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Bela Bartok

Bela Bartok

Born: 1881 Died: 1945

Bela Viktor Janos Bartok was a Hungarian composer, pianist and collector of Eastern European and Middle Eastern folk music. Bartok is considered one of the greatest composers of the 20th century. He was one of the founders of the field of ethnomusicology, the study and ethnography of folk music.

Bela Bartok began lessons with his mother, who brought up the family after his father's death in 1888. In 1894 they settled in Bratislava, where he attended the Gymnasium (Dohnanyi was an elder schoolfellow), studied the piano with Laszlo Erkel and Anton Hyrtl, and composed sonatas and quartets. In 1898 he was accepted by the Vienna Conservatory, but following Dohnanyi he went to the Budapest Academy (1899-1903), where he studied the piano with Franz Liszt's pupil Istvan Thoman and composition with Janos Koessler. There he deepened his acquaintance with Wagner, though it was the music of Strauss, which he met at the Budapest premiere of Also sprach Zarathustra in 1902, that had most influence. He wrote a symphonic poem, Kossuth (1903), using Strauss's methods with Hungarian elements in F. Liszt's manner.

In 1904 Kossuth was performed in Budapest and Manchester; at the same time Bela Bartok began to make a career as a pianist, writing a Piano Quintet and two Lisztian virtuoso showpieces (Rhapsody Op. 1, Scherzo Op. 2). Also in 1904 he made his first Hungarian folksong transcription. In 1905 he collected more songs and began his collaboration with Zoltan Kodaly: their first arrangements were published in 1906. The next year he was appointed Thoman's successor at the Budapest Academy, which enabled him to settle in Hungary and continue his folksong collecting, notably in Transylvania. Meanwhile his music was beginning to be influenced by this activity and by the music of Debussy that Z. Kodaly had brought back from Paris: both opened the way to new, modal kinds of harmony and irregular metre. The 1908 Violin Concerto is still within the symphonic tradition, but the many small piano pieces of this period show a new, authentically Hungarian Bartok emerging, with the 4ths of Magyar folksong, the rhythms of peasant dance and the scales he had discovered among Hungarian, Romanian and Slovak peoples. The arrival of this new voice is documented in his String Quartet No. 1 (1908), introduced at a Budapest concert of his music in 1910.

There followed orchestral pieces and a one-act opera, Bluebeard's Castle, dedicated to his young wife. Influenced by Mussorgsky and Debussy but most directly by Hungarian peasant music (and Strauss, still, in its orchestral pictures), the work, a grim fable of human isolation, failed to win the competition in which it was entered. For two years (1912-1914) Bartok practically gave up composition and devoted himself to the collection, arrangement and study of folk music, until World War I put an end to his expeditions. He returned to creative activity with the String Quartet No. 2 (1917) and the fairytale ballet The Wooden Prince, whose production in Budapest in 1917 restored him to public favour. The next year Bluebeard's Castle was staged and he began a second ballet, The Miraculous Mandarin, which was not performed until 1926 (there were problems over the subject, the thwarting and consummation of sexual passion). Rich and graphic in invention, the score is practically an opera without words.

While composing The Mandarin Bela Bartok came under the influence of Igor Stravinsky and Arnold Schoenberg, and produced some of his most complex music in the two violin sonatas of 1921-1922. At the same time he was gaining international esteem: his works were published by Universal Edition and he was invited to play them all over Europe. He was now well established, too, at home. He wrote the confident Dance Suite (1923) for a concert marking the 50th anniversary of Budapest, though there was then another lull in his composing activity until the sudden rush of works in 1926 designed for himself to play, including the Piano Concerto No. 1, the Piano Sonata and the suite Out of Doors. These exploit the piano as a percussion instrument, using its resonances as well as its xylophonic hardness. The search for new sonorities and driving rhythms was continued in the next two string quartets (1927-1928), of which No. 4, like the concerto, is in a five-section palindromic pattem (ABCBA).

Similar formal schemes, with intensively worked counterpoint, were used in the Piano Concerto No. 2 (1931) and String Quartet No. 5 (1934), though now Bela Bartok's harmony was becoming more diatonic. The move from inward chromaticism to a glowing major (though modally tinged) tonality is basic to the Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta (1936) and the Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion (1937), both written for performance in Switzerland at a time when the political situation in Hungary was growing unsympathetic.

In 1940 Bela Bartok and his second wife (he had divorced and remarried in 1923) sadly left war-torn Europe to live in New York, which he found alien. They gave concerts and for a while he had a research grant to work on a collection of Yugoslav folksong, but their finances were precarious, as increasingly was his health. It seemed that his last European work the String Quartet No. 6 (1939), might be his pessimistic swansong, but then came the exuberant Concerto for Orchestra (1943) and the involuted Sonata for solo violin (1944). Piano Concerto No. 3, written to provide his widow with an income, was almost finished when he died, a Viola Concerto left in sketch.

Featured Items (See Related Items.)

Displaying 1-7 of 7 items.


Bela Bartok : Four Hungarian Folk Songs : SSA. : Sheet Music : Bela Bartok

Bela Bartok : Four Hungarian Folk Songs

Review: "Many people think it is a comparatively easy task to write a composition on found folk tunes... This way of thinking is completely erroneous. To handle folk tunes is one of the most difficult tasks; equally difficult, if not more so, than to write a major original composition. If we keep in mind that borrowing a tune means being bound by its individual peculiarity, we shall understand one part of the difficulty. Another is created by the special character of folk tune. We must penetrate it, feel it, and bring out its sharp contours by the appropriate setting... It must be a work of inspiration just as much as any other composition." - Bela Bartok

Songlist: Mocking of Youth - from Four Women's Choruses, Spring, The Wooing of a Girl, Enchanting Song

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9270b | Sheet Music $9.95 | SSA. add item to cart Hungarian Choral Music


Bela Bartok : Hungarian & Slovak Folksongs : TTBB : Sheet Music : Bela Bartok

Bela Bartok : Hungarian & Slovak Folksongs

Review: Text in English, German and Hungarian.

Songlist: Four Old Hungarian Folksongs, Five Slovak Folksongs

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9246b | Sheet Music $6.50 | TTBB add item to cart Hungarian Choral Music


Bela Bartok : Choral Works for Children's and Female Choirs : Treble SSAA : 01 Songbook : Bela Bartok : 073999926989 : 50511050

Bela Bartok : Choral Works for Children's and Female Choirs

Review: A collection from the great Hungarian composer for upper voices. Twenty seven arrangements ranging from easy to difficult.

Songlist: Tavasz, Ne hagyj itt!, Joszag-igezo, Level az otthoniakhoz, Jatek, Leanynezo, Hejja, hejja, karahejja!, Ne menj el!, Van egy gyurum, karika, Senkim a vilagon, Ciposutes, Huszarnota, Resteknek notaja, Bolyongas, Leanycsufolo, Legenycsufolo, Mihalynapi koszonto, Leanykero, Keserves, Madardal, Csujogato, Banat, Ne lattalak volna, Elment a madarka, Parnas tancdal, Kanon, Isten veled!

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7366b | Songbook $16.95 | Treble SSAA add item to cart Eastern European Choral Arrangements


Bela Bartok : Five Slovak Folksongs : TTBB : 01 Songbook : Bela Bartok : 073999296020 : 48002799

Bela Bartok : Five Slovak Folksongs

Review: "Many people think it is a comparatively easy task to write a composition on found folk tunes... This way of thinking is completely erroneous. To handle folk tunes is one of the most difficult tasks; equally difficult, if not more so, than to write a major original composition. If we keep in mind that borrowing a tune means being bound by its individual peculiarity, we shall understand one part of the difficulty. Another is created by the special character of folk tune. We must penetrate it, feel it, and bring out its sharp contours by the appropriate setting... It must be a work of inspiration just as much as any other composition." - Bela Bartok. Includes English text.

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7367b | Songbook $4.50 | TTBB add item to cart Eastern European Choral Arrangements


Bela Bartok : Shepherd's Christmas Songs : SATB divisi : 01 Songbook : Bela Bartok : 073999885835 : 48002889

Bela Bartok : Shepherd's Christmas Songs

Review: Arranged for unaccompanied mixed voices by Paul Arma with English text by Eric Smith these pieces are from "Melodien der Rumanischen Colinda".

Songlist: Shepherd's Christmas Songs

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8063b | Songbook $5.95 | SATB divisi add item to cart World Music Arrangements


Bela Bartok : Six Songs for Children's Choruses : Treble : 01 Songbook : Bela Bartok : 073999371802 : 48002921

Bela Bartok : Six Songs for Children's Choruses

Review: The original version of these choruses was an a cappella version; later an orchestral accompaniment was added. The piano reduction of the latter has merely been added to the present edition for rehearsal purposes when preparing the choir for a performance with orchestra. it is the composer's intention that performances should talk place either a cappella or with orchestra, but not with piano.

Songlist: Hussar, Only Tell Me, Loafer, Bread Baking, Don't Leave Me!, Teasing Song

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9075b | Songbook $9.95 | Treble add item to cart Hungarian Choral Music


Cantemus Children's Choir : Bartok Choral Works : SATB : 00 SACD : Bela Bartok : 32523

Cantemus Children's Choir : Bartok Choral Works

Review: Bartok's two- and three-part choruses for children's and female voices, his best-known choral cycle worldwide, appears at first sight to be distinct from the rest of his oeuvre. It is a textually inspired composition, whose arrival might seem unexpected in the period when he composed large instrumental works in the consolidated classical style, such as the String Quartet No. 5 (1934), the Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta (1936), and the Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion (1937). Yet it sits easily in relation to his oeuvre as a whole.

Songlist: Tavasz, Ne Hagyj Itt, Joszag-igezo, Level az Otthoniakhoz, Jatek, Leanynezo, Hejja, Hejja, Karahejja, Ne Menj El, Van Egy Gyurum, Karica, Senkim a Vilagon, Ciposutes, Huszarnota, Resteknek Notaja, Bolyongas, Lanycsufolo, Legenycsufolo, Mihalynapi Koszonto, Leanykero, Keserves, Madardal, Csujogato, Banat, Ne Lattalak Volna!, Elment a Madarka, Parnas Tancdal, Kanon, Isten Veled!

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9057c | SACD $17.25 | SATB add item to cart Mixed Childrens Choirs

Related Items ( See Featured Items )

Displaying 1-45 of 45 items.

Song NameArrangerComposerArtistItem TitleFormatTrax
BanatBela BartokBela BartokChoral Works for Children's and Female ChoirsSongbookMORE DETAILS 
BolyongasBela BartokBela BartokChoral Works for Children's and Female ChoirsSongbookMORE DETAILS 
Bread BakingBela BartokBela BartokSix Songs for Children's ChorusesSongbookMORE DETAILS 
CiposutesBela BartokBela BartokChoral Works for Children's and Female ChoirsSongbookMORE DETAILS 
CsujogatoBela BartokBela BartokChoral Works for Children's and Female ChoirsSongbookMORE DETAILS 
Don't Leave MeBela BartokNew Orleans Children's ChorusLooking Back and Looking Up 2 CDsMORE DETAILS 
Don't Leave Me!Bela BartokBela BartokSix Songs for Children's ChorusesSongbookMORE DETAILS 
Elment a madarkaBela BartokBela BartokChoral Works for Children's and Female ChoirsSongbookMORE DETAILS 
Enchanting SongBela BartokBela BartokFour Hungarian Folk SongsSheet MusicMORE DETAILS 
Five Slovak FolksongsBela BartokBela BartokHungarian & Slovak FolksongsSheet MusicMORE DETAILS 
Four Old Hungarian FolksongsBela BartokBela BartokHungarian & Slovak FolksongsSheet MusicMORE DETAILS 
Four Old Hungarian SongsBela BartokOrphei DrangarHighlights 1 CDMORE DETAILS 
Hejja, hejja, karahejja!Bela BartokBela BartokChoral Works for Children's and Female ChoirsSongbookMORE DETAILS 
HussarBela BartokBela BartokSix Songs for Children's ChorusesSongbookMORE DETAILS 
HuszarnotaBela BartokBela BartokChoral Works for Children's and Female ChoirsSongbookMORE DETAILS 
Isten veled!Bela BartokBela BartokChoral Works for Children's and Female ChoirsSongbookMORE DETAILS 
JatekBela BartokBela BartokChoral Works for Children's and Female ChoirsSongbookMORE DETAILS 
Joszag-igezoBela BartokBela BartokChoral Works for Children's and Female ChoirsSongbookMORE DETAILS 
KanonBela BartokBela BartokChoral Works for Children's and Female ChoirsSongbookMORE DETAILS 
KeservesBela BartokBela BartokChoral Works for Children's and Female ChoirsSongbookMORE DETAILS 
LeanycsufoloBela BartokBela BartokChoral Works for Children's and Female ChoirsSongbookMORE DETAILS 
LeanykeroBela BartokBela BartokChoral Works for Children's and Female ChoirsSongbookMORE DETAILS 
LeanynezoBela BartokBela BartokChoral Works for Children's and Female ChoirsSongbookMORE DETAILS 
LegenycsufoloBela BartokBela BartokChoral Works for Children's and Female ChoirsSongbookMORE DETAILS 
Level az otthoniakhozBela BartokBela BartokChoral Works for Children's and Female ChoirsSongbookMORE DETAILS 
LoaferBela BartokBela BartokSix Songs for Children's ChorusesSongbookMORE DETAILS 
MadardalBela BartokBela BartokChoral Works for Children's and Female ChoirsSongbookMORE DETAILS 
Mihalynapi koszontoBela BartokBela BartokChoral Works for Children's and Female ChoirsSongbookMORE DETAILS 
Mocking of Youth - from Four Women's ChorusesBela BartokBela BartokFour Hungarian Folk SongsSheet MusicMORE DETAILS 
Ne hagyj itt!Bela BartokBela BartokChoral Works for Children's and Female ChoirsSongbookMORE DETAILS 
Ne lattalak volnaBela BartokBela BartokChoral Works for Children's and Female ChoirsSongbookMORE DETAILS 
Ne menj el!Bela BartokBela BartokChoral Works for Children's and Female ChoirsSongbookMORE DETAILS 
Only Tell MeBela BartokBela BartokSix Songs for Children's ChorusesSongbookMORE DETAILS 
Parnas tancdalBela BartokBela BartokChoral Works for Children's and Female ChoirsSongbookMORE DETAILS 
Part IBela BartokRobert Shaw/Atlanta SymphonyBarber/Bartok/Williams 1 CDMORE DETAILS 
Part IIBela BartokRobert Shaw/Atlanta SymphonyBarber/Bartok/Williams 1 CDMORE DETAILS 
Part IIIBela BartokRobert Shaw/Atlanta SymphonyBarber/Bartok/Williams 1 CDMORE DETAILS 
Resteknek notajaBela BartokBela BartokChoral Works for Children's and Female ChoirsSongbookMORE DETAILS 
Senkim a vilagonBela BartokBela BartokChoral Works for Children's and Female ChoirsSongbookMORE DETAILS 
Shepherd's Christmas SongsPaul ArmaBela BartokBela BartokShepherd's Christmas SongsSongbookMORE DETAILS 
SpringBela BartokBela BartokFour Hungarian Folk SongsSheet MusicMORE DETAILS 
TavaszBela BartokBela BartokChoral Works for Children's and Female ChoirsSongbookMORE DETAILS 
Teasing SongBela BartokBela BartokSix Songs for Children's ChorusesSongbookMORE DETAILS 
The Wooing of a GirlBela BartokBela BartokFour Hungarian Folk SongsSheet MusicMORE DETAILS 
Van egy gyurum, karikaBela BartokBela BartokChoral Works for Children's and Female ChoirsSongbookMORE DETAILS 


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