Fiery Rhythms of Hungarian Dance

Monti’s Czardas is a must on the repertoire of every Gipsy band, but it’s equally impressive in more classical renderings. Sparks fly off the dancers’ feet as they move, and if you learn this masterpiece on accordion, vigorous response of the audience is guaranteed!

Vittorio Monti drew inspiration for his composition from an energetic Hungarian folk dance, characterised by dynamic variations of slow-paced, heartfelt passages and frantic whirling. To dance it or play it is by no means easy, but if you can master it, everybody will succumb to its charm, and that’s certainly worth the effort when practising.

Let’s enrich your repertoire with this absolutely classic piece! We have a full as well as a simplified version for you, accompanied as always with an instructional recording.

SCORES –  PDF  Musescore  VideoScore (advanced version)

Have you downloaded the scores? Great, let’s have a loook at the details. It looks quite complicated, doesn’t it? Don’t give up, a simplified version awaits you at the end.

  • Small notes, especially at the beginning, are embellishments and are supposed to be played more quickly than the larger ones. However, they’re an extra element, and if you find them too difficult to play, it’s possible to skip them.
  • What’s this “gliss” and the dashed line? It means glissando, a quick glide over all keys either from the bottom up, or from the top down.
  • I have written down the registers as they’re on my instrument, any other combination is possible. In the left hand, less dots mean a weaker register.
  • As you can see in any recording, czardas is characterised by the acceleration and slowing down of pace as well as by dynamic extremes. Don’t be afraid to play very slowly, as well as aloud, or quietly; your listeners will be delighted by any change. If you aren’t sure whether it sounds as you would like it to, record yourself.
  • Always choose such pace that you are comfortable with for the quick passages, so that you are able to control your play and avoid the feeling of catching up with a bus!
  • Detailed phrasing and articulation (staccato, tenuto, legato, and so on) are not marked in the scores, you can draw inspiration from my recording or interpret them in your own way.
  • One final useful tip: if you can’t read anything from the scores, use the recording.

Now let’s go:

  • A1: A spectacular storm-like introduction; the stronger and longer the chords sound, the better (just take care that you don’t pull the bellows too far).
  • A2 + A3 – A drawn-out, slow melody, contrasting with the stunning intro. Enjoy each note and don’t be afraid to slow down significantly, or even stop, at the fermatas (also known as “birdseyes”, the signs with a dot placed on certain notes).
  • B1 – My variation of the famous theme. I recommend loose wrist and restrained pace. If you’re not experienced in playing thirds, skip this part and play the part B2 two times instead.
  • B2 + B3 – The most famous part of the whole composition. The fingering shown in the scores is intended for a piano accordion and I recommend you strongly to follow it. The right fingering can save you a lot of effort.
  • C1 + C2 – A slow part based on the contrast of the loud first half with organ chords and the quiet (flute) second half. The more prominent you make this dynamic contrast, the better. In C2, there are only chords in the left hand, no basses.
  • D1 – A gradual line-up heading for a grandiose finale. Begin really slowly and sort of heavily and gather tempo step-by-step. Just mind that you don’t speed up too much, because it’s still a long way to the end :-)
  • D2 – A final fanfare-like passage, the quickest part of the composition (remember how I told you to save your strength?). Practise slowly and steadily, ideally two bars at a time. And play the last three bars really aloud, as loudly as your instrument can put up with – let’s make the whole room shake!

The easier version I recommend to those who would like to play this piece, but don’t want to spend too much time practising.

SCORES (easy version) – PDF  MuseScore

Monti’s Czardas – easy version

This version has 4 pages only, because some parts repeat themselves, but the overall length is the same. There are no embellishments, runs or complicated chords.

(By the way, did you know that the name of this dance is derived from the word csárda, which means a pub? You’ll certainly become a king (or queen) of any pub with this piece of music!)

Should you manage to learn Czardas according to my instructions, don’t hesitate to record the result and send it to us, or share it on YouTube. Any feedback is welcome!

Sok szerencsét!

instructional recording, scores, article | Stanislav Samuel Raška
video | Jiří Královec
published on 24/06/2015