Béla Bartók Biography (BBC)
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
Béla Bartók Biography (Wikipedia)
Béla Viktor János Bartók (25 March 1881 – 26 September 1945) was a Hungarian composer, pianist, and ethnomusicologist. He is considered one of the most important composers of the 20th century; he and Franz Liszt are regarded as Hungary's greatest composers (Gillies 2001). Through his collection and analytical study of folk music, he was one of the founders of comparative musicology, which later became ethnomusicology.
- Bartók: Piano Concerto No 2 – excerpt (2017)https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p05fhh5v.jpghttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p05fhh5v.jpg2017-09-08T18:30:00.000ZUS conductor Karina Canellakis makes her Proms debut with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and fellow American Jeremy Denk in this excerpt from Bartók’s Piano Concerto no. 2.https://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p05fdv0q
Bartók: Piano Concerto No 2 – excerpt (2017)
- Proms interval talk: Bartók and Duke Bluebeard's Castlehttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p03ph31k.jpghttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p03ph31k.jpg2016-08-04T13:38:00.000ZIn an introduction to Bartók’s Duke Bluebeard’s Castle, musicologist Heather Wiebe discusses the story behind the music and the life and work of the Hungarian composer.https://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p043lsdw
Proms interval talk: Bartók and Duke Bluebeard's Castle
- Bartok: Duke Bluebeard’s Castle (extract)https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p03ntsz3.jpghttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p03ntsz3.jpg2016-04-18T11:00:00.000ZPreview of music performed at the BBC Promshttps://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p03nv1p5
Bartok: Duke Bluebeard’s Castle (extract)
- Bartok: Piano Concerto No 2https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p038qt83.jpghttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p038qt83.jpg2015-11-21T17:13:00.000ZBuilding a Library compares recordings of Bartok's Second Piano Concert and makes a recommendation.https://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p038qt85
Bartok: Piano Concerto No 2
- Composer of the Week: Bela Bartokhttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p02hq8mf.jpghttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p02hq8mf.jpg2015-01-30T13:00:00.000ZDonald Macleod explores the life and career of Hungarian composer Bela Bartokhttps://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p02hq92b
Composer of the Week: Bela Bartok
- Bartok: Music for Strings, Percussion and Celestahttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p02hl1ft.jpghttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p02hl1ft.jpg2015-01-24T16:07:00.000ZRob 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.https://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p02hl1h7
Bartok: Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta
- Concerto Grosso and Beyondhttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p01zvwjk.jpghttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p01zvwjk.jpg2014-05-27T16:57:00.000ZCharles Hazlewood explores the Concerto Grosso.https://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p01zvwpg
Concerto Grosso and Beyond
- Bartok: Music for Strings Percussion and Celestehttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p01vlsbf.jpghttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p01vlsbf.jpg2014-05-08T18:47:00.000ZThe Northern Sinfonia and conductor Thomas Zehetmair with a workshop on the popular piece.https://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p01yqw2g
Bartok: Music for Strings Percussion and Celeste
Béla Bartók Tracks
Past BBC Events
Proms 2018: Prom 47: Elgar, Prokofiev & Venables
Winter Proms 1935–6: Prom 08
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