Strauss, Johann, Jr.
STRAUSS, JOHANN, JR.
STRAUSS, JOHANN, JR. (Baptist ; 1825–1899), composer, conductor, and violinist. He was the eldest son of the celebrated composer and violinist Johann Strauss (1804–49), known as the "Waltz King." Strauss, Jr., who began composing when he was six, became an accomplished pianist. He wished to become a professional musician but his father intended him for a business career. His mother arranged for him to study secretly with the leader of his father's orchestra. He also studied harmony, counterpoint, and violin. In 1844 Strauss made his first public appearance as conductor of his own ensemble at Hietzing. In 1845 he was offered the honorary position of Bandmaster of the 2nd Vienna Citizens' Regiment and in 1847 begun his long and fruitful association with the influential Wiener Maennergesang-Verein for which he wrote the waltz An der schoenen blauen Donau (1867). During the 1848 Vienna Revolution he supported revolutionary elements and then switched his allegiance and tried to ingratiate himself with Emperor Franz Joseph. He consolidated his initial success after his father's death (1849), when he united his father's band with his own. With his brother Josef, Johann held sway over Vienna's dance-music scene from the late 1850s. He also performed in Russia and the United States and won numerous medals and honors. He brought the waltz to a height of musical artistry, endowing it with new melodic, rhythmic, and orchestral richness. He wrote more than 400 waltzes and numerous quadrilles, polkas, polka-mazurkas, marches, and gallops. Strauss composed a number of operettas, including Die Fledermaus (1874) and Der Zigeunerbaron (1885), and cemented his position as the leading figure of "Silver Age" Viennese operetta. Strauss also championed the music of Liszt and Wagner. When the Nazis realized the Jewish ancestry of the family, they falsified the parish register at St. Stephen's Cathedral in 1939 to make the family racially pure.
Grove Music Online; P. Kemp, The Strauss Family: Portrait of a Musical Dynasty (1985, 19892); F. Mailer, Johann Strauss, 1825 – 1899 (1999); C. Crittenden, Johann Strauss and Vienna: Operetta and the Politics of Popular Culture (2000).
[Naama Ramot (2nd ed.)]