At first thought, you probably think you don't. But when you hear it, you realize you do, you just didn't know that catchy tune was the famous Blue Danube Waltz.
You probably know it best from t.v. commercials or the famous Titanic scene where Jack beholds Rose descend the Grand Staircase.
The Blue Danube Waltz is Austria's second national anthem. It is also the conclusion to each New Year's Day concert in Vienna, a tradition comparable to singing Auld Lang Syne in the United States.
But The Blue Danube Waltz, one of the most famous tunes in the world, didn't have a glamorous beginning. In 1865, Johann Herbeck, choirmaster of the Vienna Men’s Choral Society, commissioned Johann Strauss II to write a choral work; due to the composer’s other commitments the piece wasn’t even started. The following year, Austria was defeated by Prussia in the Seven Weeks’ War. Aggravated by post-war economic depression, Viennese morale was at a low and so Strauss was encouraged to revisit his commission and write a joyful waltz song to lift the country’s spirit.
Strauss recalled a poem by Karl Isidor Beck. Each stanza ends with the line: ‘By the Danube, beautiful blue Danube’. It gave him the inspiration and the title for his new work – although the Danube could never be described as blue and, at the time the waltz was written, it did not flow through Vienna. To the waltz, the choral society’s “poet” Josef Weyl added humorous lyrics ridiculing the lost war, the bankrupt city, and its politicians: “Wiener seid’s froh! Oho! Wieso?” (“Viennese be happy! Oho! But why?”).
The premiere of the Waltz For Choir at Vienna’s Dianabadsaal (Diana Bath Hall) took place on February 15, 1867. Considering its subsequent popularity, its reception was somewhat muted (apparently it received only one encore, which in Strauss’s terms equaled a flop). This may have been due to the fact that both the choir and the audience hated the words. But when, later that year, Strauss introduced the waltz as orchestral only to Paris at the World Exhibition, it created the sensation we still know today.
When you hear the famous song, you'll spare a thought for the citizens of Vienna who listen to this tune all year round in restaurants, shops, and hotels. While the Austrians must become accustomed to the tune, even become numb to it, as travelers to Vienna, we embrace it. After all, it is the most famous waltz ever written.
If you too would like to embrace The Blue Danube Waltz and all the customs, history and beauty of the Danube River, join Lifestyle Tours on our Danube Delights river cruise departing July 19, 2019. Experience the Danube River aboard the MS Emerald Dawn on a seven-night cruise through four countries. Including three nights in Prague and escorted shore excursions with English-speaking guides in six cities.
Click Here for the full itinerary, rates, and details.
OF SPECIAL NOTE, FREE AIRFARE if booked and deposited by November 30, 2018.
Call 812-682-4477 or contact Tracy at Lifestyle Tours for more details and to make reservations.