Monday, 26 October 2009

Moments of Magic Number 2

Anyone who knows me intimately knows that I adore a waltz. Composers of old often considered that a good waltz, above all other musical styles, was a work of genius. And although the Viennese waltzes sound dated to today's dancers, they were in vogue far longer than any dance that has been created since. Waltz, though originally a musical pastime of the commonfolk in central and eastern Europe, became popular as a style and social pursuit of the rich and the regal.

The grand ballrooms of Europe have many a musical ghost but the most booming of these ghosts is undoubtedly the waltz; the grand oom-pah-pah is such huge part of the history of social dancing that the chandeliers still tinkle to the mighty strains of Strauss. It is a Strauss selection offered here. Written in 1889 for the Emperor Franz Josef of Austria-Hungary and Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany as a mark of Austro-Hungarian-German friendship, it is now known as the Emperor Waltz. Though on its reception, there might have been plotting in the minds of the dedicatees - men who had the next European campaign on their minds and not the next dance partner - it stands as one of the grandest examples of Strauss's style.

This small sequence is not part of the triumphant oom-pah-pah main dance sequence but is a beautiful and delicate bridge between one waltz sequence and the other. I have always thought that there was something gloriously tragic in the echo of a waltz - a defiance of a bygone age. To me, this sequence captures the slowing whirligig of a culture and a life and an age that remains a fascination and a dream for thousands of people.

Emperor Waltz - J.Strauss

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