What’s the Difference Between a Waltz and a Mazurka?

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When I first thought of this question, I was interested in what information was available from Google and on Youtube. I was surprised to find that there isn’t much information available on this subject! This is a really important subject for anyone who has studied Chopin Waltzes or Mazurkas. Chopin wrote a thick book of Mazurkas as well as a big book of Waltzes. These staples of the piano repertoire are stupendous pieces of music!

The Differences and Similarities of Waltzes and Mazurkas

First, there’s a great deal that Waltzes and Mazurkas have in common. Waltzes and Mazurkas were both dance forms of the 19th century. They are also both in ¾ time. So, what makes them different? In this video, I’m going to demonstrate the B-minor Waltz and the B-flat major Mazurka so you can hear them for yourself to see if you can figure out what’s different about them. Since they are both based upon dance forms in 3/4 time, you might wonder what sets them apart.

In a nutshell, the difference between Waltzes and Mazurkas is which beats are accented!

Let’s start with a Waltz. They typically have a strong first beat. The third beat is also somewhat strong, but the first beat is the strongest beat. In a Mazurka, the emphasis is on the second beat. On the accompanying video you will hear complete performances of the B-minor Waltz and the B-flat major Mazurka with all of the changes of sections. You can listen for the accented first beat in the waltz as well as the somewhat prominent third beat.

When listening to the Mazurka, notice the strong second beat. I chose these particular selections for you because they have similar tempos and are both energetic pieces. Some Waltzes have a solemn mood with slower tempos while there are Mazurkas which are highly introspective. They can be quite deep pieces of music. They’re well worth listening to and I may present these in future videos. I hope you get a sense of the fundamental differences between Waltzes and Mazurkas. This is Robert Estrin at LivingPianos.com Your Online Piano Store 949-244-3729 info@LivingPianos.com