Posted by: Frederick Cornwell Sanders | 2013/10/25

“October 25, 1825” by Rick Sanders

Johann Strauss II with a large beard, moustach...

Johann Strauss II with a large beard, moustache, and sideburns. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: The Beautiful Blue Danube Waltz by Jo...

English: The Beautiful Blue Danube Waltz by Johann Strauss II Deutsch: An der schönen blauen Donau (“Donauwalzer”) von Johann Strauß Sohn (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 1825, Johann Strauss II, Austrian composer is born. Master of composing waltzes and other dance music, he is a superstar. He dies in 1899. From Wikipedia we read:

Also known as Johann Baptist Strauss or Johann Strauss, Jr., the Younger, or the Son (German: Sohn), was an Austrian composer of light music, particularly dance music and operettas. He composed over 400 waltzes, polkas, quadrilles, and other types of dance music, as well as several operettas and a ballet. In his lifetime, he was known as “The Waltz King”, and was largely then responsible for the popularity of the waltz in Vienna during the 19th century.

Strauss had two younger brothers, Josef and Eduard Strauss, who became composers of light music as well, although they were never as well-known as their elder brother.

Some of Johann Strauss’s most famous works include The Blue Danube, Kaiser-Walzer, Tales from the Vienna Woods, and the Tritsch-Tratsch-Polka. Among his operettas, Die Fledermaus and Der Zigeunerbaron are the best known.

Strauss Jr. eventually surpassed his father’s fame, and became one of the most popular waltz composers of the era, extensively touring Austria-Hungary, Poland, and Germany with his orchestra. He applied for the KK Hofballmusikdirektor Music Director of the Royal Court Balls position, which he eventually attained in 1863, after being denied several times before for his frequent brushes with the local authorities.

In 1853, due to constant mental and physical demands, Strauss suffered a nervous breakdown. He took a seven-week vacation in the countryside in the summer of that year, on the advice of doctors. Johann’s younger brother Josef was persuaded by his family to abandon his career as an engineer and take command of Johann’s orchestra in the interim.

In 1855, Strauss accepted commissions from the management of the Tsarskoye-Selo Railway Company of Saint Petersburg to play in Russia for the Vauxhall Pavilion at Pavlovsk in 1856. He would return to perform in Russia every year until 1865.

Later, in the 1870s, Strauss and his orchestra toured the United States, where he took part in the Boston Festival at the invitation of bandmaster Patrick Gilmore and was the lead conductor in a “Monster Concert” of over 1000 performers (see World’s Peace Jubilee and International Musical Festival), performing his “Blue Danube” waltz, amongst other pieces, to great acclaim.

Strauss’s reputation as the Waltz King survives today. In Vienna, New Year’s is usually devoted to Strauss’s music.

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