‘You’re the melody from a symphony by Strauss, / You’re a Bendel bonnet, / a Shakespeare sonnet, / you’re Mickey Mouse!’ The ‘Strauss’ in Cole Porter’s ‘You’re the Top’ is most probably Johann Strauss II (1825-1899), even though he was a composer of waltzes and other popular works, and not symphonies. The fact is, Porter would have known that the name Strauss would have meant ‘classical music’ to his audience. Composer of ‘The Blue Danube’, ‘Tales from the Vienna Woods’, and the operetta Die Fledermaus, Johann Strauss II trained as a banker before following in his father’s footsteps and becoming a conductor and composer. (His father, Johann Strauss I, is the composer of the ‘Radetzky March’.) It turned out to be a wise move, as he enjoyed a 50-year career in music and became known as the ‘Waltz King’. In addition to the works cited above, his many successes include ‘Wine, Women and Song!’, the ‘Tritsch-Tratsch Polka’ and the ‘Emperor Waltz’. Strauss’s music reached a different audience altogether when Stanley Kubrick used ‘The Blue Danube’ for one of the remarkable spaceship sequences in his trippy cult film, 2001: A Space Odyssey. Johann Strauss II is no relation to the composer Richard Strauss.
© Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra