The Viennese Waltz tradition is very much alive today as it was in Strauss’ time
Josef Strauss was part of the famous waltz family; he was the middle child of Johann Strauss I. Josef’s older brother was Johann II and his younger sibling was Eduard. His father wanted Josef to join the military; instead he became an engineer and designer. Growing up, he showed talent as an artist, painter, poet, and composer, of course.
Josef joined the family orchestra and his early forays into composing were appreciated by the waltz-loving audiences. He decided to pursue composition, and wrote many waltzes and polkas. He did not live a long life; he was prone to dizzy spells, even passing out sometimes, and migraines. He passed out during a performance and died shortly after at the age of 43. Who knows what lasting fame he may have achieved as a waltz composer; Johann II was moving on to stage works, and Josef would have naturally taken the waltz baton and ran with it.
This waltz, “The Mysterious Powers of Magnetism (Dynamiden)” not only has a terrific title, but is also in a minor key, which is unusual for the Viennese waltz form. While I understand why his older brother’s waltzes were more popular, I find Josef’s music intriguing – it’s a little darker, and less “composed to please”. Sometimes I like music right away, other times I don’t; then there is music that intrigues me, and makes me want to know more. That was my reaction to Josef Strauss’ music.
Josef Strauss was born August 20, 1827 in what is now Vienna, Austria, and died July 22, 1870, also in Vienna.