Johann Strauss

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Strauss, Johann:

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, family of Viennese musicians. Johann Strauss, 1804–49, learned to play the violin against his parents' wishes. In 1819 he joined the dance orchestra of Josef Lanner (1801–43), whom he later rivaled. In 1826 Strauss organized his own orchestra.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Strauss, Johann


(the Elder). Born Mar. 14, 1804, in Vienna; died there Sept. 25, 1849. Austrian composer, violinist, and conductor.

Strauss studied violin with A. Polischansky and composition with I. von Seyfried. He joined J. Lanner’s quartet in 1819 and became assistant conductor of Lanner’s orchestra in 1824. In 1825, Strauss organized his own orchestra, which, in 1833, embarked on a series of European concert tours.

Strauss, one of the most popular masters of dance music of his day, further developed the musical idiom of Lanner, particularly in his waltzes. His distinctive dance cycles consist of several waltzes framed by an introduction and conclusion. Among Strauss’ more than 250 works are 152 waltzes, the most popular of which are the Donau-Lieder, Lorelei-Rheinklänge, Gabrielen-Walzer, Taglioni-Walzer, and Bajaderen-Walzer.

Strauss, Johann


(the Younger). Born Oct. 25, 1825, in Vienna; died there June 3, 1899. Austrian composer, conductor, and violinist. Son of the composer J. Strauss.

In 1844, J. Strauss, the Younger, organized his own orchestra; after his father’s death he merged the family orchestras into an ensemble with which he made several European tours and appeared in America. From 1856 to 1865 and in 1869 and 1872 he directed concert seasons in Pavlovsk, near St. Petersburg, and in 1886 he performed in St. Petersburg and Moscow. Several of his compositions have a Russian theme: Farewell to St. Petersburg (1858), the polka In Pavlovsk Forest (1869), and the fantasy-waltz In a Russian Village (1873).

Strauss was both an outstanding conductor and a remarkable violin virtuoso, and he combined both these roles in his concert performances. He enriched the dance music repertoire with a variety of compositions, including some 500 waltzes, galops, polkas, and quadrilles. His waltzes, notable for their beautiful melodies and stirring rhythms, have many ties with traditional Austrian folk music and with Viennese music evocative of everyday life.

Strauss created the classic Viennese waltz, for which he was crowned “King of the Waltz” by his contemporaries. The melodies of his finest waltzes (An der schönen blauen Donau [the Blue Danube], An Artist’s Life, Tales From the Vienna Woods, Vienna Blood, Voices of Spring, and Wine, Women, and Song), galops (Perpetuum Mobile), and polkas (Tritsch-Tratsch and Pizzicato Polka) have achieved world renown. Strauss also composed classic Viennese operettas, the finest of which include Die Fledermaus (1874), The Merry War (1881), A Night in Venice (1883), and The Gypsy Baron (1885).

Strauss’ younger brothers Joseph (1827–70) and Eduard (1835–1916) were also composers and conductors.


Meilikh, E. Iogann Shtraus: Iz istorii venskogo val’sa, 2nd ed. Leningrad, 1964.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.