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Johann Strauß
Strauß, Johann, the Younger, b. Vienna, Oct. 25, 1825, d. Vienna, June 3, 1899, composer, musical director. "Waltz King of Vienna", son of Johann Strauß the Elder, brother of Josef Strauß and Eduard Strauß. Though his father wished him to pursue a non-musical profession, his mother Anna (née Streim) promoted his talent emphatically. After theoretical and composition studies with the musical director of St. Stephen´s Cathedral,
J. Drechsler, he acquired a "musical license" allowing him to establish his own orchestra. On Oct. 15, 1844 successful debut with his orchestra at the Viennese restaurant "Dommayers Casino"; soon became his father´s most significant rival. Merged the two orchestras after his father´s death 1849. Despite his great popularity it was a long time before he was awarded the title "Director of the Imperial Court Balls" (1863) because of alleged subversive activities in the revolutionary period. He was succeeded in this function by his brother Eduard Strauß. An extensive concert tour across Europe (from 1856) triggered outbursts of enthusiasm, which were to be repeated on his tour through the USA 1872. S. was married 3 times (Henriette Treffz, Ernestine Henriette Angelika Dittrich, Adele Strauß, née Deutsch); was a close friend of J. Brahms.

Impressed by the performances of Offenbach´s operettas at the Vienna "Carltheater", he began to compose stage works, calling them "comic operas", not "operettas". His first operetta was premiered in 1871. "The Bat" ("Fledermaus"), 1874 and "The Gypsy Baron" ("Zigeunerbaron"), 1885 mark the peak of the golden age of operetta with S. as its principal composer. S. based his operettas on popular dance melodies (waltz, galop, polka, march, csárdás); the poor quality of his librettos and growing competition, however, frequently prevented their immediate success. S. raised Biedermeier dance music to the level of high art - not only the Viennese waltz, which was often difficult, if not impossible to dance because of their slow introductions and excessive length, but also other dances such as the polka, the galop, the quadrille and the march. The rapid spread of Strauss´s Viennese waltzes is largely responsible for the fact that Austria has been directly associated with this kind of music to this day (the "Blue Danube Waltz", 1867, is considered Austria´s "unofficial anthem").
Johann Strauß: Die Fledermaus(The Bat)
For Johann Strauß (1825 - Vienna - 1899) styling (Illustration: the middle-aged Strauß) and image were as important as they are for stars today. His unchanging appearance became a trademark of a culture of discerning entertainment. The society of the 19th c handled crisis situations better if there was also relief in the form of dance, opera and operetta occasionaly with extravagant music and scenery. This waltz from the overture to Fledermaus in particular (1874) demonstrates Strauß' technic of adding ever new themes to his delicate, melodious phrases along with transparent harmonies that also include nuances such as sections in minor keys. Nobody wanted to miss the feeling of apparently never-ending movement in a lighthearted mood.(M. Saary)
© Sound: 1993 TELDEC Classics International GmbH 4509-91974-2, Artists: Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Nikolaus Harnoncourt
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