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Franz Strauss

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Franz Strauss

Biography

Franz Joseph Strauss (26 February 1822, Parkstein, Bavaria – 31 May 1905, Munich, German) was a German composer, conductor and horn player.

Strauss is perhaps best known as the father of the composer Richard Strauss, on whose early musical development he was a great influence, steering his son to the classical and away from modern styles. As a composer, Strauss senior is remembered for his works for the horn. They include two concertos and numerous smaller works.

(Johann) Georg Walter undertook his brother Franz's musical education. Georg taught Strauss to play the clarinet, guitar and a range of brass instruments. At the age of nine, Strauss was taken on as a pupil and player by another uncle, Franz Michael Walter, a military bandmaster. At the age of 15, through the influence of George Walter, Strauss was appointed to the private orchestra of Duke Max in Munich, where he remained for ten years. In 1847 Strauss became a member of the orchestra of the Bavarian Court Opera, a position he held for more than 40 years.

He gradually found that of all the instruments he could play, the horn suited him best. He started to compose for that instrument. Among his earliest compositions were a romance, Les Adieux, and a Fantasy on Schubert's Sehnsuchtswalzer, both for horn and orchestra with alternative versions for horn and piano.

Strauss's first horn concerto was premiered, with the composer playing the horn part, in 1865 and he remained greatly in demand as a soloist. The conductor Hans von Bülow called him "the Joachim of the horn". In 1871, he was appointed professor at the Royal School of Music; he was given the rank of Kammermusiker of the Bavarian court in 1873.

Strauss is perhaps best known as the father of the composer Richard Strauss, on whose early musical development he was a great influence, steering his son to the classical and away from modern styles.

Strauss's musical preferences were strongly classical; he loved the music of Mozart above all other, and also particularly admired Haydn and Beethoven. He was not in sympathy with the new music of Wagner which his sovereign and employer, Ludwig II of Bavaria, assiduously promoted with productions at the Court Opera. Strauss's antipathy to modern music influenced the early development of his son, Richard, who began as a composer in a traditional vein, not finding himself drawn to modernism until he had left paternal influence behind him during his time at Munich University.

In 1875 Strauss was elected conductor of the amateur orchestra, the "Wilde Gung'l", a post he held for 21 years. Among the players was his son, who learned the practicalities of orchestration there, and wrote some of his first compositions for the orchestra.

Strauss senior is remembered for his works for the horn. They include two concertos and numerous smaller works.


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