Wondering are the twenty or so dances from Brahms Hungarian Dances are they really dances? I was searching on this subject nothing could point me that are dances only to the name. If they're not real dances why were they called as such? Can someone help me clear up this matter?

2 Answers 2


As I understand it, these pieces were composed by Brahms after being inspired by some Hungarian folk tunes and dance tunes. I think it is unlikely that he ever seriously considered whether anyone could actually dance with these pieces as accompaniment, and really that is not important.

You might also like to look at a lot of other classical pieces which have names which might imply that they are "dances", such as minuets, gavottes and sarabandes (e.g. by Bach and many others of that period). They might have been inspired by actual dances, but although the pieces themselves follow the rhythms of various dances, they were never really intended to be danced to.

  • Actually, very few of the Hungarian Dances themes are actually Hungarian. Many of the are Gypsy. Dec 19, 2015 at 19:26

From reading a couple of Brahms' bios, I seem to remember that these Hungarian Dances were the result of someone asking Hannes what type of music he played when the was a pianist in the Die besten kleinen Bordelle in Hamburg (in his younger days.) Brahms would often extemporize for his friends. Someone suggested that he arrange some of these pieces for publication. Brahms did arrange some for piano four hands and some others for orchestra.

The Hungarian Dances do sound a lot like the very popular "Hungarian" or "Verbunklos" bands from Hungary and other places in Central Europe. (The style died out a bit during the 1930s.) There are still a few bands around Austria or Hungary playing this style in clubs and restaurants. There is also a band called the Pressberg Gypsy which was playing this way a few years back (when the original question was asked.)

There are several books on Hungarian music attempting to figure out the difference between "Authentic Hungarian" music and "Gypsy" music. When a style has been in an area for some time, it probably should be called nativized. It's hard to separate parts.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.