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Years have passed since the death of Johann Strauss Sr, Anna Strauss is an elderly woman with as much vibrant energy as she used to and now it is Schani (Stuart Wilson) who is the head of the family. Popular among Viennese audiences, dancing people who is, as Prince Metternich said, 'a happy people' he does not go to the court as the new court music director but it is rather the court that comes to him. He meets emperor Franz Josef and it is a memorable encounter where two worlds meet: the world of art and the world of politics. Both want happy people... However, it is not Schani nor the young emperor (Nicholas Jones) at the center of attention in this episode.
Directed by David Giles and dramatized by David Butler, the episode calls our attention on Schani's younger brother Josef called Pepi (Nicholas Simmonds). First, because of engagement with a beautiful Carolyne played by young Jane Seymour; second, because of taking over the family's passion and work for music. When Schani realizes that he wanted to be just like his father who would never stop but died young, he falls ill placing himself on the verge of nervous exhaustion and burning himself out. A man of many talents, a writer, painter, an architect, and engineer and a musician Josef Strauss evokes and takes over filed with contradictory emotions, as he points out, 'excited and frightened.' Josef is portrayed in an accurate fashion by the actor who highlights his doubts, his fears, his ambitions as well as the fact that he 'owes it to his family.' The scene of his first performance is brilliance in itself focusing on inexperience combined with curiosity of novelties. Josef rises in fame and Edi, another brother, in jealousy... However, as the episode's dramatization rightly develops the character of Josef Strauss, it seems to get out of its track in the second half.
There, we have Schani and his trip to Russia where he plays for the tsar and has an episodic love affair with one Olga, a girl of aristocratic background. Romantic and sentimental as it may seem (sometimes even too much), this plot should not have been incorporated into this episode. It would, equally well, make a perfect material for an entirely separate episode since there is hardly any emotional development here. Schani's trip to Russia is far better depicted in Marvin J Chomsky's version where you have true passion, torments and determination on the verge of madness from Olga portrayed there by Alice Krige. Here, their scenes resort to sheer idealistic sentimentalism - the heights they can reach hardly understood by today's audiences. Even the scene at Olga's mother does not have that dramatic impulse simply because the whole plot needs insight. The busts in Greek and Roman style that stand in her home do not correspond to the Russian context at all. Pity there is such a serious flaw but that plot which takes approximately 12 minutes of the episodes is bound to fail.
Soon, however, we come back to Vienna with Schani who gets over the failed love affair easily and amuses important people with significant goals and ambitions and delightful tastes. It is Baron Todesco with a woman, considerably older than the King of Waltz, yet with considerably sufficient crush on him, Hetti (Margaret Whiting) - a woman who will play a decisive role in Schani's upgrading and a dramatic role in his mother's oblivion.
Among the supporting cast of the episode, a mention should be made of the actress who plays Carolyne's mother, Ms Brockmeyer and Nicholas Jones who plays Franz Josef.
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