Dance – movement – phrasing

Reanimating the rhythm – a swift glance at our basics


Liv Glaser

Professor emeritus


This little waltz by Schubert – one among hundreds of dances he improvised at social gatherings – I came across when I worked on a waltz project some time ago.

Schubert: No. 36 from ”Erste Walzer” D.365. Michael Endres, piano (Capriccio 2012).

After a few bars I was suddenly thrown back into my teens, at the barre at Rita Tori’s ballet school in Oslo. The school's pianist played this waltz among other classical and romantic pieces to our many exercises.

Schubert vals nr. 36 klipp.jpg

Waltz No. 36 from the 1st edition by 'Ant. Diabelli und Comp.', Vienna

I loved the ballet passionately, even practised at home, causing severe complaints from our neighbour below when I did my daily pirouettes through our apartment.

The music became my final choice but the dance has followed me as a devoted friend, even without dancing!

The daily discipline at the barre passed seamlessly into the daily practise-discipline at the piano. Not as a painful, boring duty, but as the essential and rewarding part of a life in music.

Back to Schubert: I realized that the big movements we did at the barre always matched the dotted or accented notes in the music, sometimes even becoming longer, small movements with shorter notes a bit faster, in fact a true rubato, making sense to the movement and to the phrasing.

In all music the source and foundation is the movement, the dance.

It’s obvious that rhythm came to our planet before the melody. Observe small children moving, knocking on tables, clapping their hands or just babbling, always in an insisting rhythm, long before being able to sing a melody.

Rhythm is above all the most precious thing we possess being deeply rooted in our hearts, our heart-beats.

I would like to remind you that the first metronome was a pendulum. The pendulum gives a wonderful movement, a gesture far from a military tic-tac.

The pendulum and the heartbeats are closely related to beats in music – all measure signatures are composed of heavy and light beats. Try to explore the beats in music with this in mind and feel what happens to the music and to your phrasing.

Explore the exciting interaction between the metrical and expressive accents and realize the suggestive things happening to the music and your phrasing as well.

The dynamics of rhythm creates emotions in you, which in consequence will involve and move the listener.

Please don’t forget the happy double meaning of the word move in so many languages. Move, moving - motion, emotion!

So, closing with a quotation from C.P.Bach comes quite naturally - in spite of having been written more than 250 years ago - still of vital importance today:

”The musician cannot move others, unless he is moved himself.”

Liv Glaser, Professor Emeritus
Norwegian Academy of Music

Listen to Liv Glaser playing Schubert:
Allegretto spiritoso – best of Liv Glaser 2CD

Sist oppdatert: 8. juni 2017


Liv Glaser

Professor emeritus