1. 1881–1903.

At the time of Bartók’s birth, Nagyszentmiklós was part of the northern end of the ethnically diverse southern Hungarian province of Torontál. There, his father, also Béla Bartók (1855–88), was headmaster of an agricultural school; his mother, Paula Voit (1857–1939), was a teacher. Both parents were keen amateur musicians, and early encouraged the young Béla’s musical development with dance pieces, and then with drumming. By the age of four he was able to play some 40 songs on the piano, and at five he started piano lessons with his mother. Impressions of a summer visit to Radegund, Austria, in 1887 led to one of his first compositions, Radegundi visszhang (‘Echo of Radegund’, 1891). At the age of seven Bartók was tested as having perfect pitch. The earlier years of Bartók’s schooling were unsettled. Not only was he very shy, the supposed result of confinement because of a persistent rash during his first five years, but the premature death of his father in 1888 also caused the family to move frequently in the following six years. Paula Bartók sought teaching positions in provincial towns which were suitably equipped for the broader education of her son and daughter, Elza (1885–1955). A move to Nagyszöllős (now Vinogradov, Ukraine) in 1889 was followed by time in Nagyvárad (now Oradea, Romania) during 1891–2, and in the larger city of Pozsony (now Bratislava, Slovakia) during 1892–3. Finally, after eight months in Beszterce (now Bistriţa, Romania), where Bartók attended a German-language grammar school, the family was in April 1894 able to settle in Pozsony. Despite these many moves and the periodic disruptions to Bartók’s general education, his musical talents were rapidly developing. His first compositions, from the early 1890s, were frequently dance pieces – waltzes, ländlers, mazurkas, and, especially, polkas which he often named after friends or family members. Also among his first band of 31 piano compositions (1890–94) were occasional programmatic works, such as the ten-part A Duna folyása (‘The Course of the Danube’, 1890–94) or A budapesti tornaverseny (‘Gymnastic Contest in Budapest’, 1890), and some early attempts in sonatina and theme-and-variation forms. Bartók’s pianistic dexterity rapidly increased during the early 1890s, and on 1 May 1892 he made his first public appearance, in Nagyszöllős, presenting a programme of works by Grünfeld, Raff and Beethoven, and his own The Course of the Danube. At the Catholic Gymnasium in Pozsony, Bartók was soon appointed chapel organist, as successor to Ernő Dohnányi, and gained more specialized musical tuition from László Erkel and later Anton Hyrtl. During the school’s celebrations of the Hungarian millennium in 1896 Bartók provided the piano accompaniment to

Kornél Ábrányi’s melodrama Rákóczi, and also played the piano in the school orchestra’s rendition of the ‘Rákóczi’ March. In Pozsony he became increasingly involved in the playing and composing of chamber music, with a first attempt, in 1895, at a sonata for violin and piano, in C minor (BB6); a string quartet (now lost) in C minor in 1896; and a piano quintet in C (also lost) in 1897. During these years, as he experienced the city’s concerts and occasional operas, his compositional style and harmonic vocabulary broadened from Classical to early Romantic models. By 1898, with two remarkably mature chamber works, the Piano Quartet in C minor BB13 and String Quartet in F major BB17, the imprints of Brahms and Schumann are strongly felt. Bartók’s health was never robust; a long list of childhood diseases culminated in February 1899 with the start of serious lung problems, which caused him to devote many months to recuperation over the coming two years. During December 1898 and January 1899, nonetheless, he undertook auditions at the Vienna Conservatory and the Budapest Academy of Music, both of which were keen to admit him. Despite his fragile condition, Bartók also managed to matriculate in June 1899 with three excellent results (probably in mathematics, physics, scripture) and four good ones (Hungarian, Latin, Greek, German). Since the ‘Compromise’ of 1867, which had established the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, Budapest had grown rapidly. By the turn of the century it had become a vibrant centre of Hungarian culture, and, with a population of three-quarters of a million, the sixth largest city in Europe. In 1875 an Academy of Music had been established there, with Liszt as its first president. Notwithstanding Vienna’s illustrious musical reputation, an offered scholarship and Pozsony’s proximity to the Austrian capital, Bartók decided to study in Budapest with the same professors who had taught Dohnányi: Thomán, a pupil of Liszt, for piano; Koessler, a pupil of Rheinberger, for composition. On entering the Academy in September 1899, he was granted advanced standing in both subjects. In Budapest Bartók keenly attended the Opera and the Philharmonic, and started to look beyond chamber music models in his compositions. Earlier in 1899, while still living in Pozsony, he had composed a song for soprano and orchestra, Tiefblaue Veilchen BB18. Now, along with his Academy studies in harmony and counterpoint, he engaged in orchestration exercises and wrote short pieces for orchestra. During 1900–1 these included a Valcer (BB19/3) and a Scherzo in B (BB19/4). From 1899 until early 1902, however, Bartók’s compositional zeal ebbed. He found Koessler a thorough and traditional if uninspiring teacher, who only raised a compositional block in him. Bartók’s composition exercises of this time were dutiful but unremarkable, with little suggestion of his later genius. His

growing knowledge of the works of Wagner and Liszt did not yet provide a strong stimulus for his own writing. ‘From this stagnation I was roused as by a lightning stroke by the first performance in Budapest of Also sprach Zarathustra in 1902’, Bartók wrote in his autobiography of 1921. Richard Strauss’s music offered to Bartók some interim compositional solutions. In 1902 he drafted in piano short score a four-movement Symphony in E (BB25), which merged a Straussian thematic and motivic technique with stylistic gestures of Liszt and popular nationalist rhythmic and melodic turns. He was still dissatisfied with this new amalgam of elements, and only fully orchestrated the third movement, a Scherzo. His only other substantial work of 1902, the Four Songs BB24, set texts of folk-like poetry by Lajos Pósa in a style drawn substantially from the clichés of popular art-song. While Bartók’s compositional development had been sluggish, he had been attracting attention as a pianist. At his first public Academy concert, on 21 October 1901, he performed Liszt’s Piano Sonata in B minor. A critic from the Budapesti Napló reported that Bartók ‘thunders around on the piano like a little Jupiter. In fact, no piano student at the Academy today has a greater chance of following in Dohnányi’s tracks than he’. That was, indeed, Bartók’s aim. He remained close to his elder townsman through his later years at the Academy, and during the summer of 1903 took masterclasses with Dohnányi in Gmunden. Bartók gained further pianistic notice in late 1902, with private performances of his own piano transcription of Strauss’s Ein Heldenleben, followed by its successful performance at a Tonkünstlerverein concert in Vienna during January 1903. This encouraged Hanslick to comment: ‘So, he must be a genius of a musician at any rate, but it is a pity that he goes in for Strauss’, a sentiment echoed by Koessler. Bartók’s reputation as a pianist was further enhanced by a brilliant final Academy examination performance of Liszt’s Rhapsodie espagnole on 25 May 1903. 2. 1903–8. Strauss’s Ein Heldenleben provided Bartók with both the style and the structure for his next composition, Kossuth BB31, a ten-section symphonic poem which glorified Lajos Kossuth, the leader of the abortive Hungarian War of Independence from Austria in 1848–9. Bartók wrote Kossuth between April and August 1903, another period of nationalistic fervour concerned with the degree of independence of the Hungarian army. An irony, not lost on Bartók himself, was that this intensely patriotic work relied so heavily upon Strauss’s Germanic idiom.

From 1903 until 1906 Bartók pursued an itinerant life. There were substantial residencies in Vienna.Béla Bartók. He became tenured in 1909 and remained at the Academy (which in 1925 was renamed the Liszt Academy) until 1934. at rehearsal. are ungainly stylistic and structural amalgams of Brahms. He realized that his compositional style still lacked originality and unity. with the Berlin PO on 2 January 1909. Bartók had begun to develop an enduring interest in peasant music. Meanwhile. for example. when he directed a movement of his Second Suite. owed much to Godowsky’s reports of Bartók’s performing and compositional feats that year. However. During 1907–9 Bartók all but gave up performing. as well as Budapest. Meanwhile. Strauss and Liszt. Mihály Mosonyi and Ferenc Erkel. Budapest Bartók Achives aged 22 Kossuth and Bartók’s rendition of Ein Heldenleben were central to the launching of his career as a pianist-composer. following performing or compositional opportunities as they presented themselves. scheduled the work with his Hallé Orchestra in Manchester during February 1904. and he spent August and September 1905 in Paris. . and provided opportunities for Bartók as a pianist. One exception was his only appearance as a conductor. despite a two-month tour of Spain and Portugal in 1906 with the Hungarian violinist Ferenc Vecsey. or from stylized verbunkos and csárdás dances. Bartók’s international performing career had effectively stalled by this point. together with Hungarian identifiers. an early promoter also of Dohnányi. while the sizeable audience at Bartók’s Berlin début on 14 December 1903. where he participated unsuccessfully in the Rubinstein competition both as composer (where no award was made) and pianist (where Backhaus gained the prize). the Rhapsody for piano and Scherzo for piano and orchestra. including Busoni and. popular art-songs or gypsy embellishing figures. although he played very occasionally in Academy concerts. drawn either from patriotic compositions of Liszt. during 1903 Bartók had been invited back to Vienna as soloist in Beethoven’s ‘Emperor’ Concerto. Berlin and Pozsony. His first two opus-numbered works. Nikisch. and it was fortuitous that he was invited to replace Thomán on the piano staff of the Budapest Academy late the same year. Hans Richter.

which sometimes rivalled that of the Schoenberg–Webern–Berg school in intensity but lacked its master-student characteristics. composed in 1907. he was also taking a teaching diploma. however. with a strong Lisztian influence in the second movement. where he split his time between piano practice and composition. and writing the Rhapsody and Scherzo (originally titled Burlesque). Kodály held the ethnological knowledge. finishing his Piano Quintet BB33. cling to national Romantic tenets. commences with a short. and a year later completed a doctoral dissertation on the stanzaic structure of Hungarian folksong. and he noted down her songs. despite his claim regarding its ‘Hungarianness’. The Second Suite op.’ The first. Kodály had studied composition under Koessler.3 for orchestra (1905). at the Budapest home of Emma Gruber (later Kodály’s wife). So began an enduring artistic. one year his junior. He did not yet appreciate the exact boundary between folksong and popular art-song. its fourth and final movement. tentative fruits of this intention were his publication in February 1905 of his setting of a Székely (Transylvanian) song. yearning for a style which was autochthonously Hungarian – to its core. both intended as showpieces for his forthcoming concerts. which he would develop in succeeding compositions. Slovakia). On 18 March 1905 Bartók met Kodály.4 for small orchestra (originally Serenade). adding the best possible piano accompaniments. Bartók had more practical musical skills and phenomenal aural capacities. but Dósa’s songs had inspired a new direction in Bartók’s thinking. self-consciously uses four-square ‘international’ thematic material within a five-movement cyclic structure. During May to November 1904 (except for some weeks at Bayreuth) he had stayed at the northern Hungarian resort of Gerlice Puszta (now Ratkó. His Suite no. with frequent resort to Strauss in its orchestration. singing in an adjacent room. to the level of art-song. starts to show a way forward. which Bartók for all his enthusiasm then lacked. spare texture. written in 1905. While its first three movements. the second of which Bartók performed as a piano solo in the Rubinstein competition. but already show a tendency towards writing in simple block chords and a use of rhythm which shadows rather than complements the melody. Yet Bartók was still some way from appreciating the full potential of folk music for creating a new homegrown style in his compositions. and unveils a stark. In these earliest settings Bartók’s piano accompaniments still retain many Romantic flourishes.1 op. pentatonic tune. Like Bartók. and a collection of settings of four folksongs (BB37). nor the different classes of Hungarian peasant music. as he wrote to his sister in December 1904: ‘Now I have a new plan: to collect the finest Hungarian folksongs and to raise them. There he heard a Transylvanian-born maid. not just in its accoutrements. Piros alma (‘Red Apple’) BB34. Lidi Dósa. They soon found themselves .Bartók was. scholarly and personal relationship.

among the older people. His interest in the origins of the Hungarians even led him to plan trips further east. already feeling alienated from the ‘rootless’ Germans and Jews so prominent in Budapest’s musical life. poco rubato performance style. with the first ten arranged by Bartók and the remainder by Kodály. Their song was an unauthored ‘natural phenomenon’. Bartók. with the potential of reforming the nation’s musical life. He became fascinated not just with the transcription. They called for subscribers to a collection of simple settings for voice and piano of 20 songs (BB42). gathered with scholarly exactitude’. While Kodály allowed his attention to encompass broader literary and historical aspects of Hungarian musical folklore. There. he found many examples of anhemitonic (lacking semitones) pentatonic tunes and came to realize the pentatonic basis of much of the oldest stratum of Hungarian folk music. analysis and classification of the many tunes he collected. collected by Béla Vikár and themselves. Bartók’s interests tended to be more strictly musical and class-related. so setting a goal which remained far from realized even at Kodály’s death in 1967. but drew a scant response from the Hungarian public. also now strongly resented the apeing of Western popular culture by the ethnic Hungarian aristocracy and middle class. His collecting trip to the Transylvanian province of Csík during July and August 1907. Transylvania. and the frankest critics of each other’s compositions. but also with the comparisons between these different peasant musics and their dialects. proved a revelation. as well as the undying urban popularity of the gypsy bands. in . the heartland of the Székely people in the far east of the Empire. he came to idealize as the conveyors of the pure musical instincts of the nation.teaching colleagues at the Academy of Music. This collection appeared in December 1906. he soon found himself becoming interested in the characteristics of the peasant music of the many ethnic minorities living within the Hungarian section of the Empire. In March 1906 Bartók and Kodály issued a joint ‘appeal to the Hungarian people’ to support ‘a complete collection of folksongs. Hence. with a local assistant and two phonographs. and also of reforming his own musical approach. to the Csángó people in Moldavia and to the Chuvash and Tartar peoples living along the Volga River. collaborators in many ethnomusicological projects. however. and he later collected much smaller numbers of Ruthenian. As Bartók collected and analyzed more Hungarian tunes he started to distinguish old-style and new-style melodies: the old most characterized by a parlando. followed in 1908 by Romanian. Serbian and Bulgarian tunes. Their appeal warned that the influx of ‘light music’ and many ‘imitation folksongs’ would render Hungarian traditional music extinct within a few decades. The rural peasants. As early as 1906 he started to collect Slovak folk music. although World War I banished all hope of such trips. Ever since hearing Lidi Dósa’s singing in 1904 Bartók had wanted to travel to her homeland.

Between passionate outpourings to her in a series of intimate letters about the meaning of life. the Violin Concerto BB48a. showing some degree of foreign influence. or transcended. with its pentatonic melody. Bartók decided not to develop the ‘hateful’ third movement. ABBC. textural and formal models which might creatively be transformed. 1908–14. he came to recognize a large class of ‘heterogeneous’ songs. When in Transylvania Bartók had also been working upon his own work of love. Bartók’s Transylvanian tour of 1907 provided him with final proof that the renewal of his own style could be based on folk music. cool and silent’. farewell – while the two tempo giusto songs are humorous. and generally with architectonic forms (ABBA. and the first five of his Nyolc magyar népdal (‘Eight Hungarian Folksongs’) BB47 for voice and piano. witty. Finally. . the so-called ‘Geyer’ (or ‘Stefi’) motif. When she chose not to play it. dominates the first movement. the unhappily married woman. and other violinists showed little interest. three are parlando rubato with tales of sadness – the betrayed lover. amusing’. and tending to non-architectonic forms (ABCD. for instance). D–F –A–C . The two movements were titled ‘one ideal’ and ‘one grotesque’. completed on 5 February 1908. favouring Aeolian or major modes.5. celestial and inward’. for instance). with the first depicting the ‘idealized Stefi Geyer. the new performed tempo giusto. written for and about his new infatuation. Bartók combined the first movement with an orchestrated version of the last of his Fourteen Bagatelles. leaving an unconventional two-movement fantasy-like composition. In a dictionary article on Hungarian music of 1935 (Révai nagy lexicona) Bartók determined the percentages of these three classes of Hungarian peasant music as 9% old. While still travelling in Transylvania he worked on the fourth movement of his Second Suite. Before the year was out he completed settings of three Csík folksongs. while a jagged permutation of descending direction characterizes the second. 3. just one week before Geyer terminated the relationship. but also introduced a wealth of melodic. he was drafting a work of three movements. One ascending line of 3rds. AABA. the violinist Stefi Geyer. rhythmic. also based on the ‘Geyer’ motif. religion and love. and the third as ‘indifferent. Folk music was not just a fertile field for arrangements. Gyergyóból (‘From Gyergyó’) BB45a for recorder and piano. 30% new and 61% heterogeneous.ecclesiastical (commonly Aeolian or Dorian) or pentatonic modes. in original composition. Of these latter. the second as ‘cheerful. to create the Két portré (‘Two Portraits’) op.

as in the final Valse ‘Ma mie qui danse’ (no.7. Bartók exemplified three types of arrangement: where the folk melody is mounted like a jewel (ex.10) or mocked.3 Ten Easy Pieces (1908).1). ‘Elle est morte’ (no. and where the folk melody is a kind of inspirational ‘motto’ to be creatively developed (ex.3). movt 3. 13). In these short pieces. now assumed a role more equal to the 3rd and 5th. they are soon subverted by dissonance (no. written on the day Bartók received .4). The interval of the 7th. devoid of the unessential embellishments and rippling excesses of late-Romantic piano figuration. in Béla Bartók Essays. quasi-bitonal writing (nos.6 (1908) drew from Busoni the comment ‘at last something truly new’. 5. Two of the pieces directly quote folksongs. an old Hungarian tune (no. movt 7. Indeed. of varying programmatic and abstract qualities.1 Romanian Folk Dances (1915). 30–1 The Fourteen Bagatelles op. after this early Violin Concerto none of his works escapes a strong folk influence. 9. of tritones (no. In pieces where dominant–tonic relations are invoked. streams of parallel 5ths and 7ths (no.13).11). often in association with the ‘Geyer’ motif. In his later lecture ‘The Relation between Contemporary Hungarian Art Music and Folk Music’ (1941.4) and a Slovak song (no.2). 10. 13). as well as a growing emphasis upon grotesquerie. 1–8 Ex. first found as a consonance in Bartók’s music at the conclusion of the Second Suite’s third movement.1.2. ‘Evening in Transylvania’. Any sense of functional harmony is persistently undermined by the use of ostinato figures (nos. akin to its significance in pentatonic structures.The many piano pieces of 1908–11 show Bartók’s increasing confidence in using folk materials. 10).5).8).2 Improvisations op.20 (1920). Bartók gave Este a székelyeknél (‘Evening in Transylvania’) from his Ten Easy Pieces as an example which uses such imitation (ex. 348–53). or in specific imitational features. Bartók pioneered his new style of piano writing. Ex. 3. or of piled-up 3rds (nos. 29–33 Ex.14). where melody and accompaniment are almost equal in importance. of 4ths (no. In original compositions folk elements can be found either in the general spirit of the style.

The Lento first movement. mercilessly distorts features of her motif. such as the Két elégia (‘Two Elegies’) op. at which point Bartók has written in the score ‘meghalt’ (‘she is dead’). which comprised 42 Slovak and 43 Hungarian tunes. The Három burleszk (‘Three Burlesques’) op. Over the following 15 years she proved his worthy assistant as a copyist. Rozsnyai also published Bartók’s first large collection of folksong arrangements. The influence of Debussy. the first of the Vázlatok (‘Seven Sketches’) op. he did sometimes return to the elaboration and stylized emotion of his earlier music. and were omitted. leaner approach to keyboard writing. and a son. along with four other settings. As a whole the Fourteen Bagatelles laid down a blueprint both for Bartók’s new musical language and his new. Béla. about whose works Bartók had recently learnt from Kodály. notably in the use of parallel chords. In other piano works of the 1908–11 period. translator and occasional folksong-collecting companion. the Ten Easy Pieces BB51 (1908). until near the close it emerges in ‘pure’ form. For the first Burlesque.8c unite both old and new aspects of Bartók’s piano writing with that capricious programmaticism seen in earlier compositions dedicated to his female friends. is entitled ‘Leányi arckép’ (‘Portrait of a Girl’) and calls again on the ‘Geyer’ motif. takes as its main theme the boisterous. which had already in March 1908 contracted Bartók to provide an educational edition of J. (Two of the Hungarian settings were actually by Emma Gruber. the pieces were soon accepted by the Budapest firm Károly Rozsnyai. Gyermekeknek (‘For Children’) BB53 (1908– 10). he explained in one of its drafts: ‘Please choose one of the titles: “Anger because of an interrupted visit” or “Rondoletto à capriccio” or “Vengeance is sweet” or “Play it if you can” or “November 27 [1908]”’. Although Breitkopf & Härtel rejected Busoni’s recommendation of Bartók’s op. dedicated to his student and soon-to-be wife Márta Ziegler. in Bartók’s revision of 1943.7 (1908–9) is an exceptional work of stylistic transition. jagged transformation of the ‘Geyer’ motif yet within a . conceived as a funeral dirge.Geyer’s letter ending their relationship. Bach’s Das wohltemperirte Clavier – the first of many historic editions which Bartók produced – and agreed to publish his next composition. and in no. on the grounds that they were ‘too difficult and too modern for the public’.) Bartók’s aim in the series was to acquaint young pianists with ‘the simple and non-Romantic beauties of folk music’. In November 1909 Bartók married Márta Ziegler. was born in August 1910. Although it betrays many disparate influences it is remarkably coherent. The First String Quartet op. with its unchanging semitonal ostinato.S.3. Some other features. could have been spurred either by Bartók’s recent folk-music experiences or by his knowledge of the latest trends of his Western contemporaries.6 for publication. Another work dedicated to her. such as the use of 4th chords.9b. also lies behind several of the pieces.8b.

Tristanesque mood of yearning. and with it requests for him to perform. the one-act opera A Kékszakállú herceg vára (‘Bluebeard’s Castle’) (1911) is.contrapuntal. The finale establishes the brusque. and of Strauss. based largely upon the . Bartók’s work changed the course of Hungarian opera by successfully developing a fluid form of Hungarian declamation of Balázs’s ballad-like text. other late-Romantic influences are evident – those of Reger. the Allegro barbaro BB63. a ‘return to life’.12. with Debussy’s mark perhaps being too readily identified. drawn by the woman’s curiosity. sparer style. in the following year. about whose works Bartók and Geyer had been enthusiastic. notably in the orchestral Két kép (‘Two Pictures’) op. Imre Waldbauer. as well as pieces by Szendy and Kodály. Bluebeard and his new wife Judith. the action of Bluebeard’s Castle is negligible. Csak egy szép lány (‘Just a Fair Girl’) by Elemér Szentirmai. János Temesváry Budapest Bartók Achives In the first half of 1910 Bartók’s recognition as a composer appeared to be growing. The intervening op. who progress through the opening of the eponymous castle’s seven doors. which are more in keeping with his new. however. Yet Bartók’s quartet unfolds. after which Judith’s jealousy becomes obsessive. leading to her eventual entombment. In other works of 1910–12 French influences are at their most apparent. Written to an expressionistic libretto by Béla Balázs about the ‘mystery of the soul’. which would also provide the premières of his Second and Fourth Quartets Bartók with Kodály (front right) and the Waldbauer-Kerpely Quartet (from left to right): Jenő Kerpely. It twice calls upon pentatonic phrases and in its introduction the cello parodies the opening of a popular Hungarian song.10 and the Four Orchestral Pieces op. a masterful Hungarian emulation of the realism of Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande. The opera’s climactic turning-point comes at the fifth door. The quartet was first performed on 19 March 1910. At a ‘Hungarian festival’ concert in Paris on 12 March 1910 he played several of his own works. with increasingly fast second and finale movements. to Bluebeard’s kingdom. at one of the earliest concerts of the youthful Waldbauer-Kerpely Quartet.11. along with all Bluebeard’s previous wives. Antal Molnár. involving just two singing protagonists. A press comment about these ‘young barbarians’ from Hungary probably prompted Bartók to write one of his most popular piano pieces. and eternal darkness. folk-like style used in the concluding movements of many later chamber works. in Kodály’s words.

inflections of parlando rubato folksong. appeared from the Romanian Academy in Bucharest in 1913. pentatonic lines. As a principle of grouping Bartók early came to adopt the system of the Finnish musicologist Ilmari Krohn. however. Kodály. some in collaboration with Kodály. The year 1912 signalled Bartók’s withdrawal from public musical life. He did. These were simple collections of transcriptions of melodies and texts of Transylvanian (Székely) and Transdanubian ballads. By the immediately pre-war years Bartók had developed more theoretical and speculative interests. particularly in his use of a recurring minor-2nd ‘blood’ motif. Judith through more chromatic and angular writing. and saw no point in orchestrating his four op. . These ethnomusicological studies became his life’s mainstay during the following six years of isolation. he was not generating a distinctive ‘school’.12 pieces until there was some chance of their performance. and the first Romanian-influenced work. He also managed to characterize the protagonists modally: Bluebeard through smooth. His efforts in 1911 to assist the formation of a New Hungarian Musical Society had. which had been endorsed in 1902–3 after a competition of the International Music Society. His first essay on ‘Comparative Musical Folklore’ dates from 1912. he felt. in 1913 contribute nearly 50 easy pieces to the Zongoraiskola (‘Piano Method’) BB66. and it was assigned to Bartók’s drawer. Bartók’s enthusiasms remained undiminished. Bartók’s operatic conception owed much to Wagner. He did not engage in serious composition in 1913. He was increasingly seen as a radical. out of sympathy with the ruling musical clique led by such figures as the violinist Jenő Hubay. co-authored with Sándor Reschofsky. As well as informing his composition – the first Slovak folksong settings (BB46) date from 1907. whose influence in other compositional respects had waned. and he was making reasonable professional progress. and he resigned from it in February 1912. been futile. about Romanian folksongs from the Hungarian county of Bihor (Bihár) which he had collected in 1909–10. as did Hubay. Songs were then ordered according to the cadence patterns of each verse. folk music. which only occurred after the war. for he was fundamentally disinterested in questions of piano technique or didactic method. As a teacher. The adjudicators of two Budapest opera competitions of 1911–12 nonetheless found little merit in this ‘unperformable’ work. In one field. later. from which 18 were later selected for Kezdők zongoramuzsikája (‘The First Term at the Piano’. 1929). In Krohn’s system all songs were transposed so that their final note was G. while the orchestration is still indebted to Strauss. but many undertaken independently. Since 1906 Bartók had engaged in many folk-music collecting tours. and his first published book. Ket román tánc (‘Two Romanian Dances’) BB56 from 1909–10 – these tours had led to Bartók’s first ethnomusicological articles in 1908 and 1909. Szendy or.

Bartók’s excitement about this Máramaros material rivalled that surrounding his pentatonic discovery of 1907. 4. which however confirmed that he was unfit for service. Kodály and Bartók were entrusted with the collection of folksongs from soldiers. Although Bartók hardly performed at all during the war. this strongly structural scheme remained the model for Bartók’s many later folk-music editions. From Easter 1915. Bartók himself fearfully undertook several medical examinations. which he later identified in Arabic. For several months. or horă lungă. with the military situation stabilized. Romania’s sudden attack on Transylvania in August 1916 ensured. Both his Máramaros and north-African collections were prepared by 1914. Holidaying in France during July 1914. which in January 1918 resulted in a patriotic concert in Vienna attended by Empress Zita. although in 1916 he ventured out into Transylvania on his task with the military. there were fears that even Budapest would be attacked. its years were bounteous in folk-music arrangements. was strongly instrumental in character. Bartók again resumed song collecting. in the narrower range and changeability of its scales and the almost constant drumming which accompanied most strict-time melodies. which in Bartók’s opinion surpassed the Hungarian because of the greater primitivism and isolation of the Romanian population within the Empire. This ‘long melody’. While 1914 had seen the start of work on two Hungarian piano sets – Tizenöt magyar parasztdal (‘15 Hungarian Peasant Songs’) .Further differentiation was possible according to cadence types and song ranges. It concerned his identification of an ancient cântec lung. delayed in publication. that his further collecting did not venture too far from the Hungarian plain. mainly in Slovak regions fairly close to the capital. highly ornamented. During June 1913. With a growing number of modifications. The richness of Romanian folk traditions. improvisational. Bartók was almost caught unawares by the rush into World War I. because of the war. Later. his comparative ethnomusicological interests drew him to north Africa. where among the Berber people around the oasis town of Biskra (now in Algeria) he experienced a folk music strikingly different from that of eastern Europe. in lieu of military service. or ‘long dance’. folk-music collecting became impossible. Ukrainian and Persian musics. however. as the Russians made incursions into the eastern provinces of Hungary. but were. led him in 1913 to collect folk music of the Romanians of the Hungarian province of Máramaros (Maramureş). however. 1914–26. and of indeterminate structure. Until 1913 virtually all of Bartók’s collecting had taken place within Hungary.

15 and 16. was fruitful with three sets of Slovak folksongs for a variety of vocal resources (BB73. 78). The quality of the poetry differs greatly between the works. . with whom Bartók was involved during his 1915–16 collecting tours in Slovakia. but for the central Allegro molto capriccioso movement (with which he experienced the most difficulty in composition) he drew on inspiration from north Africa. In a radio interview of 1944 Bartók described his intention in this work of refining piano technique to achieve ‘a style more of bone and muscle’. Endre Ady. in the limited range of its harsh tune. was later reduced to four movements with the removal of the second-movement Andante. his isolation led to a more unified and concentrated compositional approach. Also in 1916 Bartók deviated from his established pattern of vocal settings of folksongs to compose his only mature Lieder: two sets of Öt dal (‘Five Songs’).BB79 and Three Hungarian Folk Tunes BB80b – both of which were completed in 1918. to whom Bartók dedicated the set in 1920. 1915 was a ‘Romanian’ year: piano settings of Romanian Christmas Songs (Colinde) BB67.17 (1914–17) he maintained something of the nervous introspection of the First Quartet’s opening in the outer movements. The period 1916–17. They exhibit a characteristic melancholy.16 songs are settings of poems by Hungary’s leading progressive poet. above all in its Scherzo. Bartók’s style of setting is less folk-influenced in these songs. especially in the complementary rhythmic relationships between voice and piano. This work also pays stylistic homage to the composer Béla Reinitz. Indeed. and one of Bartók’s most popular works. with its urgent ostinato and limited scalar patterns. The op. Bartók soon realized the folly of his musical (and personal) ways. opp. Klára Gombossy. With his three-movement Second String Quartet op. 77.15 is a setting in parlando declamatory style of four love poems by a young woman. with an extra poem by another adolescent friend. originally in five movements with the symmetrical pattern of movement tonalities B –F –B –D–B . the Sonatina BB69 (in 1931 transcribed for orchestra as Erdélyi táncok. but rather reflects a continuation of German Lieder traditions. loss and despair. Bartók’s rate of composing original works was not impaired by his wartime conditions. ‘Transylvanian Dances’). The Piano Suite op. yet still retains a strong interest in pitch symmetries. in the drumming accompaniment and in the exaggerated embellishments. This suite. Op. and ensured that these songs were neither published nor performed during his lifetime. the Román nepi táncok (‘Romanian Folk Dances’) BB68. well known for his Ady settings. by turn. with autumnal themes of isolation.14 (1916) similarly shows in its third movement a north-African influence.

but it also encouraged the Opera in Budapest to arrange for the première of Bluebeard’s Castle. portrays the constant tension between the ideal prince and the grotesque puppet. despite Bartók’s frequent criticisms. but its composition and following orchestration had taken him until early 1917. as its plot. so far’ and a sure road to greater international exposure. and of the pain and glory of the situation in which a woman prefers the poem to the poet. living at Rákoskeresztúr. the enterprising Viennese publisher Universal Edition now contracted to publish Bartók’s compositions. Its music. and. By March 1913 the Budapest Opera had requested a work from Bartók. continued to do). Finally in 1920 he was obliged to move to Budapest. Bartók and his family. he was surprised by the ballet’s highly successful première on 12 May 1917 under Egisto Tango (to whom he later dedicated the work). Universal worked hard to clear the backlog of the composer’s many unpublished pieces. where for two years his family took rooms in the apartment of the banker József Lukács. The remainder of his life was largely devoted to analyzing and categorizing his existing . For some years national tensions in the region ensured the unviability of collecting expeditions. Apart from a brief expedition to Turkey in November 1936 Bartók never again engaged in fieldwork. Importantly for the future. Meanwhile. they had no electricity or running water. The idea of this ballet had grown out of the visit of the Ballets Russes to Budapest in 1912. Given Bartók’s fatalistic attitude towards his own compositions. with the final part recalling materials from the first part in reverse order. which took place on 24 May 1918. Bartók crafted the work as a symmetrical tripartite symphonic poem. the Austro-Hungarian Empire had collapsed. Not only did this success lead to many repeat performances of the work.13. even within post-Trianon Hungary (as Kodály. written to a scenario again by Balázs. the picture to the painter’. remained his main publisher for the next two decades. an event which he considered his ‘greatest success as a composer. Slovak territories which Bartók had found ethnologically most interesting. saw Hungary stripped of those very areas of Transylvania and the northern. In the journal Magyar színpad at the time of the ballet’s production Balázs described how the work reflects ‘that very common and profound tragedy when the creation becomes the rival of the creator. based on principles of majority ethnic selfdetermination and ratified by the Treaty of Trianon in 1920. for instance. The last years of the 1910s witnessed widespread political and social dislocation in Hungary. The new national boundaries. Medical help had to be brought from Budapest when in October 1918 Bartók succumbed to Spanish influenza during the pandemic. food and fuel supplies became scarce. found transportation to the city increasingly difficult. some kilometres east of Budapest. who share the same thematic material.Most significant professionally among Bartók’s wartime compositions was his one-act ballet A fából faragott királyfi (‘The Wooden Prince’) op.

18 for piano. which by 1918 numbered about 10. and under the short-lived communist government of Béla Kun in 1919 served on its music directorate.223 Slovak and 2.000 melodies (including 3. Expressionist phase (1918–22). through his recent folk-music work. much more than graphic ‘mime music’. including director of the Opera.) Amid this turbulence Bartók succeeded in writing his iconoclastic pantomime A csodálatos mandarin (‘The Miraculous Mandarin’) op. or to comparative studies involving knowledge of a large number of mainly eastern European collections. during . which he considered one of his finest compositions. conveyed by her last client. about the powers of human love. Of greater day-to-day significance to him was the continuation of sabbatical leave from the Academy of Music and of his attachment to the ethnographic department of the National Museum. and head of a planned music department at the National Museum. The unsavoury aspect of the work caused it to be withdrawn immediately after its November 1926 première in Cologne. (This did not stop him in later years being accused by the Romanian authorities of being a Hungarian revisionist. followed by Austria or Germany. With the succession of Hungarian governments during 1918–19 Bartók found himself courted for many positions. her ‘minders’ and clients. but only orchestrated it in 1924. with a first preference for Transylvania (by then part of Romania). both of which ceased in mid-1920. along with Kodály. after the composer’s death. he was a supporter of the Romanian national cause and a traitor to Hungary. Bartók approached the narrative in a mosaic-like way. although neither came to pass. It was a continual frustration to him. In late October 1918 he was appointed by the liberal Károlyi government to be a member of the National Council. so languished. The Miraculous Mandarin is.771 Hungarian). the Three Studies op. that this work. 3. and contributed to the continual postponement of its Budapest première until December 1945. Bartók bore these rapidly changing events with apparent nonchalance. In 1920 he also had to fend off the first of several challenges in the press from the Hungarian right wing that. the Mandarin.19. then. He drafted the work in short score to a scenario by Menyhért (Melchior) Lengyel between October 1918 and May 1919. Yet he did think of settling abroad. as he did the establishment of the right-wing rule of Miklós Horthy in the autumn of 1919. was staged more frequently. which parallel the fluctuating sense of tension. Through various revisions up until 1931 Bartók refined a truly symphonic concept based upon his musical symbols of desire and love. a work he soon came to dislike. with a deeper message.collection. Lengyel’s is a superficially sordid plot about a prostitute. With Mandarin and its immediate predecessor. using brief intervallicallydetermined ‘tone patches’ of variable tonal clarity and density of texture. Bartók launched into his most radical.404 Romanian. however. Dohnányi and Reinitz. while The Wooden Prince.

During the first half of the 1920s Bartók’s compositional output slackened. The first movement of the three-movement First Sonata adopts such a strongly variational approach to thematic materials that the point of recapitulation loses its traditional force.which he believed he was approaching some kind of atonal goal.18 and 19. In ‘The Relation of Folk-Song to the Development of the Art Music of Our Time’ (The Sackbut. Yet towards the end of the 1920s Bartók claimed. the Violin Sonatas nos. in 1924 Bartók’s transcription and analysis of over 320 Hungarian songs was unveiled in his A magyar népdal. although all three remained unpublished during Bartók’s lifetime. In an interview in 1929 he even suggested that tonality in his early postwar works was not lacking ‘but at times is more-or-less veiled either by idiosyncrasies of the harmonic texture or by temporary deviations in the melodic curves’. and in 1931 in English with the title Hungarian Folk Music. in C minor and C respectively. he further wrote of the peasant tunes saving such works as op.800 Slovak peasant melodies. In his essay ‘Das Problem der neuen Musik’ (Melos. which he sent for publication in Czechoslovakia. It appeared in German the following year. pp.20 from a ‘wearying or surfeiting extreme’. he drew examples of the ‘previously undreamt-of wealth of transitory nuances [now] at our disposal’ from his own opp.1 and 2 (BB84 and 85) for example.) He then immediately moved to prepare a volume of Romanian Christmas songs. and recognized the need ‘for the equality of rights of the individual 12 tones’.107–10) he referred four times to Schoenberg.20 (his last work to receive an opus number) also showed a bold linking of innovative techniques of folksong arrangement and atonal direction. despite their titles. 1920. though these works of 1921–2 show further merging of folk-derived ideas and atonality. However. Moreover. i/5. they only pay lip-service to traditional sonata principles. with its slower-faster progression is indebted to a rhapsodic model. not least because of his intense ethnomusicological work. that atonality was incompatible with a style based on (necessarily tonal) folk music. pp. 1921.5–11) Bartók explained that ‘the opposition of the two tendencies reveals all the more clearly the individual properties of each. while the effect of the whole becomes all the more powerful’. The two-movement Second Sonata. The following Improvizációk magyar parasztdalokra (‘Improvisations on Hungarian Peasant Songs’) op. by 1921 Kodály and Bartók had finalized a modest collection of Hungarian folksongs from Transylvania. which . are. ii/1. Bartók was also engaged during 1921–3 in compiling a two-volume study of some 1. (A third Slovak volume was completed in 1928. he maintained. in apparent contradiction to such statements. published two years later. Already in an essay of January 1918 he had articulated his old–new stylistic distinction in Hungarian folk music. it is difficult to consider them in a key. while in long-term function the tritonal relationship F –C is of primary importance.

although his avowedly percussive approach to the keyboard was deemed unfortunate by many British critics. which culminated in the German premières of Bluebeard’s Castle and The Wooden Prince on 13 May in Frankfurt. Bartók’s frequent partner in these concerts and further western European concerts in 1923 was the Hungarian-born violinist Jelly Arányi. some for the first time. brought up on Matthay’s views about relaxation and use of weight. and was nominated to convene the aborted 1940 Budapest Festival. (After many trials. Bartók was keen to grasp every opportunity for promoting his works through his own playing. the orchestral Táncszvit (‘Dance Suite’) BB86a. France and Germany. One of his first Budapest concerts. Bartók’s higher profile soon led to his inclusion in an international chamber music festival in Salzburg in August 1922. which extended during 1923–5 to include Czechoslovakia. after which the International Society for Contemporary Music (ISCM) was founded. With the war over and Universal rapidly publishing his scores. He became a staunch supporter of the ISCM. The critics also had difficulties comprehending the frequent thematic segregation which exists between the instruments’ parts in these two sonatas. orchestral soloist and recitalist roles. Despite Bartók’s growing opportunities for performing internationally. He served on its first festival jury in 1924.17. he did not immediately start to compose new works for this audience. was commissioned as a companion to Kodály’s Psalmus hungaricus and Dohnányi’s Ünnepi nyitány (‘Festival Overture’) for the celebration of the 50th anniversary of . Further Hungarian performances and a concert tour of Romania (Transylvania) in February 1922 preceded a series of major performances during March to May of 1922 in Britain. after seven years of virtual absence. the Netherlands. Switzerland and Italy. 16 and 18 along with one of the earliest performances of the Second Quartet op. where the conductor Hermann Scherchen and the theatrical entrepreneur Max Reinhardt sought to aid his cause. with a willingness to perform in chamber. only the musical part of this study appeared in a self-funded edition in 1935. to whom he dedicated both violin sonatas. introduced his wartime compositions opp.14. during the 1920s and 30s many of his pieces were performed. He also quickly took advantage of the promotional. for which during 1920–21 he contributed over 20 scholarly or journalistic essays. as well as much-needed monetary. Over the next 12 years he took part in over 300 concerts in 15 different countries. His only composition of 1923. Already by February 1920 he had re-established a performing connection with Berlin.occupied much of his time from late 1923 until April 1926. at its annual festivals. Amid the revolutionary atmosphere of 1918–19 he had unexpectedly re-emerged onto the concert platform. Bartók was impressed by how seriously these sonatas were received. on 21 April 1919. opportunities in writing for the international press.) The other draw on Bartók’s time in the postwar years was his revitalized performing career.

as earlier in 1913–14. His next composition. Domenico Scarlatti. marriage and babies. at the Prague ISCM orchestral festival in May 1925. Falun (Dedinské scény) (‘Village Scenes’) BB87a was. Over the following two years it received over 60 performances in major European and American centres. when there were early hopes of a first performance in Germany. however. Michelangelo Rossi. Pásztory bore Bartók a son. Apart from Village Scenes Bartók did not compose between August 1923 and June 1926. It employs idealized peasant musics in its six movements. This new Baroque passion. he was writing himself off as an ‘ex-composer’. recalls the chromatic ‘Arabic’ inflections. whom Bartók had married in August 1923 following a sudden divorce from Márta Ziegler. not least through Bartók’s re-acceptance of an accommodating rather than oppositional relationship between tune and accompaniment. however. From October 1926 he started to perform his own piano transcriptions of their works and those of their contemporaries. The style of the suite marked a retreat from his recent expressive radicality. while the third movement introduces an imitation of Hungarian bagpipe music followed by a section suggesting Romanian folk violins. There his long-standing interest in Baroque music. Frescobaldi and Zipoli. a setting in five movements of old Slovak ceremonial melodies. under Václav Talich. in 1926 the final three movements were arranged for female voices and chamber orchestra (BB87b) to a commission from the American League of Composers. 5. minor-3rd-based Hungarian idiom. Its first movement. which are played without a break and connected by a ritornello theme in a serene Hungarian style. the additional performance opportunities which radio now afforded. but omitted this from the final version of the piece. and by February 1925. These mainly Lydian or Mixolydian tunes were given inventive ‘motto’-like settings for female voice and piano. 11 of which he later refined for publication. and the hearing of . coupled with the stimuli of rhythmic discoveries in Romanian Christmas songs. are dedicated to Ditta Pásztory. The later movements reflect a growing stylistic internationalism. previously centred upon Bach. for instance. culminating in the colourful medley of the sixth movement. Between March 1925 and March 1926 Bartók visited Italy at least four times. in July 1924. Péter. The Village Scenes. a brash. which catapulted Bartók’s work onto the international stage. His Dance Suite. was roused by the keyboard music of such Italian Baroque composers as Benedetto Marcello. with their themes of love. Nevertheless. Rameau and Couperin. 1926–34. he did devote much time in 1924 to orchestrating The Miraculous Mandarin. gained a highly publicized performance.the union of Budapest. Bartók had also drafted a Slovak-styled movement. Della Ciaia. the second.

when audiences took a liking to these early works over his more recent and dissonant compositions. In compositional process. Bach. his only available work for piano and orchestra remained the 1905 arrangement of the Rhapsody op. ‘between the desk and the piano’. With these works of 1926 he initiated. it was not only a stylistic anachronism. Percussion and Celesta. Three further short piano pieces later found a home within the Mikrokosmos collection. two collections of piano pieces. he provided a preview of so many of the qualities which were to come to fullest maturity in the works of his ‘golden age’. the second. and the third. in his own analysis. a fundamental creative shift from a Beethovenian ideal of artistic profundity to one more orientated towards the ultimate musical craftsman. Szabadban (‘Out of Doors’) BB89 and Kilenc kis zongoradarab (‘Nine Little Piano Pieces’) BB90.Stravinsky’s latest piano works (notably the Concerto for piano and wind). a believer in inspired genius. as he explained in a 1925 interview. and who physically composed. ‘Az éjszaka zenéje’ (‘The Night’s Music’) from Out of Doors. of the peasant flute.4) – which would come to its most magisterial expression ten years later in the Music for Strings. the first in imitation of vigorous peasant chanting. of village fiddlers. 1934–40. pushed Bartók into an almost frenzied phase of composition of piano works for his own performance. From June to November 1926 he set about equipping himself with a new piano repertory: a three-movement Sonata (BB88). in bagpipe style. By 1926. which developed a separate life as ‘Musettes’ (in BB89). in depicting the nocturnal sounds of the Hungarian plain. however. whose music was ‘determined by instinct and sensibility’ rather than by theory. Bartók drafted another longer episode. In these works of Bartók’s ‘piano year’. . and for his orchestral engagements the First Piano Concerto BB91. The ‘Menuetto’ from BB90 presented a pioneering example of Bartók’s principle of expansion and contraction of scalar intervals – in this case notably a major 2nd into a perfect 4th (see ex.1 BB36b. The movement’s ritornello theme also provided the basis for the three intervening episodes. introduced a genre of stylized representation of nature which would be repeatedly invoked up to his Third Piano Concerto of 1945. he remained still a composer of essentially Romantic habit. The finale of the Sonata revealed Bartók’s skilful imitation of traditional styles in the service of his concept of unity through variation. but also – as with the early Piano Quintet and First Suite – an occasional embarrassment for Bartók. While Bartók’s international status had grown.

and with these experiences in mind he ensured that his Second Piano Concerto was more tuneful and less bristling with difficulties. is the work’s kernel. The first movement’s themes are also loosely mirrored in the finale. martellato. The slow. but it is especially evident in the middle movement. strumming. In October 1928 it was awarded joint first prize. Meanwhile. partly inspired by Berg’s Lyrische Suite. pitch and rhythmic materials. muted passages. 9–10 Straddling the borderline between Baroque and barbarism is the hammering rhythmic impulse which underlies the First Piano Concerto. entirely pizzicato movement. Adorno (1929) wrote: ‘What is decisive is the formative power of the work. In the commencement of the slow. Bartók had composed his Fourth String Quartet BB95. the Fourth is formally very different. and their combinations – all of which give the piece its startling piquancy. Having updated his piano repertory Bartók turned his attention in 1927–8 to chamber music. Its first edition was so studded with errors that it had to be replaced. The sharp-edged timbral world of Stravinsky’s Concerto for piano and wind is often alluded to in Bartók’s. Menuetto.3. the use of exaggerating vibrato. Bartók then added another (the published fourth movement) to provide a symmetrical five-movement structure. middle movement that impulse also provides the mechanism for the integration of piano and percussion. col legno. In this quartet he attained the ultimate compression of his formal. from which the strings have been banished entirely. with Casella’s Serenata. during the summer of 1928. which ends with a coda that borrows liberally from . Bartók’s concerto. and Bartók also confessed in 1939 that ‘its writing is a bit difficult – one might even say very difficult! – as much for orchestra as for audience’. Even he found its solo part taxing. sul tasto.4 Nine Little Piano Pieces. Originally conceived in only four movements. in more open guise. The second movement’s tight thematic material is reflected. third movement. in a style reminiscent of ‘The Night’s Music’ from Out of Doors. The traditional four movements are here fused into a single movement of about 17 minutes’ duration. From this impulse spring the main themes of all three movements. the iron concentration.Ex. While taking over the expanded palette of string sonorities of no. ponticello. played first under Furtwängler at the 1927 ISCM Festival in Frankfurt. where it was given its first performance on 30 December of the same year. which Bartók explored further a decade later in the Sonata for two pianos and percussion. composed during the summer of 1927. proved only moderately successful as a new carte-de-visite. starting with the Third String Quartet (BB93). The score bristles with ‘special effects’ – glissando. in a competition of the Musical Fund Society of Philadelphia. pizzicato. 3–4. in the fourth. the wholly original tectonics. A new colouristic approach to string sonority is displayed. which Bartók had recently heard.

The late 1920s were Bartók’s heyday as a pianist. who had recently made a violin and piano arrangement of seven For Children pieces.1 had to be substituted at the last minute. When Bartók was granted a sabbatical from the Budapest Academy for 1927–8 he was finally able to realize a plan he had nurtured ever since graduating. During that year’s first four months he undertook a three-week tour of the Soviet Union. with good offerings of concert opportunities. 96). was a successful musical and promotional undertaking as well as a personally eye-opening experience. Austria and Hungary. but he also arranged them for violin and orchestra. originate from 1928. when the New York PO. Both pieces follow the traditional lassú–friss (slow–fast) rhapsodic pattern which Bartók knew so well from his scholarly work during the 1910s on Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsodies for that composer’s complete edition. with its mixture of small lecturerecitals and large concert events. of a concert tour of the USA. The First Rhapsody was dedicated to Szigeti. Holland. Italy. Bartók’s two-month coast-to-coast tour. They were intended for Bartók’s many performances with Hungarian violinists. yet in rhythm certain folk models are more apparent. By 1929 Bartók was starting to live the life of the itinerant performer. the Violin Rhapsodies (BB94. for instance. proved unable to perform the First Piano Concerto and the Rhapsody op. Notwithstanding the débâcle of the first two concerts on 22 and 23 December 1928. The pitch relations of the quartet operate at a high level of abstraction. Bulgarian-type irregular rhythms are used. and the Second to Székely. By this time he often had the chance to specialize in playing his own works. as well as the first for cello and piano. although Hungarian and Ruthenian tunes are represented. The concerts for which Bartók had intended his many compositions of 1926–8 found willing entrepreneurs. as milder alternatives or adjuncts to his violin sonatas. France. Two further chamber works.the first movement’s conclusion. either in the music or in his own analysis. Denmark. Such symmetrical thinking about form had been evident in Bartók’s works since the 1910s. In the first movement. with much interplay between contracted and expanded expressions of short cells. from 1928. followed by concerts in Switzerland. Germany. under whose baton the First Piano Concerto did eventually have its American première on 13 February 1928. where on 20 March he heard both his recent string quartets in sympathetically received performances from the . contracts for producing gramophone records. Bartók’s Rhapsodies are cunningly devised concatenations of predominantly Romanian melodies. who had similarly arranged Bartók’s Romanian Folk Dances. increasing radio work and. on a request from Casals. under Mengelberg. but had never been expressed by him as clearly. In America he performed especially with Szigeti and his former student Reiner. the third movement involves rhythmic elements of both ‘old’ Hungarian and Romanian horă lungă precedent. Britain.

Kodály’s increasing list of Hungarian folksong arrangements jogged Bartók into contributing one last substantial set of voice and piano arrangements: Húsz magyar népdal (‘Twenty Hungarian Folksongs’) BB98. A three-movement work running without a break and anchored firmly in D. With Twenty Hungarian Folksongs a publishing compromise was finally reached. seven diverse and five new-style – but with no intention that they be performed in order. ‘large sonata form’ (Somfai). However. Vocal music absorbed Bartók’s compositional energies during 1929–30. naturalistic freedom and pantheistic integration. as his son reported of him on his 48th birthday. the Cantata profana has elicited perhaps the greatest variety of interpretations of its overall musical form – implied four-movement structure (Ujfalussy). His strengthening interest in symmetries can be clearly illustrated by comparing the mirrored nature of the modes with which the work begins (D–E–F–G–A –B –C– D) and ends (D–E–F –G –A–B–C–D). with both poetic and literal translations being provided for some songs. the cantata has been seen as emblematic of Bartók’s response to the rising fascism of its time. Bartók was insistent upon an idiomatic German translation which faithfully maintained the east European musical rhythms but also adhered as far as possible to natural German word accentuation. to list but three – as well as of its textual message. through its association with the cantata’s closing words ‘From clear and cooling mountain springs’. During early 1930 Bartók also arranged his four-movement Magyar népdalok (‘Hungarian Folksongs’) BB99 for mixed chorus. Bartók set his own poetic working of an ancient Romanian epic ballad for tenor and baritone soloists. notably his settings of Ady in the Five Songs BB72. Slovak-influenced ‘acoustic’ form (so-called because of its congruence with the lower degrees of the harmonic series).Waldbauer-Kerpely Quartet. the cantata marked an important stage in Bartók’s long-term reversion to more overtly tonal writing and longer thematic statements. Particularly in its aspects of generational conflict. chorus and orchestra. Unlike Kodály. . He grouped these songs thematically – four sad. of which he was particularly fond and later independently recorded. Bartók’s settings mostly fall within his creative. ‘motto’ approach. came to be recognized as Bartók’s symbol for the purity of nature. This latter. five-act classical dramatic form (Szabolcsi). he replaced the text with a skilful Hungarian translation. For the Cantata profana ‘A kilenc csodaszarvas’ (‘The Nine Enchanted Stags’) BB100. with its components of initiation–transformation–purification. as had often been the case with previous vocal works. Even the pessimistic Bartók had good reason to be ‘relaxed and happy’. before making the score’s final copy. In publication it was not the music but the German song translations which caused the most acute problems. four dancing. written during the summer of 1930. Of all Bartók’s compositions.

with the third movement being a free variation of the first. and the second movement of an Adagio–Scherzo– Adagio construction. too. as also in its overall five-part ‘bridge’ (ABCBA) structure. I try – to the best of my ability – to serve this idea in my music. Arabic. in a letter of 10 January 1931 to the Romanian diplomat and music historian. On 13 January 1931 Bartók’s internationalism took more concrete form in his acceptance of an invitation to join the Permanent Committee for Literature and the Arts of the League of Nations’ Commission for Intellectual Co-operation. fresh and healthy! Bartók’s consolidation of a more thematic and less rhythmically reiterative style continued in his next major work. In late 1930 he received news of awards. with the strongest influence being Hungarian. Symmetries abound at many pitch and rhythmic levels. brotherhood in spite of all wars and conflicts. he was tending to write more generally and more comparatively about folk music. Stravinsky is again a decided influence upon Bartók’s use of instruments – the strings are not used until the second movement – and upon his thematic material. namely the French Légion d’Honneur and the Hungarian Corvin wreath. Gilbert Murray and Karel Čapek. Over the next five years he occasionally introduced proposals about musical issues requiring international collaboration – gramophone records. Octavian Beu. be it Slovak. culminating in his study Népzenénk és a szomszéd népek népzenéje (‘Our [Hungarian] Folk Music and the Folk Music of Neighbouring Peoples’) which first appeared in 1934. and became more overtly committed to internationalist goals. Romanian and Slovak. Romanian. as a musical tribute to the increasingly tenuous brotherhood of Danube-basin peoples. Urtext and facsimile editions – but in 1934 also framed a proposal about artistic and scientific freedom. the Second Piano Concerto BB101. he more sought international than national acclaim. although he still sometimes played his own works in other Hungarian towns and occasionally other composers’ music in the capital. which occasionally alludes to the early Parisian ballets. As a performer. Bartók expressed his belief in the brotherhood of peoples. even into the early 1940s. completed in October 1931. having decided in 1930 no longer to perform his own works in unresponsive Budapest. While his interests in national folk musics remained intense. While recognizing the three sources of his creative work as Hungarian. the aim of adding two or three further ‘national’ parts to his Cantata profana. where his colleagues included Thomas Mann. The source must only be clean. or from any other source. He maintained this ban until late 1936. His joining of the Permanent Committee coincided with his much-quoted statement of compositional internationalism. He was honoured again in 1932 with a Romanian cultural award. As a composer Bartók harboured. None of Bartók’s major works of the 1930s or 1940s received its première in Budapest. notably .As Bartók approached his 50th birthday he attracted the accolades of international fame. therefore I don’t reject any influence.

Another 20 pieces were added to the collection in 1934.32) to ‘Chromatic Invention III’ (no. of five of his Húsz magyar népdal (‘Twenty Hungarian Folksongs’) (1929) as Magyar népdalok (‘Hungarian Folksongs’) BB108 for voice and orchestra. anxious to counter falling sales by promoting his more popular piano or vocal compositions in new quarters. he formed a broader plan of his own: a series of piano pieces. imitations) from a much greater range of cultures: Romanian. nor did he embark upon a planned ‘string symphony’ based on the Fourth String Quartet. encouraged him to engage in four orchestral arrangements: of his Sonatina (via Gertler’s violin and piano transcription) as Erdélyi táncok (‘Transylvanian Dances’) BB102b in 1931. Bartók had an immediate incentive to compose many simple pieces. Apart from this concerto Bartók composed no substantial new works during 1931–4. Bartók composed the Forty-four Duos BB104 for violins during 1931. as well as Slovak and Hungarian. in two numbers. . Bartók was occupied with several arrangements of existing compositions and series of miniature ‘educational’ pieces. Ruthenian. and. the same year he composed a further 30 pieces. His publishers. Bartók was excited by Doflein’s project and offered to write new pieces which would introduce simple folk music (or. During these fallow years. When in 1932 Bartók saw many of these pieces within the context of Doflein’s five-volume progressive ‘violin school’. These pieces arose through a request from the German violin pedagogue Erich Doflein for permission to set some of Bartók’s For Children pieces in Doflein’s Geigenschulwerk. including seven which eventually found their way into the first volume. and nearly half of the sixth volume. graded from very easy to recital standard. During the summer of 1932 he composed some 35 pieces. When his young son. Serbian.145). Péter. after which Bartók produced only occasional items until a second phase of intense activity in 1937–9. coinciding with the worst years of the Depression. began piano lessons with his father in 1933. Bartók did not manage to complete other planned orchestrations of selected pieces from Out of Doors and Nine Little Piano Pieces. Ukrainian and ‘Arabic’. comprising the easiest pieces. of five of his piano pieces from 1908–11 in Magyar képek (‘Hungarian Sketches’) BB103 in 1931. which he later called Mikrokosmos (BB105).The Firebird and Petrushka. of nine of his Tizenöt magyar parasztdal (‘Fifteen Hungarian Peasant Songs’) BB79 as Magyar parasztdalok (‘Hungarian Peasant Songs’) BB107 in 1933. ranging in difficulty from ‘In Dorian Mode’ (no. Apart from this relatively mechanical work of arrangement. in 1933. the most difficult.

closed classification system for the melodies. for instance on the relative melodic versus rhythmic importance in categorization. rigorously critical and exact publication’ of Hungarian folk music. and even on how differentiated or normalized the ideal transcription should be. The Academy of Sciences’ project was based upon a proposal which Bartók and Kodály had originally made to the Kisfaludy Society in 1913 for a ‘complete. The draft of another study. By 1940 he had succeeded in refining a complex. 1976). it was neither Bartók’s nor Kodály’s ‘system’ of classification which would ultimately prevail.000 by the time Bartók closed the collection in 1938. in conjunction with Kodály. NJ. posthumously published as Turkish Folk Music from Asia Minor (Princeton. failed attempt at self-publication in 1940. Bartók’s transfer to the Academy of Sciences gave him greater flexibility in engaging his interests in other folk musics. The first volume of the re-assembled Bartók system only appeared in 1991. yet he had managed neither to draft a justificatory introduction nor to address important editorial questions. The irregular Bulgarian rhythms and metres. as part of his assignment to advise the Turkish authorities on the collecting of national folksong and other educational questions.000 in 1913. resulted from Bartók’s fieldwork in Anatolia during 1936. he led a small team of folk-music researchers in an omnibus Hungarian folk-music project. (Over the years of their acquaintance Bartók and Kodály had come to differ on many fundamental questions on music. Within weeks of Dohnányi being appointed director of the Budapest Academy of Music Bartók received permission to transfer to the Academy of Sciences. his classification system had diverged considerably from that which Kodály had understood would be used.6. estimated at nearly 6. where for the following six years. and his team had transcribed or revised existing transcriptions of the tunes. Of these about one fifth had been collected by Bartók himself.) Although both Bartók and Kodály are recognized as the general editors of the Academy’s A magyar népzene tára series. Bartók was overjoyed at the release from institutional teaching. but rather a principally genrebased one to which Pál Járdányi was a principal contributor. the first volume of which appeared in 1951. He also further indulged his passion for east European folk music. had grown to about 14. which paid particular attention to rhythmic characteristics. leading to an expensive. although he still maintained a small number of private piano pupils to supplement his income. The number of items. 1934–40. More seriously. He made final revisions to his Slovak study in 1935–6 and continued to work on his Romanian collections. in which he paid particular attention to south Slavic and Bulgarian musics. awareness of which had caused him considerably to revise his notations of Romanian folk music . In the summer of 1934 Bartók achieved a professional goal he had desired for over two decades: a full-time position as an ethnomusicologist.

As a soloist during these years Bartók highlighted his Piano Concerto no. vocal and piano music. which was gaining a considerably better press than no. Accordingly. From this Bartók further developed a structural (that is. Apart from an arrangement for piano of several of the Forty-four Duos. he produced masterpieces in each of his major genres: chamber. orchestral. The few works of his final American years are. came to exert an important force upon his own compositions. Their concert début took place on 16 January 1938. and also to lack of opportunities for Bartók in Nazi Germany. Since 1933 German radio stations had not offered him engagements. all pieces of this period are original compositions.in the early 1930s. Their homogeneity of style is unparalleled in Bartók’s output. notwithstanding the slide towards war. as the two pianists in the première of Bartók’s Sonata for two pianos and percussion. Ditta.1. By this he meant a kind of chromaticism which draws its elements from strands of different modes based upon a single fundamental note. the Low Countries and Italy. despite their concert popularity. after two years of negotiations to arrange an orchestral performance in Berlin. nearly all written to commission. Technically. The years 1934–40 constituted. although he also developed some new touring circuits in Switzerland. he finally in mid-1937 decided no longer to seek engagements in Germany. to increasing tensions with Romania. and he developed but did not follow through plans to visit Bulgaria in 1935 to pursue these interests. Over the following five years she was his frequent stage companion. in the final years of the 1930s he performed more in Hungary. Lydian-Phrygian polymodal construction.5 shows a typical. and reflects the full flowering of that Bachian aesthetic to which he had been gravitating since 1926. the pinnacle of Bartók the composer. due to the widespread popularity of ‘home preference’ schemes to assist local artists. Engagements abroad were often hard to secure. nonembellishing) type of ‘melodic new chromaticism’ in which earlier modal . ex. They exhibit a greater distance from any models of Bartók’s contemporaries than do the works of preceding or following periods. As a pianist Bartók started to claw back engagements from the depressed levels of 1932–4. In his later Harvard lectures (1943) Bartók identified polymodal chromaticism as a main ingredient of his idiom. and are also less immediately reflective of his recent folk-music findings than hitherto. and also of his handling of variation. this achievement was partly the result of the advanced state of evolution of Bartók’s contrapuntal and chromatic writing. As a chamber player he forged an important new partnership. and during 1934–40 he performed approximately equally at home and abroad. where he gave his last European performances abroad in December 1939. entitled Petite suite (BB113). with his wife.2. probably best seen as compositional addenda to these powerfully integrated creative statements.

of which the twisting A-based fugal theme in the first movement of the Music for Strings. such as the second movement of the Violin Concerto ‘no. while the slow finale looks back to the grim ending of the Quartet no. which turns out to be an inverted. Percussion and Celesta is perhaps the most famous. The 12-note ‘row’ theme found in the outer movements of the Violin Concerto (BB117) of 1937–8 (Bartók’s second concerto for the instrument. Bartók originally intended to have a fast. has five movements arranged symmetrically around the central. In 1937 he declared to the Belgian scholar Denijs Dille that ‘I do not like to repeat a musical thought unchanged. Written to a commission from Elizabeth Sprague-Coolidge. but much more in his frequent writing of finales as variants of opening movements. even nostalgic. in this case a Scherzo and Trio in Bulgarian metres. though never numbered by the composer) is another instance of such chromaticism. third movement. to examples in a majority of the works of 1934–40. the Fifth (BB110) of 1934 and the Sixth (BB119) of 1939. Bartók’s variational play is seen nowhere better than in a banal ‘barrel-organ’ interlude near the end of the finale.2. like its predecessor.obligations are dispensed with. solo viola ritornello theme recalls the opening dirge of the First Quartet. as reported by Yehudi Menuhin. Bartók’s last two string quartets. Bartók ‘wanted to show Schoenberg that one can use all 12 tones and still remain tonal’. are four chamber works. his incessant variation (often involving inversion) of exposition material in recapitulations. It is not by chance that in over 30 statements of Bartók’s 12-note theme in the opening movement of the Violin Concerto no two statements are identical. Ex. the Sixth String Quartet is in four movements. By contrast. The extreme variety that characterizes our folk music is. That variational orientation is seen in Bartók’s very occasional theme-and-variation movements.5 Lydian-Phrygian polymodal chromaticism Bartók’s fascination with documenting the ever-changing variants of folk music had by the mid-to-late 1930s also become an ingrained aspect of his compositional strategy. The opening ‘Arabic’ melody in the Dance Suite was identified by Bartók as his first ‘new chromatic’ melody.2’. in his lectures. although each is of a very different construction. Its mesto. with which. diatonic relative of that movement’s opening chromatic theme. and I never repeat a detail unchanged …. dance-like finale. even though allegiance to one focal note is retained. a manifestation of my own nature’. and stylistically retrospective. but the brooding ritornello came so to grow through . at the same time. and his bar-by-bar evolving variation of thematic and motivic materials. while he also referred. the Fifth. Most representative of the 1934–40 period. frame the period’s output.

Formal and pitch symmetries are plentiful. The piece shows great originality at all levels of its construction and seamlessly integrates the broadest range of Bartók’s folk-music and art-music sources. Bartók. ‘acoustic’ scale forms of the finale. commissioned by Benny Goodman as a light two-movement piece of about six minutes’ duration. and even the blade of a pocket-knife. exceeded both duration and movement expectations by producing a three-movement work which lasts some 15 minutes. Within the original slow–fast rhapsodic frame. and GOLDEN NUMBER). the only one to involve a wind instrument. his only chamber work to involve percussion. had then been rejected under the sway of peasant music. and in 1938 Contrasts BB116. Although Bartók appears not to have known about such proportions. however. moves from a ‘closed’. he inserted a ‘Relaxation’ movement in which the slowly moving clarinet and violin simultaneously mirror each other’s lines. the larger and smaller sections of these two works were early identified to have an uncanny sense of proportion. The three orchestral works which Bartók had written since 1926 which used piano and percussion had convinced him that one piano could not provide sufficient balance to the sharp sounds of the percussion section – hence the Sonata’s instrumentation. in 1937 the Sonata for two pianos and percussion BB115. complexity and instrumental involvement – that it eventually consumed the entire role of finale. but had slowly been re-emerging since the violin rhapsodies of the late 1920s. Bartók demanded intricate coordination from the two percussionists (although six were used in one early Italian performance).the work – in duration. the forward . as in the A–C–F –A tonal pattern of the four movements. with each movement to fit on one record side. Altogether different in form and intention was Bartók’s Contrasts. Between these two quartets Bartók composed two chamber works for very different ensembles. it is undeniable that a fine sense of proportion and of chromatic– diatonic balance was articulated in these two works. twisting opening chromaticism to the open. The threemovement structure. not just in the virtuoso playing of their seven instruments but also in achieving subtle distinctions of sound quality through using different wooden or metal beaters. Moreover. written for Paul Sacher and the Basle Chamber Orchestra during the summer of 1936. The most significant of his chamber-orchestral works of the period is Music for Strings. In Contrasts Bartók formally acknowledged with the first movement’s title ‘Verbunkos’ the resurrection of that kind of stylized national dance which had characterized some of his earliest works. and many of Lendvai’s calculations have since been discredited. Percussion and Celesta. as with the immediately preceding Music for Strings. Percussion and Celesta BB114. which the Hungarian analyst Ernő Lendvai from the late 1940s onwards claimed as manifestations of golden section principles (See FIBONACCI SERIES.

where. which is a virtual catalogue of his techniques. However. movt 1. written to a commission from Zoltán Székely. A verbunkos character is again present in the concerto’s opening. in 1943. a calmo. the ending was reworked to give a more expansive peroration in which the solo violin continues playing to the end. the Twenty-Seven Twoand Three-part Choruses BB111 for children’s and women’s choruses. who had requested a traditional concerto. when he finally heard the work performed. 1–4 and movt 4. Less technically demanding and profound.6 Music for Strings. he confided: ‘so I managed to outwit you. and the ABCBA ‘bridge’ form of the third-movement Adagio.6). Bartók was nervous about the balance between soloist and orchestra. for instance. which Bartók described as a cross between a concerto grosso and a concertino. he was delighted that ‘nothing had to be changed’. The concerto is probably Bartók’s most diverse study in variation. but even more in keeping with Bartók’s Baroque aesthetic is the Divertimento BB118 of 1939. Even within the first movement. with a particularly poignant example in the finale. As in several of Bartók’s later compositions. A sense of monothematicism is achieved through the reintroduction of the opening movement’s chromatic fugue theme in each succeeding movement: as a contour model for the second’s main subject. reveals itself to be a literal quotation of the movement’s opening pizzicato bass line. and Elmúlt . following the model of his Fifth Quartet. with its suggestion of Transylvanian fiddlers. thematic interrelationships and textural transformations are most ingenious: the placid solo violin melody in the development section. I wrote variations after all’. as the cement between each block of the third’s bridge form. During 1935–6 Bartók composed his last choral pieces.and reverse cycles of 5ths of the opening fugue. rhythmically uniform version of the movement’s snappy opening theme momentarily halts the concluding rush.2’. 203–8 The only work for full orchestra during the latter 1930s is the three-movement Violin Concerto ‘no. Ex. Not having written a violin concerto in three decades and never having heard a full performance of the earlier one. and. as a grand ‘acoustic’ transformation at the culmination of the finale. not just in the theme and variations of the second movement. but also in the way in which the third movement is derived entirely from first-movement material. using scalar expansion (ex. Percussion and Celesta: chromatic and ‘acoustic’ scalar bases. or in the everchanging forms of his 12-note theme in the outer movements. also composed for Sacher. Bartók’s variation of materials is constant. To Székely.

From his vantage point as a committee member of the League of Nations. At the same time as Bartók was writing this string of masterworks. including five of the ‘Six Dances in Bulgarian Rhythm’. and also the 33 exercises. He added some 50 further pieces in the following two years. Bartók was acutely distressed at Germany’s dismemberment of Czechoslovakia in 1938–9. either through ‘centuriesold folk music’ or through such typical devices of older art music as canon and imitation. He had included a second piano part in four pieces. and another four pieces were songs (‘All instrumental study or training should really commence with the student singing’). mainly more advanced pieces. the longer male chorus songs with the joys and sorrows of peasant life. such as Bach and Czerny. these brought what became the sixth volume almost to completion. should be added. the victim of other nationalist tensions.időkből (‘From Olden Times’) BB112. Both works present Bartók’s own fashionings of folk texts. later wrote that Bartók’s recent studies of Palestrina might have been a source of inspiration for the heightened polyphonic plasticity and imitational resourcefulness found in these pieces. In a letter to Boosey & Hawkes of 13 February 1940. he explained that he saw Mikrokosmos as a bridge leading from his own 20th-century shore to an older one. Boosey & Hawkes. His ethnomusicological work was still occasionally attacked by nationalists in both Hungary and Romania. Already on 9 February 1937 he had given the public première of 27 of them at an ISCM concert in London. but rather a base to which works by other composers. the short choruses dealing with the domestic world of childhood and adolescence. Bartók was a direct witness to the deterioration in human rights and growing nationalistic intolerance which swept so many parts of Europe during the 1930s. for whose growing choral movement the Twenty-Seven Choruses were written. and he continued to unveil such selections in following years. Despite the quality of Bartók’s writing these two works have not gained the level of international attention accorded to Bartók’s late instrumental works. including much of the first volume. During 1937 he composed ten. in November 1939. Ten other pieces were recommended for playing on the harpsichord. his collection of Mikrokosmos piano pieces continued to grow. and the publication of his Slovak collection was finally ruled out in early 1939. With the completion of both Mikrokosmos and the Sixth String Quartet in November 1939 Bartók entered his longest compositionally unproductive period. In the preface which Bartók sent with the completed collection of 153 pieces to his new publisher. to encourage early ensemble playing. Kodály. he drew attention to the versatility of the series. partly because of their educational associations and partly because of the intractably Hungarian nature of their prosody. Bartók stressed that his collection did not present a complete ‘progressive method’. which lasted until 1943. but it was . three songs for male chorus.

Florida. Milman Parry. . and only on her death in December 1939 did he feel morally free to leave. His worries about when Hungary. which required daily hydrotherapy. His confidence in a move of indefinite duration was immeasurably strengthened when he came to know of a large collection of SerboCroat field recordings undertaken by a Harvard professor. were compounded by persistent pains in Bartók’s right shoulder. and then. Bartók’s then publisher. and in April 1938 to start their despatch. Bureaucratic complications associated with indefinitely leaving Hungary before the pensionable age of 60. 1940–45. were merged with the corresponding German organizations. was rapidly Nazified. Despite the precarious times – with the period of ‘phoney war’ drawing to a close – Bartók undertook a successful concert tour of the USA during April–May 1940. Universal. via London. However. in 1933–5. might succumb to Nazi domination caused him in late 1937 to start thinking about a safe haven for his more valuable manuscripts. when he would also become exempt from military service. before deciding that the USA was the most desirable personal refuge. These pains were later interpreted as the first signs of his eventually fatal blood disorders. and his associate.Germany’s annexation of Austria in March 1938 which had the most immediate effect upon him. and his main royalty agencies. 7. Back in Budapest by late May of 1940. first to Switzerland. A final orchestral concert for both husband and wife was held at the Budapest Academy of Music on 8 October 1940. Bartók started to plan for his permanent return to the USA with his wife in October 1940. Lord. Bartók quickly sought to secure publication through Boosey & Hawkes. Albert B. In 1988 they entered the private collection of Péter Bartók in Homosassa. Noteworthy were a sonata recital with Szigeti at the Library of Congress in Washington and a Columbia recording session of Contrasts in New York with Szigeti and Goodman. too. and to join the British PRS. via Lisbon. travel and currency difficulties. AKM and Austromechana. to the United States. where they later became the basis of the New York Bartók Archives. During the first half of 1939 Bartók seriously investigated the possibility of emigrating to Turkey. I cannot do that!’. on 13 April 1938 Bartók had written ‘I have my mother here: shall I abandon her altogether in her last years? – No. as well as visa. before they travelled to New York.

working on Parry’s Serbo-Croatian collection. finances. which took until late 1944. 1951). Another Dalmatian effect. 9– 10Bartók lived in the USA for the remainder of his life. Seattle. but never taken up. which was on loan from Harvard. During his American years he declined several offers of composition-teaching positions. Twice during 1941 he ventured on tours across the continent. Moreover. and of Romanian folk texts. which was finished in late 1943. That work eventually resulted in the volume Serbo-Croatian Folk Songs (New York. to be available ‘to those few persons (very few indeed) who may be interested in them’. His last solo . Bartók deposited them in the music library at Columbia. He also revised and polished his Turkish volume. Menuetto. In November 1940 Columbia University awarded him an honorary doctorate. Without prospect of publication for either. Probably Bartók’s greatest discovery among this Serbo-Croat material lay with Dalmatian chromatic folk tunes. There he came upon a form of melodic chromaticism very similar to the ‘new chromaticism’ found in his own compositions since the Dance Suite. for work on Amerindian music. which Bartók later compositionally imitated. involved the playing or singing of chromatic tunes in two parallel parts. which were essentially complete by December 1942. of which Bartók completed the musical parts and Lord the textual.Ex. Bartók settled into the familiar routine of regular ethnomusicological work and occasional concert tours. passports and their temporarily mislaid Hungarian luggage. although he did privately teach a few students piano or composition. A further ethnomusicological appointment.4 Nine Little Piano Pieces. with the couple’s early two-piano concerts gaining less than enthusiastic receptions and insecurities over accommodation. he found that his compositional technique of melodic transformation through expansion or contraction of scalar intervals (exx. was periodically offered by the University of Washington. and during 1941–2 he held a research appointment there. separated by intervals such as major 2nds or minor 7ths. 3–4.4 and 6) occurred naturally among the Dalmatians. presenting numerous solo or two-piano recitals in universities or colleges. These Romanian volumes were published in 1967. More prestigious engagements were few. The ‘magnificent possibilities’ to which Bartók’s New York agent had made reference in 1940 soon turned out to be illusory. Mainly in his private time. After the trials of the first few months. Bartók also worked on the final forms of his volumes of Romanian instrumental and vocal melodies. the Turkish in 1976. Their chromatic melodies were none other than compressed diatonic melodies of surrounding areas.

For the following three summers recovery took him to Saranac Lake in New York State. for a variety of health and logistical reasons no further public performances followed. with its parody of a tune from Shostakovich’s . The various folk-music and art-music components of its style are also less integrated than in his music of the 1930s. The orchestral version of the Sonata was made in 1940 and the arrangement of his Second Suite. Probably drawing on some of his fleeting ideas from 1942. There his duties were to present one recital and two lecture series on recent Hungarian music. The American Society of Composers. was the jesting ‘game of pairs’ second movement. But he did not engage in any original composition until the spring of 1942. As a composer. It was while on these rest cures away from New York that Bartók’s final compositions were written. Bartók started in August 1943 to draft the work in five movements. his American output was initially meagre. and though in January 1945 he played for a New Jersey radio broadcast. In a programme note Bartók depicted the work’s mood as gradually progressing from the ‘sternness of the first movement and the lugubrious death-song of the third. Authors and Publishers (ASCAP). is uncharacteristically cheeky in mood. From April 1942. principally his own and that of Kodály. and his last public appearances were with his wife on 21 and 22 January 1943. The exception to this progression. however. percussion and orchestra BB121. Although suffering more acutely. when some ideas emerged perhaps for a suggested concerto for ‘combinations of solo instruments and string orchestra’. Bartók decided to go ahead with a visiting appointment at Harvard for the spring semester of 1943. however. decided to underwrite the costs of his medical treatment and recuperation. While Bartók only managed to present three of the first series’ lectures and to draft a fourth. these Harvard lectures provide Bartók’s most candid and detailed explanation of his compositional techniques. with a tentative diagnosis of blood (polycythemia) and lung (tuberculosis) disorders. and for the 1943–4 winter to a sanatorium in Asheville. of which Bartók was not a member. After January 1943 Bartók did still seek performing engagements. when Reiner conducted the American première of his Concerto for two pianos. The Concerto for Orchestra BB123 was commissioned by the Koussevitzky Music Foundation in May 1943. too. to the life-assertion of the last one’. ‘Intermezzo interrotto’. in 1941. and on folksong and ethnomusicological procedure. chronic illness intervened and Bartók put this work aside. than Bartók’s other recent five-movement compositions. The fourth movement.4b BB122. as the Suite for Two Pianos op. He was then hospitalized. as Bartók noted.concerto performances took place in Chicago on 20 and 21 November 1941. in which he imitated the two-part parallel Dalmatian style found in Parry’s collection. an arrangement of the Sonata for two pianos and percussion. North Carolina. less overtly symmetrical.

On Menuhin’s suggestion of a commission. Bartók’s new accessibility betrayed his longer-term creative directions became a frequent point of debate after his death. only Bartók’s semitonal alternatives were included in Menuhin’s posthumous edition of the work. least be accused of stylistic compromise. an ambitious four-voiced fugue whose chromatic subject is characterized by competing major and minor 3rds. During the summer of 1944 ethnomusicological demands largely took over from composition. The Presto finale is significant in introducing long passages of quarter-tone writing. Szep vagy. a boisterous roll-call of some of Bartók’s favourite folk styles. Another strong. During October 1943 Bartók heard excellent multiple performances of his Violin Concerto (‘no. The life-asserting finale is. if with limited success.then-popular Seventh Symphony. While writing the sonata Bartók’s health again declined. to combine aspects of sonata form with the loose ‘chain’ forms which Bartók had invoked in the second and third movements. however. in particular that of Bluebeard’s Castle. It attempts. Of his four major American works this astringent sonata could. nostalgic influence upon the first and third movements is Bartók’s own style from the 1908–11 period. Hungary’) by Zsigmond Vincze. and also in the second movement. although Bartók was soon persuaded to write a second. including penicillin. and nostalgic quotation of a popular song. less abrupt ending to the finale. although through the use of blood transfusions and drugs.2’) in the hands of Tossy Spivakovsky. you are beautiful. and in November inspired performances of his First Violin Sonata from Menuhin. Its use of Baroque imitative techniques is sustained in the first movement. even to the extent of wanting to make new recordings of his own works. Whether. which Bartók had heard Menuhin perform. His financial circumstances. were now somewhat more secure. in particular Bach’s solo Sonata in C. and some reference to third-tones. however. a work of overt homage to Bach. gyönyörű vagy Magyarország (‘You are lovely. but Bartók also regained his enthusiasm for performance. and led to several offers of commissions during the first half of 1945. However. which had been particularly exacerbated since 1941 because of double taxation on his Britishderived royalty income. . The first definite signs of leukaemia were detected in the spring of 1944. the Concerto for Orchestra proved immediately attractive to the American public. The successful premières of his first two American works within a week in late 1944 further reinforced his confidence. Bartók’s condition was able to be held reasonably stable until the late summer of 1945. or how much. marked Tempo di ciaccona. First performed in Boston on 1 December 1944. Bartók had by 14 March 1944 written the four-movement Sonata for solo violin BB124.

During his final weeks he managed to complete the Third Piano Concerto. with . either for viola or cello. A Hungarian diaspora of conductors (Reiner. intended for his wife to perform. The second movement. for instance. Within Hungary itself. gained increasing access to mainstream concerts. he wanted something texturally lighter and is reported to have examined Grieg’s concerto as one possible model for this new lucidity. Bartók narrowly missed the wave of popularity which greeted his music in the first postwar decade. Bartók’s compositions were during the late 1940s and early 1950s subjected to investigation for their socialist-realist qualities. begins with an extended imitation of Beethoven’s ‘Heiliger Dankgesang’ (from the String Quartet in A minor op. the solo part suggesting a work of comparable lucidity and harmonic restraint to the piano concerto. particularly the orchestral and chamber music. Bartók died in New York on 26 September 1945. commissioned by William Primrose. consequently. Dying within weeks of the end of World War II. in tandem with the Viola Concerto BB128. violinists (Székely.and nature-derived inspirations in the work are relatively undisguised. Bartók’s folk-. While in Saranac during July–August 1945 he worked intensively on the Third Piano Concerto BB127. Doráti). Menuhin and Primrose). Legacy. Szigeti) and pianists (Kentner. Sándor) energetically spread his music around the world. which his colleague Tibor Serly quickly accomplished. In the Third.132). except for the scoring of the final 17 bars. In early August 1945 Bartók had written to Primrose about his concept of a four-movement work with joining ritornello passages. non-ritornello passages. however. which was published in 1950 shortly after the première. The idea of a new piano concerto grew from Bartók’s realization that his wife could not master some of the more challenging sections of his previous one. 8. His later works. but the evidence of the manuscript suggests only three movements with interconnecting. but with incomplete and less conclusive detail about instrumentation. Two of the viola versions have ‘authorized’ status: that undertaken by Tibor Serly with additional input by Primrose. only remained in sketch.Bartók’s final two substantial compositions were both concertos. His Viola Concerto. as did recent commissioners of his works (Sacher. art. ‘Night Music’ section makes explicit reference to the call of the rufous-sided towhee bird. which Bartók had noted down while in North Carolina. Koussevitzky. after a month-long relapse in health. and a ‘revised version’ of 1995 prepared by Péter Bartók and Nelson Dellamaggiore. while its middle. texture and even the final form. Since 1945 several attempts have been made to complete the concerto. sometimes to the chagrin of the postwar avant garde.

for broader musical education were Bartók’s publications: the many. and of a narrow band of formal and folksong models) as in the human and professional ideals which he offered. especially in their earlier years. The composer most directly influenced by Bartók. Always averse to teaching composition. Ernő Balogh. as well as the Bartók-Reschofsky Piano Method. lighter piano works. György Kroó (in Ránki. So closely did the two collaborate. modernist works written in an abstract language’. That legacy lies. in Hungary and America. but. Ginastera. the first two piano concertos. and disapproval to what one Hungarian critic called ‘formalist. Britten. that the extent of their interdependence cannot be fully known. the conductor Georg Solti. such as The Miraculous Mandarin. Lutosławski. Lasting into the 1980s. For a naturally reluctant teacher Bartók left a surprisingly powerful pedagogic legacy. B1987) has noted that Bartók provided a powerful model particularly for composers emerging between the late 1950s and mid-1970s. Copland and Crumb. the pianists Lajos Heimlich (Hernádi). however.approval being accorded to his folksong settings. Among Hungarians. his compositions for young pianists (For Children. by different wills. as Hungarian music sought to throw off its postwar isolation and to reestablish a pan-European significance. was undoubtedly Kodály. Bartók did not leave behind any loyal ‘school’. and such orchestral works as the Dance Suite. Leading composers of following generations on whose works Bartók exerted some measure of direct influence include Messiaen. the ethnomusicologist Jenő Deutsch. Bartók’s influence upon other composers certainly lacked the intensity and dogmatic hold of Schoenberg. Mikrokosmos). or the widespread impact of the neo-classical Stravinsky. and. who included the conductor Fritz Reiner. and Bartók in turn by him. and resulted in retarded dissemination of many important primary-source materials as well as distinctly different research traditions and repertory focusses. a complex dispute arose concerning the estates which Bartók had left. however. this dispute perpetuated a ‘cold war’ attitude of musical and scholarly non-cooperation between the two countries of his residence. the Fourth String Quartet and the Cantata profana. to a minor extent. The excesses of this phase passed with the early 1950s. Ditta Pásztory and Andor Földes. In the 1950s. and by the mid-1950s Bartók’s works were in official favour with the communist authorities. however. More significant. just as his life was now interpreted as a socialist symbol of resistance both to European fascists and to American capitalists. in the students of his Academy and private piano lessons. not so much in terms of specific techniques (although there had since 1945 been much superficial imitation of his distinctive string and percussion sounds. above all. briefly. violinists (Forty-four Duos) and singers (Twenty-seven Choruses . early instructive editions of piano ‘classics’ and studies which he produced between 1907 and the mid-1920s.

motorism: Bartók has passionately lived through all these revolutions and reshaped. for his own use. The ethnomusicological legacy of Bartók has been varied. His approach to art-music sources was similarly transformational. the collection of gramophone. As a performer. Bartók’s personal legacy was not great. What contemporaries such as Schoenberg or Stravinsky could not well appreciate was that Bartók’s folk-music studies provided him with a limitless arsenal for creative transformation. polytonality. . however. tempo fluctuations and occasional deviations from the published scores. Within Hungary his ethnomusicological legacy is perpetuated in the Academy of Sciences’ long-term projects for a complete edition of Hungarian folk music and a complete collection of Bartók’s own systematization of Hungarian folksong. Within the international history of that discipline. as it were. These performances. dating from his last quarter-century. remind presentday interpreters of the essentially Romantic underpinning to Bartók’s performing art. both of which remain substantially unpublished. atonality. Had he lived to complete his envisaged comparative study of eastern European folk musics his international significance might well have been more profound. at the height of his maturity. With his dour personality and diffident platform manners he did not manage to thrill the great public. his stature is more that of a precursor than of a seminal figure. with their wealth of tonal shadings. with his own rich resources. as an early proponent of transcriptional exactitude rather than as a founder of enduring disciplinary principles.and many simpler folksong arrangements). E1949). within the Hungarian context he was overshadowed by his better-known contemporary Ernő Dohnányi. nonetheless. An outstanding corner of his pianistic legacy is. That Bartók produced the most significant of these works in the 1930s. It was exactly those ethnomusicological fascinations with musical detail and subtle observations of variant forms (which have led to periodic accusations from latter-day ethnomusicologists that he was not ‘seeing the wood for the trees’) which fed his greatest creative strengths. piano-roll and live recordings. undoubtedly lies in his own compositions. all systems’ (in Moreux. attests to the importance which he placed on educating a new generation in contemporary styles. His significance outside Hungary is now largely historic. The greatest legacy of Bartók’s folk-music studies. as his Romanian colleague Constantin Brăiloiu once observed: ‘Impressionism.

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