I love reading composers' biographies! They are always so interesting. I'm reading Hans Fantel's The Waltz Kings and it is so intriguing/entertaining.
Johann Strauss I was an interesting guy. Very interesting. He had an equally interesting life. He was:
1. Locked up as a child by his master bookbinder. The bookbinder's wife felt bad and let him out. He ran away with his violin and fended for himself until a musician found him and took him under his wing.
2. Abducted (with his thirty-piece orchestra) by the Czar of Russia. The Czar made him give a concert. He did apologize afterward.
3. Father of ten children, the first of which was Johann Strauss II. He forbade Johann II to learn music. Johann II was to be Johann I's greatest rival.
4. Very sick on a long coach-ride back to Vienna. He miraculous survived the long trip, but just as they were in sight of Vienna, the horses spooked and the carriage smashed against a tree. Strauss emerged uninjured. Once in Vienna, he recovered (much to the chagrin of the newspaper writers; how anticlimactic!).
And so many more crazy things happened. I have just started reading about Johann Strauss, Jr, the composer of (among many other famous things) Die Fledermaus. He was an intense guy, much like his father. It's so interesting to watch families and what gets passed down from parent to child. Both Johann Strausses were extremely ambitious, determined, and musical. I'm looking forward to learning about the younger of the two.