I had difficulty writing this post, fellow classical music enthusiasts. I couldn’t find a piece of music to feature! I was dead set on Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 3 since it came up on my Pandora station when I wrote on Saturday, but I’ve featured it before. A trumpet concerto played on Pandora, too, but I can’t find who wrote it and my Pandora is not being cooperative right now. Then, I remembered a fun piece I played in youth orchestra back in the day: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Waltz from Sleeping Beauty, one of his ballets. Here’s a little bit about it.
- This waltz is in Act I, No. 6 of the ballet. It’s also known as the Garland Waltz. Tchaikovsky was quite the prolific writer of ballets—even after his Swan Lake flopped, he wrote Sleeping Beauty, which is three hours long, not counting intermissions.
- Unfortunately for the composer, this ballet was not as well-received as he would have liked. It was popular in Russia, but he didn’t live to see it gain world popularity. Even the tsar at the time, Alexander III, was less enthusiastic than Tchaikovsky probably desired. Word has it that the tsar summoned the composer to his imperial box at the premiere and simply said, “Very nice.” Poor Tchaikovsky was hoping for something more substantial than that, I bet.
- One thing I love about this waltz is that the second violins actually have a decent melody in the middle. I was principal second violin when I played this and I’ve seen some bad violin parts out there. Most of the time, when you hear violins playing a melody, that’s the first violins playing. The poor second violins are relegated to boring harmonies. Leave it to Tchaikovsky to give all of us seconds an opportunity to shine! (I just checked the score and realized that the first violins are playing this melody, too. But that’s okay, because at least the second violins also get to play something exciting.)
Or click here to watch on YouTube.