Johann Strauss II (1825-99) wrote the sparkling Champagne Polka Op. 211 (subtitled ‘A Musical Joke’) and the Tritsch-Tratsch-Polka Op. 214 for his highly successful 1858 summer concert season in Pavlovsk, St. Petersburg. Both pieces have become ‘standards’ of Viennese concert repertoire and are regularly heard at the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra’s New Year’s Day concert as well as being popular encores.
Keen to improve his standing amongst the Austrian powers-that-be of the time, he dedicated the Champagne Polka to Austria’s then Minister of Finance, Baron Carl Ludwig von Bruck. It can be no coincidence, therefore, that the trio section of the work interweaves a section of a popular tavern song by Johann Fuß which included the lyrics “What do I care, what do I care, whether I’ve money or not!” It is a bubbling, humourous work in which the sound of champagne corks popping is brilliantly evoked.