Even if you didn’t know that the proper name for this waltz is Sobre las Olas — Over the Waves en Ingles — we bet you recognize the melody. Right? It’s the song they play on merry-go-rounds! And it’s not by Johann Strauss, the waltz king. It’s by Mexican classical composer Juventino Rosas, and performed here by the London Symphony Orchestra.
The waltz is typically associated with composers from German speaking countries. The word waltz is, after all, German. Viennese composers like Beethoven and Schubert composed waltzes. Viennese composer Johann Strauss II was known as the “Waltz King.”
But at the same time the Viennese were waltzing around ballrooms and clinking their champagne glasses, the people of Mexico were enjoying waltzes, too – many of which were composed in Mexico.
One of the most famous waltz composers in Mexico was Juventino Rosas. He was born in 1868 in Santa Cruz de Galeana to parents who were Otomí….
When Roasas was very young, his father brought him to Mexico City, where he got work as a musician and later composed salon music, including many waltzes. His most famous waltz is “Sobre las olas,” which means “Over the waves.” An article published in El Economista claims the waves to which the composition refers are not on the sea, but a river near Mexico City
Here’s the carousel version, played by the automagic Wurlitzer Band Organ: