Your favorite Waltzes, parts I-V

The series is constantly changing and evolving, and can be shortened or lengthened as need be. Here is last season’s version:

Concert 1: Autumn Dreams

Music: a dozen of famous waltzes, ranging from Chopin to Strauss, and from Russian waltzes to Spanish ones. Highlights include a garland of tiny Schubert waltzes, two famous opera arias (“Musetta’s Waltz” from “La Boheme”, and a “Drinking song” from “La Traviata”), and the composition that gave its name to the whole concert: “Autumn Dream” by Archibald Joyce – reputedly, the last piece that was ever played on the sinking Titanic.

Stories: of the origins of the waltz; of the fierce opposition to this new and “scandalous” dance at the beginning of 19th century; of the hilarious history of “Blue Danube” waltz; and many others...

Concert 2: Winter Waltzes

Music: waltz compositions tied to the winter season. Highlights include “Ice Skaters” by Emile Waldteufel, “Christmas” by Peter Tchaikovsky, and “Snowstorm Waltz” by Russian composer Georgy Sviridov. There are also several waltzes from the European North: Norway, Finland and Russia.

Stories: of the last piano composition (“Remembrances”) written by Grieg, who nostalgically revived here the melody of his very first piano piece, “Arietta”; of Sibelius’s signature piece “Valse Triste” (a theatrical piece where a woman dances with Death); of the ancient Russian tradition of finding a husband through fortune-telling (as associated with the waltz “Christmas” by Tchaikovsky); and so on...

Concert 3: Love in Three-Quarters Beat

Music: I joke that this tribute to Valentine's Day is “a concert of a thousand and one kisses”, because it begins with the waltz “A Thousand Kisses” by Archibald Joyce, and ends with Johann Strauss’ “Kiss”. In between, I play Frederic Chopin’s “Farewell Waltz”, “I Love You So” from Franz Lehar’s operetta “Merry Widow”, and other waltzes associated with love stories or the amorous adventures of their composers.

Stories: of composer Max Kuss’ unfortunate love for his military commander’s wife;
of the love story behind “Lara’s Theme” from “Doctor Zhivago”; of the numerous love affairs and marriages of Johann Strauss; and half a dozen more stories.

Concert 4: Waltz Kings

Music: from the Strauss family, to various “regional” waltz kings – Emil Waldteufel from France, Archibald Joyce from England, etc. – the concert presents the “crown jewels” of waltz music! The program includes such gems as “Waves of the Danube” by Josif Ivanovici, “Spanish Serenade” by Olivier Metra, “Over the Waves” by Juventino Rosas, and Johann Strauss’ “Emperor Waltz”.

Stories: of the father-son musical rivalry in the Strauss family; of a successful engineer, who reluctantly, under family pressure, turned to music – and ended up a “Waltz Prince”; of an Indian boy who adopted the western music style to become the Mexican Waltz King; and more...

Concert 5: Waltzes, from Curious to Popular

Music: an exotic amalgam of gem-like miniature waltzes by Mozart and Beethoven, a treasured Schubert piece that went unwritten for more than a century, Gypsy and ragtime waltzes, as well as popular waltz-songs from “Fiddler on the Roof” and “Sound of Music.”

Stories: of amusing waltz titles, of a most unusual – and strikingly beautiful – “Valse-Fantasie” by Russian composer Mikhail Glinka, of waltzes by women composers, and other curious stories.