Johannes Brahms: Hungarian Dance No.20


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

The penultimate dance of the set is set in a dark and foreboding E minor tonality. The slow aching of the strings is mimicked by the woodwind, who slowly sway back and forth alongside the rich string writing. Fragments of the melody are recognisable from the original tune, with Brahms carefully orchestrating each corner. Suddenly, the music races off into a much quicker tempo. The excitement is built by the growth of dynamics and the extensive use of percussion, in particular cymbals. The slow opening theme returns and leads this bold dance to its elongated end. 


Ⓒ Alex Burns

Happy Reading!

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