Hungarian Dances (Brahms)
They vary from about a minute to five minutes in length. They are among Brahms's most popular works, and were 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 better-known Hungarian Dances include Nos. 1 and 5, the latter which was based on the csárdás "Bártfai emlék" (Memories of Bártfa) by Hungarian composer Béla Kéler, which Brahms mistakenly thought was a traditional folksong. A footnote on the Ludwig-Masters edition of a modern orchestration of Hungarian Dance No.1 states: "The material for this dance is believed to have come from the Divine Csárdás (ca. 1850) of Hungarian composer and conductor Miska Borzó."
List of Hungarian Dances
Played by Brahms on 2 December 1889
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- 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 Nos. 1, 3 and 10. Other composers have orchestrated the other dances. These composers include Antonín Dvořák (Nos. 17 to 21), Andreas Hallén (Nos. 2, 4 and 7), Paul Juon (No. 4), Martin Schmeling (1864–1943) (Nos. 5 to 7), Hans Gál (Nos. 8 and 9), Albert Parlow (Nos. 5, 6 and 11 to 16) and Robert Schollum (Nos. 4, 8 and 9). 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.
The earliest known recording of any movement of Hungarian Dances was a condensed piano-based rendition of Hungarian Dances No. 1, from 1890, played by Brahms himself, and was known to have been recorded by Theo Wangemann, an assistant to Thomas Edison.
The following dialogue can be heard in the recording itself, before the music starts:
- Theo Wangemann: "Dezember 1889."
- Johannes Brahms: "Im Haus Von Herrn Doktor Fellinger bei Herrn Doktor Brahms, Johannes Brahms."
Joseph Joachim, a close friend of Brahms, in collaboration with an as-of-yet unnamed accompanying pianist, recorded their own renditions of Hungarian Dances Nos. 1 and 2.
Leopold Stokowski's very first recordings with the Philadelphia Orchestra were devoted to Hungarian Dances Nos. 5 and 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 Dances Nos. 5 and 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 the 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.
The complete orchestral versions were again recorded digitally by István Bogár and the Budapest Symphony Orchestra for Naxos in 1988, released on CD as 8.550110. This recording was awarded a Rosette by The Penguin Guide. Their review called this recording "sheer delight from beginning to end... an outright winner among the available versions."
- 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.
- Walker, Alan (1987). Franz Liszt: The Virtuoso Years, 1811–1847. Cornell University Press. p. 341. ISBN 9780801494215.
Brahms was accused by the Hungarian bandmaster Béla Kéler of having published under his own name two Hungarian Dances composed by Kéler himself—nos. 5 and 6. In fact, Brahms's Fifth Hungarian Dance is based on Kéler's csárdás Bártfai emlék.
- 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". Archived from the original on 2009-09-25.
- 2006 Penguin Guide, p. 254