The Hungarian Dances (German: Ungarische Tänze) by Johannes Brahms (WoO 1), are a set of 21 lively dance tunes based mostly on Hungarian themes, completed in 1879.
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 (piano duet: two players using one piano) and later arranged the first ten 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 of 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.”
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 [de] (Nos. 5, 6 and 11 to 16) and Robert Schollum [de] (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.
Brahms – Hungarian Dance No. 3 – Allegretto in F major – Piano Arr
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