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Sunday, 30 December 2012

The Blue Danube

Johann Strauss wrote over 400 waltzes, most notably "An der schönen blauen Donau" (better known to the English-speaking world as "The Blue Danube"). Written to celebrate the River Danube that flows through Vienna, it was premiered as a choral piece on February 13, 1867 at a concert of the Vienna Men's Choral Association. 

Its initial performance only got a lukewarm response and Strauss is reputed to have said "The devil take the waltz, my only regret is for the coda—I wish that had been a success!"

Strauss adapted it into a purely orchestral version for the World's Fair in Paris that same year, and it this form that it is best known today.




Demand for the sheet music for the orchestral version of The Blue Danube was so high that it wore out the printing presses.


The German composer Johannes Brahms was a personal friend of Strauss. An anecdote dating around the time is that Strauss's stepdaughter, Alice von Meyszner-Strauss approached Brahms with a customary request that he autograph her fan. Brahms cheekily inscribed a few measures from the "Blue Danube," and then wrote beneath it: "Unfortunately, NOT by Johannes Brahms."

The piece's popularity was bolstered after its prominent use in the Stanley Kubrick film 2001: A Space Odyssey. It was used to accompany the scene in which a spaceplane is seen docking with a space station after Kubrick made an association between the spinning motion of the satellites and the dancers of waltzes. The waltz was also used to accompany the film's closing credits.

The piece was also used as the gastrointestinal bypass surgery music in the 2003 film Super Size Me.

Source Songfacts

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