On June 3, 1899, in the midst of a benefit concert at Vienna's Volksgarten, someone approached the podium and spoke to the conductor. The orchestra was stopped and a quick order whispered to the musicians. A moment later they began to play the ethereal string tremolo that introduces "The Blue Danube," and as that first familiar phrase rose on the French horn, people rose to their feet in stricken silence. Vienna's favorite musical son, Johann Strauss Jr., had just died.
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