Home » “Straussmania”: Popculture of the 19th century

“Straussmania”: Popculture of the 19th century

The multimedia project Straussmania, beginning in December 2022, is dedicated to the places and
protagonists of popular culture of the 19th century. In individual chapters, Straussmania tells of remarkable venues throughout the districts of Vienna such as the New World (Neue Welt) in Hietzing, Sperl in Leopoldstadt, and, the Apollo Hall (Apollosaal) in Schottenfeld. All of the visited locations appropriately vibrate in three-quarter time because they are connected to the music of the Strauss family and their contemporaries. Straussmania is a joint project of ORF.at, the Vienna Institute for Cultural and Contemporary History (vicca.at) and the Library of Vienna.

Special thanks to the authors of the project “Straussmania”.

List of authors

Map picturing disappeared places of Viennese popular culture

  • December 31: The Complex History Behind a Vienna Philharmonic Tradition

    A global event today, the orchestra’s annual New Year’s Concert took shape during dark days in Austrian history. If the Vienna Philharmonic’s annual New Year’s Concert is a global success, its legacy and reach rest on five pillars: a marvelous orchestra; internationally renowned conductors; a timeless repertoire, by the Strauss family and other composers of the 19th century; a splendid location, the gilded Musikverein; and TV broadcasts watched most recently by some 1.2 million people in 92 countries on five continents. Continue reading

  • 30. December: The Strauss Brothers and the Music Society

    Otto Biba After the city walls of Vienna were torn down and the surrounding moat filled in, a magnificent boulevard was to be built in its place. The Society of Friends of Music (Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde) then received a plot of land from Emperor Franz Joseph I for the construction of a new Music Society … Continue reading

  • December 29: Birthplace of the waltz king Strauss son

    In the noble district of Hietzing, at least according to its name, a coffee house today reminds of a once famous establishment: in “Dommayers Casino” the great composers played in the 19th century – but above all, Johann Strauss junior made his debut as a conductor there at the age of not quite 19, celebrated by the whole of Vienna, and from then on rivaled his famous father. Continue reading

  • 28 December: This is how a successful music piece works in 2023.

    If a waltz in the 19th century sometimes wanted to be a symphony in the short space of eight minutes, in the present day the challenges to a song are no less great. Today, one has between 2.10 and 2.40 minutes to bring one’s own composition to the audience, says musician and former song contest participant Cesar Sampson in a Straussmania interview. Continue reading

  • 27 December: When Vienna became a lagoon city

    In the last third of the 19th century, entertainment in Vienna increasingly focused on sensation. In its most spectacular form, it offered its own worlds of experience that allowed the public to immerse itself in a different reality. This form of escapism, including the more or less authentic flair of the city that gave it its name, was offered, for example, in “Venice in Vienna. Continue reading

  • December 26: Strauss music on tour in Europe

    Extensive concert tours of the family dynasty carry the fame of the Viennese waltz and especially of the Strauss family throughout Europe in the 19th century. All the Strausses go on tour abroad, the family business flourishes. Eduard Strauss is particularly restless. Last but not least, the third-born Strauss son receives more recognition far from home. (Full text on ORF Topos) Continue reading

  • 25 December: Sophiensäle: From steam bath to dance floor

    In the Biedermeier era, Vienna’s first Russian steam bath was built, but its resourceful owner soon converted part of the location into a “multi-purpose hall. This was later expanded, and the Sophienbad eventually became the Sophiensäle. The dancing Viennese are thrilled and spin here at balls of all kinds. Musically only the best is offered, also all “Sträusse”; play on. (Full text on ORF Topos) Continue reading

  • 24th December: Eduard Strauss I. and Eduard Strauss II. in America

    During a concert tour of Germany Eduard Strauss got to know the American concert agent David Blakely. After lengthy negotiations a contract was signed at the end of February 1890: concerts and matinees were to be given in more than 70 towns and cities in the north-east of the USA and Canada with the Strauss Orchestra (42 musicians and three assistants) between May and December 1890. In particular, regular events were to be held on the newly opened Madison Square Garden in New York. Continue reading

  • 23 December: Contemporary History Sketches of the Ball of the City of Vienna

    It was to take nineteen years before the distinguished “Citizens’ Ball”, which premiered in 1872in the presence of Emperor Franz Joseph, moved from the Redoutensaal of the Vienna Hofburgto the newly built City Hall as the “Ball of the City of Vienna”. Quite deliberately, theincreasingly self-confident bourgeoisie symbolically stood up to the “court balls” and theparticularly exclusive aristocratic “court balls”. Joining this progressive trend at the openingon February 1, 1890 were Carl Michael Zierer, who composed the Viennese Citizen (WienerBürger) waltz (op. 419), and Johann Strauss with his City Hall Ball Dances (Rathaus-Ball-Tänzen) (op. 439). Continue reading

  • 22 December: “Colossal” dancing pleasure in Brigittenau

    In the Biedermeier era, many of Vienna’s suburbs offered the pleasure-seeking city dwellers their own dance establishment. A special feature here was the “Colosseum” in the suburban town of Brigittenau. The attraction that gave it its name was a gigantic elephant made of papier-mâché with a volcano model in its giant skull. If contemporary reports are to be believed, the dancing and partying of the masses was pretty much the order of the day. Continue reading

  • 21 December : Dancing pleasure at the “Casino Zögernitz” in Döbling

    In today’s 19th district of Vienna, there was also a place dedicated to the Viennese’s dancing pleasure in the 19th century. A peasant boy from Lower Austria had the “Casino Zögernitz” built in Oberdöbling. The establishment was successful – even the famous Sträusse conducted their bands here and performed many a composition for the first time in front of an audience. Continue reading

  • 20 December: Dance with the “Schrammeln” at the Gschwandner

    The Gschwandner establishment in Hernals started out in the Biedermeier era as a typical Heuriger. In addition to food and drink, however, music has always played an important role. The legendary “Schrammeln” also played there for dancing. Thanks to various additions, the pub eventually became one of the most important entertainment establishments for concerts and balls. Continue reading

  • 19 December: The “Güldene Waldschnepfe” as a “Schrammelmusik” stronghold

    Biedermeier Vienna is not only crazy about waltzes, folk music is also experiencing a peak at this time: the legendary “Schrammeln” play music to listen to as a quartet and are extremely successful with it across all social classes. Their musical headquarters at that time was in Dornbach. The “Güldene Waldschnepfe” becomes the stronghold of Schrammel music. Continue reading

  • 18 December: From the cowshed to the dance-crazy Colosseum

    The Viennese of the Biedermeier era were so waltz-crazy that a resourceful businessman even had a cowshed converted into a magnificent dance establishment. With success, Carl Schwenders’ “Colosseum” entertainment paradise attracts dance enthusiasts in droves. Musically, they are offered only the best. The most sought-after ensembles of the city perform, including, of course, the bands of the Strauss brothers. Continue reading

  • 17 December: A casino for pleasure in Baumgarten

    Entrepreneurs were not the only ones to create all the opulent entertainment establishments where the Viennese danced in 19th century Vienna. In Baumgarten, today’s 14th district of Vienna, the city council once decided to build a venue. It was used very successfully for various events. And even the early television is connected with the “Baumgartner Casino”. Continue reading

  • 16 December: Slide and Strauss at the”Meidlinger Tivoli”

    Around 1830, the Viennese were spoiled for choice when it came to venues for the ultimate in musical enjoyment and dancing. Two resourceful entrepreneurs nevertheless deliver a new attraction: a “slide” with a music pavilion at the Tivoli on “Grüner Berg”. The establishment is highly successful, thanks in part to the choice of music. Two Strauss´s perform with their “Piecen”. Continue reading

  • 15 December: “Altes Landgut” – amusement park with waltz music in Favoriten

    If the offer was attractive enough, the Viennese waltzers in the Biedermeier era also liked to go to the suburbs. A resourceful entrepreneur once had the idea of converting a disused brickworks into an amusement park in the countryside. With success. For several years, the Alte Landgut in Favoriten offered an unbeatable combination of Viennese waltzes and a colorful bouquet of attractions. Continue reading

  • 14 December: Viennesse waltz in the “Rossau”

    Even in Alsergrund, today’s 9th district of Vienna, the public once danced to music in three-four time. In the pub “Zum Weißen Schwan,” for example, Johann Strauss’s father was the bandmaster on several occasions. He even became an event organizer on his own account in this entertainment establishment. But also the fancy decoration should attract the Viennese to dance in the Rossau. Continue reading

  • 13 December: The “Sträußelsäle”: waltzes, politics and café society

    Oliver Rathkolb The traditional Sträußelsäle have experienced a lot in the course of their history. The audience once danced here to the beat of three-four time. But political issues were also discussed in the Sträußelsäle, when Karl Marx spoke about “exploitation under capitalism” in the revolutionary year of 1848. And the famous Max Reinhardt later … Continue reading

  • 12 December: The Apollo Hall and “Zum Großen Zeisig”

    The Apollosaal on Schottenfeld was an opulently furnished entertainment establishment in 19th century Vienna. Anyone who crossed the threshold of the location was drawn into the spell of the magnificent rooms – complete with marble columns, artificial ponds, waterfalls and real trees. All this shone in the glow of thousands of candles, while the Viennese turned to the music in a waltzing rhythm. Continue reading

  • 11th December: Music in public space

    In 19th century Vienna, the enjoyment of music was not reserved for the elite educated bourgeoisie. Rather, a diverse music scene existed in the public sphere. Bands played in the parks and gardens, and beggar musicians provided acoustic background music in the backyards. Barrel organ players were part of the street scene – and even provided orchestral music thanks to their instruments. (Full text on ORF Topos) Continue reading

  • 10 December: The New Dreher Beer Hall

    The New Dreher Beer Hall (Neue Dreher’sche Bierhalle) in Vienna’s third district not only offered a popular concert venue for well-known Viennese bands, it also provided the stage for the premier performances of the New Vienna Women’s Orchestra (Neue Wiener Damen-Orchester).  This group of eight female musicians was led by violinist, conductor and pianist, Josephine Weinlich.In 1859, a dignified inn designed by Anton Dreher the elder (1810—1863) was located at Landstraßer Hauptstraße 97—101.  Situated on the former site of two smaller buildings, including the inn Zur grünen Weintraube, Dreher’s inn boasted a large open-air restaurant and dance hall which could host 3,000 patrons. Continue reading

  • 9 December: The Johann Strauss-Theater and “Zum Schwarzen Bock”

    Vienna Wieden was once home to the Johann Strauss Theater, whose eventful history leads through just five decades and from the operetta temple to the Scala Theater. Even Josephine Baker once performed here with her revue. Most recently, the theater became a stage for political plays of left-wing orientation and staged, for example, the controversial Berthold Brecht in Vienna. (Full text on ORF Topos) Continue reading

  • 8 December: Inn becomes dance hall

    It seems that the Viennese could not get enough of music and dancing during the Biedermeier era. There were already many attractive venues when the “Golden Pear” (Zur Goldenen Birn) inn was renovated and remodeled. This inn became one of the most popular entertainment establishments of the period. The name Strauss was, once again, closely associated with this success of this musical destination. Continue reading

  • 7. December: Entertainment culture made in Vienna

    Vienna of the 19th century offered first class musical variety and with it made the Strauss family superstars. This is also where the globalization of the waltz began to go viral. Dances became major events; entertainment became a spectacle. Though the social contrasts were great, mainstream character and escapism dominated popular culture offerings. Continue reading

  • 6 December: The revolutionary Blue Bottle (Zur Blauen Flasche)

    The eventful year 1848 brought a bourgeois revolution to Vienna. Johann Strausssenior and junior were involved on both sides musically, but for one Strauss hisinvolvement was, meanwhile, quite momentous. A piece of musical history was(presumably) written the Blue Bottle Inn (Gasthaus Zur Blauen Flasche) in thedistrict of Ottakring. Interestingly, caterwauling (Katzenmusik) played acacophonous supporting role in all of this. Continue reading

  • 5 December: The first superstars of the music world, Four Strauss´s in portrait

    The Vienna of the 19th century produced a tremendous variety of music. To this day, however, one name in particular is associated with it: The Strauss family of musicians shaped Vienna’s music and entertainment culture for decades. Johann Strauss and his sons, above all Johann Strauss Son, became the first superstars of the international music business. Including extensive world tours and groupies in crowds. Continue reading

  • 4 December: “Schwenders Neue Welt”, Imposing amusement park with music and dance

    With his dance halls and coffee houses, Carl Schwender was one of the most successful developers during the Biedermeier era. His most spectacular enterprise was undoubtedly the “New World” (Neue Welt) amusement park. Thousands of Viennese flocked to Vienna’s thirteenth district of Hietzing to listen to the lively waltzes of the Strauss brothers, for example. Sometimes these two even come in a pair to the New World. Continue reading

  • 3 December: Dissappeared places of Viennese popular culture in the second district

    In Biedermeier times, the pleasure of dancing also attracted the Viennese to the suburbs. Thus the Sperlsaal in the then suburban Leopoldstadt became one of the most popular entertainment establishments. Here, elegant Vienna spins to the most lively waltzes. waltz sounds. Especially for Johann Strauss’s father, “der Sperl” became his favorite pub. And the first stage for a large number of his works. Continue reading

  • 2 December: Dissappeared places of Viennese popular culture in the first district

    Around 1820, the “Cortische Kaffeehaus” in the People’s Garden (Volksgarten) was a particularly popular café frequented by aristocracy and bourgeoisie. The location also became a gathering place for the, so to say, hipster scene of the time. One reason for its great appeal was the popular dance music performed by Joseph Lanner and Johann Strauss senior and junior, among others. Consequently, the establishment became the stage for many a musical premiere. Continue reading

  • 1 December, Straussmania: Pop culture before 1900

    Our image of the Biedermeier era is slightly distorted. It is not completely true that the era of the authoritarian state Chancellor Metternich only led us to retreat into a private sphere when one considers the music played in public. Even before the revolution of 1848, a popular culture was emerging in the imperial capital and royal seat of Vienna that was supported by new dance music. Instead of being barricaded in the dark at home, thousands joined in the movement. This revolution was founded not least by the Strauss family, but also by Lanner, Ziehrer and many other creative musicians. Continue reading