Per una storia del valzer pianistico, Associazione Bogliasco per Skrjabin, 1992, 30 pp. Reprint and update in "Nuova Rivista Musicale Italiana", XL, X nuova serie, 1, gennaio-marzo 2006, pp.47-85.

Valzer pianisticoThe Waltz (a word coming from the German Walzer, that is to say  “togo round and round”) derives from some dances of Austrian and Bavarian origin, such as the Dreher (from “sich drehen”, to turn around oneself), the “Landaus”, the Deutsche” , the “Yodler” and most of all the “Landler”, a popular dance from Landl, a region of Northern Austria; anyway, several other forms of very ancient dance from the most varied origins share similar features to the ones of the Waltz, such as for example the French “Volte”, the “Sarabanda”, the “Canario”, the English “Country”, the “Ecossaise”. The “Landler” was originally a country dance or “Counterdance” (a distortion of the English “Country dance”) with moderate proceedings, rhythmically  marked and rather different from the affected elegance of the  originally aristocratic Minuet. It developed from the Landler towards the half of the 18th century and , with the rise of the bourgeoisie, it became a typically city dance, faster and more elegant than the Landler and with a less heavily marked rhythm. For a long time such words as Landler, Waltz, Counterdance and German Dance were indifferently used to signify compositions with very similar features one another; the term Waltz (more frequently referred to with the German spelling Walzer) started to become popular towards the end of the 18th century and from that time only it started to spread rapidly all over Europe: for example, no Waltz exists in Mozart’s rich repertoire, unless looking for it among the long list of the works of uncertain attribution. The 12 Waltzes composed by Haydn in 1792 and the ones composed by Beethoven in 1795 still bear the title of “Counterdances”; their form is very simple, consisting of two 8- measure periods with refrain, an elementary but agreeable melodizing, an essential harmony. The term “Valzer” seems to appear for the first times in an opera buffa by Martin Y Soler called “The rare thing”, performed in Vienna in 1786. The success of this opera also contributed to the irresistible rise of the Waltz, a genre which for a long time was to face the firm opposition of the “right-minded” people: again, during the years revolving around the Wien Congress it used to be pointed to as a dance lacking grace and delicacy, a dance which was disgusting and lascivious. Owing to the simplicity of the form, the composers used to take  this genre of compositions into little consideration, considering them as works lacking any artistic claim; yet, the publishers used to ask for them insistently as they were starting to see them as a sure source of income. During those years, some treatises about the composition of Waltz spread, involving the use of dice, according to simple combinatorial formulas, in confirmation of the great formal simplicity of this genre and of its increasing popularity. The most famous and interesting among this librettos , “Anleitung zum componieren von Walzern so viele man will vermittels zweier Wuerfel ohne etwas fur Musik oder Composition zu verstehen” (An introduction to composing as many Waltzs as possible by means of two dice, without knowing anything of music or of composition) can be attributed to Mozart.

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