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Johann Strauss (sr)

(1804 - 1849)

Johann Strauss was born in Vienna on March 14, 1804, and he was an Austrian Romantic composer known particularly for his waltzes and for popularizing it.

Johann Strauss was the father of Johann Strauss II, Josef Strauss and Eduard Strauss.

He eventually became conductor of the orchestra in which he played after it became so popular during the Fasching of 1824.

Strauss was soon placed in command of a second smaller orchestra which was formed as a result of the success of the parent orchestra.

In 1825, he decided to form his own band and began to write music for it to play after he realized that he could also possibly emulate the success of Lanner in addition to putting an end to his financial struggles.

By so doing, he would have made Lanner a serious rival although the rivalry did not entail hostile consequences as the musical competition was very productive for the development of the waltz as well as other dance music in Vienna.

He soon became one of the best-known and well loved dance composers in Vienna, and he toured with his band to Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, England, and Scotland.

On a trip to France in 1837 he heard the quadrille and began to compose them himself, becoming largely responsible for introducing that dance to Austria in the 1840 Fasching where it became very popular.

It was this very trip which has proved Strauss' popularity with audiences from different social backgrounds.

He also toured the British Isles frequently and was always prepared to write novelty pieces for many charitable organizations there.

His waltzes were gradually developed from a rustic peasant dance into one which posterity would recognize as the Viennese waltz.

They were written in three-quarter time with a short introduction; often with little or no reference to the later chain of five two-part waltz structure; usually appended with a short coda and concluded in a stirring finish although his son Johann Strauss, Jr. expanded the waltz structure and utilized more instruments than his father.

Johann Strauss II often played his father's works and openly declared his admiration of them although it was no secret to the Viennese that their rivalry was intense, with the press at that time fuelling it.

Strauss died in Vienna in 1849 from scarlet fever.

He was buried at the Dobling cemetery beside his friend Lanner.

In 1904, both of their remains were transferred to the graves of honor at the Zentralfriedhof.

The former Dobling cemetery is now a Strauss-Lanner Park. 

Berlioz himself paid tribute to the 'Father of the Viennese Waltz' by commenting that 'Vienna without Strauss is like Austria without the Danube'.



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