The Blue Danube Re-Imagined
Johann Strauss II was one of the most prolific composers of the 19th century. He wrote the beautiful Blue Danube Waltz in 1867, when it was first performed with verses by a male choral group. It was not well received, and later restructured into a string orchestra piece as a commissioned work for the Paris Exhibition. It has since become one of the most consistently popular pieces of music in the classical repertoire.
It gained new popularity in 1968 as a result of its prominent use in the soundtrack of Stanley Kubrick's influential film "2001: A Space Odyssey." It was also featured in such diverse productions as the Warner Brothers cartoon "A Corny Concerto," the Japanese film "Battle Royale," and the literally explosive sketchwork of "Monty Python's Flying Circus."
Strauss began his professional career as a bank clerk, but decided to follow in his father's musical footsteps. He formed an orchestra that toured Vienna and abroad playing light Viennese music. He composed everywhere and anywhere, and was always jotting down music notes for later reference. If a piece of paper, napkin or tablecloth was not handy he would write on his clothing. The Blue Danube Waltz was originally sketched on one of his shirts.
Strauss composed more than 400 waltzes, but also wrote dances, gallops, quadrilles, polkas, and operettas as well, including "Die Fledermaus" and the "Tritsch Tratsch Polka."
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