On 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.
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?)