Béla Bartók

Biography

Born: 1881   Died: 1945   Country: Hungary   Period: 20th Century
Through his far-reaching endeavors as composer, performer, educator, and ethnomusicolgist, Béla Bartók emerged as one of the most forceful and influential musical personalities of the twentieth century. Born in Nagyszentmiklós, Hungary (now Romania), on March 25, 1881, Bartók began his musical training with piano studies at the age of five, foreshadowing his lifelong affinity for the instrument. Following his graduation from the Royal Academy of Read more Music in 1901 and the composition of his first mature works -- most notably, the symphonic poem Kossuth (1903) -- Bartók embarked on one of the classic field studies in the history of ethnomusicology. With fellow countryman and composer Zoltán Kodály, he traveled throughout Hungary and neighboring countries, collecting thousands of authentic folk songs. Bartók's immersion in this music lasted for decades, and the intricacies he discovered therein, from plangent modality to fiercely aggressive rhythms, exerted a potent influence on his own musical language.

In addition to his compositional activities and folk music research, Bartók's career unfolded amid a bustling schedule of teaching and performing. The great success he enjoyed as a concert artist in the 1920s was offset somewhat by difficulties that arose from the tenuous political atmosphere in Hungary, a situation exacerbated by the composer's frank manner. As the specter of fascism in Europe in the 1930s grew ever more sinister, he refused to play in Germany and banned radio broadcasts of his music there and in Italy. A concert in Budapest on October 8, 1940, was the composer's farewell to the country which had provided him so much inspiration and yet caused him so much grief. Days later, Bartók and his wife set sail for America.

In his final years Bartók was beleaguered by poor health. Though his prospects seemed sunnier in the final year of his life, his last great hope -- to return to Hungary -- was dashed in the aftermath of World War II. He died of leukemia in New York on September 26, 1945. The composer's legacy included a number of ambitious but unrealized projects, including a Seventh String Quartet; two major works, the Viola Concerto and the Piano Concerto No. 3, were completed from Bartók's in-progress scores and sketches by his pupil, Tibor Serly.

From its roots in the music he performed as a pianist -- Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Brahms -- Bartók's own style evolved through several stages into one of the most distinctive and influential musical idioms of the first half of the twentieth century. The complete assimilation of elements from varied sources -- the Classical masters, contemporaries like Debussy, folk songs -- is one of the signal traits of Bartók's music. The polychromatic orchestral textures of Richard Strauss had an immediate and long-lasting effect upon Bartók's own instrumental sense, evidenced in masterpieces such as Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta (1936) and the Concerto for Orchestra (1945). Bartók demonstrated an especial concern with form in his exploitation and refinement of devices like palindromes, arches, and proportions based on the "golden section." Perhaps above all other elements, though, it is the ingenious application of rhythm that gives Bartók's music its keen edge. Inspired by the folk music he loved, Bartók infused his works with asymmetrical, sometimes driving, often savage, rhythms, which supply violent propulsion to works such as Allegro barbaro (1911) and the Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion (1937). If a single example from Bartók's catalogue can be regarded as representative, it is certainly the piano collection Mikrokosmos (1926-1939), originally intended as a progressive keyboard primer for the composer's son, Peter. These six volumes, comprising 153 pieces, remain valuable not only as a pedagogical tool but as an exhaustive glossary of the techniques -- melodic, harmonic, rhythmic, formal -- that provided a vessel for Bartók's extraordinary musical personality. Read less
Bartók: Choral Music / Tillai, Pecs University Choir, Et Al
Release Date: 11/21/2000   Label: Somm  
Catalog: 216   Number of Discs: 1
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Work: Quartet for Strings no 5, Sz 102

Browse 1-25 of 27 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Bartok: Complete Works
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002459502 Release Date: 03/25/2016   Number of Discs: 32
    Composer:  Béla Bartók
    Performer:  Erich Binder,  Zoltán Kocsis,  Viktoria Mullova,  Gil Shaham  ... 
    Conductor:  Gyorgy Lehel,  Iván Fischer,  Antal Doráti,  Pierre Boulez  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Budapest Symphony Orchestra,  Budapest Festival Orchestra,  Detroit Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 2.
    Bartok: String Quartets 1 & 5 / Meta4
    Label: Hänssler Classic   Catalog: 98036 Release Date: 10/14/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Béla Bartók
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  • 3.
    Bartok & Kodaly: The Complete String Quartets
    Label: Foghorn Classics   Catalog: 2009 Release Date: 10/08/2013   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Béla Bartók,  Zoltán Kodály
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Alexander String Quartet
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  • 4.
    Bartok: String Quartets Nos. 1, 3 & 5 / Euclid Quartet
    Label: Artek   Catalog: 60 Release Date: 04/30/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Béla Bartók
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  • 5.
    Haydn, Nordheim, Bartok: String Quartets / Engegardkvartetten
    Label: Two-l   Catalog: 91 Release Date: 04/30/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Joseph Haydn,  Arne Nordheim,  Béla Bartók
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Engegard String Quartet
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  • 6.
    Bartok: String Quartets / Guarneri Quartet
    Label: Newton Classics   Catalog: 8802111 Release Date: 03/27/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Béla Bartók
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Guarneri String Quartet
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  • 7.
    Aeolus Quartet Performs Brahms & Bartok
    Label: Longhorn Music   Catalog: 2010004 Release Date: 11/16/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Béla Bartók
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  • 8.
    Bartok: The Complete String Quartets / Juilliard String Quartet
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 77119 Release Date: 09/14/2010   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Béla Bartók
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Juilliard String Quartet
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  • 9.
    Bartók: The String Quartets / Guarneri Quartet
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 94194 Release Date: 02/03/2009   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Béla Bartók
    Performer:  Arnold Steinhardt,  David Soyer,  Michael Tree,  John Dalley
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Guarneri String Quartet
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  • 10.
    Bartok: String Quartets No 2 & 5 / Parker String Quartet
    Label: Zig Zag   Catalog: 70601 Release Date: 02/12/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Béla Bartók
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Parker String Quartet
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  • 11.
    Bartok: String Quartets No 1-6 / Belcea Quartet
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 94400 Release Date: 02/05/2008   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Béla Bartók
    Performer:  Corina Belcea-Fisher,  Laura Samuel,  Krzysztof Chorzelski,  Antoine Lederlin  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Belcea String Quartet
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  • 12.
    Bartók: 6 String Quartets / Emerson String Quartet
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 000815602 Release Date: 02/13/2007   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Béla Bartók
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Emerson String Quartet
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  • 13.
    Bartók: String Quartets No 5 & 6 / Párkányí Quartet
    Label: Praga   Catalog: 250225 Release Date: 09/12/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Béla Bartók
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Párkányí String Quartet
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  • 14.
    Bartók: The Six String Quartets / Fine Arts Quartet
    Label: Music & Arts Programs Of America   Catalog: 1176 Release Date: 01/24/2006   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Béla Bartók
    Performer:  Leonard Sorkin,  Abram Loft,  George Sopkin,  Irving Ilmer  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fine Arts String Quartet
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  • 15.
    Bartok: 6 String Quartets / Hungarian Quartet
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 457740 Release Date: 01/09/2006   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Béla Bartók
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hungarian String Quartet
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  • 16.
    Bartók: Complete String Quartets / Vermeer Quartet
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8557543-44 Release Date: 05/17/2005   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Béla Bartók
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vermeer String Quartet
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  • 17.
    Historical Recordings / Hungarian String Quartet, Et Al
    Label: Music & Arts Programs Of America   Catalog: 1161 Release Date: 02/22/2005   Number of Discs: 8
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Claude Debussy,  Robert Schumann,  Alexander Glazunov  ... 
    Performer:  Gábor Magyar,  Alexandre Moskowsky,  Zoltán Székely,  Denes Koromzay  ... 
    Conductor:  Willem van Otterloo
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hungarian String Quartet,  Hague Residentie Orchestra
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  • 18.
    Bartók, Schubert: String Quartets / Hungarian Quartet
    Label: Orfeo D'or   Catalog: 604031 Release Date: 08/23/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Béla Bartók,  Franz Schubert
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hungarian String Quartet
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  • 19.
    In Honor Of Rudolf Kolisch
    Label: Music & Arts Programs Of America   Catalog: 1056 Release Date: 05/27/2003   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Franz Schubert,  Anton Webern,  Arnold Schoenberg,  Béla Bartók  ... 
    Performer:  Stefan Auber,  Jascha Veissi,  Felix Khuner,  Rudolph Kolisch  ... 
    Conductor:  René Leibowitz
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kolisch String Quartet,  University of Wisconsin Pro Arte Quartet,  Wisconsin Festival Orchestra
    CD: $58.99
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  • 20.
    Bartok: String Quartets No 1-6 / Vertavo String Quartet
    Label: Simax   Catalog: 1197 Release Date: 11/29/2001   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Béla Bartók
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vertavo String Quartet
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  • 21.
    Bartok: Six String Quartets / Ramor Quartet
    Label: Tuxedo Music   Catalog: 1087/9 Release Date: 09/30/2000   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Béla Bartók
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ramor String Quartet
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  • 22.
    Bartok: 6 String Quartets / Hagen Quartett
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 463576 Release Date: 04/03/2000   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Béla Bartók
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hagen String Quartet
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  • 23.
    Bartók: The 6 String Quartets / Takács Quartet
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 455297 Release Date: 01/13/1998   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Béla Bartók
    Performer:  András Fejér,  Roger Tapping,  Károly Schranz,  Edward Dusinberre
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Takács String Quartet
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  • 24.
    Take 2 - Bartok: The Six String Quartets / Juilliard Quartet
    Label: Sony Classical Essential Classics   Catalog: 63234 Release Date: 11/18/1997   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Béla Bartók
    Performer:  Joel Krosnick,  Samuel Rhodes,  Robert Mann,  Earl Carlyss
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Juilliard String Quartet
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  • 25.
    Bartok: The String Quartets / Tokyo Quartet
    Label: Dg 20th Century Classics   Catalog: 445241 Release Date: 09/08/1997   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Béla Bartók
    Performer:  Koichiro Harada,  Kazuhide Isomura,  Kikuei Ikeda,  Sadao Harada
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tokyo String Quartet
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