BRAHMS Johannes, Hungarian Dances

Brahms wrote his first two books of Hungarian Dances in autumn 1868 for piano four hands, and followed this with two more books in March 1880. In 1874 he orchestrated three of the 1868 dances for symphony orchestra (the others were later orchestrated by Dvořák and others). The idea of using Hungarian gypsy themes came after Brahms heard his friend Joseph Joachim’s Violin Concerto ‘in the Hungarian style’ – completed in 1860, and dedicated to Brahms. The present arrangement for flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn, two violins, viola, cello, double bass and piano is very much in the spirit of Brahms: this was music he arranged for violin and piano and for solo piano as well as the original piano duet and orchestral versions. Brahms always enjoyed playing these pieces, and the Hungarian Dance No.1 was the work he played on his one and only recording: an Edison cylinder made on 2 December 1889 – he was one of the very first composers to make a recording of his own music.


Nigel Simeone © 2010


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