Franz Peter Schubert - Life and Music


Go to content

Franz Schubert - Waltzes, Dances & Ländler

Music > Piano Music

If you were to draw the portrait of a Viennese in Schubert's days, you would only have to imagine him abandoning himself to the dance. And it goes without saying that it would be the Waltz. The couples take their places, the violin gives the signal, the party can begin. In the more intimate surroundings of the salon it is often only a piano that strums the rhythm. It could easily be Franz Schubert at the keyboard, as he did on many occasions in the house of his friend Joseph von Spaun.

The rather formal, stilted poses in the painting at the right, were not the usual ones during these gatherings of friends. Their coming together was for the constantly renewed pleasure of being together- to chat, to smoke, to laugh and drink light wines. In a word, the untranslatable '
Gemuetlichkeit'. But also for the pleasure of listening and even dancing, because music was unseparably a part of these merry 'Schubertiads'.

There is nothing suprising in the fact that Schubert had such an affection for these short pieces which many have not hesitated in desparaging as minor or even, indeed, as functional. Bach, Mozart and Beethoven, not to mention Haydn, were fond of them before him. The dance was to be a part of Schubert's output throughout his life. In 1812 he composed the Twelve German Dances D. 128. Three years later some of the Waltzes D. 146. Between 1818 and 1821 more Waltzes, bearing the number D. 365. Among these Waltzes, is Opus 9 no. 2, which the publisher Diabelli was to dub with the odd nick-name Trauer-Waltz (Mournful Waltz).

The Thirty Four Valzes Sentimentales D. 779
, seem to have been written in 1823-24, three years before the Twelve Graz Waltzes, D. 924. The last Waltzes were composed in September 1827, preceded only a few months by the Valses Nobles, D. 969. Don't pay too much attention to these titles, which were given to them by publishers putting together collections of scattered pieces. The problem of dating them remains in almost every case. But the inspiration is the same, whether they are called Laendler, German Dances or Waltzer. It is always simplicity that dominates, in the choice of key, in the melodic gracefulness, in the good-natured mood.

There is apparantly no ulterior intention in these charming miniatures which, from time to time, are clouded over by a disturbing melancholy through a fleeting modulation into the minor, or an unexpected accent. There would be no point in comparing them to Schubert's great works, even if the famous
Trout Quintet and certain Impromptus and Moments Musicaux bear unmistkable traces of them. Their gaiety has nothing ostentatious about it, their brilliance lies in their imaginative inventiveness and their spontaneity; and yet, all of Schubert is there, with his generosity that is equalled only by his discretion.

Listen to the Kupelwieser Waltz

9 'Wiener Damen' Ländler (D. 734)

List of Dances for piano solo:

20 Minuets, D. 41
12 Viennese German Dances, D. 128
38 Waltzes, Ländler and Ecossaises, D. 145 opus 18
20 Waltzes, D. 146 opus 127
Ecossaise, D. 158
8 Ecossaises, D. 299
Minuet in A major, D. 334
Minuet in E major, D. 335
Minuet in D major, D. 336
36 Originaltänze, D. 365 opus 9
17 Ländler, D. 366
8 Ländler, D. 378
2 Minuets, D. 380
12 German Dances, D. 420
6 Ecossaises, D. 421
8 Ecossaises, D. 529
Minuet in C-sharp minor, D. 600
German Dance and Ecossaise, D. 643
5 Ecossaises, D. 697
German Dance, D. 722
18 Viennese Ladies' Ländler and Ecossaises, D. 734
Galop and 8 Ecossaises, D. 735
2 German Dances, D. 769
34 Valses sentimentales, D. 779
11 Ecossaises, D. 781
12 Ländler, D. 790 opus 171
Waltz in G major, D. 844
12 Grazer Waltzer, D. 924
Grazer Galop, D. 925
12 Valses nobles, D. 969
6 German Dances, D. 970
3 German Dances, D. 971
3 German Dances, D. 972
3 German Dances, D. 973
2 German Dances, D. 974
German Dance, D. 975
8 Ecossaises, D. 977

Home | Biography | Music | Schuberts Circle | Letters | Site Map

Back to content | Back to main menu