In 1841 Hector Berlioz, the leading champion of Weber in France, became involved in a new production of Weber’s opera Der Freischütz. Unlike the rather disastrous 1826 Paris première, in which many cuts and alterations were made to the work, at Berlioz’s insistence this production was presented in full. In France it was customary at the time for a ballet to be included and, despite being invited to include music from his own Symphonie Fantastique, Berlioz decided instead to orchestrate Weber’s 1811 work for solo piano, Invitation to the Dance.
There’s little doubt that the piece’s enduring popularity owes a great deal to Berlioz’s masterful orchestration but in itself it is an important work. Some say the work marks the transition of modern dance music, as previously the waltz had been little more than a ‘mere animated minuet’. One eminent 19 th century music critic said that in the Invitation to the Dance Weber threw ‘a fiery allegro into the dance. The world ran faster, why should not people dance faster?’