Waltz (German "walzen" = to turn, to roll), dance in ¾ time, popular in the Bavarian-Austrian region since the last quarter of the 18th century, single pair dance where the pairs perform double turns (around their own axis and around the dance floor). Precursors of the waltz are the Ländler, the Deutscher Tanz and the Langaus dances; the waltz, like the very fast Langaus dance before it, met with strong criticism: it was deemed immoral, too fast and was believed to lead to overheating and illness, even to the early death of the dancers. First proof of the name "Walzer" (German for waltz) dates from Vienna around 1750. In 1786 the first waltz was performed on a Viennese stage (in "Una cosa rara" by V. Martin y Soler) and was enthusiastically acclaimed by the audience. The term "Wiener Walzer" (Viennese waltz) first appeared in Braunschweig in 1811; other types of waltz are the French waltz (danced in 3 parts with increasing speed) and the English Waltz, a slow waltz that became increasingly popular after 1920. Unlike other types of waltz (e.g. the slow waltz), the Viennese waltz is danced with a counter-clockwise turn. At the beginning of the 19th century the waltz developed to become a respectable form of dance music: While the first waltzes (L. van Beethoven, F. Schubert) were still short and simple, J. Lanner and above all the representatives of the Strauß dynasty, Johann Strauß the Elder, Johann Strauß the Younger, Josef Strauß and Eduard Strauß, developed the waltz into an art form with an introduction and a coda. The waltz became longer and rhythmically and harmonically more complex, its instrumentation became more elaborate than it had been at the beginning of the century. Not only did it become an important part of the Viennese Operetta, but it was also integrated into opera and symphonic music (e.g. R. Strauss, H. Berlioz, G. Mahler, C. Gounod). Even though the waltz steadily lost in importance in the 20th century as new dances developed, it is still regarded as the most prestigious ballroom dance (e.g. opening of the Vienna Opera Ball).
Literature: F. Klingenbeck, Unsterblicher Walzer, 1940; idem, Das Walzer-Buch, 1952; E. Nick, Vom Walzer zur Wiener Operette, 1954; F. Endler, Das Walzer-Buch, 1975; R. Witzmann, Der Ländler in Wien, 1976; W. Salmen, Tanz im 19. Jahrhundert, 1989; H. Krenn, J. Lanner, 1992.
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