Strauss, Johann (1825 - 1899)
In 1844 he established himself as a conductor and composer against his father’s will, but with the support of his mother, thereby becoming his father’s rival. After the death of his father, Strauss stepped into the role of successor and musical heir. Johann Strauss composed and played himself into the hearts of the Viennese with energy and tireless dedication. For every special occasion, whether a ball or festivities staged by prestigious companies, or an event of topical interest, Strauss created a special piece which delighted the ear and was hummed by an adoring public. But Strauss’ music did not bewitch the Viennese alone. He undertook concert tours to heighten the fame of his ensemble by means of the press reports of his success that would reach the Austrian capital from abroad. During several summers Strauss made guest appearances in the Russian town of Pavlovsk near St. Petersburg. He also went on a major concert tour through the United States. Strauss cultivated friendships with the ”serious” musicians of his day, some of whom held him in high regard. The repertory of the Strauss orchestra included not only light music, but also works by Wagner and other opera composers. Strauss, who frequently turned over the conductor’s baton to his brothers, Josef and Eduard, composed a number of operettas which achieved great popularity, for example Die Fledermaus, A Night in Venice and The Gypsy Baron. His waltzes continue to resound through ballrooms all over the world to this day, and with the ”Blue Danube” waltz he created what is Austria’s unofficial national anthem. Johann Strauss, the ”Waltz King”, died in Vienna on June 3, 1899.