(2011): The waltz is a ballroom and folk dance in About this sound
3/4 time, performed primarily in closed position.
There are several references to a sliding or gliding dance,- a waltz,
from the 16th century including the representations of the printer H.S.
Beheim. The French philosopher Montaigne wrote of a dance he saw in
1580 in Augsburg, where the dancers held each other so closely that
their faces touched. Kunz Haas, of approximately the same period wrote
that, "Now they are dancing the godless, Weller or Spinner, whatever
they call it.""The vigorous peasant dancer, following an instinctive
knowledge of the weight of fall, utilizes his surplus energy to press
all his strength into the proper beat of the measure, thus intensifying
his personal enjoyment in dancing". The wide, wild steps of the
country people became shorter and more elegant when introduced to higher
society. Hans Sachs wrote of the dance in his 1568 Eygentliche Beschreibung
At the Austrian Court in Vienna in the late 17th century (1698) ladies
were conducted around the room to the tune of a 2 beat measure, which
then became the 3/4 of the Nach Tanz (After Dance), upon which couples
got into the position for the Weller and waltzed around the room with
gliding steps as in an engraving of the Wirtschaft (Inn Festival) given
for Peter the Great.
The peasants of Bavaria, Tyrol, and Styria began dancing a dance called
Walzer, a dance for couples, around 1750. The L㭤ler, also known as the
Schleifer, a country dance in 3/4 time, was popular in Bohemia, Austria,
and Bavaria, and spread from the countryside to the suburbs of the city.
While the eighteenth century upper classes continued to dance the minuet,
bored noblemen slipped away to the balls of their servants.
In the 1771 German novel Geshichte des Fr㴬eins von Sternheim by Sophie
von La Roche, a high-minded character complains about the newly introduced
waltz among aristocrats thus: "But when he put his arm around her,
pressed her to his breast, cavorted with her in the shameless, indecent
whirling-dance of the Germans and engaged in a familiarity that broke
all the bounds of good breedingthen my silent misery turned into burning
Describing life in Vienna (dated at either 1776 or 1786), Don Curzio
wrote, " The people were dancing mad [...] The ladies of Vienna
are particularly celebrated for their grace and movements of waltzing
of which they never tire." There is a waltz in the second act finale
of the opera "Una Cosa Rara" written by Martin y Soler in
1786. Soler's waltz was marked Andante con moto, or "at a walking
pace with motion", but the flow of the dance was sped-up in Vienna
leading to the Geschwindwalzer, and the Galloppwalzer.
In the transition from country to town, the hopping of the L㭤ler, a
dance known as Langaus, became a sliding step, and gliding rotation
replaced stamping rotation.
In the 19th century the word primarily indicated that the dance was
a turning one; one would "waltz" in the polka to indicate
rotating rather than going straight forward without turning.
The Viennese custom is to slightly anticipate the second beat, which
conveys a faster, lighter rhythm, and also breaks of the phrase. The
younger Strauss would sometimes break up the one-two-three of the melody
with a one-two pattern in the accompaniment along with other rhythms,
maintaining the 3/4 time while causing the dancers to dance a two-step
waltz. The metronome speed for a full bar varies between 60 and 70,
with the waltzes of the first Strauss often played faster than those
of his sons.
Shocking many when it was first introduced, the waltz became fashionable
in Vienna around the 1780s, spreading to many other countries in the
years to follow. It became fashionable in Britain during the Regency
period, though the entry in the Oxford English Dictionary shows that
it was considered "riotous and indecent" as late as 1825.
The waltz, and especially its closed position, became the example for
the creation of many other ballroom dances. Subsequently, new types
of waltz have developed, including many folk and several ballroom dances.