Probate inventory of the estate of Johann Strauss, drawn up on 22 January 1900 by the notary Dr. Karl Frischauf, at his legal office in Wieden, Vienna’s 4th district.
Johann Baptist Strauss (Johann Strauss the Younger) was born on 25 October 1825 in St. Ulrich, a suburb of Vienna, at Rofranogasse 7-8 (today 1070 Vienna, Lerchenfelder Strasse 15), as the son of Johann Strauss (the Elder) and Anna Strauss. Although he grew up with music due to his father’s profession and showed great talent, his father wanted him to work at a bank. From 1836 he attended the Schottengymnasium in Vienna’s 1st district and subsequently the commercial branch of the Polytechnisches Institut in Vienna as of 1841.
It was only following the death of the composer Joseph Lanner in April 1843 that he opted to pursue a career as a musician and left the Polytechnisches Institut to obtain a solid music education from renowned Viennese teachers. He set up his own orchestra and made his successful debut on 15 October 1844 in Vienna’s 13th district, Hietzing, at Dommayer’s Casino (at the site of today’s Parkhotel Schönbrunn).
In the early years of his career while still largely unknown to the general public, the inexperienced composer and instrumentalist received support from several friends and benefactors in Vienna’s music scene. Adopting the pattern of his father’s Musikwerkstatt (and in competition with the Elder Strauss) they collaborated as a team in writing and orchestrating music. In order to avoid this rivalry with his father, he undertook several tours to the crown lands of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, but also to Belgrade and Bucharest. After his father’s unexpected death on 25 September 1849, Johann Strauss combined his own orchestra with his father’s and went on concert tours to Berlin, Racibórz, Wrocław and Warsaw.
Through the good offices of the Warsaw music publisher Rudolf Friedlein, Johann Strauss received an invitation from Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna, who was staying in Warsaw at the time. The performances before the Russian Tsar and Tsarina and the Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph, who was also in Warsaw, marked a big breakthrough. In 1852 he celebrated his first great musical success with the Annen-Polka. Between 1856 and 1865 and again in 1869, Johann Strauss spent several summer months in Pavlovsk near St. Petersburg. His greatly acclaimed performances there saw him ultimately emerge from his father’s shadow.
In 1863, he was finally awarded the coveted title of k.k. Hofballmusikdirektor after his previous requests had been denied in 1856 and 1859 due to his activities during the revolutionary year 1848. Among the numerous tours made by the composer – by then an international celebrity – particularly noteworthy appearances included Paris on the occasion of the 1867 World Exhibition, London, Boston and New York in 1872, Italy in 1874, St. Petersburg and Moscow in 1886 and Berlin in 1889. Numerous awards which he received in the course of his lifetime are ample testimony to his international fame.
His private life was not as successful as his musical career. His first wife was Jetty Treffz. She was seven years older and fulfilled the functions of lover, housekeeper, secretary and surrogate mother all at once. They were married on 27 August 1862 at St. Stephen’s Cathedra in Vienna, but Jetty died prematurely in 1878. A few weeks later he wedded a singer from Wrocław, Angelika Dittrich , called “Lili”, who left him four years later. In order to be able to marry his third wife Adele, who was 31 years younger than Strauss, he converted to the Protestant faith in 1887, left Austria and became a citizen of Saxony-Coburg, where Duke Ernst II enabled him to divorce his second wife and remarry.
It was on 22 May 1899 that he conducted his operetta Die Fledermaus for the last time at the Vienna Court Opera. Flushed with the effort he caught a cold and developed pneumonia, of which he died on 3 June 1899 in Vienna, at Igelgasse 4 (now Johann-Strauss-Gasse 4). He was survived by his third wife, Adele Strauss, but left no children. Provisions in his last will exclude his brothers and sisters from succession. The assets listed in this probate inventory, in particular securities, properties, orders and medals, awards and musical works, attest to his economic and social success as well as to his musical prowess.
In drawing up the notarial document listing the estate of Johann Strauss, the notary Dr. Karl Frischauf, with his office in Wieden, today the 4th district of Vienna, acted as court commissioner. The Notarial Code of 1855 already provided for notaries performing the function of court commissioners. It was only in 1970 that the respective provisions were amended by the Court Commissioners Act (Gerichtskommissärsgesetz) of 11 November 1970, which stipulated that notaries of the court district having jurisdiction for the deceased were to be designated at the court’s behest as court commissioners for probate proceedings.
The proceedings also include drawing up a probate inventory based on information provided by the heirs, through enquiries to banks, authorities and land registers, as well as appraisals by court experts. In the capacity of court commissioner, notaries are public servants within the meaning of the Criminal Code. They prepare all decisions and documents for judicial settlement, ensure that the lawful heirs become owners of the estate and thus contribute substantially to easing the work burden of the courts.
As far as the notary Dr. Karl Frischauf is concerned, it can be noted that he was elected President of the Lower Austrian Chamber of Notaries on 9 December 1889, a function which he exercised until 1899. He retired as a notary in 1902 and died on 30 August 1911 at the age of 76. The probate inventory, drawn up and signed by the notary Dr. Karl Frischauf in his capacity as court commissioner, was also signed by three appraisers for securities, properties and valuables, respectively, by the notary Dr. Julius Richter, having his office in Vienna-Landstraße, now the 3rd district of Vienna, as executor and administrator of the estate and by Richter’s assistant Dr. Edmund Kundegraber, who represented the widow Adele Strauss and her daughter Alice Epstein. Dr. Julius Richter was appointed notary in 1892 for Vienna’s first district. Before this appointment he served as the first chairman of the Association of Lower Austrian Notarial Candidates, founded on 26 October 1888. He died on 17 August 1905 while still in office. Dr. Edmund Kundegraber, who was appointed notary in 1916 for Vienna’s first district, died in office in 1925.
Large parts of the present inventory were written in an old script called German cursive, which is no longer in use today and therefore difficult to read for the general public. The penultimate page of the inventory contains a summary of the estate’s assets written in Latin script. It shows that Strauss left a remarkable estate worth 834,494.67 kronen. It must be noted that, upon the request of the heirs, the inventory precisely recorded the royalty rights deriving from the great musical oeuvre of the deceased but left the financial appraisal for a subsequent record. In 1892, one krone corresponded in purchasing power to about 10.2 euros. In 1892, the gulden that had been used in Austria since 1858 was replaced by the krone at a ratio of 1:2, but remained in circulation until 1900. The present inventory is therefore drawn up using both currencies. Other notable aspects are the numerous medals and orders awarded to Johann Strauss by Austria, Prussia, Coburg-Gotha, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Russia, Turkey, Persia and the French Legion of Honour listed under item III Valuables (Pretiosen), as well as his extensive real estate property listed under item VII. The original of the document is kept in the Vienna Stadt- und Landesarchiv (WStLA) under HptA-Akten, Persönlichkeiten S29.3 (Vlft.Johann Strauss).