Although still relatively unknown outside his native Bohemia Dvorák’s talents hadn’t gone unnoticed by a certain Johannes Brahms, one of Europe’s leading composers at the time. So impressed was he by the 37 year old composer that he put him in touch with his own publisher, who promptly asked Dvorák to write something along the same lines as Brahm’s fabulously successful Hungarian Dances.
Whereas Brahms had ‘borrowed’ actual Hungarian folk tunes for his dances the melodies Dvorák incorporated into his Slavonic Dances were entirely of his own invention, cleverly intertwined with the characteristic rhythms of traditional Czech folk music. This is joyous, lively and nationalistic music at its best – and quickly served to secure Dvorák a deserved, and international, reputation.
Slavonic Dance No 8 is based on the Furiant, a type of lively Bohemian dance featuring frequently shifting accents creating cross-rhythms so that the music sounds like it alternates between 2/4 and 3/4. The music’s key is similarly capricious flitting between G minor and G major.