CARL MICHAEL ZIEHRER (1843 - 1922)
Carl Michael Ziehrer was born into a wealthy Vienese family in 1843. He was a gifted pianist, and at first earned a living playing in a dancing school. He was persuaded to try his hand at conducting and, with finance from his father, he formed a dance band. His big break came at the age of 27 when he was appointed bandmaster of an Austrian army unit. Eight years later he formed an orchestra in Vienna, taking from the Strauss family many of their finest musicians and causing a major rift with that powerful clan. He continued as a bandmaster, and brought his infantry regiment band to such fame that they were invited to play in the 1893 Worlds Fair held in Chicago.
Many of Ziehrers compositions date back to his time at the dancing school, and when he experimented with various dance styles. In the 1890s he also had some success as an opertta composer, although writing largely in the style of Johann Strauss, which was outdated. He was considered by many to be Austria’s finest composer of marches. On his death in his native city in 1922, he left behind him 24 operettas, over 400 works for the ballroom, and more than 70 marches. It is thought that much of his music he wrote in his younger days was lost. Though highly regarded in his life, his feud with the Strauss family did not win him universal admiration in Vienna, and it was not until 1960 that the city erected a monument to commemorate his achievements.