Tune of the Day: The Blue Danube
“The Blue Danube” is the common English title of An der schönen blauen Donau, op. 314 (literally ‛On the Beautiful Blue Danube’), a waltz composed in 1866. Originally performed 13 February 1867 at a concert in Vienna, it has been one of the most consistently popular pieces of music in the classical repertoire, though its initial performance was only a mild success.
The sentimental Viennese connotations of the piece have made it into a sort of unofficial Austrian national anthem. It is a traditional encore piece at the annual Vienna New Year's Concert.
The soundtrack of Stanley Kubrick's masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey is also particularly remembered for using this well-known waltz during the extended space-station docking and lunar landing sequences. “The Blue Danube” may seem comical at first in this situations, but it certainly suggests the dance of spacecrafts under the slow inexorable influence of Newtonian mechanics. The space station pirouettes as the shuttle yaws into alignment, while inside a member of the cabin crew demonstrates walking under zero gravity conditions.