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Josef Strauss

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Josef Strauss

Biography

Josef Strauss (20 August 1827, Vienna, Austria – 22 July 1870, Vienna) was an Austrian composer.

He was born the son of Johann Strauss Sr. and Maria Anna Streim, and brother of Johann Strauss Jr. and Eduard Strauss. His father wanted him to choose a career in the Austrian Habsburg military. He studied music with Franz Dolleschal and learned to play the violin with Franz Anton Ries.

Josef received training as an engineer, and worked for the city of Vienna as an engineer and designer. He designed a horse-drawn revolving brush street-sweeping vehicle and published two textbooks on mathematical subjects. Strauss had talents as an artist, painter, poet, dramatist, singer, composer and inventor.

He joined the family orchestra, along with his brothers Johann Strauss II and Eduard Strauss in the 1850s. His first published work was called Die Ersten und Letzten (The First and the Last). When Johann became seriously ill in 1853 Josef led the orchestra for a while. The waltz-loving Viennese were appreciative of his early compositions so he decided to continue in the family tradition of composing dance music. He was known as 'Pepi' by his family and close friends, and Johann once said of him: "Pepi is the more gifted of us two; I am merely the more popular..."

Josef Strauss wrote 283 opus numbers. He wrote many waltzes, including: Sphären-Klänge (Music of the Spheres), Delirien (Deliriums), Transaktionen (Transactions), Mein Lebenslauf ist Lieb' und Lust (My Character is Love and Joy), and Dorfschwalben aus Österreich (Village Swallows from Austria), polkas, most famously the Pizzicato Polka with his brother Johann, quadrilles, and other dance music, and also some marches. The waltz The Mysterious Powers of Magnetism (Dynamiden) with the use of minor keys showed a quality that distinguished his waltzes from those of his more popular elder brother. The polka-mazurka shows influence by Strauss, where he wrote many examples like Die Emancipierte and Die Libelle.

Josef Strauss was sickly most of his life. He was prone to fainting spells and intense headaches. During a tour in 1870, he fell unconscious from the conductor's podium in Warsaw while conducting his 'Musical Potpourri', striking his head. His wife brought him back home to Vienna, where he died.


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