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The Waltz

The waltz

The waltz is probably the most popular type of dance music. It originated from a rustic German dance called the Landler and flourished particularly in the Austrian Capital, Vienna, in the middle of the 19th century. Waltz comes from the German word waltzen, which means to turn around and dancers do glide around when dancing waltzes.

Here is perhaps the most famous waltz ever composed.

The Blue Danube

It is the Blue Danube by Johann Strauss II and it is often used as the unofficial Austrian national anthem.

What is a waltz?

A waltz always has a strong beat followed by 2 lighter beats. In other words, there are 3 beats in every group of notes, or bar. Listen to the instruments which play underneath the tune of the Blue Danube and listen particularly to the strong beats.

The Blue Danube

Here’s the beginning of the Blue Danube once again. Can you hear the beat?

Listen now to some more waltzes and again try to hear the beats underneath the tunes.

Waltz of the Flowers

This is the Waltz of the Flowers from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker ballet.

Sibelius: Valse triste

Here is a slow piece by Sibelius which is inspired by the waltz, but was not written for dancers.

Chopin, Minute waltz

Now listen to one of Chopin’s many waltzes for piano, which were also inspired by the waltz rather than written for dancers.

Symphonie Fantastique, Un Bal

This is the Ball scene from Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique.

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