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Double the Dances

Double the Dances

Thank two trends of the 19th century for the high-spirited, rollicking dances on our June program. Dance-style pieces for piano four-hands (a single piano played by two pianists) and compositions inspired by Europe’s minority culture, particularly the Roma (Gypsy) culture, were all the rage.

Brahms met Hungarian violinist Eduard Reményi, who would use the dances as encores. In 1853, he toured Germany as Reményi’s piano accompanist, and in 1869, Brahms submitted four-hand piano versions to his publisher, Franz Simrock. Of the 21 dances Brahms arranged for piano four-hands, the sixth was one of the most popular.

In 1877, Dvořák applied for the renewal of an Austrian state grant. Brahms was on the committee and was so impressed by Dvořák that he introduced him to Simrock, who asked the Czech composer to write similar dances. Dvořák’s first set of Slavonic Dances launched him into fame, despite having already written five symphonies.

An important distinction to make between the two pieces is that Brahms arranged the Hungarian melodies that he had heard Reményi play, while Dvořák’s combined the rhythmic patterns and features of Czech folk dances with original melodies.

Dvořák’s first set of dances in 1878 (Opus 46) proved so popular that he composed a second set (Opus 72) eight years later. You’ll hear the polka from Opus 46 and the starodávný from Opus 72 at the concert.

Brahms & Dvorak

Brahms & Dvorak


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Musical Insights

Free Pre-Concert Preview Series!

Enhance your concert experience with a sneak preview — Composers come alive and their passions take center stage when ESO General Manager David Ellis and ESO Maestro Lawrence Eckerling take you on an insider’s tour of the history and highlights behind the music.

Maestro Lawrence Eckerling and David Ellis will explore the May concert program in depth.

The Merion
Friday, May 1 at 1:30 pm,
The Merion Crystal Ballroom at
1611 Chicago Avenue at Davis Street, Evanston.
FREE and open to the public.
Please RSVP to 847-562-5318

Light refreshments will be served and casual tours of newly renovated apartments will be available after the program.