KS2: Johannes Brahms – Hungarian Dance No. 5 in G minor
- Born: 1833
- Died: 1897
- Nationality: German
Why is he a Trailblazer?
For many years the sound of the Hungarian Gypsy travelling bands could be heard in the countryside and cities of Europe.
Trailblazer Johannes Brahms was fascinated by the bands’ whirling melodies and dramatic rhythms. He introduced this music to a whole new audience when he wrote Gypsy-inspired dances for the piano – and then began super-sizing them for an entire orchestra.
Born in Hamburg in Germany, Johannes Brahms quickly became a very talented pianist and would go on to premiere many of his own works at the piano.
A complete perfectionist, Brahms burnt lots of the music he’d written when he was young and, throughout his life, kept on destroying works he didn’t think were good enough.
Brahms could often be found walking in the mountains and exploring the countryside as he felt it helped him think through his musical ideas.
Beethoven’s music was a big influence on Brahms. Later in life Brahms lived in Vienna, the home of his favourite restaurant, “The Red Hedgehog”, and the city where his musical hero, Beethoven, had also lived.
Hungarian Dance No. 5
While playing music in a tavern one evening Brahms met Eduard Remenyi, a famous Hungarian Gypsy violinist. Remenyi taught Brahms all about Gypsy music and Hungarian dances called csárdás.
Brahms was enthralled and used the rhythms and melodies of this music as his inspiration for his 21 Hungarian Dances, which he originally wrote for the piano.
He loved performing them for his friends and would later orchestrate three of the dances himself, with other composers arranging the remaining pieces.
The Hungarian Dance No.5 transforms the intimate drama of the Gypsy band into a big orchestral party – with wild string melodies and brassy foot-stomping rhythms.
Why not listen to two other very different dances?
You could try the elegant Waltz of the Flowers from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker.
Or perhaps head out to Wild West and dance the Hoedown, from Aaron Copland’s Rodeo.
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