Johann Strauss I

Portrait of Johann Strauss I

Johann Strauss I: (also known as Johann Strauss Senior, the Elder or the Father) was an Austrian composer. His sons Johann 11 and Josef were also famous composers. He was born on 14th March 1804 in Vienna, Austria and died there on 25th September 1849 aged 45.

Major Works

Dobling Reunion Waltz” (1826) 
Little Doves Waltz” (1827) 
Vienna Fancies Waltz) (1827 
Viennese Carnival” (1828)” 
Suspension Bridge Waltz” (1828)
“Radetzky March” 
(1848)

Biography Timeline

Johann Strauss the Father was born on 14th March 1804 in Leopoldstadt, now a part of Vienna, Austria. His father was Franz Borgias Strauss and his mother was Barbara Dollmann and they were both innkeepers and Roman Catholics.

1811: His mother dies of Undulant fever.

1816: His father drowns, possibly by suicide, in the Danube River and Strauss is looked after by his guardian Anton Müller. He is apprenticed to the bookbinder Johann Lichtscheidl but also has lessons in the viola and the violin with Johann Polischansky.

1822: He successfully completes his apprenticeship and gains a place in a local orchestra, led by Michael Palmer. He then leaves the orchestra to join the Lanner Quartet with Joseph Lanner and Karl and Johann Drahanek.

1824: The string quartet expands into a small orchestra and plays Viennese waltzes and German dances and Strauss is the deputy conductor to Lanner. They are so popular after the Carnival that a second smaller orchestra is formed headed by Strauss.

1825: He forms his own orchestra and begins to write music and therefore becomes a rival to Lanner. Strauss marries Maria Anna Streim in the Lichtental Parish Church in Vienna and later his son Johann is born.

1826: His popularity soars after he plays during the Carnival at the Schwan in the suburb of Rossau and he plays his first piece, the “Tauberl Waltzer” in the gardens of the “Zwei Tauben”. 

1827: His son Josef is born.

1829: His daughter Anna is born.

1830: By now he is conducting at the “Sperl,” a dance hall in Leopoldstadt and he becomes known as “the Austrian Napoleon” amongst musicians. 

1831: His daughter Therese is born.

1833: He begins tours of Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and Great Britain leaving behind his wife and children.

1834: His son Ferdinand is born but only lives for ten months. He is appointed bandmaster to the 1st Vienna Militia Regiment. By now he has taken a mistress, Emilie Trampusch, and they would later go on to have eight children together.

1835: His son Eduard is born. He is created director of the Imperial Court balls and begins to write a series of marches.

1837: In France Strauss hears the quadrille for the first time and begins to use the form himself. This trip introduces him to a wider audience. 

1838:  Besides adapting popular melodies of the day into his works he also incorporates Weber’s “Oberon Overture” into his waltz “Wiener Carneval” and “La Marseillaise” into his “Paris Walzer” in order to gain favour outside Austria. He also has an ambition to play at the Coronation of Queen Victoria whilst in London. Despite all this he also manages to write music for many charities in Vienna.

1844: He openly acknowledges the paternity of a daughter born to Emilie and his wife Maria Anna sues for divorce. Now free Anna is determined to further her son Johann’s musical career.

1846: He is awarded the honorary title of K.K. Hofballmusikdirektor (Director of Music for the Imperial and Royal Court Balls) by Emperor Ferdinand the First.

1848: After the Battle of Custoza, where the Austrian Field Marshal Joseph Radetzky von Radetz is victorious against the Italians, Strauss is commissioned to write a piece of music. The famous Radetzky March” opus 228 is the result and it proves wildly popular when it is first performed on 31st August in Vienna.

Johann Strauss the Father died in Vienna on 24th September 1849 of Scarlet fever which he contracted from one of his illegitimate children. He was buried at the Döblinger Cemetery beside his friend Joseph Lanner. (In 1904, Strauss and Lanner were transferred to the Zentralfriedhof in Vienna to be amongst other great composers).

Further Information

List of compositions by Strauss the Elder.

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