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

Composition Type: Orchestral

Browse 1-25 of 170 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Sir Adrian Boult - A Musical Legacy
    Label: Lpo   Catalog: 119 Release Date: 12/04/2020   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Sir Edward Elgar,  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Max Bruch  ... 
    Performer:  Christopher Bunting,  Patricia Bishop,  Jean Pougnet,  Gwenneth Pryor  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 2.
    Mariss Jansons - The Oslo Years
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 524247 Release Date: 11/06/2020   Number of Discs: 26
    Composer:  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Dmitri Shostakovich,  Johan Svendsen,  Sergei Prokofiev  ... 
    Performer:  Truls Otterbech Mork,  Hĺvard Norang,  Per Hannisdal,  Torkyll Bye  ... 
    Conductor:  Mariss Jansons
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 3.
    Fritz Reiner: Complete Columbia Album Collection
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 19075936772 Release Date: 09/11/2020   Number of Discs: 14
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Claude Debussy,  Hector Berlioz,  Richard Wagner  ... 
    Performer:  Rudolf Serkin,  Carol Brice,  Hugo Kolberg,  Samuel Thaviu  ... 
    Conductor:  Fritz Reiner,  Daniel Saidenberg
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra,  Columbia Broadcasting Concert Orchestra,  Columbia String Ensemble  ... 
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  • 4.
    Philharmonia Orchestra: Birth of a Legend
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 534951 Release Date: 07/31/2020   Number of Discs: 24
    Composer:  Robert Schumann,  Franz Schubert,  Ottorino Respighi,  Ludwig van Beethoven  ... 
    Performer:  Agnes Giebel,  Christa Ludwig,  Walter Berry,  Richard Lewis  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan,  Wilhelm Furtwängler,  Guido Cantelli,  Arturo Toscanini  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Philharmonia Chorus,  Philharmonia Orchestra
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  • 5.
    Haydn 2032, No. 8: La Roxolana / Antonini, Il Giardino Armonico
    Label: Alpha Productions   Catalog: 682 Release Date: 02/07/2020   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Joseph Haydn,  Béla Bartók,  Anonymous
    Conductor:  Giovanni Antonini
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Il Giardino Armonico
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  • 6.
    Bartok: Orchestral Works, Vol. 1 / Dausgaard, BBC Scottish Symphony
    Label: Onyx   Catalog: 4210 Release Date: 01/03/2020   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Béla Bartók
    Conductor:  Thomas Dausgaard
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
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  • 7.
    The Collection of East Classics / Kubelik
    Label: Profil   Catalog: 19019 Release Date: 11/08/2019   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Antonín Dvorák,  Bohuslav Martinu,  Bedrich Smetana,  Béla Bartók  ... 
    Conductor:  Rafael Kubelik
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  • 8.
    Zubin Mehta: The Complete Columbia Album Collection
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 19075937662 Release Date: 10/25/2019   Number of Discs: 97
    Composer:  Ottorino Respighi,  Richard Strauss,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Giacomo Puccini  ... 
    Performer:  Bonaldo Giaiotti,  Neilson Taylor,  Fiorenza Cossotto,  Placido Domingo  ... 
    Conductor:  Zubin Mehta,  Joseph Flummerfelt
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra,  New Philharmonia Orchestra,  Ambrosian Opera Chorus  ... 
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  • 9.
    Bartok: The Wooden Prince & The Miraculous Mandarin Suite / Malkki, Helsinki Philharmonic
    Label: Bis   Catalog: 2328 Release Date: 06/07/2019   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Béla Bartók
    Conductor:  Susanna Mälkki
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 10.
    Rafael Kubelik: The Munich Symphonic Recordings / Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra
    Label: Orfeo   Catalog: 981115 Release Date: 05/24/2019   Number of Discs: 15
    Composer:  Franz Joseph Haydn,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Johannes Brahms  ... 
    Performer:  Brigitte Fassbaender,  Helen Donath,  Horst Laubenthal,  Hans Sotin
    Conductor:  Rafael Kubelik
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra
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  • 11.
    Schlomo Mintz: The Complete Deutsche Grammophon Recordings
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 4836318 Release Date: 04/05/2019   Number of Discs: 15
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Johannes Brahms,  César Franck  ... 
    Performer:  Shlomo Mintz,  Yefim Bronfman,  Clifford Benson,  Clifford Benson  ... 
    Conductor:  Giuseppe Sinopoli,  Claudio Abbado,  Zubin Mehta,  James Levine
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Israel Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $64.49
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  • 12.
    Sergiu Celibidache: The Munich Years
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 577886 Release Date: 11/02/2018   Number of Discs: 49
    Composer:  Franz Joseph Haydn,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Franz Schubert  ... 
    Performer:  Siegfried Jerusalem,  Helen Donath,  Doris Soffel,  Peter Lika  ... 
    Conductor:  Sergiu Celibidache
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Philharmonic Orchestra,  Munich Philharmonic Choir,  Munich Bach Choir  ... 
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  • 13.
    The Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra Collection / Nezet-Seguin
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 4835345 Release Date: 08/31/2018   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Dmitri Shostakovich,  Gustav Mahler,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky  ... 
    Performer:  Marc-André Hamelin
    Conductor:  Yannick Nézet-Séguin
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra,  Ghent Collegium Vocale
    CD: $39.99
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  • 14.
    Bartok: Divertimento - Brahms: String Quintet No. 2 / Thompson, Amsterdam Sinfonietta
    Label: Channel Classics   Catalog: 37518 Release Date: 06/29/2018  
    Composer:  Béla Bartók,  Johannes Brahms
    Conductor:  Candida Thompson
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Amsterdam Sinfonietta
    On sale! $21.98
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  • 15.
    Recollection / Belohlavek
    Label: Supraphon   Catalog: 4250 Release Date: 06/01/2018   Number of Discs: 8
    Composer:  Bedrich Smetana,  Antonín Dvorák,  Josef Suk,  Josef Suk  ... 
    Performer:  Josef Ruzicka,  Jaroslav Saroun,  Dagmar Pecková
    Conductor:  Jiří Bělohlávek
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Czech Philharmonic Orchestra,  Prague Philharmonia,  Prague Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $58.99
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  • 16.
    Bartok & Kodaly: Concertos for Orchestra / Hrusa, Berlin Radio Symphony
    Label: Pentatone   Catalog: 5186626 Release Date: 05/18/2018   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Zoltán Kodály,  Béla Bartók
    Conductor:  Jakub Hrusa
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra
    SuperAudio CD: $15.99
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  • 17.
    The Stuttgart Recordings / Sir Neville Marriner
    Label: Capriccio Records   Catalog: 7230 Release Date: 05/04/2018   Number of Discs: 15
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Robert Schumann,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Gustav Mahler  ... 
    Performer:  Mitsuko Shirai,  Cécile Ousset
    Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Stuttgart Radio Chorus Women
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  • 18.
    Romantic Serenades for Strings
    Label: Brilliant Classics   Catalog: 95655 Release Date: 04/27/2018   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Antonín Dvorák,  Vasily Kalinnikov,  Leos Janácek  ... 
    Performer:  Alexander Rudin
    Conductor:  Alexander Rudin,  Jaroslav Krcek,  Massimo Belli,  Ove Vedsten Larsen  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Musica Viva Instrumental Ensemble,  Capella Istropolitana,  Ferruccio Busoni Chamber Orchestra  ... 
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  • 19.
    Bartok: Concerto for Orchestra & Piano Concerto No. 3 / Perianes, Heras-Casado, Munich Phil
    Label: Harmonia Mundi   Catalog: 902262 Release Date: 02/02/2018   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Béla Bartók
    Performer:  Javier Perianes
    Conductor:  Pablo Heras-Casado
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 20.
    Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring - Bartok: The Miraculous Mandarin Suite / Cambreling
    Label: Altus   Catalog: 307 Release Date: 11/17/2017   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Igor Stravinsky,  Béla Bartók
    Conductor:  Sylvain Cambreling
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra
    CD: $18.99
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  • 21.
    Bartok: Concerto for Orchestra, Dance Suite & Rhapsodies / Ehnes, Gardner, Bergen Philharmonic
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 5189 Release Date: 11/03/2017   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Béla Bartók
    Performer:  James Ehnes,  Hans-Kristian Kjos Sorensen
    Conductor:  Edward Gardner
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra
    SuperAudio CD: $19.99
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  • 22.
    Leonard Bernstein: Remastered Edition
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 541714 Release Date: 10/27/2017   Number of Discs: 100
    Composer:  Igor Stravinsky,  Darius Milhaud,  Leonard Bernstein,  Harold Shapero  ... 
    Conductor:  Leonard Bernstein
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  • 23.
    Boston Symphony Orchestra: Complete Recordings on Deutsche Grammophon
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 4797718 Release Date: 10/20/2017   Number of Discs: 57
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Maurice Ravel,  Alexander Scriabin,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky  ... 
    Performer:  Paul Zukofsky,  Christoph Eschenbach,  Mstislav Rostropovich,  Teresa Berganza  ... 
    Conductor:  Claudio Abbado,  Michael Tilson Thomas,  William Steinberg,  Rafael Kubelik  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra,  Boston Symphony Chamber Players
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  • 24.
    Beethoven: Symphony No. 3
    Label: Altus   Catalog: 135 Release Date: 09/15/2017   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Béla Bartók
    Conductor:  Lothar Zagrosek
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stuttgart State Orchestra
    CD: $18.99
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  • 25.
    DG 111: The Conductors / Various
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 4797477 Release Date: 08/04/2017   Number of Discs: 40
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Maurice Ravel,  Alexander Scriabin,  Johannes Brahms  ... 
    Performer:  Gaston Litaize,  Alain Moglia,  Luben Yordanoff,  Christa Ludwig  ... 
    Conductor:  Claudio Abbado,  Daniel Barenboim,  Leonard Bernstein,  Karl Böhm  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra,  New England Conservatory Chorus,  London Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $138.99
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