Tag Archives: Wine women and song

Wine, Women and Song: Johann Strauss (II)

Wein, Weib und Gesang (Wine, Woman, and Song), Op. 333, is a waltz by Johann Strauss II. It is a choral waltz in its original form,[1] although it is seldom heard in this version today. It was commissioned for the Vienna Men’s Choral Association’s so-called Fools’ Evening on 2 February 1869 with a dedication to the Association’s honorary chorus-master Johann Herbeck. Its fanciful title was drawn from an old adage: “Who loves not wine, women and song remains a fool his whole life long.”[2]

Strauss’ works at this age displays the Waltz King at the height of his creative powers, and it was no less evident in this waltz with its 137-bar introduction, combining tranquil melodies with superb orchestration. Its admirers include the famous opera composer Richard Wagner and Strauss’ good friend Johannes Brahms.

The waltz’s primary home key is in E-flat major, with its Introduction interpolating with B-flat major as well as B major. The first waltz melody, with its tapping quality is quintessentially Viennese in nature. Further waltz themes alternate between lush passion and good-humored cheekiness, ending with a swirling finish in the principal home key underlined by a brass fanfare and snare drumroll, as is the usual style of concluding a piece in Strauss’ works dating around that period.

Besides being a waltz, the title is also a German expression for having fun.