Béla Bartók Studies in Ethnomusicology

Béla Bartók Studies in Ethnomusicology

Béla Bartók Studies in Ethnomusicology

Béla Bartók Studies in Ethnomusicology


Composer, folklorist, and performer Bela Bartok (1881-1945) is internationally renowned as one of the most important and influential musicians of the twentieth century. Throughout his life he wrote lectures and essays that dealt with virtually every aspect of East European folk music. Many of those essays, previously scattered in specialty journals in four different languages, are collected here for the first time. All are concerned with that branch of musicology within which Bartok was most influential, and for which he is best known: research into folk music, or ethnomusicology. The volume includes a preface by editor Benjamin Suchoff, a leading expert on Bartok's music and writings. Suchoff examines Bartok's developing views on the folk-music traditions of Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, and the Arab world.


Béla Bartók Studies in Ethnomusicology is a compilation of those published writings that were intended for Béla Bartók Essays but for practical reasons could not be included. They appear here in chronological order of their original publication, and, together with the mentioned edition of essays, provide the reader with a comprehensive overview of Bartók's development as creator of an extensive body of scientific literature that is unparalleled in ethnomusicology. When Bartók was asked to justify his procedures and their practicality in the treatment of ethnomusicological material, he said that

Only a systematically scientific examination of the morphological aspects of folk music material (consisting first of grouping the material according to certain methods, and then, of describing the typical forms and structures which will appear in a material thus grouped) will enable us to determine clearly the types and to draw various conclusions concerning the transformation, migration of the melodies, their connection with foreign materials, etc.

Several systems of grouping folk music have been developed and used in some eastern European countries, especially in Hungary.These systems could easily be applied (with certain modifications) to western European (and American-English) material, too.

It is rather difficult to point out the practical use of this work: the sad fact being that it has no "practical" use at all. But, after all, what is the practical use of so many other scientific investigations, for example, research work in Art history? The latter brings us nearer to understanding the conscious work of individuals on a certain area of human civilization, and the former, to understand the subconscious work of social communities on another area!

It is the intention of this book, therefore, not only to complete the collection of Bartók's ethnomusicological essays but also to provide teachers and students with an introduction to Bartók's "method of methods" in comparative musical folklore. Thus I have formatted my computer-processed music notations according to Bartók's definitive design, content, and placement of caesura (i.e., line ending) symbols, syllabic and ambitus figures, diacritics, recording and performer's data, and other extramusical symbols and text matter.


The Kingdom of Hungary was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, ruled by the Habsburg emperor-king Franz Joseph from 1867 to 1914. The nation consisted of the educated classes: Magyar nobles and lesser gentry; middle‐ class professionals, bureaucrats, and merchants (including many Germans and . . .

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