice something slightly different.

Alerted to the Nazi connections of the arrangement of the piece the orchestra has played for decades, the philharmonic will this year play a new version for this year’s concert at Vienna’s storied Musikverein, which will be broadcast live to 92 countries.

The old version was arranged by Austrian-born Leopold Weninger, a former member of the Nazi party who also made popular arrangements of the party’s anthem, the Horst-Wessel-Lied.

The orchestra’s decision to ditch the old version underscores the legacy of Austria’s Nazi past and, 75 years after the end of WWII, the country’s slow reckoning with it. 

After the philharmonic was reminded about Weninger’s Nazi background, it sought to codify a modified version of the arrangement which has evolved over decades, spokeswoman Claudia Kapsamer told the Financial Times.

“The idea was and still is to bring joy to the listeners and not to remind anyone of some war or Nazistic propaganda or ideas,” she said…”

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