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David Heyes

Johann & Josef Strauss: Pizzicato Polka for 3 double basses (arranged by David Heyes)

Johann & Josef Strauss: Pizzicato Polka for 3 double basses (arranged by David Heyes)

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In 1869 Josef Strauss (1827-70) and his brother Johann (1825-1899), ‘the Waltz King’, were invited by the St. Petersburg Tsarskoye-Selo Railway Company to conduct the orchestra in Pavlosk (Russia) during the summer months. In 1892 Johann wrote about the joint collaboration of the Pizzicato Polka:

“I advised by brother Josef - so that he could secure the St. Petersburg engagement (I have been there 10 times and earned lots of money) - to compose something which would catch on in St. Petersburg, and suggested he should prepare a pizzicato polka. He did not want to do it - he was always indecisive - finally I proposed to him that the polka should be created by the two of us. He agreed, and just look - the polka caused a furore in the true sense of the word.”

The Pizzicato Polka was first performed on 12 June 1869 and was played no less than nine times that evening. It was the first all-pizzicato work, other notable examples being by Léo Delibes (Pizzicato Polka from ‘Sylvia’) and Benjamin Britten (Playful Pizzicato from ‘Simple Symphony’), and has captivated audiences for 150 years.

Who better than to play a pizzicato polka than the undisputed kings of pizzicato - the basses! Arranged by David Heyes for a concert series in Mallorca, it can be performed by single players or larger forces.

"This is a fine arrangement of the old Viennese chestnut. Although Recital Music also publishes a version for four basses, this particular edition for bass trio has the top part going up to thumb position, and the other players firmly within the orchestral tessitura. The parts are nicely spaced, so you should be able to achieve a well-balanced and effective performance. The original Pizzicato Polka for strings received no less than eight encores at its world premiere in 1869, so plucky trio bassists should take care of their pizzicato fingers. Bravo!" [ESTA News & Views]

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