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Strakosch, Maurice and Max (brothers)

Maurice and Max Strakosch were brothers who emigrated from Austria. Their connection to the Pfaff's circle is tenuous; only two known sources tie them to Pfaff's directly. Furthermore, the sources indicate that contemporaries may have confused Maurice and Max with one another.

Maurice Strakosch was born in Moravia, of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire sometime around 1824. He quickly demonstrated a unique gift for music, performing as a concert pianist at the age of eleven. His musical talents also extended to opera where he gained renowned as a tenor. (“Death of Maurice Strakosch,” The New York Times, October 10, 1887; “Forty Years A Manager,” The New York Times, October 11, 1887) In 1843 he moved to New York to travel with Salvatore Patti, another tenor who managed a traveling opera troupe. (“Forty Years A Manager,” The New York Times, October 11, 1887; Katherine K. Preston, Opera on the Road: Traveling Opera Troupes in the United States 1825-1860, pg 129-130, 145). Maurice eventually managed his own troupes for a number of years, composing and performing his own pieces along the way (Preston, Opera on the Road, 203, 251). Maurice began his own company and developed a partnership with Bernard Ullman, which lasted until 1860. The two may have met at Pfaff's to discuss their careers (Lause, 59). One of the few sources that places Maurice in the Pfaff's circle is a recollection of journalist Charles Godfrey Leland who remembered Maurice as “hard to deal with and irritable” (Memoirs 344). Maurice died in Paris on October 9, 1887 (“Death of Maurice Strakosch,” The New York Times, October 10, 1887; “Forty Years A Manager,” The New York Times, October 11, 1887).

Max Strakosch was born in Moravia, of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire on September 27, 1835. He followed his brother to the United States in 1853. He was not known as a musical performer as was his brother, but Max did gain recognition as a theatre manager and impresario. In January, 1862, Max wrote a letter to Gottschalk offering him the chance for a round of American concerts. Gottschalk accepted and began the concert series in New York in February (G. Chase 296). After Maurice left to tour Europe and manage his sister-in-law Adelina Patti’s concerts, Max remained in the United States and continued to put on operatic performances, including Don Pasquale, Norma, Il Trovatore, La Favorita, Don Giovanni, and Lucrezia Borgia (Tompkins and Kilby 156, 225). Max frequently found himself arguing with creditors and city officials as he tried to pursue his management career. In the fall of 1874 Max sued the New York City Police Commissioner who had broken up some of Max’s performances in order to “preserve the peace.” Max contended that the police were not concerned with preserving order, but only wanted to shut down his performance because it was performed on a Sunday (“Sunday Concerts: Is the Law Forbidding Them Constitutional - The Case of Max Strakosch against the Police Commissioners” The New York Times, November 26, 1874). Not unlike many impresarios, Max struggled to maintain the finances necessary for the production of his shows (“Max Strakosch Bankrupt,” The New York Times, May 27 1881). In 1878 Max was sued for a breach of contract of marriage and attempting to seduce a woman (“Max Strakosch’s Trouble,” The New York Times, June, 14 1878). He did achieve a measure of success and in 1883 Max opened his own theatre in New York (“Max Strakosch’s New Theatre,” The New York Times, June 1, 1883). In the obituary of Charles Ignatius Pfaff, Max is mentioned as one of the "Knights of the Round Table" who had made their impression on the establishment ("In and about the City: Death of Charles I. Pfaff," 2) In 1888 Max fell ill and struggled with his health for the remaining four years. He died on March 17, 1892 (“Max Strakosch Dead,” The New York Times March 18, 1892).