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Published on Apr 2, 2011
Ziehrer's Freiherr von Schönfeld-Marsch has been an official regimental march of the Austrian Army since 1920 and is second in fame only to the Radetzky March of the older Johann Strauss. It often features as an encore in Austrian festival concerts and, like the Radetzky March, is accompanied by enthusiastic hand clapping from the audience. Almost every military band around the world has at some time or other included it in its repertoire. Ziehrer composed the march for Baron von Schönfeld, then Chief of the Austrian General Staff, almost as an afterthought. It seems that the Baron had submitted a request for a march to be dedicated to himself, as was often the case with eminent persons who wished to raise their self-esteem in this particular manner. When he enquired of Ziehrer after a prolonged silence what had become of the march, a colleague much later recollected that Ziehrer had exclaimed 'Lord, I've completely forgotten about it'. Sitting at his piano, it seems, in a stroke of inspiration, Ziehrer outlined the themes and asked him to go away and orchestrate the piece for military band - and that is how the march was born. It was practised in the barracks square by the Hoch-und Deutschmeister, and the first public performance took place in the Stahlehner in Vienna on 16th October 1890. It was probably this piece, and his spells as a military bandmaster that has misled some musicologists into labelling Ziehrer as primarily a composer of marches.