One of my favorite pieces to perform is Hungarian composer Béla Bartók’s Romanian Folk Dances. It is full of infectious rhythms, melancholy melodies, and subtle effects. János Starker performs it in the cello rendition.
Béla Bartók (1881-1945) spent the last five years of his life in the United States. Economic hardship, cultural dislocation, and very little artistic acknowledgement and satisfaction plunged the composer into a state of bitter depression. This depression was compounded by
With Europe spiraling towards a massive war that would eventually devastate the continent, Béla Bartók gave voice to the general sense of anxiety and foreboding by starting work on his only opera in 1911. The libretto for the one-act Duke
Béla Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra challenges the educated listener on several fronts, starting with the title itself. A concerto is a work for soloist and orchestra (or, perhaps, soloist versus orchestra!). What are we to think of a work where
Béla Bartók had always been interested in young girls. His first wife Márta was only sixteen when they married, and he did have an extramarital affair with the fifteen-year-old poetess Klára. Bartók also vigorously but unsuccessfully pursued the young violinist
Composed to celebrate the union of the cities of Buda and Pest into the present-day Hungarian capital in 1923, the Dance Suite quickly became one of Béla Bartók’s most popular works. It did more for Bartók’s reputation, in the positive