Bartók Béla *b. 1881 d. 1945
reknown Hungarian Composer, Pianist, Music Theorist.
In 1940 a 59 year old musician, accompanied by his wife, arrives
in the United States of America to teach aspiring musicians and
to continue his research work. They have left behind them their
wartime Hungary, which has been swept by the horror of fascism and
nazism which threatens civilization. In Hungary, Germany and Italy
his music has been banned and he has been branded, among other things,
an enemy of "clean and pure Aryan culture and art". And yet this
musician, along with his collegue Kodály Zoltán, had done a great
service to Hungary and Hungarian folk music in specific, having
completed a joint monumental effort in 1906, titled, "Hungarian
Folk Songs For Choir and Piano", which is a collection of over 1,500
songs, including related folk music from other cultures. The man
we are talking about is none other than Bartók Béla, born in a modest
town called Nagyszentmiklós, Hungary, and since the Treaty of Trianon
signed after WWI, part of Romania. Bartók studied in what is now
Bratislava, Slovakia and in Budapest. Afterwards he taught piano
and music theory at the Royal Academy of Music from 1907 to 1935
and from 1934 to 1940 he worked at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.
Bartók was greatly influenced by Debussy, Liszt, Wagner, Kodály
and Richard Strauss. His style of music was made distinctly unique
by his use of certain musical components found in the folk music
of central and eastern Europe, combined with his own melody patterns.
Some of his greatest and most well known works include his six-volume
"Microcosmos", his "Transylavanian Dances From Hungary", his great
opera masterpiece "Duke Bluebeard's Castle", his ballet "The Miraculous
Mandarin ", and "The Prince Made of Wood". Bartók's last five years
were spent living in New York City, teaching and conducting research
at Columbia University. However, things were not going well at all.
He was poverty-ridden and suffered from the fatal effects of Leukemia
(blood cancer). And though he died in conditions not befitting a
man of his creative genius, we can find his image adorning the Hungarian
1,000 Forint bank note, and his music is no longer banned, thanks
to the millions of Europeans, Russians, and Americans who fought
the greater evil of the first half of this century.