Commissioned by Ian Munro with financial assistance from the Australia Council for the Arts, the Australian government's arts funding and advisory body.
First complete performance by Ian Munro (piano), Tasmanian Conservatorium of Music, Hobart, 22 March 2003
Winner of Jean Bogan Music Prize, 2002, The Waltz Book contains a range of technical difficulty, embraces simple tonal harmonies and dense chromaticism, folk tunes, pop tunes, references to the music of Brahms and Ravel, Bernard Herrmann and Elliott Carter. Some of the pieces tell stories, some are abstract and inscrutable.
In addition to the full 60-minute score, two collections of waltzes suitable for amateur and student pianists are available separately. See: 10 Easy Waltzes from the Waltz Book and 10 More Easy Waltzes from The Waltz Book.
Andrew Ford talks about composing The Waltz Book – a two-part interview on Youtube
Waltzes invite repetition of phrases; modernist 20th century styles shun them. Ford teased music of textural simplicity and gestural complexity from this paradox . . . Like Beethoven in his monumental set of variations of a waltz by Diabelli, Ford grouped his waltzes to make larger structural units . . . a set of five derived from a Finnish folk song builds up a progressively intriguing texture of drones, rattles and ornaments.
Peter McCallum, The Sydney Morning Herald
The [Stuart & Sons piano] was most impressive in Andrew Ford's The Waltz Book, 60 gems, all of them precious, all lasting just one minute and all titled for people and events close to the composer. The clarity and brilliance of the tone ensured that separate voices were heard distinctly and superclean damping let the light shine through Ford's purposeful rests. Stuart's big bass gave extra weight to the [five] 'Whole World' waltzes; 'Monsieur Satie Scratches His Head' satirised music's arch satirist; and 'Anni's Waltz' (for Mrs Ford) was a sweet mix of tenderness and exasperation. Complete, the witty, pithy, always entertaining and often very funny Waltz Book would make a lunch-hour concert on its own.
Elizabeth Silsbury, The Advertiser
It's easy to get bogged down by the gravity of classical music. The idea of an hour-long solo piano work, for example, made up of 60 fragments each a minute long with a coherent but elusive structure running through it is potentially daunting. But as it turns out, Andrew Ford's The Waltz Book is something of an antidote to serious concert music. The 60 waltzes - some fragmentary, some miniature symphonies - form an album of personal snapshots, full of humour and humanity . . . Ford's musings take us, like a series of Leunig cartoons, through the gamut of emotions, via gentle laughter, humdrum ho-hums and moments of real beauty.
Harriet Cunningham, The Sydney Morning Herald
The Waltz Book began the evening with a journey though extremes of emotion. Ian Munro once again proved the consummate pianist, artfully navigating the virtuosic work and managing to translate what was an intensely personal journey into an experience the audience could share. He moved easily from frenetic aggression to lilting calm.
Elizabeth Bailes, Hobart Mercury
[The Waltz Book is] delightfully inventive and resourceful . . . displaying a robust virtuosity.
Stephen Pedersen, Halifax Chronicle Herald, Nova Scotia
Vyacheslav Novikov played a selection of waltzes ranging from the simple and reflective to the sturdy and virtuosic. Ford's invention works. New entities can continually be created from small individual parts.
Juhani Koivisto, Kainuun Sanomat, Finland
This music may sound simpler and more naive than it is; in fact it reflects back on itself like someone who looks at his image in a mirror, wondering who he is.
Mikael Kosk, Hufvudstadsbladet, Finland