Strauss, Johann, sr.



Often called Father of the Waltz. Was born in Vienna. His father, who was an innkeeper, apprenticed him to a bookbinder. He ran away from his master and was found by a friend, who took him back to his father and persuaded him to let the boy be a musician. He studied theory under Seyfried and violin under Polyschansky, who helped him get engagements to play the viola in a quartet at private houses. In 1819 he entered Pamer's orchestra, and four years later he joined Lanner and played in the quartet of the Drahanek Brothers in various public houses. He left Lanner in 1825, and the following year, during the carnival, led a little orchestra of fourteen players with such success that he was engaged to play at a hotel in the Dobling. At garden concerts he introduced his first composition, entitled Tauberl-Walzer with immense success. In 1828 and 1829 he played at the Hall von Kettenbnicke, naming a waltz after this hall, and in 1830 he began a six years' engagement at the Sperl, which virtually made the reputation of that place of amusement. About this time he began making tours to other cities. In 1834 he became chapelmaster of the First Vienna-Berger Regiment, and was given charge of the music for the purt balls and festivals. In 1837, with his orchestra, he made a prolonged tour which included Paris, Belgium, London and other large English cities, and Scotland.   In Paris, where he was enthusiastically received, he joined Musard for a series of thirty concerts; at London he played in seventy-two concerts, and at many balls and fetes in honor of the Queen's coronation, everywhere creating a sensation. When he returned to Vienna in December, 1838, hard work and constant travel had broken his health. His first appearance at the Sperl on his return he received an ovation, and in 1840 he became conductor at the Imperial Volksgarten, where his playing drew crowds. In 1844 he made a concert tour, when the King himself attended a concert at Kroll's Garden and commanded Strauss to play at court. On. his return to Vienna he received the formal appointment of conductor of the Court balls. He made further tours and in 1849 went again to England. Soon after his return to Vienna he was taken ill of scarlet fever and died Sept. 25, 1849. His chief claim to our interest lies in the service he did in elevating dance-music, which before his time was generally of a simple and primitive type. His compositions are wonderfully melodious and rhythmic  carefully orchestrated and full of gaiety and life. Of his two hundred and fifty-one compositions a hundred and fifty-two are waltzes, eighteen are marches, thirteen are polkas, and thirty-two are quadrilles. These pieces enjoyed the greatest popularity in Vienna, where the appearance of each new one was an event, and they have come to be known over a large part of the civilized world. Among his most famous waltzes are Elektrische Funken, Cacilien, Victoria, Taglioni, Dqnau-Lieder, Gabrielen and Kettenbrücken.