Josef Strauss died on 22 July 1870.
I’ll tell more about him in a another post, but here’s a little introduction.
Father Strauss didn’t want his children to become musicians and Josef was to become an architect and engineer (he invented a street sweeping machine for the City of Vienna, a machine which I call by the name of Josef when I see one 🙂 ).
But that plan changed when his brother Johann was very ill and Josef had to replace him at the head of the Strauss Orchestra in 1853. He never returned to the profession he so loved.
Just like his father and brother, Josef soon conducted the orchestra with the violin under his chin and wrote his own compositions.
Josef led the Strauss Orchestra with his brother Johann until their brother Eduard joined in. After Johann became k.k. Hofballmusik-Direktor, Josef and Eduard led the family orchestra.
Under Josef, the repertoire of the Strauss Orchestra grew bigger and not only did he perform the usual dance pieces of the time, he also played excerpts from operas by Wagner and Verdi and compositions by Liszt, Schumann, Schubert, Offenbach, Beethoven, Berlioz and others.
Besides waltzes, polkas and marches, Josef also composed some songs and demanding piano pieces. I’m not an expert but it is said that Josef was very resourceful in both harmonic and melodic details. His music sometimes sounds kind of poetic, pessimistic and romantic. His brother Johann may be my favourite Strauss but Josef is my special Strauss: the first Strauss music I ever heard in Vienna was Josef’s.
In 1857, Josef married his childhood sweetheart Caroline Pruckmayer. They had one daughter.
Josef undertook a couple of travels to conduct abroad. From his last one he returned home very ill. He died, possibly of a brain tumour, in the family home on 22 July 1870 at half past one in the afternoon.
His funeral was held on 25 July 1870. As was custom then, people of all ranks could pay their last respect until just before the cortège left for the cemetery.
By three, a huge crowd of admirers had gathered at the house and the neighbouring streets.
Just before four pm, the coffin was put on a carriage drawn by six horses and left for the Kirche der Barmherzigen Brüder in the Taborstraße, where the funeral ceremony took place.
After the ceremony, the funeral procession went to the St. Marxer Friedhof where Josef was buried in the family grave.
In 1874 a new cemetery was consecrated: the Zentralfriedhof. At that time it was the largest cemetery in Europe and was an example for others. The Viennese didn’t like it in the beginning because if was remote and bare. To change that, the municipality decided to erect Eherengräber (honorary graves) for historically important people. The transfer of their remains started in 1884.
In May 1908, the city council approved the dedication of an honorary grave for Josef Strauss, on the Zentralfriedhof. The councilors gave their permission not only for Josef’s remains to be reburied in that new grave, but also those of his mother and grandmother. A commemorative plaque on the site of the original grave reminds us of the fact that Josef and his mother were buried in the St. Marxer Friedhof.
On 12 October 1909 Josef was buried in his honorary grave. Josef Strauss, his mother and grandmother found their final resting place in the honorary grave number 44 in Gruppe 32A.
The headstone by the firm Rohrer und Puschl.
The remains of Josefine Waber, Anna Strauss’s sister and in the family known as ‘Aunt Pepi’, have also been transferred from the St. Marxer Friedhof to this grave. She accompanied her nephews Johann and Josef on their journeys to St. Petersburg, where she collected and saved up the salaries and attended to Johann’s housekeeping.
For a visit to his honorary grave, one enters the cemetery by Tor 2 (Gate 2), a monumental entrance with two large columns. From here, a wide path leads to Gruppe 32A, where the grave can be found.
All pictures were taken by me during my visits to Vienna.