The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Polka

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POLKA, a dance of Bohemian or Polish origin, the name being derived from the Bohemian pulka, half, from the half-step that characterizes the dance, or from Polka, a Polish woman. Stainer and Barrett in their ‘Dictionary of Music’ credit the invention of the dance to Anna Slazak, a farm servant at Elbsteinitz, near Prague, about 1830. It was popularly introduced at Prague about 1835, and in 1839 was brought by a part of the musical band of the Prague sharpshooters, under the management of Pergler, to Vienna, where both the music and dance met with extraordinary acceptance. In 1840 it was received with the greatest applause at the Odéon Theatre in Paris, and was soon the favorite dance at all the public and private balls of that capital. It spread rapidly into every country of Europe, and is now common in every part of the civilized world. The music is written in two-four time, the first three quavers being generally strongly accentuated.