Composer Profile: Johann Strauss Jr., The King of Waltz & Operetta

By David Salazar

Johann Strauss Jr. didn’t write opera. But his contribution to operetta is indispensable.

Born on Oct. 25, 1825, his destiny was sealed seemingly before his birth.

His father was Johann Strauss I, one of the more popular Viennese composers of dance music and operettas during his time. So it was no surprise that Jr. would be exposed to the world of music from the start of his life.

His career actually came to the fore when he angered his own father by playing at a rival establishment, but his initial years as a composer were far from roaring successes.

That came gradually and when his father passed away, Strauss merged his and his father’s orchestra. He would eventually become more renowned than his own father.

He was greatly admired by Richard Wagner and Richard Strauss, Germany’s two greatest opera composers of the 19th and 20th century.

He died of pleuropneumonia in 1899 at age 73.

Major Works

Strauss is renowned for his waltzes and dance music, but he was quite a prolific composer of operettas. In sum, he created close to 20 operettas throughout his life.

His most popular and renowned is “Die Fledermaus” which has become a staple of the standard repertoire. Most opera companies don’t perform operettas, but “Die Fledermaus” is the exception to the rule. The operetta is performed everywhere and, in many cases, as has become a tradition at the Vienna State Opera, the work is performed at New Year’s Eve.

Watch and Listen

Enjoy “Die Fledermaus.”


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