Carl Michael Ziehrer (1843 - 1922)
Carl Michael Ziehrer was born in Vienna, the son of a top hat maker and showed early musical talent. Funded by his father on the back of a contract with the publisher Haslinger, Ziehrer studied music at the Vienna Conservatory. He was launched in grand style at the Dianasaal in 1863 in a clear attempt by Haslinger to create a rival to Johann Strauss II.
Although Ziehrer was never to become a real threat to the great Maestro himself, he came closer than anyone else, especially to Johann's younger brother Eduard.
Ziehrer became a military bandmaster 3 times during his long career, the last and longest occasion being with the famous Hoch-und Deutschmeister Regiment with whom he represented Austria at the Chicago World Fair in 1893.
Ziehrer, like Johann Strauss II started as a conductor and composer for the ballroom and concert hall. In his early years his style was more like that of Lanner, but as he matured he developed a style of his own, often swaggering and highly rythmic, possibly a result of the military influence.
He, also like Johann II, moved into operetta, composing some 22 stage works up to the outbreak of the First World War, the most well known today being Die Landstreicher, composed in 1899 and Der Fremdenführer in 1902. Some of his best pieces were arranged from his operettas, such as the waltzes Herrreinspaziert!, In lauschiger Nacht and Samt und Seide. Of close to 600 works, his best known are the waltzes Weaner Mad'ln, Wiener Bürger and the Schönfeld March. He travelled widely in mainland Europe.
He was the last to hold the position of k.k. Hofballmusik-Direktor (Imperial-Royal Director of Music for the Balls at Court) by decree of the Emperor Franz Josef, the only non-Strauss to hold this position. He died penniless in 1922 following the ravages of the War, the last survivor of the so called composers of the Golden era.
More information on Ziehrer can be accessed via this link to the Carl Michael Ziehrer Stiftung website
© 1997-2001 John Diamond, the Johann Strauss Society of Great Britain