waltz

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waltz,

romantic dance in moderate triple time. It evolved from the German Ländler and became popular in the 18th cent. The dance is smooth, graceful, and vital in performance. The waltz in Vicente Martin's opera Una cosa rara, produced in Vienna (1776), is regarded as the first Viennese waltz. This type was later made famous by the two Johann Strausses, father and son. The younger Strauss composed the Blue Danube Waltz, the most popular of the Viennese style. The waltz was introduced in the United States via England in the early 19th cent. Mozart, Chopin, Berlioz, Brahms, Richard Strauss, and Ravel have also composed waltzes.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Waltz

 

a dance for couples based on a smooth circling combined with a forward movement.

The waltz is accompanied by music with a 3/4 measure (more rarely 3/8 or 6/8) and a moderately fast tempo. It originated from peasant folk dances of southern Germany, Austria, and Bohemia. In the last quarter of the 18th century, the waltz began to appear in the city. Because of the ease, simplicity, and elegance of its movements, as well as the rich expressive possibilities of the music—passionately elevated, tenderly lyric, or brilliant and elegant—the waltz became the most popular dance of all strata of European society in the 19th century, as well as a very widespread musical genre. The Viennese waltz was particularly famous because of the work of J. Lanner, J. Strauss the Elder, and J. Strauss the Younger. Their waltzes were joined in cycles of miniatures (Walzer-Kette—“chain of waltzes”). An important step in the poetization of the waltz was made by Schubert. Eventually, waltzes began to appear in the form of larger instrumental compositions usually written for piano or symphony orchestra and close to the genre of the romantic poem (C.M. von Weber, Chopin, and Liszt). This symphonization of the waltz was especially characteristic of Russian music (M. I. Glinka, Tchaikovsky, A. K. Glazunov, and S. S. Prokofiev). Waltzes also continued to be composed in the form of lyric miniatures, sometimes arranged in cycles (Schumann, Brahms, and Grieg). The waltz can be the basis of an art song or operatic aria or part of cyclical compositions such as suites and symphonies (Berlioz and Tchaikovsky). It has been widely used in ballets, operettas, incidental music for plays and films, and so forth.

E. M. TSAREVA

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

waltz

1. a ballroom dance in triple time in which couples spin around as they progress round the room
2. a piece of music composed for or in the rhythm of this dance
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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