Redoute, a 1790s Viennese Ball
In late-eighteenth-century Vienna, they knew how to play. From the 1760s on, Habsburg rulers had taken steps to open up the city’s dance halls to the public. (Previously, only the nobility enjoyed access to these spaces.) The public balls that now took place in these dance halls proved a very popular form of entertainment, attended by numerous citizens from across the social spectrum. During the ‘Carnival’ period before Lent, two balls a week were held in the imperial residence, open to anyone who could afford a ticket. The two main dances performed by all at these events were the minuet and the German dance (which would later become the waltz). The fact that so many people danced the minuet at these balls is important for music history: it means that the same people, attending concerts, would listen to the minuet movements of symphonies and quartets with the knowledge of the dance steps. The knowledge of the dance would inform their engagement with this music.
In this event, participants will learn to party like it’s 1792. Mary Collins will play the role of dancing master. In a workshop session, she will teach all willing participants the steps for a basic minuet and German dance. (Spectators are also welcome, but everyone is encouraged to participate to the best of their ability.) A small ensemble directed by Joseph Fort will provide the music, using minuets and German dances composed by Haydn for a public ball in Vienna in 1792. Following the workshop, all participants will perform the dances, together, as if at the ball itself.
MARY COLLINS is an early dance specialist whose research and teaching approach has inspired musicians to look afresh at the dance music which is at the heart of the Renaissance and Baroque repertoire. A practitioner and researcher, she performs regularly with the London Handel Players and Florilegium, giving master classes, lecture-recitals and workshops to dancers and musicians throughout the world.
JOSEPH FORT is College Organist & Director of the Chapel Choir, and Lecturer in Music at King’s College London. He completed a PhD at Harvard University, and is currently preparing this research for publication. He has presented at conferences including the American Musicological Society annual meeting, the Mozart Society of America biennial meeting, and the Oxford Dance Symposium