The Last Waltz by John Suchet

Review published on June 25, 2017.

I thought this might be the sort of non-fiction book that you dip into for information and to learn more about a particular subject, but I found myself reading and enjoying it almost as a story rather than a factual account. The lives and relationships of the Strauss family were certainly fascinating. The sub-title is The Strauss Dynasty and Vienna and this really sums up the book, sinces not only do we learn about Johann Strauss and his three sons, but there is also a wealth of interesting information about Vienna in the nineteenth century and the decline of the Hapsburg Empire.

Johann the Elder caught the mood of the times with his new waltz music, although he seems to have been a very difficult person and certainly treated his wife and sons badly. The feud with his oldest son and how Johann the Younger went on to become the new waltz king makes a fascinating story. The book is equally accessible and interesting when John Suchet is writing about the rise of cafe culture in Vienna or Emperor Franz Josef and the tragedies in the Hapsburg royal family.

John Suchet skilfully mixes the family dramas with informative details of history and place and no great knowledge of music is needed to enjoy this book. It’s not the sort of book to appeal to reading groups but it is excellent as a personal read.

Berwyn Peet 4/2

The Last Waltz by John Suchet
Elliott & Thompson 9781783963256 pbk May 2017


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