January 2nd, 2010


Ein Frohlischer Neuesjahr!

It has been a tradition in my family ever since I was a little girl, back in the Old Country - every New Year's day, in the morning, we would park in front of the TV and watch the Vienna Philharmonic usher in the New Year with their "neujahrkonzert", a head-spinning confection of Strauss waltzes and polkas, of operetta overtures, of music often set to ballet in places like the Schonnbrunn Palace or one of Vienna's many art museums.

There are always three encores at the end of the concert.

The first is arbitrary, at the whim of the conductor. The second, ALWAYS, is the immortal Blue Danube Waltz, the tribute to MY river, mine, the river on whose banks I first opened my eyes to this world. I love it with an undying love. The sound of that first trembling chord of this waltz is enough to bring tears to my eyes; I am the child of this river, I am its bride, I am its devoted worshipper, and all other rivers on this world are but lesser incarnations of this god of all rivers, the thing that flows slow and dangerous and powerful through the city where I was born, whose textures and smells and airs I know so very well.

This year they really did reduce me to tears, because they set this music to the entirety of the Danube itself. They showed me its birth. They travelled down its serpentine coils, through at least four different countries. They came to the place where it dies, subsumed into a sea, its wide delta merging with an even wider expanse of water, surrendering with grace and with nobility.

They already have a video of it up on YouTube - a little truncated (because the person who did it apparently had trouble posting a video longer than 10 minutes, but most of it is still there.

I give you my love. I give you my river. I give you the Emperor of Waltzes.

Happy New Year.