Der lustige Krieg (The Merry War), Johann Strauss’s eighth operetta, commenced its run at Vienna’s Theater an der Wien on 25 November 1881, and enjoyed more than one hundred consecutive performances. The critic, Dr Eduard Hanslick, praised the exceptionally tuneful score, adding that Strauss «has scarcely anywhere else instrumented so finely and elegantly».
Johann arranged a total of ten separate orchestral numbers from the melodies in Der lustige Krieg, among them the French polka Was sich liebt, neckt sich, which he conducted for the first time during his brother Eduard’s benefit concert in the Musikverein on 15 January 1882. The polka ‘s themes are derived from the Act 3 Ensemble «Das grössere ist dick und schwer» and from Violetta’s Act 1 Arietta. The first piano edition of the work bears the composer’s dedication: «To Herr Alexander D. Golz [sic], in memory of 22 March 1882» — a reference to a charity festival in the Musikverein, given in aid of holiday camps for poor children, at which Strauss conducted and the artists Goltz (1857-1944) and Udel held a fund-raising auction.
Picture: «The Lovers», Pierre-Auguste Renoir.