Radetzky March (arr Oliver)

From Wind Repertory Project
Johann Strauss Sr.

Johann Strauss Sr. (trans. and ed. Marc Oliver)

This work bears the designation Opus 228.

General Info

Year: 1848 / 2014
Duration: c. 3:00
Difficulty: IV (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Orchestra
Publisher: Ayotte Music
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $55.99; (digital) - $50.99


Full Score
C Piccolo
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II
Bassoon I-II
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
B-flat Bass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Trumpet I-II-III
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III
String Bass
Percussion, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Snare Drum


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

Radetzky March (1848/1993) is generally acclaimed as among the greatest of all pieces in the march vein. Strauss wrote it a year before his death in 1848. It was named for Johann Joseph Count Radetzky de Radetz, a venerable Austrian Field Marshall. The title page of the first edition bore the dedications “In honor of the greatest Field Marshall” and “Dedicated to the Imperial Royal Army.” It was commissioned to celebrate Radetzky’s victories, primarily the Battle of Custoza. The trio uses a popular Viennese folk tune of the time, Alter Tanz aus Wien or Tinerl-Lied, which was originally in 3/4 time. It is rumored that Strauss heard the returning soldiers singing the tune and decided to incorporate it into the work by converting it to 2/4 time. Radetzky March was commissioned by Field Marshall Lieutenant Peter Zanini, military advisor to the court, who organized a festival to celebrate the victories in Italy of the Austrian Army under the control of Field Marshall Radetzky.

After the first performance, conducted in Vienna by the composer on August 31, 1848, the piece became the unofficial Austrian anthem along with the Blue Danube waltz. When it was first played for Austrian officers, they spontaneously clapped and stomped their feet during the chorus. This tradition, with a light rhythmic clapping during the first iteration of the melody followed by thunderous clapping during the second, is kept alive today by audience members who know of the custom when the march is played. It has been a long-standing tradition of the Vienna Philharmonic to conclude every New Year’s Concert with the work.

- Program Note from University of North Texas University Band concert program, 4 October 2017


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


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