Composer Johann Strauss II.

(Photo: Public domain/Illustration: CPR/Brad Turner)

If Johann Strauss II had become a banker like his father wanted, he would’ve ended up a forgotten blip on the radar screen of the Austrian business world.

Instead, the younger Strauss went on to become Vienna’s famous Waltz King, forever remembered for his delightful dance music and operas.

What happened? He got help from his mom. Right under her husband’s nose, Frau Strauss got the boy secret music lessons from the concertmaster of Johann Senior’s own orchestra!

On Oct. 15, 1844, 19-year-old Johann Strauss II and his orchestra made a triumphant debut to a packed casino in Vienna. The crowd was so enthusiastic Strauss was forced to repeat some works multiple times.   

The press also gave the young Strauss a big thumbs-up: “Good evening Strauss Father, good morning Strauss son!” they wrote. And: "Strauss’s name will be worthily continued in his son…."

Thanks, Frau Strauss, for your part in giving the music world Vienna’s beloved Waltz King. Johann Strauss II is a name we’ll never forget!

Every year, the Vienna Philharmonic presents its beloved New Year’s Day concert -- a decades-long tradition -- and always includes music by Johann Strauss II and other members of the Strauss family.  

Hear the broadcast from Vienna at 9 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 1, on CPR Classical.