The Grand Waltz

The 2021 Texas Capitol ornament pays homage to musical traditions.

Written by Adam Faderewski


During the official Texas State Capitol dedication ball on May 18, 1888, Gov. Lawrence Sullivan Ross and First Lady Elizabeth Tinsley Ross led the march into the Senate and House chambers as the newly composed “Texas State Capitol Grand Waltz” was performed from the second floor.

The task of creating a musical piece for the dedication ball fell upon Leonora Rives, who in 1885 composed the “New Administration Grand March,” dedicated to President Grover Cleveland. Rives, then a resident of Mission Valley, had 10,000 copies of the waltz printed in the Austin Daily Statesman as souvenirs for the event—selling out before noon.

Holiday performances by Texas musical groups of all ages at the Capitol began in the early 20th century. On December 21, 1914, the Austin American noted school children and church choirs accompanied by a local orchestra were set to carol that evening on the Capitol South Grounds. The 2021 Texas Capitol ornament pays tributes to these traditions.

The ornament adopts the style of a snow globe filled with sparkling snowflakes cascading upon Victorian-era carolers gathered in front of the Capitol. Flitting through the air behind the Capitol dome are the notes from Rives’ “Texas State Capitol Grand Waltz.”

The ornament program was established in 1996 by the late Nelda Laney, wife of then-Speaker of the House Pete Laney. To date, the program has raised over $21 million, making it the largest state ornament program in the country. All proceeds from ornament sales go toward the preservation and maintenance of the Texas Capitol, Capitol Extension, the 1857 General Land Office Building, other designated buildings, and their contents and grounds. Funds also go toward preserving the Texas Governor’s Mansion and to operating costs for the Bullock Texas State History Museum and the Texas State Cemetery.

For more information and to purchase an ornament, go to



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