Grab the baton and strike up a waltz as you wander Vienna in search of Johann Strauss. The son, I should add. Or Junior. Or Strauss II. Just to distinguish him from his almost-but-not-quite-so-famous father of the same name.
Use the text (and map at the end) to follow in his footsteps. And remember: one two three, one two three…
- See also:
Strauss: his music
Many orchestras in Vienna now specialise in concerts for visitors that feature the best of Viennese classical music. Most focus on some combination of well-known Mozart and Strauss pieces.
See these concert suggestions for a range of options, often in locations where Strauss himself would have performed. Talking of which…
Various venues remain that once hosted Strauss premieres and similar. For example…
The Kursalon opened in 1867 and Strauss’s music could often be heard here back in the day. He actually performed at the venue’s opening, introducing a new polka.
This musical tradition continues with regular evening Mozart & Strauss concerts.
Two of Strauss’s anglophile dances premiered at Palais Coburg (at Coburgbastei 4 in the centre of town).
You might describe the Albion Polka and Windsor-Klänge waltz as musical diplomacy, since they allegedly formed part of attempts to improve relations between the Austrian and British empires in the middle of the 19th century.
The palais is now a luxury hotel.
Theater an der Wien
(The Papagenotor at the Theater an der Wien)
Some of Strauss’s compositions premiered at the Theater an der Wien, now one of Vienna’s three opera houses.
Die Fledermaus (1874) and The Gypsy Baron (1885) operettas were both first performed here, for example.
Strauss: his life
Various Strauss biographical locations have remained intact in one form or another across the decades, with some open to the public.
Place of birth
Strauss was born on October 25th, 1825 in a suburb just outside of the city in what is now Vienna’s 7th district. At the time, the street was called Rofranogasse, but this later changed to Lerchenfelder Straße.
Visit number 15 on that street and you won’t find the original house. But you will see a plaque on the newer building that replaced it, which says (my rough translation):
The house Johann Strauss the son was born in on October 25th, 1825 stood at this location. Dedicated to their honorary member by the Wiener Männergesangverein
The Männergesangverein is a male voice choir founded in 1843 that still exists today.
Strauss attended the Schottengymnasium, an old and prestigious private school in the very centre of Vienna that continues today.
You can see the premises from the outside on the Freyung in the 1st district, within the abbey complex that includes a rather nice museum and church.
Henrietta Treffz said “I do” to Strauss in Stephansdom (Vienna’s main cathedral) in 1862. He married his second wife, Angelika Dittrich, in Karlskirche (the huge baroque church overlooking Karlsplatz square) in 1878.
Both churches are open to the public, though you may need a ticket to see inside both in full.
The Strauss apartment
One of the maestro’s violins sits alongside various other items from the Strauss household in the Strausswohnung, which provided Johann and Henrietta with a home for several years in the late 1860s.
This is where The Blue Danube escaped from musical imagination onto paper.
The Wien Museum maintains the apartment as a mini-museum, with various displays (in German and English), including other such former possessions as a grand piano and house organ.
The Fledermaus House
Another plaque hangs on the wall of the private Fledermaus house, since Strauss lived here between 1870 and 1878. Inside, he composed various operettas, including the famous Die Fledermaus.
Later occupants included the painter, Julius Schmid, and the composer, Carl Prohaska.
Johann Strauss Gasse
Strauss lived for many years in a two-storey city palais he had built at Johann Strauss Gasse 4. Back then, the name of the street was Igelgasse. This is also where he passed away in 1899.
Just a few days later, the city changed the street name in his honour.
Unfortunately, WWII bombs destroyed the building, so the one you see there now is a relic of the 1960s. A plaque outside reads (my translation):
The King of the Waltz, Johann Strauss (the son) lived and worked in a house at this location from 1878 and died here on June 3rd, 1899
Vienna’s Zentralfriedhof cemetery provides a final resting place for numerous famous figures of the past. This includes a cluster of composer graves (group 32A) that has Schubert, Brahms, Beethoven and Strauss all within a sotto voce whisper of each other.
Strauss’s third wife, Adele, is buried with him. Other members of the family occupy graves in the same cluster: his brothers Eduard and Josef, as well as his father.
Strauss: memorials & more
To dive deeper into the Strauss legacy and immerse yourself in musical Vienna, try…
The golden statue
Certain attractions often have queues in front of them. Café Sacher and Café Central, for example. The Albertina Museum when Albrecht Dürer’s Young Hare comes out to play. And a golden statue in the Stadtpark.
This 1921 memorial to Strauss belongs on any list of iconic Viennese photo opportunities. Hence the queues. The statue shows the maestro playing a violin;
The Strauss Museum
The Strauss Museum Wien covers the Strauss dynasty as a whole (the father and all three composer sons). It’s rich in information, pictorial displays and audio stations…all curated with obvious love and respect for the music and the composers.
The museum closed during the pandemic and I have no up-to-date information (at the time of writing) on a reopening. Check locally for the latest news.
The Strauss star
Finally, wander around Vienna’s Ringstrassen boulevard and you might come across a Strauss star in the pavement. Find it at Kärntner Ring 12, outside a ticket office of the Wiener Philharmoniker.