Saturday, December 7, 2013

A New New Year's Eve Tradition

Anyone who remembers the Lawrence Welk show possible remembers his music being called "champagne music."

When I think of the word "polka" I think of accordions (pictured above) and dancing.

I learned to dance the polka at Girl Scout camp when I was a young girl and have observed polka dancing at the Illinois State Fair.
Tonight at my local symphony's concert I learned of a New Year's tradition the combines champagne and polka. It was something that I'd not heard of before.

I have heard that many people drink champagne at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve.

[Not being a drinker of alcohol I base this on TV and movie depictions. I am picturing in my mind the Guy Lombardo orchestra's New Year's Eve performances.]

Apparently in addition to the uncorking of champagne bottles music would be played.

One type of music that was played was something called a Champagne Polka. 

Many composers would write champagne polkas however it was Johann Strauss, he who wrote many symphonic waltzes and polkas (both genres of dance music that originated in Central and Eastern Europe), to whom the New Year's Eve tradition would be attributed.

The story goes that Strauss wrote a scherz polka (or joke polka) to imitate the uncorking of champagne bottles during celebrations.

Listen to Strauss' Champagne Polka, Op. 211.
Listen carefully, around the 1 minute mark you will hear what appears to be a bottle of champagne being uncorked. In reality it is the temple block, if I am not mistaken.

The New Year's Eve tradition described by tonight's conductor was that on New Year's Eve a champagne polka would be played then the champagne bottles would be opened in great celebration.

This opening of the bottles and the music would accompany a toast for health, wealth, and prosperity during the new year.

I had not heard of this tradition or the musical genre "champagne polka" before tonight.

After Strauss many other composers would write these champagne polkas.

I find the music very light hearted. In fact, whilst listening I was imagining animation and wonder if Disney ever made a cartoon using this music.

I did learn during my brief search for info that gymnasts often use this type of music for their floor routines during competitions.

Maybe that's why it seems familiar.

Anyhow, I learned something new about music today.  Did you?

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