Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Strauss, Johann

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

STRAUSS, Johann (1804-1849), orchestral conductor and composer of dance-music, was born at Vienna, March 14, 1804. In 1819 he obtained his first engagement as a violinist in a small band then playing at the Sperl, in the Leopoldstadt. Shortly afterwards he joined Lanner, with whom he remained associated as deputy-conductor until 1825, when he organized a little band of fourteen performers on his own account. It was during the carnival of 1826 that Strauss inaugurated his long line of triumphs by introducing his band to the public of Vienna at the Schwan, in the Rossau suburb, where his famous Taüberl-Walzer (op. 1) at once established his reputation as the best composer of dance-music then living. Upon the strength of this success he was invited back to the Sperl, where he accepted an engagement, with an increased orchestra, for six years. Soon after this he was appointed kapellmeister to the 1st Bürger regiment, and entrusted with the duty of providing the music for the court balls; while the number of his private engagements was so great that he found it necessary to enlarge his band from time to time until it consisted of more than two hundred performers. In 1833 he began a long and extended series of tours throughout northern Europe, eventually visiting England in 1838. In Paris he associated himself with Musard, whose quadrilles became not much less popular than his own waltzes; but his greatest successes were achieved in London, where he arrived in time for the coronation of Queen Victoria, and played at seventy-two public concerts, besides innumerable balls and other private entertainments. The fatigue of these long journeys seriously injured Strauss's health; but he soon resumed his duties at the Sperl; and on May 5, 1840 he removed with his band to the Imperial “Volksgarten,” which thenceforth became the scene of his most memorable successes. Those who enjoyed the privilege of hearing him conduct there could never forget the wonderful delicacy of the performance, over which the master presided with a quiet power which ensured the perfection of every minutest nuance. In 1844 Strauss began another extensive series of tours. In 1849 he revisited London, and, after his farewell concert, was escorted down the Thames by a squadron of boats, in one of which a band played tunes in his honour. This was his last public triumph. On his return to Vienna he was attacked with scarlet fever, of which he died, September 25, 1849.

Strauss was survived by three sons,—Johann (born 1825), Joseph (1827-1870), and Edward (born 1835), all of whom have distinguished themselves as composers of dance-music, and assisted in recruiting the ranks and perpetuating the traditions of the still famous band.