Johann Strauss II was the son of Johann Strauss I, himself a composer. His brothers Josef Strauss and Eduard Strauss were also composers, but Johann II is the most famous of the family. He was known in his lifetime as "the waltz king," and the popularity of the waltz in Vienna through the 19th century is due in large part to him. Some of his polkas and marches are also well known, as is his operetta Die Fledermaus.
Strauss was born in Vienna. His father did not want him to become a musician, but he studied the violin secretly as a child. It was only when his father left the family when Johann II was 17 that he was able to concentrate fully on a career as a composer. Strauss went on to surpass his father's fame, and become the most popular of all waltz composers, extensively touring Austria, Poland and Germany with his orchestra. He also made visits to Russia, Great Britain, France, Italy and the United States. He was much admired by prominent composers of the day, including Johannes Brahms, who was also a personal friend.