Bear Dance is the last of a set of piano pieces entitled Ten Easy Pieces by the Hungarian composer, Béla Bartók (1881 – 1945). He wrote the pieces in 1908 “to supply piano students with easy contemporary pieces” and each explores a different technique such as modal scales, tritones, changing time signatures, folk melodies and rhythms, and, in the Bear Dance, repeated notes.
Although its thematic material is original it is distinctly folk-like. It is a quirky, rustic, yet sophisticated dance – and is by no means easy! Its driving single-note rhythm is liberally peppered with bitonal chords and a sense of mischief.
Along with Evening in Transylvania the Bear Dance is one of the most popular of the Ten Easy Pieces and he later chose to orchestrate both in his colourful Hungarian Sketches (1931).