This Day in the Arts — February 13 in Music History

February 12, 2013

Abgerissene Tage eines KalendersOn February 13, 1867, in Vienna, Austria, a conductor named Johann Herbeck raised his baton to conduct a “choral waltz” which he had commissioned by none other than the Waltz King himself, Johann Strauss, Jr.  By all accounts, in its choral form it was not a success and might have fallen into obscurity if Strauss had not later had it performed instrumentally in Paris, where it was an immediate hit.

The waltz? On the Beautiful Blue Danube, usually known simply as “The Blue Danube Waltz.”

Apparently, Johann Strauss, Sr., didn’t want his son to follow him into music. The world is richer because Strauss, Jr. didn’t heed his father’s wishes in this regard.

The Johann Strauss Society of Great Britain, the website In Mozart’s Footsteps, and the Kennedy Center all give more information about Strauss and his famous waltz.

My first encounter with this lovely music was perhaps not the most musical rendition of the piece, but it still holds a place in my heart, for it was what my childhood music box played. I wound that little silver-colored box over and over, listening to that tune. Later, I skated to a recording of The Blue Danube and other waltzes on Friday evenings at our small town skating rink.

My current favorite way to enjoy this music is during the New Year’s Concert of the Vienna Philharmonic, televised by PBS, as the performance is enhanced by video of beautiful Austrian countryside while the orchestra plays.

And — just to give you a chuckle, I can’t resist leaving you with this link to the Muppet Wiki (did you even know that a Muppet Wiki exists?)

 

25 People reacted on this

  1. You’ve brought back wonderful memories, Beth. The Beautiful Blue Danube was my father’s favorite waltz which I learned to play (note I don’t say play well), as a young child. Thanks for giving me something to hum today!

  2. My aunt and I used to swing on the rope in the haymow in the barn on my Grandpa’s farm to this — singing it at the top of our lungs!

  3. I love knowing about historical moments like this, and I’m an enthusiastic follower of the arts. I’m happy to discover your blog and have you be in the Fabulous and Fearless community. I don’t have particular memories linked to Strauss’s music, but of course The Blue Danube is as familiar to me as Twinkle Twinkle Little Star!

  4. I love The Blue Danube. I grew up with a father who had some hearing impairment from WWII but was an avid lover of classical music. Many mornings we woke up to Beethoven loud enough to shake the windows and went to sleep with Handel’s Watermusic Suite accompanying snores from the other rooms. I remember putting one of the several recordings my father had of The Blue Danube on the record player and allowing myself to feel like the sweeping rhythm was filling the whole world. Thank you for bringing me these memories of a simpler time in my life.

    1. Oh, what wonderful memories (and I can relate to having a father with hearing impairment from WWII — my dad’s love was marching band music, particularly “Colonel Bogey”) Thanks for visiting and for sharing your memories!

  5. I don’t have much association with this particular piece although, of course, I have heard it many times. Your post made me think of the relationship between my father and brother, both composers. My father was super critical of my brothers work and I think it has had such a hard impact on my brother’s self-confidence…

  6. This is a great post! You are full of fun facts! I like the story about your music box. And I love the Muppets! But I don’t know anything about wikis. Thanks for that link. Interesting.

  7. Enjoyed your day in history. Always so fascinating. And, I do love the Blue Danube and Strauss. I had a very strict private German piano teacher and I played a lot of Strauss as a teen and young adult. The Muppet Wiki was fun too! Wasn’t familiar with it.

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