A Century of Daintiness. Its Majesty, the Chance, in History
Emperor Franz Joseph wore down his horse, hurrying to his fiancée. Highly educated, intelligent, he was a polyglot and a much disciplined, responsible person. With military bearing. Everything in the monarch’s life was envisaged in advance, checked – coffee at four in the morning, ten hours per day dealing with matters of state. Everything predicted, but not that time. He saw a younger sister of his fiancée, shy Elisabeth, and… it was 16-year-old Sisi (that was how the Princess was called in her family) who became the Empress of Austria. Those were difficult times for the great empire – wars and social upheavals, contradictions on the national grounds… Nevertheless, the monarchial family celebrated classical traditions and patronized aristocratic Viennese balls for many years. That was until a tragedy occurred in the royal family – the Empress died from the attack of an anarchist. The Emperor was inconsolable for his loss and it was then, when he cancelled court balls. Since then, the Viennese Ball has become a classical opera ball with its current traditions.
We have exactly one hundred forty years of classical traditions of the unique cultural phenomenon of Europe – the Viennese Ball is a cultural heritage of the global scale. Thus, the year 2017 is anniversary, one hundred fortieth.
And what would the Viennese ball be without Johann Strauss Jr., the Waltz King?
The story of the genius is also abundant in grievous situations and severe trials. In the beginning of his career, for his brilliant talent he was persecuted by his own father, the influential court composer. What was that? Jealousy? Hatred? To be fair, it should be admitted that later peace was established in the family, because Strauss the Son was a noble, forgiving person. But the fact remains: while the elder Strauss performed prostration to the crown, the younger played Marseillaise. No matter, even monarchs forgive everything to talent – and now the Vienna Ball always has the choice of 168 waltzes of the genius.
European elite and ordinary people. Everyone could dance waltz.
It used to unite Europe even in the difficult times of war and postwar period. For several centuries in succession.
It is amazing, but here is another royal fact – menacing Emperor Napoleon, learnt to waltz as a first-form schoolboy, when courting the Austrian Princess.
Thus, the first grand Opera Ball took place on 11 December 1877, and then Eduard Strauss, the younger brother of the Waltz King, directed the orchestra. The distinguishing feature of the new ball was that ladies were to cover their faces with masks without fail, and it was the lady who chose the partner.
The scenario of the Vienna Ball has been preserved unchanged since 1935 – since then the grand classical traditions and formed conservative canons have been inviolable. It is the only ball in the world, held with a full rehearsal on the day before.
The ball is always opened by pairs of debutants. And one can become a debutant only once in a lifetime. Incidentally, there still was the sole innovation – from 2001 a physically challenged person may become a debutant. When it happened for the first time, a chorographical roller skating number was produced with the participation of this very category of debutants.
The first Viennese Ball in Ukraine was held in 2005. Our country has become the first one in the post-Soviet space to hold such a responsible international event in line with the European canons – Russia still can’t forgive itself for letting us be the first. But all that is already history.