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Published on Nov 7, 2011
Wiener Bonbons, one of the most inspired and popular of Johann Strauss's waltzes, owes its origins to the ball of the Association of Industrial Societies held in the Redoutensaal ballroom of the Imperial Hofburg Palace, Vienna, on 28 January 1866.
Even a year before composing the most famous of all waltzes, An der schönen blauen Donau (By the beautiful blue Danube, 1867), Johann had begun to draw back a little from the arduous business of writing waltzes and had been pleased to allow his younger brother, Josef, not only to compose the due dedication for the Industrial Societies' festivity but also to conduct it on the night of the ball. It then became known that honorary patronage of the event had been accepted by Princess Pauline Metternich-Winneburg (1836-1921), the highly respected wife of the Austrian Ambassador in Paris, and that she had asked for the proceeds from the ball to be donated to the construction of a hospital for Germans in the French capital. For this reason Josef entitled his waltz Deutsche Grüße (German Greetings, op. 191), and dedicated it to the patroness who was present at the ball. In addition he altered his plans to conduct the first performance of a new polka-mazurka, entitled Pauline (op. 190a), at a Strauss benefit ball in the Sofienbad-Saal on 29 January, playing it instead at the ball of the Industrial Societies as a further tribute to the princess. Shortly before the Industrial Societies' Ball, however, Johann chose to contribute a waltz of his own to the festivity, a dance combining the traditional Viennese Waltz with Parisian flair and which even united the languages of both nations in its title - Wiener Bonbons! The waltz was published by C.A. Spina on 13 February 1866 and its delightful title page illustration, showing the work's title fashioned from twisted bonbon wrappers, bore its composer's dedication to "her Highness the Princess Pauline Metternich-Winneburg, nee Countess Sándor, in deepest respect".
Princess Pauline was not only an influential figure in Vienna, but was also highly active at the Imperial court of Napoléon III in Paris. The two Strauss brothers therefore openly courted her support, knowing that her connections could assist them in their plans to give concerts at the 1867 World Exhibition in the French capital. To this end the brothers intended to make an exploratory joint visit there during Easter 1866, just weeks after the Industrial Societies' Ball. (In the event, Johann undertook the conducting of concerts at the World Exhibition alone, and amongst his engagements in the city on the Seine during summer 1867 was a sumptuous ball at the Austrian Embassy hosted by the Ambassador, Prince Richard Metternich, and his wife, Princess Pauline. On this occasion the waltz An der schonen blauen Donau was played for the first time in Paris, doubtless alongside Wiener Bonbons.)