Monday, October 26th, 2015...5:22 pm

Demons, dames, and devices

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Those of us who process dance music in the Ward Collection sometimes feel like we are running our own version of Big Data. John M. Ward donated to Houghton a significant collection of music used for social dance, from the Tudor era right up through the Vietnam War. The Strauss family was a particular favorite of his, and lately we have been up to our ears in waltzes, polkas, and schottisches. We are currently focused on Johann Sr. and Jr., and Eduard, and have begun to notice some interesting trends moving from father to son to younger brother. I’ll start with DEMONS, in honor of Halloween.

TS 552.15.14.65.77 title page

TS 552.15.14.65.77 title page



Tobias Haslinger, the publisher who printed Johann Strauss Sr.’s music from the beginning, knew a good thing when he saw it. Dance music provided the Haslinger firm with a continuous, dependable stream of profit, and Tobias ensured that these publications employed the very best graphics to tempt the buying public. I’ve blogged before about some of my favorite examples of clever printing, and the title of Die Dämonen consists of ingenious demonic forms twisting and interacting to create the letters themselves.

TS 552.15.14.65.77 detail

TS 552.15.14.65.77 detail

(Click on the detail to enlarge: just don’t look too carefully at what some of those demons are up to …) First performed in the Sperl ballroom on 23 November 1842, and published in 1843, Johann Sr. was taking advantage of a Satanism craze which had swept Austria (Nestroy’s Die Papiere des Teufels was also premiered in November of 1842) and as he had with the Rebus Waltzes, he hit gold. The Demon Waltzes were so popular that they had to be repeated several times at that first performance.

TS 552.15.14.66.16 (B) title page

TS 552.15.14.66.16 (B) title page

Johann Strauss Jr. went just a bit farther with his Diabolin-Polka. First performed at the Vienna Volksgarten on the afternoon of 25 November 1860, and printed in July of 1861, Jr. may have been referencing his 1853 Satanella-Polka, as on this cover we have a she-devil in a dirndl yet, dancing on Satan’s back and surrounded by a demonic orchestra. Lithographed by August Grube, the cover style has changed significantly from that of 1842 to show a complex illustration rather than the smaller central vignettes of Sr.’s earlier engraved covers. More and more, they comprise a central illustration with marginal illustrative commentary: in this case, demons around the central illustration are playing instruments to accompany this dancing miss. Tobias Haslinger died in 1842, and his son Carl is now at the helm of the firm. Carl’s business acumen was equal to that of his father’s, and he released this polka in several issues with different-colored covers, including the sepia seen below.

TS 552.15.14.66.41 title page detail

TS 552.15.14.66.41 title page detail

TS 552.15.14.66.16 (A) title page

TS 552.15.14.66.16 (A) title page

By the time Eduard came around with his Teufels-Quadrille (on themes from Suppé’s Der Teufel auf Erden) first performed 29 January and printed in February 1878, the illustrative commentary around the central illustration comprises a fascinating set of Celtic images, with the occasional demon cat thrown in. (I think this cat is holding the signature of the artist.) By now, Carl Anton Spina is publishing Eduard’s work, and using a different lithographer in Eberle & Schipek. And just what fad spawned these Celtic images? Why were demons such a popular theme (these are not the only imprints illustrating the satanic)?

Sheet Music 14 title page

Sheet Music 14 title page

Sheet Music 14 tp detail

Stay tuned for our next Ward Big Data Release, DAMES.
[Thanks to Andrea Cawelti, Ward Music Cataloger, for contributing this post.]

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