Johannes Brahms


Hungarian Dance No. 1 (1879)

Brahms composed 21 Hungarian Dances, which are certainly among Brahms’s most popular works, and which were very profitable for him (they sold very well!). They were originally cast as works for piano four hands, and Brahms later arranged the first ten dances for solo piano. Brahms also orchestrated three of the dances (numbers 1, 3, and 10). Other composers have orchestrated the dances as well, including Dvorak. These works show Brahms at his “popular” best, writing music for the masses which is very accessible. They have remained some of his most-often-performed compositions. It should be noted that, at this time in history, composers such as Brahms really had no true idea of what Hungarian “folk” music consisted of: it would be Bartok and Kodaly who discovered the magic and variety of true Hungarian folk music starting around 1904, when they went out into the Hungarian countryside with the newfangled recording machines that had recently been invented.

The Hungarian Dances have often been used in ballets, as seen here. However, bear in mind that this is NOT true Hungarian folk dancing OR true Hungarian folk music!