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Musik-Kolleg
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strauss An der schönen blauen Donau
Duration of performance: 9 minutes 16 seconds

Form scheme In Johann Strauß symphonic waltzes several waltzes are linked like strings.

The formal structure can easily be demonstrated visually.



Introduction
The Blue Danube Waltz begins with a gentle A-major triad, tremolated by the strings. This common chord A-C-E forms the upbeat of the later Danube waltz. The introductory passage is in 6/8 beat, a rhythm that can be called two-time as the stress lies in 1) and 4) - this means that one of the most famous waltzes of music history starts with a two-time and not, as one would expect, with the ¾ beat of a waltz.


Tempo di Valse
At a special moment (marked by Strauß in the score: Tempo di Valse) the ¾ beat is introduced.


Donauwalzer (first waltz)
From the D-major triad he develops the melody of the Danube waltz - that waltz melody that is associated with Austria all over the world. We may say that this tune is used world-wide: if you turn on a radio in New Zealand, these beats of the Danube waltz can be heard as the signature tune of "traffic radio". The same will happen when a European visitor listens to the coastal broadcast station in Uruguay. Even Chinese inland flights use this world- famous melody before the landing to "appease" the passengers. Imagine the situation if one still had to pay royalties for this melody!


Second waltz
An upbeat, a second-step down and a sixth up are the musical impulses for the second waltz of this string.
On hearing such melodies one should always remember that Johann Strauß while inventing them lived in an age that was later called the era of Richard Wagner and Giuseppe Verdi, whereas in Vienna Johannes Brahms and Anton Bruckner caused a great stir with their work. Even the dissolving of tonality started at that time. 


Third waltz
This waltz of sixteen bars is in G major. The charm of the Viennese waltz lies in a slight anticipation of the second beat of every bar and by a slowing down of the tempo as each new refrain is introduced – this means a certain shift in the rhythm.


Fourth waltz
The F-major triad provides the material for the musical continuation, which gains a special charm through the quaver rests at the end of bar 3,5 and 11.


Fifth waltz
After the introductory bar the D-major triad is fragmented, not upwards this time but starting with the tonic and moving down. After the change to A major, the common chord is fragmented in the same way.


Coda
The Coda contains the themes of the 4 waltzes and closes with a rapid movement of crotchets.
The name Johann Strauß is associated with light music for which everyone is susceptible. Strauß has been identified with Vienna, with Austria, with the 19th century in general. Beside Mozart he is one of the best-known musicians all over the world. He is a historical personality that is ever-present, of whose existence one knows, even when knowing very little about his work - with the exception of the Danube Waltz, perhaps.

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