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Henselt, Adolf von (1814-1889)

Grande Valse


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General Information

Composer: Adolf von Henselt

Title of the Publication: Grande Valse

Opus: 30

Composition Year: 1855

Edition Type: Urtext

Edition Number: FE005

Editor: Martijn Vromans

Languages of the Text: English, German, French, and Spanish

Paper: A4 Clairefontaine 120 gsm cream paper

Binding: Black steel wire binding

Pages/Format: Total 26 pages, including 3 pages of introduction and source commentary, plus 17 pages of music.

Weight: 125 g

Difficulty Level: 8/10

Also Included In:

  • FD005 (download)
  • FE001 (anthology)
  • FD001 (anthology download)


Behold Henselt’s Grande Valse, where the elegance of Chopin’s tradition unfolds into a waltz of profound emotional depth, complex architecture, and an array of moods and atmospheres, capturing the essence of a distinguished piece that resonates with timeless elegance and diversity. The sonority is opulent and contrapuntally intricate, adorned with Henselt’s refined chromatic subtleties. The coda is a magnificent resolution that follows a mix of lively waltz melodies with moments of introspective nostalgia.


About the Music

Melodic Inventiveness: Henselt’s Grande Valse dazzles with its captivating and memorable melodies. Right from the opening, it introduces four distinctly different themes, showcasing a breadth of creativity. In the introspective middle section, a typical piano waltz theme is explored from various angles and keys, culminating in a finale where Henselt masterfully weaves together all themes, displaying a remarkable melodic invention.

Narrative Structure: This piece is more akin to a Ballade in waltz form than a traditional waltz, presenting a story-like progression that captivates the listener with its veritable narrative flow and emotional depth. It’s a journey through musical storytelling that elevates the waltz to a dramatic and expressive art form.

Harmonic Richness: The Grande Valse is imbued with the subtle chromatic harmonies characteristic of Henselt’s composition style. These harmonies enrich the piece, adding layers of complexity and enhancing the emotional landscape of the waltz, setting it apart with its harmonic sophistication.

Contrapuntal Skill: The texture of this waltz is denser than similar works by Chopin, achieved through the addition of counter-melodies and a contrapuntal approach that adds depth and complexity. Henselt’s refined contrapuntal skill ensures that each line of music is meaningful and contributes to the overall richness of the piece.

Virtuosic Technical Demands: The Grande Valse challenges the performer with its virtuosic technical demands, requiring not just technical proficiency but also a deep emotional understanding to convey the piece’s intricate emotions and dynamics. Henselt uses virtuosity not merely for display but as a means for enhancing sonority, enriching the musical texture and depth.

Lyrical Passages: Amongst the technical prowess required, the waltz is interspersed with lyrical passages that sing and promote expressive lyricism. These moments stand out for their beauty and emotional depth, inviting the listener into moments of introspective nostalgia, before returning to the lively melodies of the waltz.

About the Composer

In the pantheon of Romantic composers, Adolf von Henselt stands out as the poet of the piano, whose compositions blend virtuosic technique with deep lyrical beauty. His approach to piano composition and performance marked a significant departure from his predecessors, integrating intricate techniques to enhance expressive depth.

Born to a modest Bavarian family in 1814, Henselt's prodigious talent catapulted him into the echelons of European music royalty. His early achievements, buoyed by the support of Ludwig I and mentorship under Johann Hummel, set the stage for a career that would navigate both dazzling success and personal battles, including his struggle with stage fright.

Henselt's move to Russia marked a new chapter, where he shifted focus from performing to teaching, profoundly influencing the Russian piano tradition. Henselt's impact is traced through his students and their successors, such as Scriabin, Rachmaninoff, Goldenweiser and Siloti, embedding his approach into the core of Russian pianism. Despite facing obscurity after his death, Henselt's oeuvre has been reevaluated, revealing a composer whose works epitomize the Romantic pursuit of emotional depth and technical perfection, ensuring his place in the annals of music history.


  • Portrait
  • Introduction (English, German, French or Spanish)
  • Grande Valse, "L'Aurore Boréale", Op. 30
  • Critical Commentary (English, German, French or Spanish)
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    Our paper editions are pleasing to the eye: gorgeous and heavy cream paper produced in an environmentally friendly manner. We print our albums ourselves and use pigmented ink instead of toner. Due to the ink soaking into the paper, a beautiful print is created. All our albums are bound with a steel binding spine, so the albums last a long time and stand perfectly flat on the piano.