Fourth Hungarian Dance

Fourth Hungarian Dance by Iohannes Brahms

We are back to the Hungarian Gypsies; the famous Hungarian Dances by Iohannes Brahms are based on their tunes. Brahms was familiar with Gypsy music through Gypsy violinist Eduard Remenyi, whom he accompanied in his youth. Later, when Brahms published “Hungarian Dances”, Remenyi accused him of plagiarism, claiming that Brahms stole his melodies. Yet, the melodies were neither Remenyis’ nor Brahams’: they were almost all folk songs. But Remenyi’s resentment is quite understandable: of all Brahms’ compositions, the Hungarian Dances were the most profitable!

Dance #4, which I play on this CD, is maybe the most varied of all 21 dances, changing the mood – and tempo – and harmony – and texture – every few bars. This piece is the quintessence of the “unpredictable and wild Gypsy” image, with its transitions from a longing, slow, passionate opening to a fiery foot-stomping section; from a whimsical, humorous middle part back to melancholy and anguish.

Originally, Brahms published the Dances for piano for four hands; later he rearranged it for solo piano. There is another solo arrangement by composer-pianist Moritz Moszkowski, and also a devilishly difficult arrangement by virtuoso pianist George Cziffra. As you may see, there is a plenty to choose from! But to play Gypsy melodies note by note, exactly as written, contradicts the very spirit of their improvisational style, and so I made my own free arrangement of the 4th Hungarian Dance.

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This story is just a tidbit from Alexander's "Songs of Exiles" concert program. To hear the full story, together with Alexander's virtuoso performance, come see him at his next concert! To buy this track, or the full CD of the music from "Songs of Exiles", follow the link on the left.  

You may also listen to a sample of this song on or iTunes