Along the Danube River there lies an area extremely rich in cultural traditions and the arts. It is an area that prides itself in its musical history, architecture, elaborate events and balls, and breathtaking dancing. This area is the northwestern section of Austria, and more specifically the capital city of Vienna.
The city of Vienna is situated on the banks of the Danube and is Austria’s number 1 urban tourist destination. The tourism appeal of this city is largely due to the amazing architecture present throughout the city. Many of the most notable structures were erected during the rule of Karl VI of the Habsburg Monarchy. Empress Maria-Theresia (daughter of Karl VI) made it a priority to make the rule of her family glorified for years through the construction of many splendid buildings. Most of these buildings can be seen to this day, such as the Karlskirche and the Schönbrunn castle.
Vienna is best known for its vast history of classical music that continues to be preserved right to the present day. Vienna was once home to some of the greatest classical composers of all time, such as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, and Franz Schubert. The city was also home to Johann Strauss, Jr., the composer of the famous waltz "Schöne Blaue Donau" (Beautiful Blue Danube), which has become a kind of unofficial song of representation for the entire country of Austria. Even today the presentation of classical music continues to flourish throughout the city. Concert halls and orchestras such as the Musikverein, Wiener Konzerthaus, and the Vienna State Opera draw huge crowds every year.
Throughout the winter months of January and February, also known as “Fasching” (Carnival), Vienna is home to some of the most glamorous and elegant balls in the world. A number of different concert halls continuously host balls every weekend during these two months, the most famous of which is the annual Viennese Opernball (Opera Ball). The Opernball has been a Viennese tradition since 1877 and draws some of the largest stars and distinguished guests from all over the world. Other balls throughout Vienna include the Philharmonic Ball, Kaiserball (Imperial Ball), and Blumenball (Flower Ball). At these balls some of the most breathtaking displays of dancing can be seen, including the graceful moves of the Viennese Waltz.
The origins of the Viennese Waltz are still disputed to this day. It is most commonly believed that the first signs of this waltz were seen during the 12th century; however it began to profoundly catch on during the 18th century. Many believe that this waltz originated from another type of traditional Austrian dance, the Ländler. The Viennese Waltz is performed much differentlythen the modern form of waltz. The Viennese waltz is much faster and allows the dancers to perform various suave movements by smoothly changing directions throughout the dance. Since the 19th century the Viennese Waltz has taken over the dance floor at the majority of balls held throughout Vienna and has turned into a large cultural tradition of the area.
The residents of Vienna and the surrounding Austrian areas value culture and maintain many great traditions. Here at the Danube Cultural Society we strive to promote this culture and the great traditions for all the people of southeastern Wisconsin to enjoy.
Please click here to hear the Austrian National Anthem.