Today the Viennese waltz is associated primarily with Johann Strauss junior. Johann Strauss senior and Joseph Lanner are generally considered precursors of the genre, but this does not accurately reflect their role in the development of light music in the nineteenth century.
”Father Strauss” was born on March 14, 1804 in Vienna, where he also died on September 25, 1849. Strauss senior learned the craft of bookbinding as an apprentice, and as a child became familiar with the popular music of his time in his father’s inn. Probably around 1823 he joined the violin trio of Joseph Lanner (April 12, 1801-April 14, 1843), which played at dances held in inns in the suburbs of Vienna. In 1827 Strauss left Lanner’s band to found his own ensemble. His music proved so popular that he soon succeeded in establishing himself as an equal to Lanner. The two appeared separately with their orchestras in a number of Viennese entertainment halls before they jointly assumed the direction of ball music at the imperial court. Strauss went on numerous concert tours as far afield as England. In 1846 he was honored with the title ”k.k. Hofballmusikdirektor”, or ”Imperial and Royal Court Ball Music Director”, which was created especially for him. Probably the most famous piece composed by Johann Strauss senior, who principally wrote waltzes and marches, is the ”Radetzky March”.