Emile Waldteufel and The Skaters Waltz

December 9th, 2015

Emile Waldentedufel, the noted Alsatian waltz composer, was born on this day in 1882. He composed the delightful Les Patineurs (The Skater’s Waltz), in addition to over 250 other waltzes, many of them while he was chamber musician to the Empress Eugenie (1826-1920) of France.

During the second half of the 19th century the waltz as a music form enjoyed immense popularity in many countries of Europe, including France. This new style, developed to high art by Viennese composers, especially Johann Strauss the Younger (1825-1899), achieved widespread recognition faster than any music form preceding it.

The patronage of Franz Joseph (1848-1916), the Austrian Emperor, certainly helped its rise, but the phenomenon of country folk song and dance being fused into urban artistic entertainment was more influential in making waltz music popular to a wider audience. Public open-air concerts became more common, providing an environment for military music (such as marches which were the rage in the first half of the 19th century), folk song and dance, and excerpts from operettas that formerly only entertained the royal court and high society.

Besides the waltz, ice-skating was a popular pursuit in France and other more northern European countries, as well as in the United States. Emile Waldteufel accommodated his fellow countrymen by fusing the two recreations in Les Patineurs (Op.183), and his musical canvas comes alive with the spirited sounds of skaters gracefully waltzing across the ice.

Emile Waldteufel

Emile Waldteufel

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