Holiday Shop


Johann Strauss Jr.

Biography

Born: Oct 25, 1825; Austria   Died: Jun 3, 1899; Austria   Period: Romantic
Johann Strauss, Jr. is the first truly well-known composer in those classical genres particular to his hometown, the Viennese waltz and Viennese operetta. The Blue Danube Waltz is not only the most popular of his works in the former category, but is among the most widely played and arranged pieces of its time, known to the most casual listener today from many radio, film and television uses of it.
Johann Strauss, Jr. was born in Vienna
Read more on October 25, 1825. He showed remarkable skills early in his childhood, despite his father's opposition to any career in music for any of his three sons. Johann, Sr. wanted him to become a banker, but the younger Strauss had his own ideas, taking violin lessons in secret from a player in his father's band. When Strauss was 17 his father left the family, thus allowing him to begin serious study without encumbrance. His mother, a good amateur violinist who had always encouraged him, remained supportive. Strauss now studied theory with Joseph Drechsler and took violin lessons from Anton Kohlmann. In 1844 young Johann led his first concert and a year later formed his own band, thereby competing with his father's orchestra. He was also writing his own quadrilles, mazurkas, polkas, and waltzes for performance by his ensemble, even conducting works by his father, and receiving praise from the press. He was given the honorary position of Bandmaster of the 2nd Vienna Citizens' Regiment (his father was bandmaster of the 1st regiment) in 1845, and in 1847 began composing for the Vienna Men's Choral Association.
His real success began in 1849 after Johann Strauss, Sr. died. Johann, Jr. merged his father's orchestra with his own and took up his father's contracts. His career moved along smoothly for the next several years, but in 1853 he became seriously ill and turned over conducting duties to his younger brother, Josef, for six months. After his recovery he resumed fully both his conducting and his composing activities, eventually gaining the respect of such composers as Brahms, Wagner, and Verdi for his seemingly unlimited imagination for using melodies.
Strauss married singer Henriette "Jetty" Treffz in August 1862, and they settled in Hietzing. Thereafter, she became his business manager and apparently a great inspiration, drawing him toward operetta, just as Viennese theater operators were becoming tired of the works of Offenbach. His first, Indigo und die vierzig Räuber, came in 1871, and his most famous, Die Fledermaus, was staged three years later with great success. Eine Nacht in Venedig (1883) and Der Zigeunerbaron (1885) were his only other international operetta hits.
In 1872, he traveled to the United States and led highly successful concerts in Boston and New York. For all the success that came in the 1870s for Strauss, there was also much grief: his mother and brother Josef died in 1870, and his wife died suddenly of a heart attack in 1878. Her death devastated him, and the suddenly helpless composer unwisely married the much-younger actress Angelika Dittrich, six weeks later. The marriage lasted only four years, though it may have saved the composer from personal disaster in the months following his wife's death.
Strauss, a Roman Catholic, left the church and had to give up his Austrian citizenship to marry Adele Deutsch in 1887, owing to the Church's unwillingness to recognize his divorce. His new wife, with whom he had lived for a long period before their marriage, seemed to inspire him much like his first wife. In his last years, Strauss remained quite productive and active. He was working on a ballet, Cinderella, when he developed a respiratory ailment which grew into pneumonia. He died on June 3, 1899. Read less
J. Strauss: Die Fledermaus / Previn, Te Kanawa, Gruberova
Release Date: 11/08/1991   Label: Philips  
Catalog: 432157   Number of Discs: 2
On sale! $39.98
CD: $13.99
In Stock
On sale!   $39.98   CD:  $13.99 Add CD to Cart

Strauss: Eine Nacht In Venedig / Clear, Singer, Schorkhuber, Irosch
Release Date: 11/11/2014   Label: Archipel  
Catalog: 5   Number of Discs: 1
On sale! $29.99
DVD: $26.99
In Stock
On sale!   $29.99   DVD:  $26.99 Add DVD to Cart

Strauss: Die Fledermaus / Haider, Mikolaj, Reiss, Edelmann, Holecek
Release Date: 01/28/2014   Label: Capriccio Records  
Catalog: 5167   Number of Discs: 2
On sale! $16.99
CD: $13.99
In Stock
MP3 Available
On sale!   $16.99   CD:  $13.99 Add CD to Cart

MP3:  $19.99 Add MP3 to Cart

Strauss: A Night In Venice / Thompson, Ohio Light Opera
Release Date: 08/01/2000   Label: Newport Classic  
Catalog: 85661   Number of Discs: 2
On sale! $36.98
CD: $26.49
In Stock
On sale!   $36.98   CD:  $26.49 Add CD to Cart

Strauss: Die Fledermaus / Karajan, Waechter, Stolze, Et Al
Release Date: 09/14/1999   Label: Rca Victor Red Seal  
Catalog: 61949   Number of Discs: 3
On sale! $34.98
ArkivCD $29.99
In Stock
On sale!   $34.98   ArkivCD:  $29.99 Add to Cart

Work: Emperor Waltz (Kaiser-Walzer)

 

About This Work
Vienna, the waltz, and the Strauss family are inseparable entities. The waltzes of Johann Strauss, Sr. (1804-1849) evoked the air of the Viennese countryside, beer gardens and Heurigen. Those of his eldest son, Johann, Jr., at first had the same Read more rhythmic vitality and brief melodies. After 1860, however, this would change. The younger Strauss infused the traditional waltz format and sound with a new vitality and sophistication that reflected the glittery, hedonistic spirit of nineteenth century imperial Vienna. He melded the rhythmic drive of his father's works with Joseph Lanner's (1801-1843) lyricism, and changed the rhythmic emphasis from the beat to the measure. Strauss' seemingly unlimited melodic invention prompted him to compose melodies that did not fall into the traditional four, eight, or sixteen-measure patterns of earlier waltz tunes. He maintained the basic outline employed by Lanner and his father: a slow introduction, (typically) five pairs of waltzes and a coda, but increased the length of each section and the organic unity of the whole. Strauss's orchestration is often picturesque, especially in his introductions, while that of the waltzes themselves approaches a Mozartian clarity.

In the Kaiser-Walzer, Op. 437, Strauss is thinking as much in terms of the concert hall as the dance hall. It is not possible to waltz to the music of the coda, and the arrangement and patterns of repetition of the waltzes seem to be conceived to satisfy the listener as well as the dancer. The work was published in Berlin in 1889.

The duple-meter introduction to the Kaiser-Walzer is a mood painting conveying both the light, showy atmosphere of imperial Vienna and the martial air surrounding Kaiser Franz Joseph. A solo cello introduces the first pair of waltzes, the two of which contrast in both tempo and mood.

Instead calling for a repeat of each of the two waltzes separately, Strauss directs that the entire pair be played twice. More typically, the second waltz pair features internal repeats, the second of the pair, whose melody consist of a single, repeated pitch, is again at a faster tempo than the first. A trumpet fanfare introduces Waltz No. 3 and one of Strauss's lilting, sustained melodies, while the brass appear again with an angular melody for the second part of No. 3. The fourth waltz opens with a rising, syncopated line shared between the strings and winds. The first waltz of the pair moves imperceptibly into the second and its arching string melody. Although No. 4 features internal repeats, Strauss closes the pair by returning momentarily to the rising line of the first half before moving into a modulating return to Waltz No. 1. Strauss's desire to unify the entire piece becomes evident as he next moves to not a fifth waltz but a return to the entirety of the first in the original key. A fifth waltz does follow, but only the first of the pair is new, the second is a return of the second part of Waltz No. 3. Reminiscence is the theme of the coda, which revisits the introduction as the solo cello reappears, playing the melody of the first half of Waltz No. 1 while a brief reference to the second part of the same waltz sounds in the flute.

-- John Palmer
Read less

Select a specific Conductor, Ensemble or Label or browse recordings by Formats & Featured below

or
ArkivMusic Recommendation

Ensembles



YOU MUST BE A SUBSCRIBER TO LISTEN TO ARKIVMUSIC STREAMING.
TRY IT NOW FOR FREE!
Sign up now for two weeks of free access to the world's best classical music collection. Keep listening for only $19.95/month - thousands of classical albums for the price of one! Learn more about ArkivMusic Streaming
Aleady a subscriber? Sign In