Johann Strauss was born in Vienna on October 25, 1825. His family called him Schani (Austrian diminutive for Johann) so as not to confuse him with his father who was also called Johann.
Johann Strauss father, who together with his friend Josef Lanner gave his present form to the waltz, strongly opposed his son's ambition to become a musician. He wanted him engaged in a typical bourgeois profession. His mother, however, recognized her son's genius and supported him. He was grateful for her life.
On October 15, 1844 Johann Strauss son entered the history of music, performing for the first time, without the approval of his father, at the Casino Dommayer of Hietzing with his own orchestra and compositions.
The audience, which filled the venue, with the rhythm of Johann Strauss junior's music, was quickly taken with enthusiasm and demanded more and more. He had to repeat some tracks until the nineteenth time.
The debut of the young Strauss had been a triumphant success and the press wrote: "Good night, Lanner! Good evening, Strauss-Father! Good morning, Strauss-Son! "
Between father and son began a tenacious struggle for musical hegemony in Vienna, in which his father, despite the resounding success of his son, all in all had the best. In 1846 he was assigned the title of "Musical director of the ball of imperial and royal court".
In 1848 he composed the "March of Radetzky", the march of the marches, to celebrate the triumphal return of the eighty-year-old marshal after the victory over the Italians in the battle of Custoza, with which he demonstrated his conservative position and loyalty to the monarchy.
Johann Strauss Son, however, did not hide his sympathies for the ideas of the revolution of 1848, thus earning a long distrust from the imperial court.
After the death of his father in 1849 he took over the orchestra and free now from the pressure of competition could devote himself with full force to his career. His request to take the title of the father of "Musical Director of the Imperial and Royal Court Ball" was initially rejected.
But even the imperial court was unable to resist the charm of his music for a long time, and so from 1851 he was able to perform more often at the Hofburg.
On April 27, 1854 Johann Strauss directed the great court ball in the Redoutensälen on the occasion of the wedding of Franz Joseph with the young Bavarian princess Elisabeth, later known as "Empress Sissy".
The title of "Musical director of the ball of imperial and royal court" was conferred to him in 1863.
In 1848, the year of the revolution, Strauss father composed the "Radetzky March".
The best known of all the marches is traditionally the highlight of the Vienna New Year's Concert.
The new dance and the fascinating melodies of the waltz conquered the whole world. Johann Strauss and his brothers made the waltz popular all over the world thanks to their numerous travels and contracts.
A real waltz ecstasy took possession of people beyond the borders of Europe. In the summer of 1856, Strauss was invited to Russia for the first time to conduct concerts and dances in the famous Pavillon Vauxhall of the Pavlovsk Palace.
His success and popularity were so great that, until 1865, so for 10 years in a row, the summer in Pavlovsk was celebrated as a true celebrity. The gains of this period created the basis for the enormous wealth accumulated later.
In 1872, on the occasion of the International Jubilee of Peace, he was invited to Boston in the United States. In front of an audience of 100,000 people, with the help of 100 sub-directories, he directed an orchestra of 20,000 musicians.
The charming and elegant Maestro concertator, although surrounded by women, decided to marry at the age of 37. His first wife, former opera singer Henriette Challupetzky, called Jetty, was a confident, lively and witty world dame with an uncommon life behind her. He was 44 when they were married, so seven years older than the king of the waltz. For Johann Strauss to marry Jetty was like winning a lottery and with her death in 1878 an extremely happy marriage ceased.
Johann could not bear to be alone and soon married Lili, who was 25 years younger, to whom, however, life beside the not easy artist proved very difficult. He separated from him after four years - divorce was not admitted in Catholic Austria.
With Adele, a 26-year-old widow, Strauss had a second time the incredible luck of meeting "the right one". In order to be married, after five years of life in common they decided to convert to Protestantism and adopt the citizenship of the German Protestant Duchy Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. And so that one of the most famous Austrian figures became a German citizen.
At the time of his marriage with Jetty Johann Strauss he composed "On the beautiful blue Danube", the unofficial anthem of Austria, originally composed as a choral melody for the Vienna Men's Choir. It was performed for the first time on February 15, 1867 in the Dianabad hall. Despite the heat in the packed hall and an extremely long program, the enthusiastic audience immediately asked for an encore.
The "Waltz of the Danube", as it is more simply called by the Viennese, had been conceived as a choral piece.
Shortly after the first performance Johann Strauss published a version for orchestra, which in the same year caused fury at dances and concerts and is still today synonymous with the waltz par excellence.
Johann Strauss hesitated for years before composing operettas, because he was still not sure he was up to it. Jetty pushed to do it and finally succeeded in his intent: in 1871 he debuted at the Theater an der Wien "Indigo e quaranta ladroni", the first operetta of Johann Strauss. The audience in the sold out theater was enthusiastic and Johann Strauss had discovered and learned to love new terrain. He would have left other immortal operatives in the world.
"Il Pipistrello" was the most represented operetta in the world. He made his debut in 1874 at the Theater an der Wien for the commemoration of the 30th anniversary of Johann's debut. The title of the song "Glücklich ist, wer vergisst, was nicht zu ändern ist" (happy is the one who forgets what can not be changed) has become proverbial.
Among Johann Strauss's other well-known and popular operas we still remember "Night in Venice" (1883) or "Il barone gitano", which was first performed in 1885 on the evening of the sixtieth birthday of Johann.
Johann Strauss managed to fulfill one more dream: to prove to himself and to the world that he was able to write "serious" music. One January of 1892 there on the first of his opera "Cavaliere Pasman".
He finished the first version of his ballet "Snow White" in late autumn of 1898, but could no longer attend the premiere. At the end of May 1899 Johann Strauss became ill with colds and gastric indisposition. Following a pneumonia in early June, he lost consciousness. Apparently he felt that his hour had arrived, as his wife in moments of lucidity could hear him muttering the melody "Brüderlein fein, 's muss geschieden sein" (Delicate little brother, we have to separate ourselves). This song, still well known today, which deals with taking leave and death, was written by his old music professor Joseph Drechsler.
Saturday 3 June shortly after 16 hours he died in the arms of Adele.
The funeral procession led him from Igelgasse to the Theater an der Wien to the evangelical church of the Dorotheergasse for his last blessing. Afterwards he moved from the Court Opera and the Musikverein building to the central cemetery.
His grave is close to that of other musical geniuses such as Beethoven, Schubert or Brahms.