- Clips (13)Latest ClipComposer of the Week: Bela Bartok
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- Composer of the Week: Bela Bartokhttp://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p02hq8mf.jpg2015-01-30T13:00:00ZDonald Macleod explores the life and career of Hungarian composer Bela Bartokhttp://www.bbc.co.uk/music/artists/fd14da1b-3c2d-4cc8-9ca6-fc8c62ce6988?clipfocus=p02hq92bSelected ClipSelected ClipAudio 1 hour 10 mins
Composer of the Week: Bela Bartok
- Bartok: Music for Strings, Percussion and Celestahttp://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p02hl1ft.jpg2015-01-24T16:07:00ZRob Cowan joins Andrew McGregor for a live edition of Building a Library comparing recordings of the Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta by Bela Bartok.http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/artists/fd14da1b-3c2d-4cc8-9ca6-fc8c62ce6988?clipfocus=p02hl1h7Selected ClipSelected ClipAudio 1 hour 5 mins
Bartok: Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta
- Bartok: Concerto for Orchestrahttp://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p01vzz5g.jpg2014-07-11T16:11:00ZIn this Proms Music Guide, Tom Service talks about Bartok's Concerto for Orchestrahttp://www.bbc.co.uk/music/artists/fd14da1b-3c2d-4cc8-9ca6-fc8c62ce6988?clipfocus=p022nrlzSelected ClipSelected ClipAudio 3 mins
Bartok: Concerto for Orchestra
- Bartok: Piano Concerto No. 2http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p01w01bg.jpg2014-07-11T16:02:00ZIn this Proms Music Guide, Tom Service talks about Bartok's second piano concerto.http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/artists/fd14da1b-3c2d-4cc8-9ca6-fc8c62ce6988?clipfocus=p022nr41Selected ClipSelected ClipAudio 3 mins
Bartok: Piano Concerto No. 2
- Bartok: Piano Concerto No. 3http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p01sxb1y.jpg2014-07-11T15:56:00ZIn this Proms Music Guide, Tom Service talks about Bartok's Piano Concerto No. 3.http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/artists/fd14da1b-3c2d-4cc8-9ca6-fc8c62ce6988?clipfocus=p022nq9bSelected ClipSelected ClipAudio 3 mins
Bartok: Piano Concerto No. 3
- Concerto Grosso and Beyondhttp://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p01zvwjk.jpg2014-05-27T16:57:00ZCharles Hazlewood explores the Concerto Grosso.http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/artists/fd14da1b-3c2d-4cc8-9ca6-fc8c62ce6988?clipfocus=p01zvwpgSelected ClipSelected ClipAudio 31 mins
Concerto Grosso and Beyond
- Bartok: Dance Suitehttp://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p01vlfpl.jpg2014-05-08T19:27:00ZCharles Hazlewood reveals how Bartok drew on folk traditions in shaping his Dance Suite.http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/artists/fd14da1b-3c2d-4cc8-9ca6-fc8c62ce6988?clipfocus=p01yqyrySelected ClipSelected ClipAudio 39 mins
Bartok: Dance Suite
- Bartok: Divertimentohttp://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p01vlr2z.jpg2014-05-08T19:17:00ZMartin Handley and the BBC SSO explore Bartok's Divertimento.http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/artists/fd14da1b-3c2d-4cc8-9ca6-fc8c62ce6988?clipfocus=p01yqy6vSelected ClipSelected ClipAudio 49 mins
- Bartok: Music for Strings Percussion and Celestehttp://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p01vlsbf.jpg2014-05-08T18:47:00ZThe Northern Sinfonia and conductor Thomas Zehetmair with a workshop on the popular piece.http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/artists/fd14da1b-3c2d-4cc8-9ca6-fc8c62ce6988?clipfocus=p01yqw2gSelected ClipSelected ClipAudio 53 mins
Bartok: Music for Strings Percussion and Celeste
- Bartok: String Quartet No. 2http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p01vltb1.jpg2014-05-08T18:03:00ZStephen Johnson and the Ebene Quartet probe Bela Bartok's second String Quartet.http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/artists/fd14da1b-3c2d-4cc8-9ca6-fc8c62ce6988?clipfocus=p01yqt9mSelected ClipSelected ClipAudio 33 mins
Bartok: String Quartet No. 2
- Bela Bartokhttp://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p01xys1x.jpg2014-04-25T12:17:00ZThe life and work of Hungarian composer and pianist Béla Bartókhttp://www.bbc.co.uk/music/artists/fd14da1b-3c2d-4cc8-9ca6-fc8c62ce6988?clipfocus=p01xys2sSelected ClipSelected ClipAudio 55 mins
- Bartok: Dance Suitehttp://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p01sxnv7.jpg2014-03-23T12:14:00ZRob Cowan provides a personal recommendation from recordings of Bartok's Dance Suitehttp://www.bbc.co.uk/music/artists/fd14da1b-3c2d-4cc8-9ca6-fc8c62ce6988?clipfocus=p01w3jlxSelected ClipSelected ClipAudio 46 mins
Bartok: Dance Suite
- Bartok: Concerto for orchestrahttp://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p01sxtxl.jpg2014-02-26T16:13:00ZRob Cowan provides a personal recommendation from the available recordings of Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra.http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/artists/fd14da1b-3c2d-4cc8-9ca6-fc8c62ce6988?clipfocus=p01sxv2ySelected ClipSelected ClipAudio 47 mins
Bartok: Concerto for orchestra
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Without doubt the greatest Hungarian composer of the 20th century, Bartók was also a formidably accomplished pianist and a renowned collector and arranger of folk song from Hungary and beyond. And, of course, he taught.
Bartók learnt the piano and began composing at a very young age. He went on to study at the Budapest Academy of Music but was slow in developing his own musical language. His most accomplished pre-Academy works show the influence of Brahms and Schumann; those of his student years betray the marks of Richard Strauss. The subject matter of the early symphonic poem Kossuth was already unmistakably Hungarian, but it wasn’t until 1904 that Bartók heard his first genuine Hungarian folk song. The deep acquaintance with his native folk music resonated in his own work. He had found his real musical identity and proved as much in a sequence of hugely accomplished scores: the First and Second String Quartets (1909 and 1914–17), the one-act opera Duke Bluebeard’s Castle (1911), and the ballets The Wooden Prince (1914–17) and The Miraculous Mandarin (1918–19).
His fame as both composer and pianist spread fast. Between 1926 and 1931 he wrote the first two of his three piano concertos as vehicles for his own playing. Typically, though, he resisted adopting the life of a touring composer-virtuoso. He continued with his folk-music studies and with developing his own musical language, exploring the nature of variation, the viability of symmetrical forms and a whole array of novel sounds in pieces such as the Third, Fourth and Fifth Quartets (1927, 1928, 1934), the Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta (1936) and the Sonata for two pianos and percussion (1937). His later music veers towards a more diatonic sound-world, though formal process and proportion always remained important issues.
Bartók fled to the USA in 1940. Although he found work lecturing and giving concerts, he failed to re-establish his reputation. Depression, financial worries and severe health problems followed. He died in New York on 26 September 1945 from leukaemia, leaving his Third Piano Concerto 17 bars short of completion and his Viola Concerto still in sketch form. Thanks to a far-sighted commission from the Koussevitzky Foundation, though, he had in 1943 completed his Concerto for Orchestra, a masterpiece that betrays no sign of the distress that this sensitive, reluctant émigré was suffering.
Profile by Stephen Pettitt © BBC