Romanian Folk Dances
Romanian Folk Dances, Sz. 56, BB 68 is a suite of six short piano pieces composed by Béla Bartók in 1915. He later orchestrated it for small ensemble in 1917 as Sz. 68, BB 76.
It is based on seven Romanian tunes from Transylvania, originally played on fiddle or shepherd's flute. The original name for the piece was titled Romanian Folk Dances from Hungary but was later changed by Bartók when Transylvania joined Romania in 1918. It is nowadays available in the 1971 edition which is written with key signatures although Bartok rarely ever wrote key signatures.
This set of dances consists of six movements and, according to the composer, it should take four minutes and three seconds to perform, but most professional pianists take up to five minutes. The list of the movements is as follows. The original Hungarian title will be in the first place, the most commonly known title in Romanian will be in the second place and the translation into English will be in parentheses:
Performed by the Advent Chamber Orchestra
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- I. Bot tánc / Jocul cu bâtă (Stick Dance)
- II. Brâul (Sash Dance)
- III. Topogó / Pe loc (In One Spot)
- IV. Bucsumí tánc / Buciumeana (Dance from Bucsum)
- V. Román polka / Poarga Românească (Romanian Polka)
- VI. Aprózó / Mărunțel (Fast Dance)
The melody of the first movements, according to Bartók, came from Mezőszabad, in the Maros-Torda (now Mureș County) section of Transylvania, and he first heard it when two gypsy violinist were playing it. The second movement is a typical dance from Romania called Brâul, for which traditionally a sash or a waistband was used. This melody came from Igriș, in the Banat region. The third dance comes also from Igriş, but its theme is much darker and its melody recreates Middle Eastern instruments, such as the flute. The fourth dance came from Bucium, in the district of Torda-Aranyos (today Alba county in Romania). The fifth dance is an old Romanian dance similar to the Polka and comes from Belényes, today Beiuş, in Bihor county near the border between Hungary and Romania. The sixth and last dance is formed by two different melodies: the first one comes from Belényes (called Beiuș in Romanian) and the second one comes from Nyagra (from the commune of Lunca Bradului). Both on the orchestral version and on the original piano version, these two dances are performed without a discernible pause.
All of the movements are composed according to the rules of the musical modes, which state that all melodies are to be written according to a specific order of tones and semitones.
|Movement||Tempo||Time to perform||Key||Form||Mode|
|Bot tánc / Jocul cu bâtă||Allegro moderato, ♩ = 80||57 seconds||A minor||Binary||Dorian and Aeolian on key centre A|
|Brâul||Allegro, ♩ = 144||25 seconds||D minor||Binary||Dorian centered on D|
|Topogó / Pe loc||Andante, ♩ = 90||45 seconds||B minor||Binary||Aeolian and Arabic influence (augmented seconds) on key centre B|
|Bucsumí tánc / Buciumeana||Moderato, ♩ = 100||35 seconds||A major||Binary with 2 tunes||Mixolydian and Arabic influence on key centre A|
|Román polka / Poarga Românească||Allegro, ♩ = 152||31 seconds||D major||Binary with 2 tunes||Lydian on key centre D|
|Aprózó / Mărunțel||Allegro, ♩ = 152 (and after, Più Allegro, ♩ = 144)||13 and 36 seconds||D Major, modulates to A major||3 tunes and coda||Key Centre A; first part begins with Lydian, but is in Mixolydian; second part in is Dorian|
Aside from the version Bartók wrote for a small orchestral ensemble, some of Bartók's friends wrote adaptations or transcriptions of this piece for several different ensembles. The following list shows some of the most published of them:
- Arthur Willner's version for string orchestra. It is a mere transcription with no modification on the original score other than appropriately orchestrating the piece for a string orchestra with violin I, violin II, viola, cello and double bass.
- Zoltan Szekely's version for violin and piano. This is not just a transcription, but also an arrangement and adaptation of the piece for these two instruments, especially from the point of view of the violinist. Therefore, some of the slight adjustments Szekely made on the original score were to transpose some of the songs: the second movement was transposed from D minor to F-sharp minor, the third from B minor to D minor and the fourth from A major to C major. He also repeated some sections, added bars and used several techniques from the violin such as artificial harmonics, double stops, and Sautillé.
Notable recordings of this composition include:
|Piano Solo||Record Company||Year of Recording||Format|
|András Schiff||Denon Records / Brilliant Classics||1980||CD|
|Jenő Jandó||Naxos Records||2005||CD|
Notable recordings of the arrangement by Zoltán Székely include:
|Violin||Piano||Record Company||Year of Recording||Format|
|Joseph Szigeti||Béla Bartók||EMI Classics||1930||CD|
- Two Romanian Folk Dances
- Culture of Romania
- Béla Bartók
- List of compositions by Béla Bartók
- Cummings, Robert. "Brâul (Sash Dance), for piano (Romanian Folk Dances No. 2), Sz. 56/2, BB 68 2: Composition description". Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2 August 2011.
- Kroo, Gyorgy. Guide to Bartok. Branden Publishing Co. ISBN 978-0-8283-1559-3.
- This movement is only present in the orchestrated version, as it is part of the sixth dance. Although most recordings set this tracklist for the orchestrated version, this last movement is part of the previous movement
- Whitehouse, Richard (2005). 8.554718 - BARTOK, B.: Piano Music, Vol. 2 (Jando) - Dance Suite / Romanian Folk Dances. Hong Kong: HNH International Ltd. p. 4. Retrieved July 27, 2011.
- Cummings, Robert. "Jocul cu bâta (Stick Dance), for piano (Romanian Folk Dances No. 1), Sz. 56/1, BB 68 1: Composition description". Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2 August 2011.
- Cummings, Robert. "Pe Loc (In One Spot), for piano (Romanian Folk Dances No. 3), Sz. 56/3, BB 68/3: Composition description". Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2 August 2011.
- Cummings, Robert. "Buciumeana (Dance of Buchum), for piano (Romanian Folk Dances No. 4), Sz. 56/4, BB 68/4: Composition Description". Rovi Corporation Ltd. Retrieved August 4, 2011.
- Cummings, Robert. "Poarga Româneasca (Romanian Polka), for piano (Romanian Folk Dances No. 5), Sz. 56/5, BB 68/5: Composition description". Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2 August 2011.
- Cummings, Robert. "Maruntel (Fast Dance from Belebyes), for piano (Romanian Folk Dances No. 6), Sz. 56/6, BB 68/6: Composition description". Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2 August 2011.
- Cummings, Robert. "Maruntel (Fast Dance from Belebyes), for orchestra (Romanian Folk Dances No. 6), Sz. 68/6, BB 76/6: Composition description". Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2 August 2011.
- This is the original timing Bartók wrote down after each movement
- "Information about the CD 9714 from Denon Records". Santa Clara: Rovi Corporation. 1980. Retrieved July 27, 2011.
- "Tracklist from the CD 8.554718 from the Naxos catalogue". Hong Kong: Naxos Digital Services Ltd. 2005. Retrieved July 27, 2011.
- "Information about the CD 180761 from EMI Classics". Santa Clara: Rovi Corporation. 1930. Retrieved August 13, 2011.
- Hinson, Maurice. Romanian Folk Dances, Sz. 56, for the piano (Alfred Masterwork Edition). Alfred Publishing. ISBN 978-0-88284-864-8.
- Kroo, Gyorgy. Guide to Bartok. Branden Publishing Co. ISBN 978-0-8283-1559-3.
- Suchoff, Benjamin (1993). Béla Bartók essays. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. ISBN 978-0-8032-6108-2.
- Antokoletz, Elliott; Fischer, Victoria; Suchoff, Benjamin (2000). Bartók perspectives: man, composer, and ethnomusicologist. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-512562-7.
- Yeomans, David (1988). Bartók for piano. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. ISBN 978-0-253-21383-9.
- Romanian Folk Dances, Sz. 56: Free scores at the International Music Score Library Project
- Romanian Folk Dances, Sz. 68: Free scores at the International Music Score Library Project