“I’ve a new waltz I want Mamma to hear. She talks so often of the great Strauss. Here is a piece as good as any of his and it is also by a Viennese.”
He began to play.
The opening phrases were short and artless. They sounded like a rocking horse. But the swing began to grow longer, the rhythm stronger. The waltz began to ask questions, wistful, poignant. It took on a dreamier sweep.
Then a gayer theme sent Uncle Rudy’s fingers rippling over the keys. The melody wove in and out. It circled, swayed, as though it were music and dancer in on. It was irresistible.
—from Betsy in Spite of Herself
by Maud Hart Lovelace
It just freaked me out a little to realize that the Happy Birthday song on Tom Chapin’s Moonboat CD—Wonderboy’s favorite CD, hands down—is set to the tune of the Merry Widow waltz.
• The Merry Widow (first performed in Vienna in 1905)
• Merry Widow hat spoofed in a set of postcards, 1908
• Composer Franz Lehar