Tom and Jerry in the Hollywood Bowl

Die Fledermaus
Johann Strauss, Jr. (1825-1899)

Die Fledermaus, by Johann Strauss, is a typical tale of disguise, love and intrigue.

Gabriel Eisenstein has to go to jail, but having told his wife Rosalinda he is going there, he is persuaded by his friend Falke to go first to a grand party given by the Prince, and go on to jail afterwards. The prison governor arrives to find Rosalinda with Alfred (an old flame), mistakes him for Eisenstein and takes Alfred off. Alfred agrees to the deception to preserve Rosalinda's reputation.

Rosalinda's maid Adele and the prison governor meanwhile are invited to the same party, and attend, each pretending to be one of the peerage. Falke also invites Rosalinda to the party, but tells her to wear a mask. He flirts with the ladies at the party, and in particular, unwittingly, with his own wife, Rosalinda, who succeeds in acquiring his watch.

After the party Eisenstein goes to the prison, and much to his surprise meets the prison governor whom he has just left at the party believing to be a Marquis. The governor is equally surprised: not only did he believe Eisenstein to be a noble, but he also has "Eisenstein", in the shape of Alfred, safely locked up. They all go off to confront Rosalinda, and Eisenstein is full of righteous indignation over Rosalinda and Alfred, until Rosalinda reveals that it was her that Eisenstein had been flirting with at the party. At this point the entire company arrives to learn that the whole thing has been set up by Falke - the "bat" of the title - as an entertainment for the Prince. Eisenstein and Rosalinda forgive each other, and all ends happily.

Biography and Music

In the 19th century, Viennese music (dance) was dominated by Johann Strauss Sr. and his three sons Johann Jr., Josef and Eduard. Johann Strauss Jr. in all composed over 170 waltzes, the most popular being:

Blue Danube (1867)
Tales from the Vienna Woods (1868)
Perpetual Motion (1869)
Roses from the South (1880)
Emperor Waltz (1888)

Strauss also wrote many polkas including:

Thunder and Lightning Polka
Tritch Tratch Polka

And a most famous Strauss march was actually written by Johann Sr.:

Radetzky March

All together making about 500 pieces of music.

He wrote 16 operettas, Die Fledermaus (The Bat, 1874) and Der Zigeunerbaron (The Gypsy Baron, 1885) were the most successful. Johann's music is as popular today as it was back then. Johann Jr. will always be known as The Waltz King, and will live forever in the music world.

Johann Strauss, Jr. (center) was born October 25, 1825 the first of five children. Johann Jr. became a musician against his father's wishes, and was followed by both his brothers (Josef, 1827-1870 and Eduard, 1835-1916). Johann secretly studyed the violin with his mother's encouragement, making his first attempt at writing a waltz at 6 years of age.

From 1841 on, Johann Strauss Jr. was a student of the Polytechnic school. He was not very interested in accounting and was expelled from the school for "misbehavior" two years after he joined the school. No one could help him not even a private teacher. Johann skipped the private lessons and spent all his time studying music. He still took violin lessons from his mother for a year, then he got a permit from the police that allowed him to play with an orchestra of 12-15 people in public houses. On October 15th 1844, he performed his first concert at "Dommayer" in Hietzing. Shortly afterwards his first compositions were published by Mechetti.

Now, a musical competition started between father and son. In 1845, when he was 20 years old, Johann, Jr. became the conductor of the second civil regiment, with the father conducting the first civil regiment since 1834. When it was time for the military parades, the competitors stood together on the same side, an awkward site for many.

When his father died in September 1849, Johann took over his father's orchestra, but the musicians wouldn't allow it due to disagreements in the past between father and son. From 1852 to 1865, he was the conductor of the carnival balls presented by the law and technology students.

After the carnival 1853, Strauss became extremely ill, and was not able to perform for half a year. His brother Josef took over Johann's job as conductor. By the summer of 1853 he had recovered and in 1854 he resumed his composing.

On August 27th 1862, Johann Strauss married the singer Henriette "Jetty" Treffz at the Stephansdom (St. Stephen's cathedral). They lived in a house in Hietzing near the Schlosspark Schonbrunn. Jetty became his business manager, made arrangements for his concert tours, theater contracts, and all the associated correspondence. She in fact is credited with guiding Johann towards the composition of operetta.

In 1870, the Strauss family had witnessed three family members deaths. Johann's mother, Anna Strauss, died in February, brother Josef in July, and his aunt in November.

Jetty died suddenly of a heart attack on April 8th 1878. Her death was terrible for Johann Strauss. He became totally helpless and was unable even to attend his wife's funeral.

Johann was unable to face life alone, and only seven weeks after Jetty's death, at the age of 52 Strauss married the actress and singer Angelika "Lili" Dittrich, 25 years his junior. Lili soon realized that she had married a compulsive worker whose way of life she was unable to comprehend. In 1882, Lili left Johann for a director.

With the breakdown of his starcross second marriage, Johann turned for consolation to the young and attractive Adele Deutsch, who swiftly bewitched the 56-year-old composer. Although the Roman Catholic Church would not recognize Johann's divorce from Lili, Adele took up residence with Johann, and confidently set about filling the void left by Johann's first wife, Jetty. Johann and Adele were finally legally married in 1887

Johann continued to write music. It was in the process of writing a ballet (Aschenbroedel) that he was taken ill with a respiratory ailment, developed pnumonia and died on June 3, 1899 at the age of 73 in the arms of his devoted wife, Adele.

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