how to listen to music if you don’t know your Beethoven from your Bach, V

Waltz, 1891 - Anders Zorn


       Waltz” (1891)


        Anders Zorn




having brought up the idea of

longevity in my last communication,

the fantasiaa musical form that

lasted about 150 years, with hats

off nevertheless to the later Disney

classic, Fantasiaa tribute, which,

full of Classical music references,

followed in its spiritual mode, and,

after introducing Chopin, perhaps

the very representation of the

Romantic Era, that we carry, or

intuit, in our very bones, I thought

I’d talk about the waltz, a Chopin

specialty, where he created,

incontrovertibly, utter magic


who hears of the waltz anymore, an

antiquated curiosity, though even in

our not so distant blood we feel the

reverberations of its memory, the

throb of its still vibrant cultural

intensity, relevance, rhythm


tangos, incidentally followed, and

other intimate interactions, which

had been earlier frowned upon


the waltz had been the minuet,

the difference was the physical

contact, young nobles left their

aristocratic salons, however

discreetly, to frequent the

more liberal, if disreputable,

establishments – like to

speakeasies during Prohibition

– where they could explore the

new, licentious venues, as

young nobles, ever, would, for

the lure of intimate connection

with the partner


the waltz was thereby born,

couples touched, breast upon

breast, composers followed


Chopin was metaphysical, you

didn’t dance to his waltzes, you

experienced them, here’s his

Minute Waltz, Opus 64, no 1,

here’s his equally delightful

Opus 64, no 2, its companion


but Strauss ll, Johann l‘s son,

got all of Vienna to dance his, 

and everywhere else after, until  

the waltz fell out of favour 

somewhere in the 1950s, leaving

only its memories behind,  here’s          

his incandescent By the Beautiful

Blue Danubemakes you wish

you’d been there


in the one case, the waltz is

idealized, in the other, it’s the

waltz in action, listen, you can

tell the difference, you won’t 

want to dance, for instance, to 

Chopinthough you might give

it an ineffectual try, to Strauss

you’ll careen



R ! chard