A Military Strauss Band.
(From Tht Australasian.')
We are favored, through the courtesy of Consul Victor Schonberger, Chief Commissioner for Austria at the International Exhibition, with memoranda relating to the “Military Strauss Band” consisting of nearly sixty performers, who are to arrive under engagement to two Sydney speculators by the s.s. Cuzco. It has been explained to us that Strauss himself would accompany this band but that his appointment as “ball music conductor” to the Imperial Court prevents him from Leaving Vienna. Herr Strauss conducts only the public performances of his band —the rest of his time being devoted to composition—to the beautiful waltz and other dance tunes with which his name is connected, and those charming little operas of which we have had an instance out here in “ Die Fledermans.” Other works of his, such as “ The Forty Brigands” and “ Baliostro”—have found as much favor in England, France, Italy, and Spain as they Lave in Austria and Germany. Under Straus comes Herr Kratzl, who appears to occupy the same relative position to Straus as Richter does to Wagner. It is Herr Kratzl who directs the practices of the “ Military Strauss Band,” and who will now accompany them as their conductor. The Austrian bandsmen are famous for the number of instruments they play—three, or even four, different instruments being a not uncommon number for them to be masters of; and it is not uncommon to see them at an open-air performance change from wind to string instruments with perfect success. In a country where the military band exists in such high development as it does in Austria, the manufacture of brass instruments has reached a very high degree of perfection. Amongst recent inventions is the “ Fliigelhorn,” a larger sort of “cornet a piston,” which imitates the softest tones of the human tenor voice ; another speciality of Austrian manufacture is the “helicon,” a powerful brass instrument which so envelops the player in its shining folds that only the legs of his treusers and the peak of his cap are visible—the instrument dominating the position with an immense bell mouth of about the dimensions of a good sized waste-paper basket. So fine is the metal of which the “ helicon ” is made that such an instrument as that just described weighs no more than 71b. It is a peculiarly sensitive instrument, and answers to the slightest breath of the player with a gentle lowing sound, os well as to stronger blasts with thundering resonance. The members of the coming band played in 1876 at Philadelphia, and in 1878 at Paris under the baton of Strauss himself, and won the unlimited applause of thousands of delighted hearers.
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