As many may be aware, Emile Waldteufel rivaled Johann Strauss II in the genre of the waltz. But unlike Strauss, many of Waldteufel's popular waltzes were arrangements of folk themes or themes by other composers. Such is the case with Waldteufel's Op. 191, a work written on commission from his publisher, Enoch, who wanted a set of waltzes based on Paul Lacôme's Spanish-styled duet Estudiantina (Band of Students). Since the waltz was to be in four continuous sections, Waldteufel drew on other sources for the last three sections: Lacôme's Chanson d'automne (section two); the Spanish songs Jota de la Estudiantina and Tirana (section three); and De Cadiz al Puerto and El Tripili, (final section).
The work opens with the chipper theme from the refrain of Lacôme's
Estudiantina, the music here imparting a mood of festivity and merriment, with colorful scoring that, oddly, divulges less Spanish character than the listener might expect. The second part is comparatively subdued and carefree, and uses other thematic material from Lacôme's duet before moving on to music from his aforementioned Chanson d'automne. Here Spanish flavors are more in evidence, as they are in the succeeding section, where there are both greater vigor and a good measure of exoticism. The concluding segment features contrasting sections, one relatively restrained and the other celebratory and joyful.