Famous Duets
Brahms' Hungarian Dances

Famous duets your students will enjoy: Brahms' Hungarian Dance Number 5 in two easy arrangements, for early beginners and Level 2 players.  This soaring minor melody never grows old!

Brahms wrote a whole set of Hungarian Dances, but this one, Number 5, is surely the most irresistable and crowd-pleasing; witness the excitement and joy on the faces of the audience members and musicians alike in the performance below, with Andre Rieu conducting:

Brahms' Hungarian Dances are so full of "sound and fury" that we may think they were originally conceived as orchestral pieces.  Apparently they were piano duets first, and were later transcribed by Brahms himself for orchestra.

Here is a very simple version, for beginners, of the Hungarian Dance Number 5:

Hungarian Dance Number 5 by Brahms

Download duet dance for easy piano

I couldn't resist adding some words to the song, for young children.  It really does make the song easier to remember and more fun to play, as those of you who played as children will recall!  To turn this easy version into duet music, make up a swinging-bass-plus-chord pattern using the chord symbols above each line.

And below is the arrangement for Level 2/3 players Secondo, and Level 1 Primo:

Hungarian Dance duet sheet music

Primo and Secondo for Hungarian Dance number 5

Download famous duets Hungarian Dance Number 5, Primo & Secondo together

As you can see, pages 1 & 2 are just the same, except that the Primo goes up an octave.

The fast-moving eighth notes in the Primo part are usually a new phenomenon for students who are playing this otherwise simple part.  Rather than tedious explanations about "1-and-2-and-3-and-4-and", which many are not ready for, I might say "One-two-three, tee-tee-Tah-two-three-four," in the fast parts (such as measure five, end of line one).  

 I know that's not very technical, but "Tah" and "tee-tee" really do make sense to young kids!  

Less talk, more music.  The strong melody will itself pull this piece together.

There are quite a few book editions of the Hungarian Dances available in their original - and exciting! - form.  You may also download a digital copy from Sheetmusicplus of some of the Hungarian Dances for duet or solo piano.

According to one publisher (Wiener), 

"The 'Hungarian Dances' were published in three different, yet authentic versions during the composer's lifetime: (1) all 21 dances arranged for piano duet, (2) nos. 1-10 also for solo piano and (3) nos. 1, 3 and 10 as orchestral arrangements."

Another Youtube video featuring many paintings of the handsome Brahms throughout his life, with the Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra playing the music of the famous Hungarian Dance Number 5:


Do you have a funny story about this music, or does it remind you of something you'd like to share with other readers? Do you have a question? I'd love to hear it!

Please note that all comments are moderated, and will not appear until I have approved them. Also, IF YOU ARE ASKING FOR MUSIC THAT IS NOT IN THE PUBLIC DOMAIN, YOUR REQUEST WILL BE IGNORED. That's pretty much any music written in the last 75 years...

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