Johannes Brahms: Hungarian Dance No.17


Johannes Brahms completed his 21 Hungarian Dances by 1879, and they still remain one his most popular collections of music. All of the dances are based on traditional Hungarian folk tunes and range from c.1 minute to 6 minutes in duration. Some of the dances have become much more recognisable than others, but as a set they are a force to be reckoned with. During this 21-part ‘Explore Hungarian Dances’ on Classicalexburns, we will be delving into the ins and outs of this famous collection.


The Music

Opening the fourth and final book of Hungarian Dances, the seventeenth dance is set in the key of F# Minor. The introduction is marked ‘Andantino’, however this marking changes later on. The sombre character at the start of the dance begins to shed its skin as more voices enter the mix, however the solemn string opening is one of the most extreme in this set of dances. Long lyrical lines are supported by Brahms’ rich harmonic language, with the tonality playing a big part in the atmosphere of this dance. 

Half way through the marking changes to ‘Vivace’, and the orchestra burst into life as a new theme emerges. A developed opening theme is heard, but this time in a more adrenaline-fixed state. The percussion accentuates important parts of this new section, with the cymbals proving to be quite the scene stealer. The dance ends after a fully-orchestrated reprise of the theme. 


Ⓒ Alex Burns

Happy Reading!

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