When you visit the large expanse of water that is the River Danube, you feel a sense of warmth and serenity. For a distance of 2,850 kilometers - 1,771 to those who aren't metric - the Danube flows from Furtwangen im Schwarzwald in Germany to the Black Sea.
Many large cities of Europe such as Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest, and Belgrade have been forged out of ancient settlements founded on the banks of this great river, which provided food and irrigation to tribes of old. Some time after the Ancient tribes, the rise of the Roman Empire took control of these lands and the Danube then formed part of the frontier of the Roman Empire. It is at this frontier that soldiers of the Roman Empire fought fierce battles for lands and riches against competing powers and Barbarian hordes successfully for hundreds of years.
It is in Vienna, Austria, where the Danube is most celebrated, and where it has been included in Viennese traditions for centuries. Although the Danube is not clearly seen from the centre of Vienna - because of artificial intervention from Mankind causing a channel redirecting the water - the river can still be seen in its natural form in many districts of the city.
Today the people of Vienna hold a special place in their hearts for the River Danube, and it is because of this love that many songs have been written about the great river, one of which became very famous. This song is "An der schönen blauen Donau," translated in English as "The Blue Danube," by the famous composer Johann Strauss II.
For those visiting Vienna as a tourist, there are many attractions surrounding the Danube River, including the wonderful cruises along the river, which give a tremendous insight into the city of Vienna for tourists whilst enjoying fine dining. More importantly, these cruises also have "The Blue Danube" playing softly in the background so you can waltz along the Danube at the end of your meal as the cities' lights reflect the water of this great river.
So when was the Waltz composed?
In 1866, Johann Strauss II composed the "An der schönen blauen Donau Waltz," but it was not he who wrote the wonderful words about the Danube to accompany the music. The writer of the words was actually a poet named Joseph Weyl, who was the poet for the Choral Association in Vienna.
The first time the Blue Danube waltz was seen in performance was nearly a year after it was first composed. The waltz was performed on the 13th February 1867 for a concert at the Vienna Men's Choral Association.
Since this first performance of the "An der schönen blauen Donau," the Blue Danube waltz became famous across the world. Furthermore, because of the love of the Danube by the people of Vienna, the song has also become an unofficial National anthem of sorts.
Strauss was born in St. Ulrich near Vienna, the son of Johann Strauss I, another composer of dance music. His father did not wish him to become a composer, but rather a banker. Nevertheless, Strauss Junior studied the violin secretly as a child and when his father discovered his son secretly practicing the instrument one day, he gave him a severe whipping, saying that he was going to beat the music out of the boy. Fortunately, this did not discourage the budding musician.Strauss found his early years as a composer difficult, but he soon won over audiences after accepting commissions to perform away from home. When his father died from scarlet fever in Vienna in 1849, the younger Johann merged both their orchestras and engaged in further tours. By the 1850s he'd surpassed his father's fame, and was recognized as the most sought-after composer of dance music. Album : 2001 A Space Odyssey Soundtrack Released : 1867