The Politically Incorrect Show - 28/01/2000
[Music - Die Fledermaus]
Good afternoon, Kaya Oraaa & welcome to the Politically Incorrect Show on the free speech network, Radio Pacific, for Friday January 28, proudly sponsored by Neanderton Nicotine Ltd, the show that says bugger the politicians & bureaucrats & all the other bossyboot busybodies who try to run our lives with our money; that stands tall for free enterprise, achievement, profit, & excellence, against the state-worshippers in our midst; that stands above all for the most sacred thing in the universe, the liberty of the human individual.
[Music up, music down!]
"An evocative bow at almost a fairy-tale Vienna, a Vienna of young hussars & beautiful ladies, a Vienna of sentimentality & charm. A pretty-pretty & never-never Vienna of dance & romance." That's how Harold C Schonberg describes the music of the composer we're just listening to, Johann Strauss, Junior, in his book "Lives of the Great Composers." This piece, based on melodies from Die Fledermaus, has been the theme tune for the Politically Incorrect Show since it was upgraded from one day a week to five, & a listener's inquiry about it yesterday prompted me to say a few words about it & its composer today.
I chose it because it is the antithesis of Political Correctness. Political Correctness is the Puritanism of our time, based, like its precursor, on the obsessive concern that, as H. L Mencken put it, somehow, somewhere, somebody just might be enjoying himself. Strauss says, "And how!" In Mencken's words,"The essence of a Viennese waltz, and especially of a Strauss waltz, is merriment, good humor, happiness" - as opposed to Laila Harre, Phillida Carbuncle, & the Women's Studies Department at Victoria University.
The waltz as such really came into its own through Johann's father, & was described at the time by an English publication as "this fiend of German birth, destitute of grace, delicacy & propriety, a disgusting practice." The critic Eduard Hanslick sniffed, "That the sweetly intoxicating three-four rhythm which took hold of hand & foot, necessarily eclipsed great & serious music & made the audience unfit for any intellectual effort goes without saying."
Hanslick would have been appalled to learn that no less "great & serious" a composer as Brahms autographed the fan of Johann Strauss Junior's wife with the opening measures of The Blue Danube & the words, "Alas, not by Johannes Brahms."
Mencken, like Brahms, & unlike Hanslick, recognised the sophistication of this new art form & its chief exponents:
"But the waltz! Ah, the waltz, indeed! It is sneaking, insidious, disarming, lovely. It does its work, not like a college-yell or an explosion in a munitions plant, but like the rustle of the trees, the murmur of the illimitable sea, the sweet gurgle of a pretty girl. The jazz-band fetches only vulgarians, barbarians, idiots, pigs. But there is a mystical something in 'Wiener Blut' or 'Kunstlerleben' that fetches even philosophers."
But he goes on to acnowledge its more earthy attractions: "The waltz, in fact, is magnificently improper - the art of tone turned lubricious. I venture to say that the compositions of Johann Strauss have lured more fair young creatures to compliance than all the movie actors and white slave scouts since the fall of the Western Empire. There is something about a waltz that is irresistible. Try it on the fattest and sedatest or even upon the thinnest and most acidulous of women, and she will be ready, in ten minutes, for a stealthy smack behind the door ..."
My, imagine how THAT would go down in the Wimmin's Studies Department!
"A God-gifted dispenser of joy" is how the great & serious Richard Strauss (no relation) described Johann. What more suitable introduction than HIS music to a programme that is an antidote to KILL-joys?
[Music up to end]
If you enjoyed this, why not subscribe?