Strauss, Johann, Jr.


Strauss, Johann, Jr.
(1825–1899)
   The “Waltz King,” as Johann Strauss Jr. was known, was born in Vienna on October 25, 1825, the son of composer and conductor Johann Strauss Sr. He studied the violin and by 1844 was conducting his own dance band in a Viennese restaurant. When his father died in 1849, Johann combined his orchestra with that of his father, and in 1865–1866 toured Europe and Russia to great acclaim. He conducted equally successful concerts in New York and Boston in 1876. Johann Strauss Jr. composed several Viennese operettas, including Die Fledermaus (The Bat, 1874). Furthermore, he wrote 150 waltzes; the most perennially popular of them all is An der schönen, blauen Donau (“On the Beautiful Blue Danube,” 1867). Indeed, its main theme is one of the best-known melodies in all of 19th-century music.
   Composer GERALD FRIED had worked a Strauss waltz, Künsterleben (“Artist’s Life,” 1867) into the scene at the officer’s ball in PATHS OF GLORY (1957); and STANLEY KUBRICK employed “The Blue Danube” in the temporary music track for his film 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968), while he was editing the picture. Originally, all of the temporary tracks, which also included an excerpt from Richard Strauss’s ALSO SPRACH ZARATHUSTRA, were to be replaced by an original underscore by ALEX NORTH. But Kubrick ultimately opted to retain the “temporary” tracks for the final musical score of the movie, in place of North’s original music. Film composer Jerry Goldsmith recorded North’s unused score for 2001 with the National Philharmonic for Varèse Sarabande in 1993. He said at the time that he had had the occasion to hear North’s score before he saw 2001. “The use of ‘The Blue Danube Waltz’ was amusing for a moment,” he commented;“ but it quickly became distracting because it is so familiar. ” By contrast, North’s waltz, composed for the same scene (a spaceship landing at a space station), was “original and provocative. ”
   On the contrary,“The Blue Danube,” that accompanies the docking of a spaceship at Space Station 5, which orbits 200 miles above the earth, expresses the order and harmony of the universe, and possesses a flow and tranquility lacking in North’s waltz for the same scene. As for the familiarity of Strauss’s waltz, David Wishart responds that “The Blue Danube,” which Kubrick invoked to accompany flights from Earth to the Moon, is “a musical foray so familiar and so comfortable,” that its “inherent gloriousness allays the piece from descending into the realms of Muzak,” the sort of music heard in elevators.
   In addition, “the brilliant idea of using ‘The Blue Danube’ not only invokes the music of the spheres with a deliciously buoyant humor,” maintains MICHEL CIMENT, “but adds a dash of Kubrick’s characteristic nostalgia for a period when Johann Strauss’s melody cradled travellers on board the Big Ferris Wheel in Vienna’s Prater” amusement park. As a matter of fact, Space Station 5 resembles a revolving Ferris wheel as it spins gracefully on its way, hundreds of miles above the Earth, to the strains of “The Blue Danube. ” “It’s hard to find anything much better than ‘The Blue Danube,’” Kubrick told Gene Phillips,“for depicting grace and beauty in turning. It also gets as far away as you can get from the cliché of space music. ”
   References
   ■ Ciment, Michel, Kubrick, trans. Gilbert Adair (New York: Faber and Faber, 2001);
   ■ Phillips, Gene, Stanley Kubrick: A Film Odyssey (New York: Popular Library, 1977);
   ■ Wishart, David, Music from the Films of Stanley Kubrick, CD liner notes (New York: Silva Screen Records, 1999).

The Encyclopedia of Stanley Kubrick. . 2002.

Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Strauss, Johann, the Younger —  (1825–1899) Austrian composer known for waltzes, polkas, marches, and operettas. His father, Johann Strauss the Elder (1804–1849), brothers Eduard (1835–1916) and Josef (1827–1870), and son Johann Strauss III (1866–1939) were also composers.… …   Bryson’s dictionary for writers and editors

  • Strauss, Johann (Baptist) — born Oct. 25, 1825, Vienna, Austria died June 3, 1899, Vienna Austrian composer. His father, Johann Strauss the Elder, was a self taught musician who established a musical dynasty in Vienna. A violinist, he played in a dance orchestra from 1819;… …   Universalium

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