John Suchet –
THE LAST WALTZ – The Strauss Family and Vienna
Hardback 277pp ISBN:978-1-78396-116-0
Published by Elliott and Thompson, London,
in association with CLASSIC FM RADIO.
Having written six books about Ludwig van Beethoven, upon whom he is an acknowledged expert, John Suchet has now turned his attention to the Strauss family – ‘dynasty’ as he describes it – and the Vienna of the nineteenth century.
It’s somewhat strange that the history of such a prolific group, (whose music is so well-loved and has maintained such universal enduring popularity), should be relatively unknown.
But a really fascinating story it is, and Suchet chronicles it in an eminently appealing way. He has quite obviously ’burned a lot of midnight oil’ researching his subject.
We learn about the two ‘Johanns’, father and son, together with Josef and Eduard, who at times were anything but a ‘happy family’, riven by tensions, feuds and jealousy, against the backdrop of a country undergoing an enormous upheaval as it hurtled, seemingly ‘kicking and screaming’, towards the twentieth century.
Throughout this personal and political chaos the Strausses continued to write the waltzes to which the Viennese – anxious to forget their troubles – danced and drank champagne !
The book is beautifully presented, and lavishly illustrated. Although not inexpensive, it is definitely a worthwhile addition to every serious music enthusiast’s library and would make a wonderful gift.
© June 2016