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Radetzky March (arr Foeller)

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Johann Strauss Sr.

Johann Strauss Sr. (arr. Foeller)

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This work bears the designation Opus 228.

General Info

Year: 1848/ 1966
Duration: c. 3:15
Difficulty: (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Unknown
Cost: Score and Parts - Unknown


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None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

It is ironic that the first Waltz King should be best remembered for a march -- and that the music is better known than the man for whom it was named (Johann Joseph Count Radetzky de Radetz, born in southern Bohemia in 1766 and died at the age of 92). Although the title page of the first edition bore the inscriptions, "In honor of the great Field Marshal" and "Dedicated to the Imperial Royal Army," Strauss actually had not the slightest interest in Radetzky’s political or military faction. Historians have mistakenly believed for decades that the dedication signaled a split between Johann Strauss and his son, who was openly against the established order. The march was commissioned by Field Marshal Lt. Peter Zanini, military adviser to the court, who was directing a “victory festival” to celebrate the exploits of the Austrian Army in Italy commanded by Field Marshal Radetzky and to raise funds for wounded soldiers.

The first performance was conducted by the composer at Vienna’s Cafe-Pavilion on August 31, 1848. Although the band version of Radetzky March is available in various keys, musicians are often surprised that the trio modulates up an interval of a fifth instead of the usual fourth. In the March 1981 Band International, Johann Strauss scholar Philip Povey explains the discrepancy from information found in the diary of Philipp Fahrbach, Sr., a composer-friend of Strauss (and conductor of the Beutchmeister Kalpelle from 1841 to 1846). On the afternoon preceding the expected evening premiere of the commissioned march, the work had not been written, and at Fahrbach's urging -- and assistance -- Strauss finally began. Two popular melodies ("Mein Kind, mein Kind, ich bin dir gut" and an anonymous waltz melody) were borrowed, a full score was hastily written, the parts were copied, and the first performance of the march followed Beethoven’s Leonore Overture. Radetzky March was given only two encores -- not many by the composer’s standards -- and was judged a moderate success. In a post-concert discussion with Fahrbach, Strauss proposed that the tempo be slowed a bit, and that the first melody be lowered from E to D major -- the trio was apparently to remain in A major. Less than a month after its first performance the march was published (with the suggested key changes) by Carl Haslinger of Vienna. The first edition, as opus 228, was published for piano as was customary, in two-hand and four-hand versions. The first military band edition appeared 12 months later.

In April 1978, the original full score of Radetzky March was found among some waste paper at a former printing works in Vienna. On Easter Sunday, a year later, Julius Rudel conducted members of the Vienna Symphony Orchestra in a performance of the march as it was originally scored. Some researchers now realize that the famous march has been overscored and "overplayed" by huge orchestras and massed bands. The German military music expert, Joachim Toeche-Mittler, writes that it is "nothing like a Prussian march. Radetzky is light and charming, a true child of Vienna—a typical Johann Strauss."

- Program Note from Program Notes for Band

Johann Strauss Sr. composed Radetsky March in honor of Field Marshal Joseph Radesky von Radez to commemorate his victory at the Battle of Custoza in 1848 (during the first Italian War of Independence). Despite its martial background, the music is more celebratory than military and seems more suited for the dance floor than the battlefield. It consists of an introduction followed by six musical figures, each of which is repeated and mixed with the next.

When the chorus was first played for the Austrian army, the officers clapped and stomped their feet. This tradition continues in many venues as audiences clap rhythmically and softly during the first time the melody is heard, and then thunderously the second time. The Radetzky March may be Johann Strauss Senior's most enduring legacy.

Arranger George Foeller was director of bands at Illinois State University from 1960 to 1977.

- Program Note from Illinois State University Symphonic Band concert program, 1 December 2016


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State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


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  • Illinois State University (Normal) Symphonic Band (Dan Dietrich, conductor) – 1 December 2016

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  • Smith, Norman E. (2002). Program Notes for Band. Chicago: GIA Publications, pp. 569.