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Set in an elegantly appointed ballroom to 33 Brahms waltzes with onstage singers, Liebeslieder Walzer is a lyrical and intimate two-part ballet that finds its four couples in the midst of their affection – an intimate joy for waltz lovers and classical music devotees.
For this two-part ballet of waltzes for piano duet and vocal quartet set to poems by Friedrich Daumer and one, the last, set to a poem by Goethe, the dancers are joined on stage by the musicians and singers. The first set of Walzer (Opus 52) was composed by Johannes Brahms when he lived in Vienna in 1869. The success of the first series caused a second (Opus 65) to be created in 1874, utilizing some materials which were left over from the original set. Balanchine used the entire two sections, and the atmosphere reflects the social dance of Vienna during the mid-century. There is a difference in mood between Opus 52 and Opus 65, with the former being more intimate and domestic, and the latter more theatrical.
The dancers and musicians are all dressed in period ballroom costumes, and during the first set of 18 waltzes, the four couples dance in interweaving combinations in an intimate, elegantly appointed ballroom, with the women wearing dancing slippers. After a brief lowering of the curtain, the couples return to dance the second set of 14 waltzes, with the women now wearing ballet dresses and pointe shoes. They then leave the stage and return in the original costumes and pause to listen to the final waltz set to Goethe’s words: “Now, Muses, enough! You try in vain to portray how misery and happiness alternate in a loving heart!” Of Liebeslieder Walzer, Balanchine said, “In the first act, it is the real people who are dancing. In the second act, it is their souls.”
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