Thursday, September 5, 2013

Johann Strauss II (#61)


Johann Baptist Strauss II was born on October 25, 1825 outside the city of Vienna. His father, Johann Strauss I, was a famous musician, but Johann Strauss Sr. did not want his son to be a musician, but a banker. Against his father's wishes, Strauss Jr. learned how to play violin from the first violinist of his father's orchestra. When his father found out, Strauss Jr. was beaten. It was not until his father abandoned his family for a mistress that Strauss Jr. was able to concentrate on his career as a composer. 

Musical Career

Strauss studied music theory under Joachim Hoffmann and continued to learn violin under Anton Kollmann. With this education, Strauss was able to gain a Viennese license to perform. Strauss's debut was made at Dommayer's Casino in October of 1844, where critics unanimously praised Strauss's original pieces. When Strauss began accepting commissions, he earned much fame and was given the musical position of Kapellmeister of the 2nd Vienna Citizen's Regiment.

As Strauss's career grew, the competition between himself and his father grew larger as well. When bourgeois revolution broke out in 1848, Strauss Jr. sided with the revolutionaries. Because of this, the musical title of KK Hofballmusikdirektor was given to Strauss Sr. rather than Strauss Jr. Johann Strauss the Younger was also arrested during he revolution for playing revolutionary music, but he was later acquited.

When his father died of scarlet fever in 1849, Strauss merged their orchestras and engaged in further touring. To regain the trust of the royalty in Vienna after his siding with revolutionaries, Strauss wrote many patriotic songs dedicated to the new Habsburg Emperor Franz Josef I. 

After recovering from a nervous breakdown in 1853, Strauss's career grew once more. Strauss began to perform in St. Petersburg in Russia in 1855 and performed their each year for ten years. Also, the KK Hofballmusikdirektor position, the musical position he had had applied for several times, was finally given to Strauss in 1863. In the 1870s, Strauss traveled to the United States, where his shows were widely popular.

The End

Strauss died in 1899 from pleural pneumonia in 1899 at the age of 73. Today, Strauss has become most famous for his piece, the "Blue Danube" waltz. Strauss is on our list for writing such a memorable piece, but also for being such a centerpiece in the music scene. Strauss inspired many composers, including Richard Wagner. Strauss was also good friends with the composer Johannes Brahms. During Strauss's lifetime, it was customary for composers to sign women's fans with their name and a section of a piece of music they wrote. When Brahms signed the fan of Strauss's wife, he inscribe a few measures from Strauss's music and wrote "Unfortunately, not by Johannes Brahms."