Johann Strauss II
Morgan was American. It was awkward, but we managed something suggesting a waltz. Most of our time was spent dodging other couples careening like bumper cars at the Prater amusement park. But my Viennese friend Erika Jakubovits, who has expensive tastes and a jet-set work schedule, told me neither she nor her friends would be caught dead at a ball dinner. At 10 p.
Almost none of the guests wore ball gowns with classic width and volume to make the point, the website featured an illustration. But even the Viennese have discarded the gown-in-full-bloom directive, in favor of the more form-fitting, according to Erika. Opera gloves, while not mandatory according to the rules, should be coordinated with the length of the sleeve: the longer the sleeve, the shorter the glove.
For men, it was either tails or a tuxedo, although military dress uniform was also acceptable. Talk about diplomacy. A quick survey noted that upscale Texans were quite well represented among a smattering of guests from the American South, including New Orleans. Most elegant were the Japanese. While all ages were present, only two genders were in evidence: male and female, nothing in between. Austria is a conservative country, and in public, everything, even gender-bending, has its proper place. Recently a few crosswalk signals in Vienna were changed to include gay couples in silhouette on the red and green lenses.
Finally, we were allowed to ascend the grand staircase and enter the labyrinth of anterooms, chambers, and ballrooms two, plus a small, loud disco. The Festsaal, its massive crystal chandeliers hanging from a dizzying height, saw most of the action, with Herr Elmayer as master of ceremonies.
Though at times the scene unquestionably resembled a cruise ship—Cunard rather than Carnival—people were having fun. Despite intensive coaching, I doubt I advanced the standing of the waltz. I danced with one woman content to try the Pendel for a few moments after we were nearly crushed by determined dancers circumnavigating the main floor. Dance floors at Vienna balls are typically populated by the brave or experienced. I have enough time between now and my next ball to be both—and I shall.
Yet, impossibly, almost a century later, this once imperial city by the Danube still retains the trappings of a great empire: its magnificent palaces, opera houses and theaters, great museums, and grand boulevards are very much alive. A reminder of past glory, to be sure, but also a dynamic setting for the present. The Viennese believe that every waltz deserves a shimmering backdrop, and Vienna, arguably, is the most glittering and shimmering setting of all.
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History Archaeology. World History. Featured: George Washington's Family Tree. Science Age of Humans. Human Behavior. Originally comprising a small number of musicians, the dance orchestras had to be enlarged and new pieces composed and rehearsed. Joseph Lanner and Johann Strauss I put their stamp on the waltz, imbuing it with a special, specifically Viennese form. From the Viennese waltz was exported to other European cities: Johann Strauss I toured abroad, conducting performances in Germany, Belgium and England.
Lila (The United States)’s review of Death Waltz in Vienna
The popularity of the waltz in its birthplace remained undimmed, a circumstance evidenced both by the sales of music publishers and the grand announcement of waltz premieres. Courtly and popular pleasures. Viennese masquerades. A new venue: the Redoute Rooms. The bears are out! Bloodthirsty pleasures at the Hetz amphitheatre. Lizzie followed, closed the door behind her and sat on the other bench.
Too Close for Comfort
The pursuers had stopped some yards back, some gazing up the street, some in earnest conversation with the nearest coachmen. Providing neither he nor anyone else had seen them enter the carriage, she thought they were safe. The theatre staff among the group began to drift away, back to work, she supposed.
In the darkness, the thief seemed very still. Frowning, Lizzie turned her head toward the shadowy figure in the corner. Given that you saw me, why are you hiding me? Lizzie took a deep breath. The figure opposite stirred; his boots scraped against the floor as if he were stretching his legs out. And from whom am I to steal this particular necklace? As if that finally startled him, he leaned forward into the light, peering at her more closely.
There was no softness, no fear of anything in the dark, careless eyes searching her face. He sat back into the darkness again. Lizzie felt a flush rise to her cheeks. Is it yours, then? It might have been laughter, or impatience. All our lands and property. From his pause, the thief was surprised by such callousness. My two sisters, my brother and I have had to inflict ourselves on my aunt, just when they were preparing to leave the country. Lizzie peered into the shadows with suspicion. But, apparently, there is a great deal of competition among debutantes in London and my aunt was convinced that Minerva would have better luck finding a husband at the peace conference in Vienna, since all the world is here.
And she feels the necklace adds consequence. Lizzie closed her mouth. She had no idea of the going rate for thieves. Finally, she lifted her chin. The risk is all mine. Fifty per cent. Panic widened her eyes. The thief shrugged in the darkness. She scowled in his direction. She glared at him indignantly, though she was forced to concede the point.
Perhaps the thief saw that, for he relented somewhat. Lizzie brightened. His fingers felt warm and rough.
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A faint scent of horses emanated from him, along with alcohol, which gave her pause. His breath of laughter ruffled the back of her hand. Her skin flushed under his lips and she snatched her hand back in outrage. He sighed.
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Though I may regret it. Approaching voices from the street jerked Lizzie out of her isolation.