Romanian Dances 1 & 2, Op. 8A
In this masterclass, Professor Jacques Rouvier discusses how to convey Bartók’s very distinct style in these two dances. In the first dance, the characters in the music are so colorful that Rouvier encourages the student to hear them as different orchestral instruments and change the sound accordingly. Moreover, he asks for rhythmic clarity by accentuating the strong beats and always maintaining a sense of pulse, even when the music gets more expressive.
Rouvier warns his student against rushing, as it is rhythmic accuracy and detail in phrasing that creates virtuosity, rather than how fast one plays. In the second dance, he offers recommendations for fingerings and pedal use to help manage the piece’s quick tempo while maintaining a good balance between the hands.
Emphasizing the correct beats within the measure.
Maintaining pulse throughout.
Finding more advantageous fingerings and moving with the body.
Eliciting the dancing spirit through highly characterized rhythm and articulation.
Composed 1909-10, these two Romanian Dances for solo piano were the products of Bela Bartók's first trip to Romania to collect and record folk music. According to Bartók, the first dance, Allegro vivace, was not derived from a specific folk dance but demonstrates the Romanian character. It opens in a pianissimo dynamic in the piano's lowest register, with a driving rhythmic motif of two sixteenth notes and an eighth. Briefly interrupted by a modal lento middle section, the motif returns with a vengeance and crescendos to an exciting finish. The second dance, Poco allegro, was modeled after a Romanian jeering song. Bartók varies the repeated central theme several times between brief interludes. The piece is marked by shocking dissonances and extreme dynamic contrasts.
Aim for excellence! You can improve your skills with expert advice. Download the annotated sheet music of this piano masterclass. Please note that this piece has been annotated in accordance to Jacques Rouvier’s feedback and comments.
He won two Premiers Prix (first prizes): in piano performance (1965) In chamber music (1967).
Jacques Rouvier was born in Marseilles into a family of musicians. He attended the CNSMD in Paris (Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse), where he was taught by Vlado Perlemuter, Pierre Sancan, and Jean Hubeau. He won first prizes in both piano and chamber music. Rouvier then decided to broaden his knowledge about wind section and leading orchestra at the CNSMD too. He owes much to Pierre Barbizet and Jean Fassina. Rouvier won several competitions such as the “Giovan Battista Viotti” International Music Competition, Maria Canal International Music Competition, the European Broadcasting Union Competition, the Long-Thibaud Competition, and the Competition of the Fondation de la Vocation. In 1970, he founded the Rouvier-Kantorow-Muller trio, with whom he still performs regularly.
Since 1979, he has taught at the CNSMD in Paris and at the Berlin University of the Arts.
Hungarian composer Béla Bartók was born on March 25th 1881 and is considered one of the most famous Hungarian musician and composer along with Franz Liszt. Bartók was interested in music early on, and his parents quickly recognized it. He studied at the Royal Academy of Music in Budapest and composed his first major work in 1903. His early works were influenced by Richard Strauss and Johannes Brahms; large-scale orchestral music that was well-received. Soon after, he traveled extensively in Europe to study local folk music. Around this time, he was married to his first wife and had a son, born in 1910.
Eventually, the composer and his second wife (his first marriage ended in divorce) emigrated to the USA due to the Nazi party coming into power and the advent of the Second World War. In America, Bartók continued to work, both composing and collecting traditional music from his native region. When he fell ill in 1940, he wrote his most notable work The Concerto for Orchestra, and died five years later in New York City from leukemia, at age 64.
He left behind a great legacy of modern music influenced by both classical and folk themes, and that continues to fascinate audiences to this day thanks to a mixture of intellectualism and lyricism.