We can thank Marquis, Frederic Chopin’s beloved street dog who followed him home, for inspiring the “Little Dog Waltz.” You know this piano piece as the Minute Waltz today.
Who is Marquis?
Chopin (1810-1849) lived with the Countess Delfina Potocka for many years. While historians debate their relationship, the composer and novelist were close allies.
While they both embraced Marquis, the pup favored Chopin from the start.
“This gentleman followed Chopin in the street, and simply would not leave him,” wrote the Countess. “Then, oh miracle, Chopin took the little dog in adoration and has spent the whole day looking after it.”
Marquis was a little dog, reportedly a Poodle or Poodle mix. Later accounts believe he may have looked more like a Bichon Frise. Regardless, he led a carefree life, frolicking in Paris and the French countryside with his caretaker, the Countess.
Yet he was Chopin’s sidekick and buddy. “Please thank Marquis for missing me and for sniffing at my door,” he wrote the countess while he was away.
Eventually the dog influenced Chopin’s music.
Pianist Jack Gibbons shares the Minute Waltz legend: it was a dare and challenge by the Countess “to set the movement of her dog Marquis chasing his tail to music.”
Through this fast paced waltz, you can easily imagine the pup running around. By the middle of the piece, you can hear grace notes which sound like the bell worn around Marquis’ neck. Take a listen.