Waltz (music)

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A section from Johann Strauss' Waltz from Die Fledermaus

A waltz (German: Walzer; French: Valse, Italian: Valzer), probably deriving from German Ländler, is dance music in triple meter, and if written, often written in time signature 3/4. A waltz typically sounds one chord per measure, and the accompaniment style particularly associated with the waltz is (as seen in the example to the right) to play the root of the chord on the first beat, the upper notes on the second and third beats.

History[edit]

The name "waltz" comes from the German verb walzen, in turn taken from the Latin verb volvere, which describes the turning or rotating movement characteristic of the dance. Although French writers have attempted to connect the waltz to the 16th century volta, firm evidence connecting this Italian form to the earliest occurrence in the mid‑18th century of walzen to describe dancing is lacking (Lamb 2001).

Classical composers traditionally supplied music for dancing when required, and Franz Schubert's waltzes (including the Valses Sentimentales and Valses Nobles) were written for household dancing, without any pretense at being art music. However, Frédéric Chopin's surviving 18 waltzes (five he wrote as a child), along with his mazurkas and polonaises, were clearly not intended for dance. They marked the adoption of the waltz and other dance forms as serious composition genres. Other notable contributions to the waltz genre in classical music include 16 by Johannes Brahms (originally for piano duet), and Maurice Ravel's Valses nobles et sentimentales for piano and La valse for orchestra (Lamb 2001).

The long period of the waltz's popularity was brought to an end by the First World War, which destroyed the Austro-Hungarian monarchy and the Viennese culture which had nurtured it for so long. European light music shifted from Vienna to Berlin, and compositions by composers such as Gustav Mahler, Igor Stravinsky, and William Walton treated the dance in a nostalgic or grotesque manner as a thing of the past. Waltzes nevertheless continued to be written by composers of light music, such as Eric Coates, Robert Stolz, Ivor Novello, Richard Rodgers, Cole Porter, Oscar Straus, and Stephen Sondheim. The predominant ballroom form in the 20th century has become the slow waltz, which rose to popularity around 1910 and was derived from the valse Boston of the 1870s. Examples derived from popular songs include "Ramona" (1927), "Parlami d’amore, Mariù" (1933), and "The Last Waltz" (1970) (Lamb 2001).

Jazz waltzes[edit]

In a jazz context, "waltz" signifies any piece of music in 3/4 time, whether intended for dancing or not (Anon 2002). Although there are early examples such as the "Missouri Waltz" by Dan and Harvey’s Jazz Band (1918) and the "Jug Band Waltz" or the "Mississippi Waltz" by the Memphis Jug Band (1928), they are exceptional, as almost all jazz before 1955 was in duple meter. It was only after the “bop waltz” appeared in the early 1950s (e.g., Thelonious Monk’s recording of Carolina Moon in 1952 and Sonny Rollins’s Valse Hot in 1956) that triple meter became at all common in jazz (Kernfeld 2002).

Examples[edit]

Classical waltzes[edit]

Many classical composers have written waltzes, including:

Waltzes can also be found as part of larger works:

Popular song waltzes[edit]

The waltz was a familiar format in popular songs until the 2010s[citation needed]. Some waltzes which are well-known popular hits include:

From the last decade of the 19th century, "After the Ball", "Daisy Bell (Bicycle Built for Two)"

From the first decades of the 20th century, "Beautiful Ohio", "Fascination", "I'm Falling in Love with Someone", "Kiss Me Again", "When I Lost You".

From the 1920s: "The Anniversary Waltz", "Are You Lonesome Tonight", "Always", "Remember", "What'll I Do", "All Alone", "The Song Is Ended", "Russian Lullaby", "Marie", "Together", "Lover", "Charmaine".

From the 1930s: "Falling in Love with Love", "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World", "Reaching for the Moon", "Someday My Prince Will Come", "The Touch of Your Hand", "Wait Till You See Her", "When I Grow Too Old to Dream", "The Whistling Waltz".

From the 1940s: "Goodnight, Irene", "You Always Hurt the One You Love", "Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'", "Out of My Dreams", "Californ-i-ay", "Hello, Young Lovers", "The Carousel Waltz", "The Girl That I Marry", "The Girl Next Door", "Cruising Down the River", "Tenderly", "Let's Take an Old-Fashioned Walk", "It's a Big, Wide, Wonderful World", "You're Breaking My Heart". "This Nearly Was Mine", "A Wonderful Guy".

From the 1950s: "The Tennessee Waltz", "If", "I Went To Your Wedding", "Song from Moulin Rouge (Where Is Your Heart)", "True Love", "Allegheny Moon", "Rock and Roll Waltz", "Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)", "Tammy", "Around the World", "The Chipmunk Song", "El Paso", "Edelweiss", "My Favorite Things".

From the 1960s: "The Royal Waltz", "Somewhere, My Love (Lara's Theme from Dr. Zhivago)", "What the World Needs Now Is Love", "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman", "Time to Get Alone", "Friends", "The Last Waltz", "Jean".

From the 1970s: "Time in a Bottle", "Piano Man", "Annie's Song", "When I Need You", "If You Don't Know Me By Now", "Three Times a Lady", "Take It to the Limit", The Godfather Waltz, "Watching the River Run" by Jim Messina, "My Sweet and Tender Beast" by Eugen Doga, "The Millionaire Waltz" by Queen, "Old Shoes" by Tom Waits.

From the 1980s: "Friends and Lovers (Both to Each Other)", "At This Moment".

From the 1990s: "Kiss from a Rose".

From the 2000s: "Breakaway (Kelly Clarkson song)".

Among popular composers, it seems they either wrote a lot of waltzes or almost none. Irving Berlin wrote some waltzes, including "When I Lost You", "Reaching for the Moon", "Let's Take an Old-Fashioned Walk", "(Just One Way To Say) I Love You", and "Let's Go Back to the Waltz". Similarly, Richard Rodgers wrote many waltzes, including "Lover", "Oh What a Beautiful Morning", "Out of My Dreams", "Edelweiss", "My Favorite Things", "Falling in Love with Love", "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World", "Wait Till You See Her" "This Nearly Was Mine", "A Wonderful Guy", "Hello, Young Lovers", and "The Carousel Waltz".

Henry Mancini included many waltzes among his popular songs: "Moon River", "Charade", "Dear Heart", "The Sweetheart Tree", "Tana's theme" and "Whistling Away the Dark". In contrast, Jerome Kern, George Gershwin and Cole Porter wrote only a small number of waltzes each. Stephen Sondheim often uses the waltz in his music, particularly in A Little Night Music

Contemporary waltzes[edit]

Contemporary musicians[vague]have also made use of the waltz form. Notable examples include:

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  • Anon. 2002. "Waltz". The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, second edition, edited by Barry Dean Kernfeld, 3 vols. 2002. London: Macmillan Publishers; New York: Grove’s Dictionaries. ISBN 1561592846
  • Kemp, Peter. 2001. "Strauss". The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition, edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell. London: Macmillan Publishers.
  • Kernfeld, Barry. 2002. "Beat". The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, second edition, edited by Barry Dean Kernfeld, 3 vols. 2002. London: Macmillan Publishers; New York: Grove’s Dictionaries. ISBN 1561592846
  • Lamb, Andrew. 2001. "Waltz". The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition, edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell. London: Macmillan Publishers.

Further reading[edit]

  • Kennedy, Michael (ed.). 2006. "Waltz". The Oxford Dictionary of Music, second edition, revised, associate editor, Joyce Bourne. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780198614593