The Austrian composer Johann Strauss II (1825 – 1899), known in his lifetime as “The Waltz King”, was a prolific composer, writing not only waltzes, polkas, quadrilles, and other types of dance music, but also several operettas and a ballet. Hot on the heels of Strauss‘eternally popular Die Fledermaus came another operetta, Cagliostro in Wien (Cagliostro in Vienna) 1875 (from which Auf der Jagd – “On the Hunt” originates). Strauss commonly extracted musical material from his larger works to create standalone concert pieces, making the complete absence of a hunting scene in the operetta all the more curious. Auf der Jagd is a galloping, fast polka which depicts very vividly a hunt in full cry complete with a gunshot – one of those attention-grabbing sound effects that Strauss was fond of using.
The piece has been a firm favourite at the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra’s New Year’s Day concert for many years, particularly as an encore. In this arrangement the flute ‘doubles’ on the gun (a child’s cap gun will do the job admirably). Why not follow it up with poppers and streamers at the end? Have fun!!