Strauss, Johann Jr.

1825 - 1899

The most famous of a musical family he formed his own orchestra in Vienna and became known as 'The Waltz King'.

Johann Strauss Jr. was the first son of J. Strauss Sr. His father, a famous musician himself, forbid him a musical career. But Johann Strauss Jr. cared more for his violin lessons, than his schoolwork. In 1844 he performed his first concert in a Viennese suburb. He was successful and soon rose to be the most dangerous competitor to his father.

He established himself as the Viennese Waltz King. He conquered big crowds of fans with his tours through Europe and America and trigged a world wide Strauss hysteria.

His first operetta "Die Fledermaus" had its premiere in 1871, and in 1874 he released "Der Zigeunerbaron".

He wrote 17 operettas and numerous waltzes and his "Schoene Blaue Donau" became an unofficial anthem for Austria to this day.

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Strauss, Richard

1864 - 1949

German composer and conductor known for his intense emotionalism in his symphonic poems. He charcaterized himself as 'composer of expression' which is born out in his colorful orchestration. In his operas he employed Wagnerian principles of music drama, but in a more compact form.

Strauss had no formal tuition in composition although his father gave him a musical grounding in the classics. He had several works given in Munich, including a symphony, when he was 17, three years later a second symphony was given in New York.

In the 1880's he composed several tone poems: Macbeth, Don Juan and Tod und Verklaerung and the witty Till Eulenspiegel, a portrait of a disrespectful rogue with whom Strauss clearly had a good deal of sympathy . More operas followed after which Strauss turned to period comedy, set in the Vienna of Maria Theresa.

In 1919 he took up a post as joint director of the Vienna Staatsoper. His busy, international conducting career continued in the inter-war years, which also saw the premieres of two more operas.

During the 1930s Strauss was head of the State Music Bureau and he once obligingly conducted at Bayreuth when Toscanini had withdrawn. He and the Nazi authorities lived in no more than mutual toleration. When Germany was defeated Strauss wrote an intense lament, Metamorphosen, for 23 solo strings.