Monday, February 4, 2013
Joseph Count Radetzky von Radetz was born in Bohemia and became an orphan at an early age, getting his first education from his grandfather. After the granfather's death young Joseph continued his education at the Theresa Academy in Vienna and later joined the Austrian Army, where he quickly made a brilliant career, fighting first against Turks and later, against Napoleon. He was known for his courage and combat skills.
At the age of 39, in 1805 he was promoted to major-general and later to lieutenant field marshal, but his career was put on hold, because Radetzky wanted to reform the army and his zeal earned him a lot of enemies. He finally became field marshal at the age of seventy and later took part in Italian campaign of 1848-1849, suppressing the insurgency against Austrian rule. The campaign was a success and the Count was made Viceroy of Lombardy-Venetia.
Radetzky was considered a fair ruler and a gentleman even by his enemies. He stayed in the saddle till his death at the age of 91, due to an accident. (I seem to have read somewhere that he fell off his horse and broke his hip, but couldn't find mentioning of it in Wikipedia). If you want to know more about him, here is the link to the Wiki article.
Radetzky March was composed by Johann Strauss the father during the revolution of 1848. According to the British TV series about Strauss family, he did it to counterbalance the behaviour of his sons, one of whom joined the revolutionaries, while his eldest son Johann, also a composer, wrote music for them. Whether it's historically true, I'm not sure.
Radetzky March stays popular to this day and is always played as the last piece of the famous New Year Concert of the Philharmonic Orchestra of Vienna.