Focus on… Béla Bartók

Bela Bartok? Who’s she?

Well for a start, she, isn’t a she. She’s a He!

Béla Bartók was born in “The Kingdom of Hungary” on March 25, 1881 and he lived for 64 years. When he was 4 years old he gave his first recital at the piano for friends and family which included pieces that he had composed himself!

When he was a young man, Bartók was an excellent concert pianist and composer but he became the Head of Piano Teaching at the Budapest Institute of Music for 25 years.

While on holiday in 1904, Bartók overheard a young nanny, Lidi Dósa from Kibéd in Transylvania singing folk songs to the children in her care. It was hearing these songs that sparked Bartók’s interest and began his lifelong interest in folk songs.

Through his collection and analytical study of folk music, he was one of the founders of ethnomusicology. Bartók’s music soon began to shown influences of the folk songs he studied.

One of the first pieces that showed the folk influence was the String Quartert No 1 in A minor (shown below).

Below is another of Bartók’s compositions – Romanian Folk Dances.

Bartók is one of the most important composers of the 20th Century, and is regarded along with Franz Lizt as Hungary’s greatest composer.