Waltz (Form)

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WALTZ… The date of the appearance of this dance form is given as 1781 by the Oxford English Dictionary, however, it can be traced to a decade or two prior to that. One of the first appearances of the form was in a c. 1766 piano sonata by Haydn, where the normal minuet movement was replaced by a "mouvement de Waltze" (Oxford Copanion to Music). Researcher Paul Gifford believes the dance did not become popular for rural dances until around the 1870’s, and communicates that he has seen a 1909 interview with a upper Midwest fiddler, born in 1824, who said he had quit playing for dances because he had gotten disgusted with waltzes. Captain Gronow, a Guards officer stationed nearby Almack’s Assembly Rooms, King Street, St. James, London, attended dances during the 1814 season and remembered:

The “mazy waltz” was also brought to us about this time [ed. at the same time the quadrille was introduced]; but there were comparatively few who at first ventured to whirl round the salons of Almack’s; in course of time Lord Palmerston might, however, have been seen describing and infinite number of circles with Madame de Lieven. Baron de Neumann was frequently seen perpetually turning with the Princess Esterhazy; and, in course of time, the waltzing mania, having turned the heads of the society generally, descended to their feet, and the waltz was practiced in the morning in certain noble mansions of London with unparalleled assiduity. [Grego, Joseph – The Reminiscences and Recollections of Captain Gronow 1810-1860 (London, 1889)]

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