Olga-Polka, Op. 196 (arr. for string orchestra & optional percussion)


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Original by Johann Strauss II

Reduction to String Orchestra by Aaron Meier

True to the
original work by Strauss, this reduction for string orchestra features the
ornaments and mystical writing that defines Strauss’ polkas. There are optional
percussion parts to be added at the discretion of the ensemble, however even
without percussion the ensemble will sound full (the percussion acts as an

Difficulty: Intermediate-advanced – advanced (best-suited for advanced
student ensembles)

Performance Notes:

• Approximate length: 3:30 minutes 
• 1st Violins: In m. 1, trill a half step from a D
to a D 
• 2nd Violins: 
 - At m. 42, divide players by 3, with 2 players playing “line A” and the
remaining player playing “line B” 
 - At m. 72-75, emphasize the E

in the div. 
• Snare Drum: The buzz roll needs to be quieter than how it is played in the
midi recording (*see YouTube link ↓)


The Olga-Polka itself owed its
creation to a Russian royal wedding which took place in St. Petersburg on 28
August 1857. On that day, amid accompanying splendour, the music-loving Grand
Duke Michail Nikolaievich (1832-1909), youngest brother of Tsar Alexander II,
married Princess Caecilie of Baden (1839-91), daughter of Archduke Leopold of
Baden. Johann Strauss, who at that time was giving a summer season of concerts
in nearby Pavlovsk, used the opportunity occasioned by the event to enhance his
already enviable popularity with the Russian royal family and composed the
Caecilien-Polka in honour of the lovely young bride. Indeed, it is clear from a
letter which Johann wrote in late July 1857 to Carl Haslinger, his publisher in
Vienna, that the new polka had been prepared well in advance of the wedding
(the fair copy of the full orchestral score made for the publisher’s engraver
is dated 9 August) and was enjoying success even before the royal couple’s
official engagement on 16August 1857. Sometime after performing the
Caecilien-Polka in Pavlovsk, Johann despatched the work to the Austrian capital
where his brother Josef conducted its Viennese première, together with that of
Johann’s waltz Telegraphische Depeschen (op. 195, Volume 28), at his own
benefit concert in the Volksgartenon Sunday 18 October 1857. The Wiener
Allgemeine Theaterzeitung (16.10.1857) remarked that both works “have
caused a sensation in St. Petersburg and are truly genial Viennese sounds full
of verve and melody”.

Since tradition demanded that the
German Princess Caecilie adopt a Russian name – Olga Feodorovna – before her
marriage, so Johann’s Caecilien-Polka also underwent a change of identity. On 8
December 1857 Carl Haslinger announced the publication of Strauss’s Olga-Polka,
on the title page of which is the inscription: “Dedicated to her Imperial
Highness Grand Duchess Olga, née Princess of Baden”. It was under this title,
too, that Johann himself first conducted the work in Vienna at a concert in the
Volksgarten on 1 November 1857, shortly after his return from Russia. Reporting
on this event, the Wiener Allgemeine Theaterzeitung (3.11.1857) observed:
“The ‘Olga-Polka’ is a most delightful, fragrant musical bouquet, full of
fine, gracious rhythms”. 
[excerpted from NAXOS Records] 
Kemp, Peter. “Program Notes –
About this Recording.” NAXOS, 1993, 
Accessed 5 June 2020. 


• Visit www.sites.google.com/view/aaronmeier for more information regarding this arrangement and other
• Find a full midi recording of this arrangement on YouTube: 

Additional information

Flexible Instrumentation

Level of Difficulty


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