Thursday, November 22, 2012

Is it The Minute Waltz or the Minute Waltz?


Fredrick Chopin's Waltz in D Flat Major, Op. 64, No. 1 (Playing below) is generally referred to in English as the Minute Waltz.  Unfortunately, in English both "minute," a small amount, and "minute," sixty seconds are spelled "minute."  So which did the composer intend, a sixty second waltz or a very small waltz?


In 1847, two years before his death, Chopin, who spoke Polish and French wrote a very short waltz whose name, in English is not clear.  The Waltz does not appear to be a "one minute" waltz since it takes almost two minutes to play.  It might be considered a "very small" waltz though.

So What's the Answer:

Neither answer is correct.  The name, "Very Small Waltz" translated into English as "minute" is the name given to the piece by Chopin's publisher.  According to Chopin's biographer, Camille Bourniquel, Chopin's name for the piece was, "Little Dog Waltz" and that it was inspired by a small dog that Chopin watched chase its tail.  If you start both the  video above and below, then turn off the sound on this one, you might see what Chopin was on about.

We here at the Useless Facts Archive (UFA) find Ms. Bourniuquel's explanation very satisfying.  Partly because the piece sounds like a dog chasing its tail and partly we like the idea of snooty people in suits carrying champagne glasses, oooing and aaahing over small dogs chasing their tails.  That's funny!


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