Johann Strauss Jr.
Johann Strauss Jr. is a reference in the field of light classical music: with his father Johann Strauss Sr., he stands at the creation of a wide entertaining repertoire and left his mark on the history of music as “the King of the Viennese waltz”.
Johann Strauss Jr. decided to do music against his father’s opinion (Johann Strauss Sr., author of the Radetzky March), as did his brothers Josef and Eduard.
He studied music in hiding at first with musicians from his father’s orchestra. After his parents got a divorce, he started his serious music education with the support of his mother and carried on studying violin with Anton Kohlmann and theory and composition with Joseph Drechsler. He got a Musiklicenz (official licence to have the right to give public concerts) even though he wasn’t of age yet. He made his debut with his orchestra at the Dommayer Casino in Hietzing and presented a new program that consisted of six of his compositions alongside new waltzes from his father. The performance was such a success – the waltzes would be played again 19 times – that he was instantly considered as his father big rival.
Afterwards, he left for a tour in Europe and in the United States: he went to New York and Boston and conducted “monster-concerts”, his waltzes were known all over the world. Wiener Blut, Kaiserwalzer, The Blue Danube, Wein, Weib und Gesang, Tales from the Vienna Woods are among the successes that evoke la joie de vivre for the Viennese..
He met Jacques Offenbach and started to write operettas: in 1874 Die Fledermaus is created, first in Vienna, then in New York. Der Zigeunerbaron, Cagliostro in Wien and Wiener Blut (posthumous) would follow. We owe him 500 waltzes appreciated equally by Brahms and Wagner. Most of them are still famous today. Even the avant-garde didn’t deny his heritage: Alban Berg, Arnold Schoenberg or Anton Webern would transcribe his waltzes into strings quartet.
Six landmark dates in the life of Johann Strauss Jr.
♦ 1831: composes his first waltz
♦ 1844: constitutes an orchestra of 24 musicians
♦ 1848: appointed music director of the city of Vienna
♦ 1860: meets Jacques Offenbach
♦ 1874: creation of his first operetta, Die Fledermaus
♦ 1889: composes his last piece, the ballet Aschenbrödel
Six pieces by Johann Strauss Jr.
♦ 1858: Tritsch-Tratsch-Polka
♦ 1867: An der schönen blauen Donau (The Blue Danube), waltz
♦ 1868: Geschichten aus dem Wienerwald (Tales from the Vienna Woods), waltz
♦ 1873: Der Karneval in Rom (The Carnival in Rome)
♦ 1874: Die Fledermaus (The Bat)
♦ 1885: Der Zigeunerbaron (The Gypsy Baron)