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Born: 1825, Vienna
Died: 1899, Vienna
"If it is true that I have some talent, then I owe its blossoming to my beloved city of Vienna."
JOHANN STRAUSS, JR. wrote his first waltz when he was six. It was 36 bars long, and he later published it under the title Erster Gedanke ("First Thoughts"). As a boy, Strauss secretly studied the violin with the concertmaster of his father's orchestra. But his father, though a successful musician himself, would have none of his son's musical daydreaming. Young Johann would be a respectable banker, not a salon orchestra leader. When Johann, Jr. was 17, Johann, Sr. left his wife and family, and Johann immediately set about studying music seriously. At 19, he formed an orchestra and, after making his debut, immediately became his father's greatest rival. When Johann, Sr. died in 1849, Johann, Jr. took over his orchestra and merged it with his own. Beginning in 1856, he toured with the orchestra, establishing his reputation internationally. He was one of the most famous composers in the world, "The Waltz King" whose music came to symbolize the glittering age of Vienna and the last hurrah of the Austro-Hungarian Empire before ethnic strife and World War I tore it apart.