Chopin wrote the waltz in 1847 and had it published by Breitkopf & Härtel in Leipzig the same year, as the first of the Trois Valses, Op. 64. The second waltz is in the enharmonic parallel minor key of C-sharp minor.
The waltz is in the key of D-flat major and has a tempo marking of molto vivace (very lively). Chopin indicates that the waltz is to be played with the sustain pedal used, and makes frequent use of crescendos and diminuendos. It is in a simple ternary form, as are many of Chopin's compositions. The A section is marked leggiero, and the B section sostenuto. The A section itself can be divided into two themes, separated by a double bar. The first consists of the familiar opening melody over standard waltz accompaniment, frequently rising an octave only to drop back down. The second theme is similar, but not identical, and features several broken scales over several octaves between a repeated quarter note and triplet motive. The B section is somewhat calmer, using alternating half and quarter notes over waltz accompaniment. Following a lengthy trill, the A section is then repeated, modified only int the ending, which now features a three octave descent instead of a two octave one.
The piece is given the tempo marking Molto vivace. Although it has long been known as the "Minute" (accent on the first syllable) Waltz, its nickname was intended to mean "small" in the sense of a "miniature" waltz, given by its publisher.  Chopin did not intend for this waltz to be played in one minute. A typical performance of the work will last between one and a half and two and a half minutes. The waltz is 138 measures long with one fifteen-measure repeat included, and thus it would have to be played at almost 420 quarter notes per minute in order to play it completely within a single minute. Playing the piece as fast as possible is still a feat some pianists attempt. Camille Bourniquel, one of Chopin's biographers, reminds the reader that Chopin got the inspiration for this waltz as he was watching a small dog chase its tail, which prompted the composer to name the piece Valse du petit chien, meaning "The Little Dog Waltz".
A vocal version of the piece, with lyrics by screenwriter Lan O'Kun, has been performed by multiple artists, including Barbra Streisand on her 1966 album Color Me Barbra. O'Kun's lyrics perpetuate the notion that the tune should be performed in one minute, although Streisand's performance clocks in at just under two minutes.
In popular culture
The Minute Waltz is the theme tune to the long-running radio panel show, Just a Minute, and is mentioned at the start of every episode.
Performed by Muriel Nguyen Xuan
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- Letter of Frédéric Chopin to Breitkopf & Härtel (Paris, 30 June 1847), in Selected Correspondence of Fryderyk Chopin, translated and edited by Arthur Hedley, McGraw-Hill Book Company, inc., New York, Toronto, London, 1963, Library of Congress Catalog Card Number:62-17703 27815.
- Maurice Hinson (June 2004). The Pianist's Dictionary. Indiana University Press. p. 114. ISBN 978-0-253-21682-3. Retrieved 2 October 2010.
This piece bears an erroneous nickname since the story long associated with this nickname presumes the pianist is supposed to play the piece in one minute. The word "minute" means small or little waltz.
- Frédéric Chopin; Joseph Banowetz (1 October 2000). Piano works. Alfred Music Publishing. p. 6. ISBN 978-0-7692-9854-2. Retrieved 2 October 2010.
- Setting the metronome at 200 bpm, for a total of nearly 420 quarter notes, gives a few seconds over two minutes playing time.
- Frédéric Chopin; John W. Schaum (2001). Chopin-Schaum, Bk 1: Based on Events and Episodes of Chopin's Life. Alfred Music Publishing. p. 8. ISBN 978-0-7579-0511-7. Retrieved 2 October 2010.
Sometimes called Minute Waltz Chopin's puppy cuddled quietly at ... This was the happy memory that helped Chopin write the waltz "Little Dog Chasing His Tail".
- George Sand's little dog, "Marquis", was the dog of the Valse du petit chien. It had befriended Chopin who mentions it in several of his letters, one from Nohant, dated 11 October 1846, another from Paris, dated 25 November 1846, in which he writes to George Sand: "Please thank Marquis for missing me and for sniffing at my door." in Selected Correspondence of Fryderyk Chopin, collected and annotated by Bronislaw Edward Sydow, translated and edited by Arthur Hedley, McGraw-Hill, New York, Toronto, London, 1963, pp. 267 & 272.
- Sheet music
- Minute Waltz: Scores at the International Music Score Library Project
- Free sheet music of the Minute Waltz from Cantorion.org
- Quatre Mains version for piano duet