The Portuguese pianist José Vianna da Motta developed his activity as a composer for about thirty-five years. Between 1885 and 1890, a period during which he lived in Germany, he became particularly interested in chamber music, choir and orchestra repertoires. Several works date from this time, such as the Abertura Dona Inês de Castro for orchestra, several Lieder (Drei Lieder, op. 3; Fünf Lieder, op. 5; Vier Gedichte, op. 8), the Quarteto em Mi bemol maior, the Trio em Si menor, the Concerto para Piano e Orquestra em Lá maior and the Fantasia Dramática. It was also during this period that he composed those who seem to be his only original works for piano four-hands: Erinnerungen, op. 7 and Ein Dorffest (A village party).
At the front page of his manuscript, Vianna da Motta gives the Ein Dorffest suite the opus number 11, information taken into account by João de Freitas Branco in Viana da Mota: uma contribuição para o estudo da sua personalidade e da sua obra. However, the suite is presented without opus number in the catalog published under the direction of Maria Helena Trindade and Teresa Cascudo in José Vianna da Motta: 50 anos depois da sua morte. This probably happens due to the fact that the piece Vito from the Cenas Portuguesas cycle had already been published with opus number 11. For the same reason, we preferred not to indicate an opus number in this edition.
According to the manuscript, the suite was composed between April 22 and July 24, 1885. However, Vianna da Motta writes in his diaries that he started it on April 30 and ended it on June 23 of that same year. In any case, it shows that Vianna da Motta composed a large work in a very short time. Some precipitation may be the cause of the dissatisfaction he expressed in the diaries: "I worked on the composition of Dorffest but it does not please me" (May 31); "I came home and composed two bars of the unfortunate Dorffest" (June 1); "Dorffest's last movement becomes exasperating" (June 20) (translations from Portuguese). However, it seems that his composition teacher Phillip Scharwenka did not share his pessimism. Vianna da Motta reports in his diaries that in his lesson on May 13 the suite "was just a little awkwardly harmonized" and that in the lesson on June 10 Phillip Scharwenka considered the No. 3 Sonnenuntergang "very well done" (translations from Portuguese). He emphasized the quality of its contrapuntal work and compared one of its passages to Richard Wagner's opera The Master-Singers of Nuremberg.
A careful analysis of the manuscript reveals some uncertainties from the composer. For example, Vianna da Motta had assigned the tempo marking Langsam to No. 3 Sonnenuntergang before adding the term Mässig. He had assigned Lebhaft to No. 4 Intermezzo, specified later by the term "(Vivace)", before crossing out "Lebhaft" and replacing it by Sehr schnell. In addition, several musical passages initially thought for one of the hands of one of the pianists were transferred to the opposite hand, or even to one of the hands of the other pianist. These corrections reveal that Vianna da Motta was looking for a balance between piano writing, ergonomics and sound result.
It may be added that in bars 33-34 and 95-96 of No. 2 Tanz Vianna da Motta pointed out parallel octaves that he probably intended to correct, which reveals the importance that the voicing had for him. For this reason, and although Vianna da Motta did not point out other parallelisms – as is the case of those in bars 41 and 42 of No. 1 Einleitung (Festzug) and in bars 81-83 of No. 3 Sonnenuntergang –, we decided not to take into account the correction made by the composer in bar 72 of No. 1 Einleitung (Festzug) which consists in the replacement of the second D note of the Secondo's right hand by a B note. This correction would indeed generate parallel fifths.
In this suite, the thematic material is a unifying element. The two themes presented in No. 1 Einleitung (Festzug) – the first presented in bars 1 to 9, the second in bars 21 to 29 – are used in the other parts, as the main theme – as is the case of No. 3 Sonnenuntergang and No. 4 Intermezzo which are respectively built on the second and first theme –, or as a reminiscence – as is the case of No. 2 Tanz in which part of the first theme is heard twice (b. 42-48 and 104-110), of No. 3 Sonnenuntergang which subtly evokes the characteristic rhythm of the first theme (b. 85-87), of No. 4 Intermezzo which ends with a rhythmic variation of the second theme (b. 54-62) and of No. 5 Schlussreigen which recalls the first theme before ending the suite (m. 201-206). No. 2 Tanz and No. 5 Schlussreigen are thus the only ones to develop their own themes.
The thematic universe evoked in the title of the work (A village party) and the scenic sequence suggested in the titles of its parts (Procession, Dance, Sunset) give a programmatic dimension to the Ein Dorffest suite and lead us to think that it is the reflection of the popular imaginary of Vianna da Motta at a time in his life when the search for the "local color" was not yet truly in his artistic horizons.
João Costa Ferreira
 José Vianna da Motta, Diários (1883-1893), coord. Christine Wassermann Beirão, trad. Elvira Archer and transc. José Manuel Beirão, Lisbon, Biblioteca Nacional de Portugal: Centro de Estudos de Sociologia e Estética Musical, 2015, p. 212, 214 and 230.
 Idem, p. 205 and 221.
 The Italian equivalent of Lebhaft can be either Vivace or Allegro. At No. 2 Tanz Vianna da Motta chose “(Allegro)” and not Vivace as Italian equivalent.