Bela Bartok

Bartók, Béla

Béla Bartók (bā´lə bär´tŏk, Hung. bā´lô bôr´tōk), 1881–1945, Hungarian composer and collector of folk music. He studied (1899–1903) and later taught piano at the Royal Academy, Budapest. In 1905 he and Zoltán Kodály began to collect folk music of Eastern Europe, and throughout his life Bartók devoted much attention to folk music of varied origin. As a composer he gained his first success with his mime play The Wooden Prince (1914–16). An opera, Duke Bluebeard's Castle (1911), and a ballet, The Miraculous Mandarin (1919), also gained notice. He became better known, however, for his compositions for piano, for violin, and for orchestra. Among his piano works are a set of progressive studies called Mikrokosmos (1926–39), three piano concertos (1929, 1931, 1945), and a sonata for two pianos and percussion (1927). Bartók's important orchestral works include Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta (1936) and Concerto for Orchestra (1943). Among his most important achievements are his six string quartets. Utilizing in varying degrees folk elements, atonality, and traditional techniques, Bartók achieved an original modern style, which has had a great influence on 20th-century music. In 1940 he emigrated to the United States and was commissioned by Columbia Univ. to transcribe a large collection of Yugoslav folk melodies. He spent his last years in poverty and neglect, but after his death his fame grew steadily. Among his studies of folk music that have been published in English are The Hungarian Folk Song (tr. 1931) and Serbo-Croatian Folk Songs (with A. B. Lord, 1951).

See his letters, ed. by J. Demeny (1971); biographies by H. Stevens (rev. ed. 1964), A. Fassett (1958, repr. 1971), and P. Griffiths (1984); study by E. Antokoletz (1989).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2013, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

The Life and Music of Bela Bartok
Halsey Stevens.
Clarendon Press, 1993 (3rd edition)
Bartok Perspectives: Man, Composer, and Ethnomusicologist
Elliott Antokoletz; Victoria Fischer; Benjamin Suchoff.
Oxford University Press, 2000
Bela Bartok Studies in Ethnomusicology
Benjamin Suchoff.
University of Nebraska Press, 1997
Bartok's Viola Concerto: The Remarkable Story of His Swansong
Donald Maurice.
Oxford University Press, 2004
Inside Bluebeard's Castle: Music and Drama in Bela Bartok's Opera
Carl S. Leafstedt.
Oxford US, 1999
Bartok's Chamber Music
János Kárpáti.
Pendragon Press, 1994
Szekely and Bartok: The Story of a Friendship
Claude Kenneson.
Amadeus Press, 1994
Modern Music: Composers and Music of Our Time
Max Graf; Beatrice R. Maier.
Philosophical Library, 1946
Musical Trends in the 20th Century
Norman Demuth.
Rockliff Publishing, 1975
An Introduction to Twentieth Century Music
Peter S. Hansen.
Allyn and Bacon, 1961
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