Carl Maria von Weber (1786-1826) wrote this piano rondo in 1819 for his wife, Caroline, to whom he had recently married. He composed it around the same time that he was composing the beloved German opera, Der Freischütz. Invitation to the Dance is the first ever concert waltz; this means that the piece was intended to be listened to instead of danced too. Hector Berlioz would later orchestrate the work in 1841.
The opening bass motive is the gentleman’s inquiry upon the lady to dance. After she replies evasively, the gentleman again offers, this time a bit more playfully (as seen with the grace note), upon which the lady agrees. This plays out in the example below:
The pair then share conversation while the dancers take their place. Weber portrays this by having the bass and treble voices alternate melodic phrases, as though conversing with each other. In measure 36, the dance begins. The tempo marking is Allegro vivace, and there are several contrasting sections of different waltz themes, essentially a theme and variations. This would be a good piece for students because each variation requires different skills, such as fast left hand melodic embellishment sections. At the end of the piece, the couple thank each other and retire from the dance floor.
Friedrich Wilhelm Jähns made a catalogue for Weber, so in addition to Opus numbers, Weber has “J” numbers. This piece is Op. 65 but also J. 260. Publishers of Weber’s music include:
- Henle Verlag
Notable performers with recordings of this piece include:
- William Wellborn
- Artur Schnabel
Captain Thaddius’ Hot Take:
The analysis of the beginning of this piece could be good for teaching young students about portraying scenes in a piece of music. For an intermediate pianist, this work is approachable, having a very simple harmonic language and a pretty steady meter. It would challenge a student to bring out melodies in both the left and right hand.