Bartók: Rumanian Folk Dances Sz.56 - wind quintet

Bartók: Rumanian Folk Dances Sz.56 - wind quintet

Romanian Folk Dances  Sz. 56, BB 68 is a suite of six short piano pieces composed by Béla Bartók in 1915. He later orchestrated it for small ensemble in 1917 as Sz. 68, BB 76.

It is based on seven Romanian tunes from Transylvania, originally played on fiddle or shepherd's flute. 

The original name for the piece was titled Romanian Folk Dances from Hungary but was later changed by Bartók when Transylvania became part of Romania in 1920. It is nowadays available in the 1971 edition which is written with key signatures although Bartók rarely ever used key signatures.

This set of dances consists of six movements and, according to the composer, it should take four minutes and three seconds to perform, but most professional pianists take up to five minutes. The list of the movements is as follows (with the original Hungarian title listed first, the most commonly known Romanian title second, and the English translation in parentheses):




Bot tánc / Jocul cu bâtă (Stick Dance)The melody of the first movement, according to Bartók, came from the Mezőszabad (present-day Voiniceni) village that was part of Mezőcsávás (present-day Ceuașu de Câmpie) commune which was located in the Maros-Tordaadministrative county within Transylvania, and he first heard it when two gypsy violinists were playing it.

Brâul (Sash Dance)The second movement is a typical dance from Romania called Brâul, for which traditionally a sash or a waistband was used. This melody came from Egres (present-day Igriș), in the Banat region.

Topogó / Pe loc (In One Spot)The third dance comes also from Egres (Igriș), but its theme is much darker and its melody recreates Middle Eastern instruments, such as the flute.[4]

Bucsumí tánc / Buciumeana (Dance from Bucsum)The fourth dance came from Bucsony, Alsó-Fehér County (today Bucium, Alba county in Romania)

Román polka / Poarga Românească (Romanian Polka)The fifth dance is an old Romanian dance similar to the Polka and comes from Belényes (present-day Beiuş, in Bihor county), near the border between Hungary and Romania.

Aprózó / Mărunțel (Fast Dance)The sixth and last dance is formed by two different melodies: the first one comes from Belényes (present-day Beiuș) and the second one comes from the then named Nyagra (present-day Neagra) village within the Palotailva (present-day Lunca Bradului) commune. Both on the orchestral version and on the original piano version, the final two dances are performed attacca—without a break between movements.

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