On the beautiful blue Danube
The Danube Waltz is probably one of the most famous works of orchestral literature. One of the reasons for this is that it is broadcast every New Year on Austrian radio and is also an integral part and highlight of the New Year’s Concert of the Vienna Philharmonic.
It was composed by Johann Strauss’s son in the winter of 1866/67, originally in two versions, one for male choir and one for orchestra.
After the premiere by the Wiener Männergesang-Verein, Strauss hastened to add an introduction and coda to the work and completed the orchestral version. This was then performed on 10 March 1867 at the Imperial Palace in the Vienna Volksgarten.
However, the work did not receive much attention, and Johann Strauss is said to have said to his brother Josef after the first performance: “The devil may fetch the waltz, I’m only sorry for the coda – I would have wished her a success.”
In the same year, however, J. Strauss was successful at the Paris World Exhibition, where he also played this waltz, which was immediately a resounding success under the name “Le beau Danube bleu”.
The publishing editions of the waltz alone, especially the piano version for four hands, sold almost a million copies in a short time.
And to this day this waltz, which the music critic Eduard Hanslick had already described as a “wordless peace Marseilleise” in 1874, continues to enjoy unbroken popularity among young and old alike.