chapter  3
54 Pages

Minuets, Scherzos, and Neoclassicism

The waltz was the most popular ballroom dance in nineteenth-century Vienna, and Brahms's output contains sets of waltzes for piano and for voices with four-hand piano accompaniment. Further, as David Brodbeck has demonstrated, the waltz for Brahms was intimately connected with Schubert, perhaps even more than with the popular Viennese waltz composers of mid-century, whom Brahms also admired. The incorporation of waltzes in two late chambers works pieces undertaken after Brahms's stated intention in 1891 to stop composing fits within the sense of nostalgia that pervades many of Brahms's last works. Like in several of Brahms's scherzo-type movements, the repeat of the waltz's first reprise is written out to permit a new tonal goal. The second reprise departs further from the norms of rounded binary form in several interrelated ways. The third movement also possesses the typical waltz characteristics seen in the corresponding movement but in addition its main melodic material has a rhythmic repetitiveness suggestive of the waltz.