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Brahms, Tempo and the Gypsies

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Brahms, Tempo and the
Gypsies
INCORPORATING BRAHMS’ HUNGARIAN
DANCES INTO CLASSROOM MUSIC
What we know about Brahms
п‚— German Composer
 One of the famous “Three B’s”
п‚— Adored the musical genius of Bach, Mozart and
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Beethoven
Wrote in Classical Style with Romantic Elements
Was heavily influenced by the Hungarian Gypsy music—
especially after meeting violinists Remenyi and Joseph
Joachim.
Developed a deep friendship with Johann Strauss, Jr.
Became very close with Robert and Clara Schumann.
Was fond of folk music—especially Gypsy-style and
incorporated this into his writing.
What you may NOT know about Brahms
п‚— Brahms loved to walk and enjoyed spending time in the
open air, where he said he could think more clearly. He
was known to often bring penny candy with him to hand
out to children on his walks.
п‚— Brahms made musical history when in 1889, he made an
experimental recording of his first Hungarian Dance, on
the piano. Produced by a representative of American
inventor Thomas Edison, this remains the earliest
recording by a major composer. In this recording, the
piano playing is not very clear, but Brahms’ voice in his
greeting is quite audible!
Hungarian
Dance No. 1 in
g minor
п‚— Hungarian Dance no. 1 in g
minor, originally written for
piano, but orchestrated Dvorak,
was first recorded by Brahms
himself in 1889. It is written for
3 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2
bassoons, 4 French horns, 2
trumpets, 3 trombones, timpani,
percussion (1), strings.
Hungarian
Dance No. 5 in
g minor
п‚— Hungarian Dance no. 5 in f
sharp minor (g minor in
orchestral form) is the most
famous of all these dance
melodies and was orchestrated by
Parlow.
п‚— It is based on a violin tune, with
heavy brass in the background,
percussion in the middle section
and a finale back to the original
violin theme.
Hungarian
Dance No. 6 in
D major
п‚— Hungarian Dance no. 6 in D
flat major (D major for
orchestra) has a very
changeable character, between
lyrical song-like passages and fast
moving percussive sections.
п‚— Hungarian Dance no. 16 in f
Hungarian
Dance No. 16
minor is one of the only few of
this set that is an original
orchestration. Perhaps a little
less known and performed than
the others mentioned,Brahms
himself changed this from a piano
version to an orchestral piece!
This piece has much contrast
again between these slower
melodies in the winds and strings
and the bouncy dances that are
faster and more lively.
Teaching the Concept of
Tempo through the Dances
WHAT IS TEMPO?
HOW CAN STUDENTS UNDERSTAND HOW
INTERESTING CHANGES IN TEMPO ARE TO
MUSIC?
WHAT WOULD MUSIC BE LIKE WITHOUT IT?
Questions to Get Those Musical
Brains Thinking:
DOES IT CHANGE THE MOOD OF THE MUSIC?
WHY OR WHY NOT?
WHY WOULD A
TEMPO IN THE
MUSIC?
COMPOSER CHANGE THE
MIDDLE OF A PIECE OF
WHY WOULD BRAHMS CHANGE THE SPEED
OF THE MUSIC, SPECIFICALLY?
DO THEY THINK THE MUSIC WOULD SOUND
BETTER OR WORSE WITHOUT THE TEMPO
CHANGES?
Teaching Ideas
Bean Bag Game
п‚— Listen to any or all of the Hungarian Dances listed.
п‚— Invite students to form a circle and pass a bean bag (or other soft item) around
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the circle to the beat of the music as you play the work. You may want to break
students into small groups.
OPTION (this might be fun without it!) Explain to them that there will be many
changes and if the music stops, the person who has the ball in their hand, must
hold it until the music continues.
As they pass the object from hand to hand, students should respond to the
tempo changes in the work.
Invite them to show these other changes as well in the ways they choose to pass
the
object (the nature of the gestures they use). For example, dynamics, rhythm,
etc.
Teaching Ideas
An Artist’s Perspective
п‚— Next have the students listen to the work again. This time, have them write
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down a story or event that the music is portraying. What kind of mood
does the music set and how does the speed of the music affect it?
Use a listening grid.
Invite students to work in small groups to share their ideas and develop
movements that show the ways the music changes.
Encourage students to perhaps use visual images before their dance,
describing the scene before they perform, for example. Is there a chase
involved? Is there a specific event that triggers certain emotions? Are
there certain animals or characters involved?
Focus on TEAMWORK—not individual dances and stories.
After performances, have students share thoughts and inspiration?
Would it have been easier if the music all stayed the same speed?
Did it make the performances more interesting?
Brahms Listening Grid
Hungarian Dance # ______
Johannes Brahms
Opening tempo:
Mood:
Number of measures:
Specific movement:
1st Change in tempo:
Mood:
Number of measures:
Specific movement:
2nd Change in tempo:
Mood:
Number of measures:
Specific movement:
3rd Change in tempo:
Mood:
Number of measures:
Specific movement:
Feel free to contact us at:
п‚— Kathleen Krull
glazedkruller@yahoo.com
п‚— Debbie Shearin Deborah_Shearin@abss.k12.nc.us
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