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Depiction of a mazurka from the Journal des Demoiselles , 1845

The mazurka (outdated alternative spelling: Masurka ) is a stylized dance from Poland in moderately slow to very rapid three-beat.


The name Mazurka is derived from the Polish Masovian landscape (Polish: Mazowsze ). Other names are Warschauer (Varsovienne), Air en Polonaise ( Leipzig 1736), Polka Mazurka , Masollka ( Tyrol ), Flohbeutler ( Styria ), Tramplan ( Carinthia ), Wiener Walzer ( Upper Austria ), Cevvee ( Lower Austria ), Flohschüttler and Baaschlenkerer ( Germany ), Mistträppeler , Masollke ( Switzerland ) and many others.


The dance name Mazurek is first recorded in 1345. Benefiting from the personal union of Saxony-Poland (1697 to 1763) under August the Strong and August III. Polish dances were promoted in Saxony. These dances only penetrated the peasant population very rarely.

From 1840 the mazurka found again in Germany, this time via Paris, as a ballroom dance in the salons of the bourgeoisie, and now spread quickly in town and country. The political background was: Poland was fighting for its national independence. At about the same time, the Varsovienne (Warsaw) spread. Towards the end of the 19th century, the mazurka appeared in the dance books of alpine musicians; it became more common from 1900 onwards.


Generally, the mazurka is in 3/4 time. A special distinguishing feature from a musical point of view is on the one hand the subdivision of the first beat (e.g. dotted eighth notes or eighth note triplets ) and on the other hand (resulting from this) the shift in emphasis to the second beat.

Further features are the typical waltz accompaniment with a low quarter note (bass) and two subsequent higher quarter notes (chord). Also typical is the frequent repetition of individual motifs and themes up to the repetition of entire parts, which are separated by a contrasting middle section. These differences concern accompaniment (often in the form of a drone), dynamics (mostly in piano) and key (by canceling accidentals).

The mazurka became internationally known through Frédéric Chopin , who composed 51 mazurkas for piano and thus also introduced this dance to art music. Other piano mazurkas were made by Alexander Scriabin , later also by Karol Szymanowski . The members of the Vienna Strauss dynasty composed numerous orchestral mazurkas, mostly referred to as polka mazur - e.g. B. One heart, one mind! op. 323 by Johann Strauss (son) . Furthermore, the founder of modern guitar technology Francisco Tárrega used the mazurka.

The Polish national anthem Mazurek Dąbrowskiego is also a mazurka.

The melody is originally often in the minor key. In alpine folk dance , however, melodies are mostly found in major, as is the case in Switzerland, although the second part of three-part pieces is sometimes in minor.

Dance figures

The mazurka is a folk dance that, like most folk dances, is handed down in a wide variety of dance forms, including in Germany , Austria , Switzerland , Italy , France , Sweden , Norway , the Netherlands , Lithuania , on the Canary Islands and even among the Boers in South Africa .

In Austria there are three main forms:

  • Polka Mazurka (Masur)
  • Warsaw (Varsovienne)
  • Free mazurka shape (country type)

The basic mazurka step is explained in Dance Terms in Folk Dance .

Dance descriptions

Polka mazurka from Germany

In the "Handbook of the German folk dance" documents Aenne Goldschmidt the following Mazurka form with the note: "This, one-step Warsaw 'is in the form of so-called Polka Mazurka' as earlier in ballroom dancing was common in the city." Aenne Goldschmidt gives the following dance description:

Ordinary round dance version

  1. 1 mazurka step with the outside foot
  2. 1 waltz step with the outside foot, turning half clockwise

The repeated figure begins in opposite directions. The rotation can maintain the direction of rotation.

Rhythm scheme:

Dancer: lrr lrl rll rlr

Dancer: rll rlr lrr lrl

Goldschmidt, Aenne: Handbook of German folk dance. Textband, Berlin 1966 (4th edition, Heinrichshofen 1981.), p. 208

Mazurka de Samatan (French Mazurka)

A mazurka form originally from Gascony, called Mazurka de Samatan , is also danced a lot as French mazurka in Germany in the BalFolk scene (and beyond) . It consists of four parts:

Ordinary round dance version

  1. 1 Mazurkaschritt left of the dancer, is easily hopped in which the 3rd step
  2. a waltz step with a quarter turn to the left
  3. the 2nd mazurka step with a right turn and directly connected
  4. a waltz step with a full turn to the right.

The special thing about this mazurka is that during its course the couple dances a quarter turn to the left and then a 5/4 turn to the right.

There are similar forms from the Black Forest.


Web links

Wiktionary: Mazurka  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. The reform of German spelling in 1996 also introduced the spelling Masurka , which was deleted on June 29, 2017 with the implementation of the report of the Council for German Spelling on the performance of its tasks in the period 2011 to 2016 .
  2. José Carlos Delgado Díaz: The Folk Music of the Canaries. Publicaciones Turquesa, Santa Cruz de Tenerife 2004, ISBN 84-95412-29-2 , p. 134 f.