Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) was a pianist, composer and conductor in the Romantic period in Germany, and a friend of the composer Robert Schumann (1810-1856). Brahms is one of the composers who came up in a conversation with one of my sons that I referred to a few weeks back; I was looking for some classical music that matched the boldness of the samples in Little Simz’s rap tune “Introvert.”
Published in 1869 in the first of four books, the Hungarian Dance No. 1 in G Minor isn’t Brahms’ most famous (I’d say No. 5 is; most people will recognize it, and I’m sure it’s been in a few film soundtracks, too). While it’s spritely, I like the elegance and relative simplicity of No. 1 compared with the hyper-liveliness usually found in that musical form, even Brahms’ own interpretations of it.
The Hungarian Dances were initially composed for piano with four hands (a duet on one piano) and later arranged for various orchestral instrument configurations.
Like many of the suite of 21 dances, No. 1 is based on material by another composer, though which one is not entirely clear: some sources cite Hungarian Béla Kéler (1820-1882) as the inspiration, while one names the (also Hungarian) composer and conductor Miska Borzó (birth and date years not found, though he seems to have been a contemporary of Brahms’).
Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.
Here’s the audio from the official YouTube channel of Italian conductor Claudio Abbado (1933-2014) directing the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra in a recording of all 21 dances: