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Bela Bartok Program Notes and Sheet Music

Bela Viktor Janos Bartok 1881-1945


Béla Bartók (March 25, 1881 – September 26, 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. Through his collection and analytical study of folk music, he was one of the founders of comparative musicology, which later became ethnomusicology.

Bartók was born in the Banatian town of Nagyszentmiklós in the Kingdom of Hungary (present-day Sânnicolau Mare, Romania) on 25 March 1881. He began studying music at a young age, and his early compositions were influenced by the Romantic composers, such as Franz Liszt and Richard Strauss. In 1903, he graduated from the Royal Academy of Music in Budapest, where he studied composition with János Koessler and piano with István Thomán.

After graduating, Bartók began to focus on the study of folk music. He traveled extensively throughout Hungary and Romania, collecting and transcribing folk songs. He also began to compose music that was influenced by folk music, such as his First String Quartet (1908) and his Dance Suite (1909).

In the 1920s, Bartók began to experiment with new musical techniques, such as atonality and polytonality. He also began to write more programmatic music, such as his ballet The Miraculous Mandarin (1919) and his opera Duke Bluebeard's Castle (1918).

In the 1930s, Bartók's music became increasingly dissonant and abstract. He also began to write music for children, such as his Mikrokosmos (1926–1939).

Bartók fled Hungary in 1940, after the Nazi occupation. He died in New York City in 1945.

Bartók's music is characterized by its use of folk music, its dissonant harmonies, and its complex rhythms. He was a master of orchestration, and his music is often virtuosic and challenging to perform.

Bartók's music has had a profound influence on composers of all periods. His work has been studied and admired by composers such as Igor Stravinsky, Anton Webern, and Elliott Carter. His music continues to be performed and enjoyed by audiences around the world

He gave his first public recital at the age of 11. When the Nazis came to power in the 1030's he emigrated to the United States and settled in New York.


    Bartok Bela (1881-1945)      
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