Straus, Oscar (Nathan)
Straus, Oscar (Nathan)
Straus, Oscar (Nathan), noted Austrian-born French operetta composer and conductor; b. Vienna, March 6, 1870; d. Bad Ischi, Jan. 11, 1954. (His name was spelled “Strauss” on his birth certificate; he cut off the second s to segregate himself from the multitudinous musical Strausses.) He studied privately in Vienna with A. Prosnitz and H. Gradener, and with Max Bruch in Berlin. From 1893 to 1900 he conducted at various theaters in Austria and Germany. In 1901 he became conductor of the artistic cabaret Uberbrettl in Berlin, and wrote a number of musical farces for it. He remained in Berlin until 1927; then lived in Vienna and Paris; on Sept. 3, 1939, he became a naturalized French citizen. In 1940 he went to America; lived in N.Y. and Hollywood until 1948, when he returned to Europe. He was one of the most successful composers of Viennese operettas. His most celebrated production was Der tapfere Soldat, based on G.B. Shaw’s play Arms and the Man (Vienna, Nov. 14, 1908; in N.Y. as The Chocolate Soldier, Nov. 13, 1909; London, Sept. 10, 1910; numerous perfs. all over the world). Other operettas were: Die lustigen Nibelungen (Vienna, Nov. 12, 1904); Hugdietrichs Brautfahrt (Vienna, March 10, 1906); Ein Walzertraum (Vienna, March 2, 1907; rev. 1951); Didi (Vienna, Oct. 23, 1909); Das Tal der Liebe (Berlin and Vienna, simultaneously, Dec. 23, 1909); Mein junger Herr (Vienna, Dec. 23, 1910); Die kleine Freundin (Vienna, Oct. 20, 1911); Love and Laughter (London, 1913); Rund um die Liebe (Vienna, Nov. 9, 1914; in N.Y. as All around Love, 1917); Die himmelblaue Zeit (Vienna, Feb. 21, 1914); Die schöne Unbekannte (Vienna, Jan. 15, 1915; in N.Y. as My Lady’s Glove, 1917); Der letzte Walzer (Berlin, Feb. 12, 1920); Manette, ou Comment on écrit l’histoire (Paris, Oct. 1, 1928); Eine Frau, die weiss was sie will (Berlin, Sept. 1, 1932); Drei Walzer (Zürich, Oct. 5, 1935); Die Musik kommt (Zürich, 1948; rev. as Ihr erster Walzer, Munich, May 16, 1952); Bożena (Munich, May 16, 1952). Among his other works were ballets, film scores, orch. music, chamber pieces, choruses, about 500 cabaret songs, and piano pieces.
B. Grun, Prince of Vienna: The Life, the Times, and the Melodies of O. S. (London, 1955); F. Mailer, Weltburger der Musik: Eine O.-S.-Biographie (Vienna, 1985).
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire