Béla Bartók

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Bartók, Béla


Born Mar. 25, 1881, in Nagyszentmiklós, Transylvania; died Sept. 26, 1945, in New York. Hungarian composer, pianist, musicologist, and folklorist.

Bartók’s father was the director of an agricultural school and an amateur musician who played in the local orchestra. His mother was a teacher. Bartók studied at the Liszt Musical Academy in Budapest (1899–1903). Beginning in 1907 he was a professor at the academy, where he taught piano. He combined his teaching activity with concert performances and study of peasant folklore (Hungarian, Rumanian, Slovak, and others). He collected more than 30,000 songs.

Between 1900 and 1920 his compositions combined elements of archaic vocal folklore with very dynamic contemporary means of expression (the piano pieces Bagatelles, 1908, Burlesques, 1911, and Allegro barbaro, 1911; Portraits for orchestra, 1908; and two string quartets, 1908 and 1915–17). His innovative works, including the opera Duke Bluebeard’s Castle (1911), were not well received by conservative critics. Public recognition of Bartók began with the ballet The Wooden Prince (composed in 1916). Under the Hungarian Soviet Republic (1919), Bartók and Z. Kodály worked out a democratic reform of the musical life of the country. For this, Bartók suffered repression under the Horthy regime. In 1919, Bartók composed one of his most outstanding compositions, the ballet The Miraculous Mandarin (performed in 1926).

Although he assimilated the methods of I. Stravinsky, A. Schönberg, and other contemporary Western composers, Bartók continued to develop the popular folklore elements in his music even in the 1920’s. But in several of his works of this period tendencies toward a radical renewal of the means of musical expressiveness are even more pronounced (two sonatas for the violin, the third and fourth quartets, and many pieces for the piano). This sometimes led to extreme complexity of musical language. These compositions by Bartók are characterized by extreme sharpness and dynamism of language, an inclination toward percussive effects, and, at the same time, refined intellectualism and delicate color. The 1920’s and 1930’s were the high point of Bartók’s concert career as a pianist. (He performed in the countries of Western Europe, the USA, and, in 1929, in the USSR.)

In the 1930’s, Bartók’s work underwent a change in the direction of greater simplicity and classicism of style. Bartók refrained from certain extremes of musical expression and turned toward greater thematic clarity and sharpness of images and emotional concepts (Concerto No. 2 for Piano, 1931; Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta, 1936). In the prewar years Bartók took an antifascist position. He created compositions that gave an original expression to the ideas of humanism and the brotherhood of peoples. In the Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion (1937), the Violin Concerto, and the Divertiment for string orchestra (1939), vivid national themes are combined with dynamic tension, conveying the troubled atmosphere of these years. The general tendency toward democratization in Bartók’s work was expressed in his creation of compositions for amateur musical performances (his treatment of national Hungarian songs and the cantata From the Past, 1935), as well as the pieces for teaching repertoire (44 violin duets, 1931, and the piano cycle Microcosm, 1937). At the time of the fascist dictatorship in 1940, Bartók emigrated to the USA, where he did not receive the recognition of musical circles and died in poverty. The most important works from his American period are the Concerto for Orchestra (1943) and a piano concerto (1945).

Bartók’s instrumental compositions occupy the most important place in his work: piano pieces, six string quartets, sonatas and rhapsodies for the violin, and extended compositions for the orchestra. Bartók’s scholarly research in the field of folklore is of outstanding importance. He had a great influence on the formation of the composers’ schools of the 1930’s, 1940’s, and 1950’s in the countries of eastern and southeastern Europe. Bartók was posthumously awarded the Kossuth Prize (1948) and the International Peace Prize (1955).


Martynov, 1.1. Bela Bartok. Moscow, 1968.
Sabol’chi, B. Zhizn’ Bely Bartoka v illiustratsiiakh. Budapest, 1963.
Stevens, H. The Life and Music of Béla Bartók. New York, 1953. (Bibliography, pp. 323–58.)
Moreux, S. Béla Bartók .... Paris, 1949. Second edition. Paris, 1955.


References in periodicals archive ?
Surviving family members include her husband, Eugene Bartok of Eldorado; son Charles "Buddy" Meadows and wife Mary Ann of Harrisburg; stepchildren Bill Bartok and wife Toni of Eldorado and Diane Mason and husband Robert of Eldorado; four grandchildren Debra King and husband Larry of Memphis, TN, Daron Meadows of Memphis, TN, Michelle Leinenbach and husband Jerry of Harrisburg and Teresa Mills and husband Curtis of Harrisburg; step-grandchildren Kelly Mason of Eldorado, Rob Mason and wife Jenn of Olney, IL, B.
Because Bartok did not provide fingerings and tempo marking for "Dedication," the editor provided them instead, but the rest of the pieces contain only the composer's own fingerings, pedaling and tempo markings.
The Bartok was preceded by Janacek's First String Quartet, whose sub-title 'Kreutzer Sonata' refers to Beethoven's famous Sonata and a Tolstoy novella of the same name.
As its earlier audiences noticed, the Bartok concerto was an enigma.
Perhaps Music Worcester can bring the Brentanos back soon for a complete Bartok cycle.
Inspired by the anti-German patriotism dominating the cultural milieu in Budapest, young Bartok attended the pro-French family of musicians Aranyi, which developed his taste for things French, and with whose daughter--Jelly, a talented violinist--he fell in love; over the years he dedicated to her I.
AIG Europe and Zurich Insurance are inlcuded in his previous experience, adding Bartok held service with Generali as property underwriter and also served at Zurich Insurance and AXA.
After a destructive childhood that culminated with Norma acquiring a gun and attacking the author with a broken bottle, Bartok changed her name and cut off her mother in 1990 to save herself.
2 was first played in 1939 at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, and when Bartok finally heard it in Cleveland four years later, it was only one of the three string concertos he actually heard played.
The Bartok was more a shimmering fusion of sound with mood swings switching from dreaminess to riotous clowning around.
Bartok, Hungary, and the Renewal of Tradition: Case Studies in the Intersection of Modernity and Nationality.
The daughter of Bartok was consigned by Havens Bloodstock Agency and is in foal to Marino Marini, runner-up in the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes in 2002 for Aidan O'Brien.