The 'Roumanian Folk Dances' for piano were one outcome of Béla Bartók's intensive preoccupation with the folk music of Southeastern Europe. The present composition, dating from 1915, is just one of several similar works from this period in Bartók's life. The pieces are based on authentic folk melodies which Bartók himself wrote down in Roumania, adding his own harmonies. He subsequently arranged the pieces for chamber orchestra (1917), and soon after this Zoltán Székely arranged them for violin and piano with the composer's consent.
It is on this latter version that the present arrangement for clarinet and piano is based. There can be few other instruments which so aptly convey the bucolic character intrinsic to this music than the clarinet.