Franz Strauss, in addition to being the father of Richard Strauss, was a composer and famous horn player frequently demanded by Wagner to perform at Bayreuth. The 'Joachim of the horn', as he was known, wrote a number of works for his instrument, but none are as popular as the Nocturno.
Published as his opus 7, this romantic piece for horn and piano is a perennial favourite among players. Friedrich Gabler has also prepared a version for horn and strings, such is the popularity of the piece.
One of Germany's leading horn players in the latter half of the nineteenth century, Franz Strauss also wrote a number of works, including a horn concerto and, his most performed work, the Nocturne op. 7. He is chiefly remembered, however, as the father of the great Richard Strauss, one of Germany's finest composers.
Born illegitimately on 26 February 1822 in Parkstein, Bavaria, Franz Strauss was the latest in a long line of musicians on his mother's side. The young Franz received tuition from his uncle Johann Georg Walter in clarinet, guitar and all the brass instruments. At the age of five he also began to play the violin and was later apprenticed to his other uncle, Franz Michael Walter, the warder-master of Nabburg. At the age of nine, Franz was already required for nightly tower-guard duty, and would play in his uncle's band.
A growing affection for the horn prompted him to become a citizen of Munich in 1845 and begin a concert tour through Bavaria with other wind-players. Already composing, he joined the Munich Court Orchestra in 1847 and married Elise Maria Seiff in 1851. Unfortunately, she died along with their two children, and for almost ten years, Franz lived unmarried.
Franz's immense talent for the horn was soon recognised and he began teaching at the Munich Academy. With a suitable position behind him, he proposed marriage to Josephine Pschorr, and was accepted. They married in 1863 and in June the following year, Josephine gave birth to Richard Strauss.
At the height of his fame as a horn player, nicknamed "the Joachim of the horn" by Hans von Bülow, Franz continued his composing, including a horn concerto in c minor. He was frequently in demand at Bayreuth to play for Richard Wagner, even though he disliked the man and his music. In 1871 he was appointed a professor at the Munich Academy, and received further honours from King Ludwig II. He continued to supervise his son's compositions until the early 1880s.
Franz retired in 1889 to devote himself to his son's career and is generally acknowledged to be the most important musical influence on Richard.