In Vienna, they danced a different waltz

THE study of the musical evolution of the Viennese waltz is a still unfinished chapter in musical history. Choreographically speaking, ``German dance'' was a generic term for the early waltz. On the one hand, the term was meant to denote ``the German manner of dancing,'' with all the couples forming a circle; on the other hand, ``German'' also meant much the same as ``common, ordinary,'' indicating an origin among the rural, humbler strata of the population. Although the allemande was denounced by contemporary critics and moralists as a particularly wild and socially unacceptable dance - or possibly for that very reason - it enjoyed far greater popularity than all the other social dances of the period....

The dance and ball culture peculiar to Vienna and the passion for dancing exhibited by the city's hostesses in particular supplied the basic preconditions for the emergence of the Viennese waltz - which is indeed correctly named. In the Biedermeier era, the musical development of the waltz was influenced by folk music - by the fiddlers of Linz, for example - while the great Viennese composers of the day (Johann Nepomuk Hummel, Michael Pamer, Joseph Lanner, and Johann Strauss the Elder) enormously enriched its melodic and rhythmic vocabulary. In Vienna, at the time of the Revolution of 1848, the Viennese waltz was a musically and choreographically complete work of art that, in its perfection, had found the form in which it is still executed today.

From ``Vienna in the Biedermeier Era,'' by Robert Waissenberger

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