Hungarian Dances (Brahms)
They vary from about a minute to four minutes in length. They are among Brahms's most popular works, and were certainly the most profitable for him. Each dance has been arranged for a wide variety of instruments and ensembles. Brahms originally wrote the version for piano four-hands and later arranged the first 10 dances for solo piano.
Only numbers 11, 14 and 16 are entirely original compositions. The most famous Hungarian Dance is No. 5 in F♯ minor, but even this dance was based on the csárdás by Béla Kéler titled "Bártfai emlék" which Brahms mistakenly thought was a traditional folksong.
List of Hungarian Dances 
Played by Brahms
Nos. 5 and 6 performed by the Fulda Symphonic Orchestra conducted by Simon Schindler
|Problems listening to these files? See media help.|
- Book 1. (Published in 1869)
- in G minor: Allegro molto
- in D minor: Allegro non assai – Vivace
- in F major: Allegretto
- in F minor (F♯ minor for orchestra): Poco sostenuto – Vivace
- in F♯ minor (G minor for orchestra): Allegro – Vivace
- Book 2. (Published in 1869)
- in D♭ major (D major for orchestra): Vivace
- in A major (F major for orchestra): Allegretto – Vivo
- in A minor: Presto
- in E minor: Allegro ma non troppo
- in E major (F major for orchestra): Presto
- Book 3. (Published in 1880)
- in D minor: Poco andante
- in D minor: Presto
- in D major: Andantino grazioso – Vivace
- in D minor: Un poco andante
- in B♭ major: Allegretto grazioso
- in F minor: Con moto – F major: Presto
- Book 4. (Published in 1880)
- in F♯ minor: Andantino – Vivace
- in D major: Molto vivace
- in B minor: Allegretto
- in E minor: Poco allegretto – Vivace
- in E minor: Vivace – E major: Più presto
Brahms wrote orchestral arrangements for No. 1, No. 3 and No. 10. Other composers have orchestrated the other dances. These composers include Antonín Dvořák, Andreas Hallén (No. 2), Paul Juon (No. 4), Martin Schmeling (Nos. 5 to 7), Hans Gál (Nos. 8 and 9), Albert Parlow (Nos. 11 to 16). Dvořák orchestrated the last numbers. More recently, Iván Fischer has orchestrated the complete set.
Brahms's Hungarian Dances were influential in the development of ragtime. See, for example, the role of German-American piano teacher Julius Weiss in ragtime composer Scott Joplin's early life and career.
Leopold Stokowski's very first recordings with the Philadelphia Orchestra were devoted to Hungarian Dance No. 5 and Hungarian Dance No. 6. They were recorded by the Victor Talking Machine Company in Camden, New Jersey in 1917.
The Boston Pops Orchestra with conductor Arthur Fiedler recorded Hungarian Dance No. 5 and Hungarian Dance No. 6 in Symphony Hall, Boston. Hungarian Dance No. 5 was recorded on June 25, 1950. It was released by RCA Victor as catalog number 10-3254B (in USA) and by EMI on the His Master's Voice label as catalog number B 10631. Hungarian Dance No. 6 was recorded on June 16, 1950. It was released by RCA Victor Records as catalog number 10-3244B (in USA) and by EMI on the His Master's Voice label as catalog number B 10631. These were 78-rpm discs. The pieces were arranged by Albert Parlow.
Julius Katchen and Jean-Pierre Marty recorded the complete set in the 1960s, as part of Katchen's recording of the complete piano works of Brahms. Aloys and Alfons Kontarsky recorded them in 1976 for Deutsche Grammophon, released originally on LP catalog number 2530 710. The French sister duo-pianists Katia and Marielle Labèque recorded the complete set of dances for Philips in 1981, as catalog number 4164592.
In popular culture 
Hungarian Dance No. 5 appeared in The Great Dictator while Charlie Chaplin's character is shaving a man to the tune of the song. The song is the tune of Friz Freleng's cartoon Pigs in a Polka, a version of the Three Little Pigs story. Satirical singer Allan Sherman used the tune for his song "Hungarian Goulash", about different kinds of cuisines. Hungarian Dance No.5 was the background music in "Upper Clapton Dance", a song by the English rapper Professor Green. It was also featured in Season 22 episode 12 of The Simpsons, an animated sitcom. It is also featured in Streetlight Manifesto's song "If and When We Rise Again."
- Bozarth, George. "Brahms, Johannes". Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford. Retrieved 26 September 2011.
- Lopraits, Elizabeth (2008). Hungarian gypsy style in the Lisztian spirit: Georges Cziffra's two transcriptions of Brahms' Fifth Hungarian Dance. ProQuest. p. 33. ISBN 978-0-549-55607-7.
- p. 341 Walker (1998) Alan. Cornell. Franz Liszt: The Virtuoso Years, 1811–1847. Cornell University Press
- Wilson, Conrad (2005). Notes on Brahms: 20 crucial works. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. p. 42. ISBN 978-0-8028-2991-7.
- Brahms Hungarian Dance No. 5 on Bill Edwards' site.