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Johann Strauss II

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(1825 – 1899)

Johann Strauss II (German: “Johann Strauss (son)”; in English also Johann Strauss the Younger, Johann Strauss Jr., Johann Sebastian Strauss) (October 25, 1825 – June 3, 1899) was an Austrian composer known especially for his waltzes, such as The Blue Danube. The (in German) often used “Strauß” form is wrong, since he always wrote his name with “ss” and never with “ß”.

Son of the composer Johann Strauss I, and brother to the composers Josef Strauss and Eduard Strauss, Johann II was the most famous of the family. According to the The Blue Danube Songfacts, his father did not wish him to become a composer, but rather a banker. Nevertheless, Strauss Junior studied the violin secretly as a child and when his father discovered his son secretly practicing the instrument one day, he gave him a severe whipping, saying that he was going to beat the music out of the boy. Fortunately, this did not discourage the budding musician.

He was known in his lifetime as “the waltz king,” and the popularity of the waltz in Vienna through the 19th century is due in large part to him. He became the “waltz king” by his revolutionary elevation of the waltz from lowly peasant dance to sparkling entertainment for the royal Hapsburg court. Not only did he revolutionize the waltz, but his work enjoyed greater fame than his predecessors such as his father and Josef Lanner. Some of his polkas and marches are also well known, as is his operetta Die Fledermaus.

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