Considered the “Glenn Miller” of the late 19th century, Johann Strauss was the eldest of six born to Johann and Ann Strauss. Although his father was a successful musician, bringing the Viennese waltz to world-wide attention and fame, he did not want his children to follow suit. However, against his wishes, his three sons did indeed follow in his footsteps, becoming successful in the musical world in their own right. All were orchestra conductors and prolific composers of dance music, with Johann becoming the unquestionable “Waltz King.”
Among his best known waltzes are “On the Beautiful Blue Danube,” Artists Life,” “Vienna Blood,” “Tales from the Vienna Woods,” and “Wine, Women and Song.”
He composed in many other forms as well including polkas, mazurkas, czardas, marches, quadrilles and gallops – all happy, joyful works – as well as operettas. His first of 17 operettas, Indigo and the Forty Thieves or A Thousand and One Nights was produced in Vienna in 1871. Die Fledermaus came three years after. Another big hit, Die Zigeunerbaron (The Gypsy Baron) was introduced 11 years later.
Strauss deliberately appealed to a popular audience and as a result, had many imitators who then spread his influence around the world. He was the favourite composer of Johannes Brahms and was also held in high esteem by Offenbach, Verdi, Wagner, Gounod, Berlioz, and Richard Strauss (no relation).