Composers Datebook®

Johann Strauss the Elder

Composers Datebook - March 14, 2024


Johann Strauss the Elder, patriarch of the famous waltz dynasty, was born in Vienna on this day in 1804. His music became immensely popular across Europe, and he dreamed of — but never realized — a tour of America.

At the height of his fame, Strauss visited Britain, providing music for the state ball on the occasion of Queen Victoria's accession to the throne. His waltz Homage to the Queen of England, quotes Rule, Britannia at its start and God Save the Queen — in waltz tempo, of course — for its finale. The Times reported that in this case, Victoria was amused, as were her subjects. In the spring and summer of 1838, the Strauss orchestra gave 79 performances in London alone.

Unfortunately, back home, Strauss was something of a cad. He abandoned his wife and his three talented musical children, Josef, Eduard and Johann Jr. for a mistress with whom he started a new family. He died at 45 of scarlet fever, contracted from one of his illegitimate children.

Strauss wrote about 300 works, the most famous being his Radetzky March, the obligatory clap-along selection on every Vienna Philharmonic New Year’s Day Concert.

Music Played in Today's Program

Johann Strauss Jr. (1827-1870): ‘Radetzky March’; Cincinnati Pops Orchestra; Erich Kunzel, cond. Vox 5132

On This Day


  • 1681 - German composer Georg Philipp Telemann, in Magdeburg;

  • 1727 - Baptism of German composer and keyboard virtuoso Johann Gottlieb Goldberg, in Danzig (now Gdansk);

  • 1804 - Austrian composer and conductor Johann Strauss, Sr., in Vienna;


  • 1734 - Handel: anthem This is the day which the Lord hath made in London at the French Chapel of St. James's Palace, for the wedding of Princess Anne and Prince Willem, the Prince of Orange (Gregorian date: March 25);

  • 1824 - Schubert: String Quartet (D. 804) in Vienna, by the Schuppanzigh Quartet; Published the following September, this was the only chamber work of Schubert's published in his lifetime;

  • 1847 - Verdi: opera Macbeth, in Florence at the Teatro della Pergola;

  • 1885 - Gilbert & Sullivan: operetta The Mikado, at the Savoy Theatre in London;

  • 1963 - Simpson: Symphony No. 3, in Birmingham, England;

  • 1975 - Ulysses Kay: Quintet Concerto for brass and orchestra, in New York City;

  • 1976 - Paul Creston: Hyas Illahee for chorus and orchestra, in Shreveport, La.;

  • 1986 - Harrison Birtwistle: Earth Dances for orchestra, at Royal Festival Hall in London by the BBC Symphony, Peter Eotvos conducting;

  • 1996 - Leo Ornstein: Piano Sonata No. 6, at the Yerba Buena Center in San Francisco, by pianist Marvin Tartak;

  • 2000 - David Maslanka: Wind Quintet No. 3, in Columbus, Mo., by the Missouri Quintet;

  • 2001 - Danielpour: Cello Concerto No. 2 (Through the Ancient Valley), by the New York Philharmonic, Kurt Masur conducting, with soloist Yo-Yo Ma;

  • 2002 - Previn: Violin Concerto, by the Boston Symphony with the composer conducting and soloist Anne-Sophie Mutter;

  • 2003 - Jim Mobberley: Vox Inhumana for live and prerecorded sounds, in Kansas City, by the NewEar ensemble.

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About Composers Datebook®

Host John Birge presents a daily snapshot of composers past and present, with timely information, intriguing musical events and appropriate, accessible music related to each.

He has been hosting, producing and performing classical music for more than 25 years. Since 1997, he has been hosting on Minnesota Public Radio's Classical Music Service. He played French horn for the Cincinnati Symphony and Pops Orchestra and performed with them on their centennial tour of Europe in 1995. He was trained at the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, Eastman School of Music and Interlochen Arts Academy.

About Composers Datebook®