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Johann Strauss I

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Johann Strauss I

Johann Strauss I (also known as Johann Strauss Snr.) (March 14, 1804September 25, 1849) was an Austrian composer known particularly for his waltzes and for popularizing it alongside Josef Lanner thereby (without intention) setting the foundations for his sons to carry on his musical dynasty. His most famous piece, however, is probably the Radetzky March (named after Joseph Radetzky von Radetz) whereas his most famous waltz is probably the Lorelei Rhine Klnge op. 154.

Life and Work

Johann Strauss I was the father of Johann Strauss II, Josef Strauss and Eduard Strauss. He also had two daughters, Anna who was born in 1829 and Therese who was born in 1831 as well as third eldest son Ferdinand born 1834 lived only ten months.

Strauss' parents were innkeepers although tragedy struck his family as his mother died when he was seven of 'creeping fever' and when he was twelve, his father Franz Borgias was discovered drowned in the Danube river. His step-mother sought to place him as an apprentice to a bookbinder Johann Lichtscheidl, but he took lessons in the violin and viola, and eventually managed to secure a place in a local orchestra of a certain Michael Pamer which he eventually left in order to join a popular string quartet known as the Lanner Quartet formed by his would-be rival Josef Lanner and the Drahanek brothers Karl and Johann. This string quartet playing Viennese waltzes and rustic German dances expanded into a small string orchestra in 1824. While generally disputed, he never ran away from his bookbinder apprenticeship and in fact successfully completed it. He also studied music with Johann Polischansky during his apprenticeship.

He eventually became deputy conductor of the orchestra in which he played, and in 1825 formed his own band and began to write music for it to play. He became one of the most well 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 he heard the quadrille and began to compose them himself, becoming largely responsible for introducing that dance to Austria. He also married Maria Anna Streim in 1825 in the parish church of Liechtenthal in Vienna. His marriage was relatively unstable as his prolonged absence from his immediate family due to frequent tours abroad led to a gradual alienation and he later took on a mistress, Emilie Trambusch in 1834 with whom he had eight children. This personal decision probably marked Johann Strauss II's first development as a composer as Johann senior previously forbade his sons to undertake music studies at any point of time. With Johann senior's open declaration of his paternity of a daughter borne to Emilie, Maria Anna sued for divorce in 1844 and allowed Johann junior to actively pursue a musical career. Strauss I was a strict disciplinarian in the Strauss home called 'Hirschenhaus' better known in Vienna as the 'Goldener Hirsch' (The Golden Stag), and imposed his will on his sons to pursue careers that are not musically-related. His own personal view was not clearly to avoid a rivalry from within the family but he understood the challenges that a struggling musician may face.

Despite family problems, he also toured the British Isles frequently and was always prepared to write novelty pieces for many charitable organisations there. His waltzes were developed from the peasant dance in three quarter time into one with a short introduction with little or no reference to the later chain of five two-part waltz structure and usually with a short coda and a stirring finish although his son Johann Strauss, Jr. expanded the waltz structure and utilized more instruments than his father. While he did not possess a musical talent as rich as his eldest son's, nor a business mind just as astute, he was among the first few composers along with Josef Lanner to actively write pieces with individual titles to enable music enthusiasts to easily recognise those pieces with the view to boost sales of their sheet music.

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. Johann Strauss I himself refused to play ever again at the Dommayer's Casino who offered his son his conducting debut and was to tower over his son during his lifetime in terms of career advancement although Strauss II was to eclipse him in terms of popularity in the classical repertoire.

Strauss died in Vienna in 1849 from scarlet fever. He was first buried at the Dbling cemetery beside his friend Lanner before in 1904, both of their remains were transferred to the graves of honour at the Zentralfriedhof. The former Dbling 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'.

See also

Template:Commonsda:Johann Strauss (den ldre) de:Johann Strau (Vater) he:יוהאן שטראוס האב it:Johann Strauss (padre) nl:Johann Strauss sr. ja:ヨハン・シュトラウス1世 pl:Johann Strauss (ojciec) ru:Штраус, Иоганн (отец) sl:Johann Strauss starejši zh:老约翰斯特劳斯

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