Some Viennese Music for the Evening

Johann Strauss II (1825–1899).

Tonight, as I was doing some 60 pages of assigned reading in Peter Green’s nigh-impenetrable tome Alexander to Actium: The Historical Evolution of the Hellenistic Age, I needed something to drown out the sound of my roommates watching TV, so I jumped onto YouTube and started listening to music. As I was looking up some videos I came across the overture to the delightful operetta Die Fledermaus by Johann Strauss II (whose grave in Vienna’s Zentralfriedhof I’ve actually visited).

When it comes to music it’s hard to get much more Austrian than Strauss. If you ever think of fin de siècle Viennese music, think Strauss (or his counterpart Mahler). I can recall walking through the U-Bahnstation on Stephansplatz (or was it Karlsplatz?) last spring while hearing Strauss’ music playing overhead. He’s perennial popular, and for good reason.

But perhaps you already know of Strauss from his world-famous waltz “An der schönen blauen Donau.” Having swum in the Donau, I don’t know where Strauss got the idea that it’s blue. (Maybe it was blue in his time, before the pollution, or maybe it’s only blue outside of Vienna.) Nevertheless, it’s also a wonderful piece.
Damn. Listening to this music makes me really miss Vienna. Here I am suffocating on Provo’s terrible air and stressing myself into an early grave over homework when I could be walking through the Prater while I eat a Döner and drink some Almdudler.
Tyche sure is a harsh mistress.