As far as FIG events are concerned, women’s individual floor exercise was first introduced at the 1950 World Championships, but at the time, gymnasts did not use floor music. In fact, at the 1950 FIG Congress, the delegates had to decide if gymnasts should perform to music at the 1952 Olympics, and they voted against it (eight votes to three).
It wasn’t until 1958 that music was introduced for individual floor routines, both compulsory and optional.
Below, you’ll find recordings of the music for the compulsory routines from 1958 until 1996. For some of you, the music will bring back fond memories. For others, it’ll bring back nightmares. But hopefully, you’ll find a piece you enjoy listening to.
1958 World Championships
Music by: Hans Dokoupil
1960 Olympic Games
1962 World Championships
1964 Olympic Games
Music by: Andreina Gotta
1968 Olympic Games
1970 World Championships
Musical Arrangement by: Julia Brumgart
1972 Olympic Games
In 1972, the FIG allowed each nation to choose its own floor music for the compulsory routines. From the rulebook:
The total composition of the exercises, the musical accompaniment for the floor exercise, will be elaborated by the technicians of each Federation.
The musical accompaniment will be identical for all the gymnasts of a team.La composition totale des exercices, l’accompagnement musical pour l’exercice au sol, seront élaborés par les techniciennes de chaque Fédération.
L’accompagnement musical sera identique pour toutes les gymnastes d’une équipe.
1976 Olympic Games
Music by: Carol Stabisewachi
1980 Olympic Games
In 1980, there was one routine but three options for floor music. Each country had to choose one of the following pieces of music.
Option 3 — Composer: Carol Stabisevski
Who said choreography needed to be specific to the piece of music? 🙂
Note: The other two composers were E. Vevrik and Takiura Yukio, but I don’t know for sure whose composition is whose.
1984 Olympic Games
While pianos were provided in the arenas, cassette tapes were gaining traction. Here’s what the 1984 rulebook said:
Two pianos and the necessary equipment for broadcasting music recorded on tape or cassette will be available; records will not be permitted. All gymnasts using music recorded on tapes or cassettes shall provide a copy to the designated sound technician as soon as they arrive in Los Angeles so that a duplicate recording may be made.1984 Rulebook for the Olympic Games
Music by: Carol Stabisevski
Note: Stabisevski was the Romanian team’s pianist in the mid-1970s until he defected to the United States.
1988 Olympic Games
In 1988, gymnasts could once again use cassettes.
Two pianos and the necessary equipment for broadcasting music recorded on cassette will be available; reel tapes and records will not be permitted.1988 Rulebook for the Olympic Games
1992 Olympic Games
For the 1989-1992 quad, the FIG abandoned piano music, opting to use a full symphony recording rather than piano music.
Title: Violin Concerto No. 2 in B Minor
Composer: Niccolò Paganini
1996 Olympic Games
Title: Die Fledermaus
Composer: Johann Strauss
Note #1: Keep in mind that my recordings are played straight through. They do not necessarily match the tempo of the individual skills in the routines.
The beauty of live music was the pianist’s ability to match the tempo and dynamics to the individual gymnast’s movements. For example, if a gymnast had great extension and flexibility, the pianist could hold a note longer, allowing the gymnast to lift her leg just a little higher and show off her flexibility.
Some of the pianists also added little flourishes — an arpeggio here or a trill there.
Note #2: I am missing the music for a few competitions (e.g. the 1966 World Championships). As I collect the old sheet music, I’ll update this page.
Note #3: I am not a professional musician. More than anything, these recordings give you an idea of what the music sounded like. If anyone would like to play better renditions of the pieces above, I’d love to include them in this post. Alternatively, if anyone has digitized the cassette recordings, please let me know.