The first known reference to the dance called “waltz” dates to 1580 in Augsburg, Bavaria. Unlike all previous dance forms, during the waltz dancers held each other so closely that their faces touched. The dance was regarded by the upper class as a low and “godless” thing. By 1750 the waltz form had spread throughout the peasant populations of Bavaria, Tyrol, Styria, Bohemia, and Austria. The waltz became fashionable in high society Vienna around 1780. The dance reached England in 1791 but did not achieve popularity until around 1814.
Dozens of waltz-form dance exist across many cultures spread across Europe, North America and South America. This collection of tunes focuses on the Irish traditional waltz. During the 19th century travelling dancing masters roamed Ireland and the British Isles teaching the waltz to those who could afford lessons. By 1900 the waltz was firmly rooted in the middle and lower socio-economic classes of Ireland. The traditional Irish waltz is most often notated in 3|4 time. However, 6|4 time signatures are not uncommon. A few tunes are notated in 3|8 meter. Early in the 20th century Céilidh musicians brought the waltz into their extensive portfolio of dance music.
The muzarka dance form is sometimes played during Irish sessions. The dance is generally notated in 3|4 time. But, unlike the waltz the strong beat is placed the second beat of a measure. This gives the music a significant uplift. The muzurka is of Polish origin. This folk dance found its way into fashtionable ballrooms during the early 19th century. The most widely known advocate for the muzarka was Frédéric Chopin. He composed more than fifty-nine muzurkas for solo piano.
Muzurka is derived from the Polish word “mazur”. In the early 19th century “mzaur” refered to a person who lived the the Mazovia region of Poland.