Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Diabolical liberty bodice


Johann Strauss' second marriage was short-lived. After the death of his first wife Henriette in 1878, he was rescued from the depths of gloom and depression by Angelika Dittrich, a Viennese actress 24 younger than he. She was nicknamed 'Diabolika' by other members of the acting profession. One can only conjecture why. Above is the most flattering portrait I can find of her. The marriage lasted a few months and ended in recrimination and a very difficult divorce.

It's difficult to believe that Diabolika, all cramped up in crinolines and wasp-waist corsetry, ever managed to dance the fast polkas that her husband composed without something bursting. Here's Furioso, an unusually inventive, not to say poetic, polka. If - which is unlikely - Viennese masters of ceremonies ever called out, as Furioso was announced, 'Loosen your stays, girls!' one could quite understand the necessity.


14 comments:

dinahmow said...

Yes, I could certainly sympathise. Having been corseted in a rigid contraption for the duration of a play, unable to sit between acts, I can attest to the discomfort. Guess where the expression "strait-laced" comes from!

Dave said...

Has this post anything to do with the last one?

Christopher said...

Last Post? No, it hasn't quite come to that yet.

Sarah said...

I'm a 'deep house' fan myself

Vicus Scurra said...

Not very impressed with that piece of music, nor by Strauss in general very much.
Was the divorce reported in the Telegraph? I don't recall reading about it.

Christopher said...

Sah: Ah. You may have to explain.

Vicus: I'm sorry. You don't have to listen to it again. I'm afraid I have a terrible weakness for Viennese dance music.

Morning Post obituary, sometime in 1899. (Here Dave, no respecter of persons, would write 'Remember?') In order to obtain a divorce Strauss had to renounce both his Catholicism and his Austrian citizenship. He became a Protestant and a citizen of Saxe Gotha, or some such, and married someone else. I hope this helps.

I, Like The View said...

if men get flies and ladies get stays, what do women get?

(that's a little like "horses sweat, men perspire and ladies glow" isn' it)

Charlene said...

If corsetted women danced to that music, they must have died of it!

The poem? It is mine.

Rog said...

Strauss's life bears an uncanny resemblance to my own.

Christopher said...

Charlene: I bow the knee.

Rog: Then all is explained! J.Strauss had a large Newfoundland dog. I don't know what he called it. In the years of his fame he received many requests from ladies for a lock of his hair. Not wishing to disappoint them, nor to become prematurely bald, he used to snip bits off his dog's coat and send them to his admirers. Could it be that you too...? But no, perish the thought.

Christopher said...

Jax: Good question. Can't answer it apart from hinting at women outwelcoming their stays. But considering that these very fast polkas were danced (as far as I know) not in the one-two-three-hop circular movement as usually practised with slower polkas but in what was called the lungaus, charging round the hall both hands across with a skip step, like Strip the Willow up and down the middle, it's no wonder that women glowed and that there were sometimes multiple pile-ups. If Mig had been there she would have seen them coming, of course.

Rog said...

I did find it a cure for morning hangovers Chris.

Sarah said...

Explanation:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jbfMO1z6Qq8&feature=related

Not sure you could dance the polka to this......anyway....

mig said...

Snce I play in a barn dance band , I often do see pile ups (or should that be piles up?) coming and it's a habit of ours to speed things up just a little bit as they approach. It's not unheard of for the pile to end up amongst the band though so we have to be careful.