Johann Strauss II (born Johann Baptist Strauss; 25 October 1825 – 3 June 1899), also known as Johann Strauss Jr., the Younger, the Son (German: Sohn), son of Johann Strauss I, was an Austrian composer of light music, particularly dance music and operettas. He composed over 500 waltzes, polkas, quadrilles, and other types of dance music, as well as several operettas and a ballet. In his lifetime, he was known as “The Waltz King”, and was largely responsible for the popularity of the waltz in Vienna during the 19th century.
Strauss had two younger brothers, Josef and Eduard Strauss, who became composers of light music as well, although they were never as well known as their elder brother. Some of Johann Strauss’s most famous works include “The Blue Danube”, “Kaiser-Walzer” (Emperor Waltz), “Tales from the Vienna Woods”, and the “Tritsch-Tratsch-Polka”. Among his operettas, Die Fledermaus and Der Zigeunerbaron are the best known. (by wikipedia)
All these beautiful melodies were played by Mantovani and his Orchestra:
Annunzio Paolo Mantovani (Italian pronunciation: [anˈnuntsjo ˈpaːolo mantoˈvaːni]) (15 November 1905 – 29 March 1980), known mononymously as Mantovani, was an Anglo-Italian conductor, composer and light orchestra-styled entertainer with a cascading strings musical signature. The book British Hit Singles & Albums states that he was “Britain’s most successful album act before the Beatles…the first act to sell over one million stereo albums and [have] six albums simultaneously in the US Top 30 in 1959”.
Mantovani was born in Venice, Italy, into a musical family. His father, Bismarck, served as the concertmaster of La Scala opera house’s orchestra in Milan, under the baton of Arturo Toscanini. The family moved to England in 1912, where young Annunzio studied at Trinity College of Music in London. After graduation, he formed his own orchestra, which played in and around Birmingham. He married Winifred Moss in 1934, having two children: Kenneth (born 12 July 1935) and Paula Irene (born 11 April 1939). By the time World War II broke out, his orchestra was one of the most popular British dance bands, both on BBC radio broadcasts and in live performances.
He was also musical director for a large number of musicals and other plays, including Noël Coward’s Pacific 1860 (1946) and Vivian Ellis’s musical setting of J. B. Fagan’s And So to Bed (1951). After the war, he concentrated on recording, and eventually gave up live performance altogether. He worked with arranger and composer Ronald “Ronnie” Binge, who developed the “cascading strings” effect (also known as the “Mantovani sound”). His records were regularly used for demonstration purposes in stores selling hi-fi stereo equipment, as they were produced and arranged for stereo reproduction. He became the first person to sell a million stereophonic records. In 1952, Binge ceased to arrange for Mantovani but the distinctive sound of the orchestra remained.
Mantovani recorded for Decca until the mid-1950s, and then for London Records also owned by the Decca Company. He recorded in excess of 50 albums on that label, many of which were Top 40 hits. His single tracks included “The Song from Moulin Rouge”, which reached Number One in the UK Singles Chart in 1953; “Cara Mia” (with him and his orchestra backing David Whitfield) in 1954; “Around the World” in 1957; and “Main Theme from Exodus (Ari’s Theme)” in 1960. In the United States, between 1955 and 1972, he released more than 40 albums with 27 reaching the “Top 40”, and 11 in the “Top Ten”. His biggest success came with the album Film Encores, which attained Number One in 1957.
Similarly, Mantovani Plays Music From ‘Exodus’ and Other Great Themes made it to the Top Ten in 1961, with over one million albums sold.
Mantovani starred in his own syndicated television series, Mantovani, which was produced in England and which aired in the United States in 1959. Thirty-nine episodes were filmed. Mantovani made his last recordings in the mid-1970s.
He died at a care home in Royal Tunbridge Wells Kent. His funeral was held at the Kent and Sussex Crematorium and Cemetery on 8 April 1980.
The cascading strings technique developed by Binge became Mantovani’s hallmark in such hits arranged by Binge as “Charmaine”. Binge developed this technique to replicate the echo experienced in venues such as cathedrals and he achieved this goal through arranging skill alone.
Author Joseph Lanza describes Mantovani’s string arrangements as the most “rich and mellifluous” of the emerging light music style during the early 1950s. He stated that Mantovani was a leader in the use of new studio technologies to “create sound tapestries with innumerable strings”, and that “the sustained hum of Mantovani’s reverberated violins produced a sonic vaporizer foreshadowing the synthesizer harmonics of space music.” His style survived through an ever-changing variety of musical styles prompting Variety to call him “the biggest musical phenomenon of the twentieth century”.
From 1961 to 1971 David McCallum Sr was leader of Mantovani’s orchestra. At this time, his son David McCallum Jr was at the height of his fame, prompting Mantovani to introduce his leader to audiences with the quip, “We can afford the father but not the son!”
Mantovani is referred to by name in The Kinks song “Prince of the Punks”. He also had a big influence on Brian May, Queen guitarist.
During his lifetime, Mantovani did not always get respect from his fellow musicians. When George Martin first suggested overdubbing Paul McCartney’s recording of Yesterday with strings, McCartney’s initial reaction, according to Martin, was that he didn’t want it sounding like Mantovani. Martin therefore used a more classical sound, employing a string quartet.
Much of his catalogue has reappeared on CD. There are also many compilations. A large number of CDs are available containing unauthorised recordings, billed as Mantovani or Mantovani Orchestra, for example the CD titled “The Mantovani Orchestra” released in 1997 contained a track from the 1980s Andrew Lloyd Webber musical “Cats”, which would have required posthumous conducting on the part of Mantovani. There have also been CDs released under the Mantovani name of recordings made by others while Mantovani was still alive.
Following Mantovani’s death in 1980, the Mantovani Estate continues to authorise numerous concerts worldwide and recordings using original and newly commissioned arrangements. (by wikipedia)
This music is not my favorite music, but it´s without any doubts an important part of music history … and so … it´s also a part of this blog … you know: Many fantastic colors !
Alternate front covers
Mantovani and his Orchestra
01. Blue Danube (Johann Strauss II) 3.41
02. Voices Of Spring (Johann Strauss II) 2.46
03. Roses From The South (Johann Strauss II) 3.19
04. Village Swallows (Joseph Strauss) 3.19
05. Thousand And One Nights (Johann Strauss II) 3.12
06. Treasure Waltz (From “The Gipsy Baron”) (Johann Strauss II) 2.54
07. Emperor Waltz (Johann Strauss II) 3.13
08. Wine, Women And Song (Johann Strauss II) 3.21
09. Accelerations (Johann Strauss II) 3.44
10. Tales From The Vienna Woods (Johann Strauss II) 3.40
11. Morgen Blätter (Johann Strauss II) 3.16
12. Fledermaus Waltz (“Du und du”) (Johann Strauss II) 3.36