Composer, Conductor. Born in Vienna, the eldest son of Anna Streim and Johann Strauss the Elder, a prominent composer and orchestra leader. His father forbade his children the pursuit of musical training, so he studied the violin without his father’s knowledge. At 17, his father abandoned the family for his mistress, and his mother encouraged his musical aspirations. He was then able to concentrate on a career in music and seek training. His father's influence made his earliest career difficult, but in 1849, the elder Strauss died, effectively removing impediment. He combined his small orchestra with his father’s and went on a tour of Europe and the United States. He applied for the position of Music Director of the Royal Court Balls, which he received. He promoted his younger brothers Josef and Eduard as his deputy conductors in case of his absence due to illness of scheduling conflict. He is credited with the development of the classical waltz, making it as much a feature of the concert hall as the assembly rooms, and earning him the sobriquet, 'Waltz King.' His single most famous composition is easily 'An der schönen blauen Donau' (On The Beautiful Blue Danube; 1867), but it was not his only effort. Other popular waltzes included 'Geschichten aus dem Wienerwald' (Tales from the Vienna Woods; 1868), 'Wein, Weib und Gesang' (Wine, Women and Song; 1869), and 'Wiener Blut' (Vienna Blood; 1871). All told, he composed more than 150 waltzes. Equally popular were his operettas such as 'Die Fledermaus' (The Bat; 1874), 'Eine Nacht in Venedig' (A Night in Venice , 1883), and 'Der Zigeunerbaron' (The Gypsy Baron; 1885). He also developed the polka into something which caught the interest of contemporary musical societies in Vienna with such pieces as 'Tritsch-Tratsch-Polka' (1858), 'Unter Donner und Blitz' (Thunder and Lightning; 1868) and 'Banditen-Galopp (Bandit's Galop; 1877). In 1870, he turned over leadership of the orchestra to his brothers in order to compose. In 1872, he accepted an invitation to conduct a concert event in Boston, where for one unique performance he directed an orchestra of 2,000. His final operetta, 'Die Göttin der Vernunft' (The Goddess Of Reason) premiered in March 1897. He succumbed to pneumonia some two years later at the age of 74.
Bio by: Iola