Tune of the Day: Hungarian Dance No. 5
The Hungarian Dances (Ungarische Tänze in German) by Johannes Brahms are a set of 21 lively dance tunes based mostly on Hungarian themes. Actually, only numbers 11, 14 and 16 are entirely original compositions. Dance number 5, which is by far the most famous of these pieces, was based on the csárdás (a Hungarian folk dance) by Kéler Béla titled “Bartfai emlek”, which Brahms mistakenly thought was a traditional folksong.
Brahms originally wrote the version for piano four-hands and later arranged the first 10 dances for solo piano. Hungarian Dance No. 5, which in the original version was in the key of F-sharp minor, was later orchestrated in G minor by composer Martin Schmeling (1864–1943).
The Hungarian Dances bear many resemblances to, and may have influenced, the similarly profitable and popular Slavonic Dances of Antonín Dvořák. Moreover, they proved to be influential in the development of ragtime.