Hungary Celebrates the 135th Anniversary of Béla Bartók’s Birth

March 25, 2016

March 25 marks the 135th anniversary of Béla Bartók’s birth, one of the most prominent Hungarian and European composers, pianists, folk music collectors and musicologists of the 20th century.

Several concerts and other cultural events were scheduled to take place in Hungary on the occasion to commemorate Béla Bartók’s outstanding lifetime accomplishments. One of the most significant memorial concerts was to be held in the iconic concert hall of Budapest, called Müpa Budapest.

During the event, Bartók’s most famous music pieces, including the Hungarian Sketches, the Two Pictures and the Dance Suite were to be presented.

Bartók was born on March 25, 1881 at Nagyszentmiklós, now in Romania. While his father was the director of the school of agriculture, his mother (an ethnic German) was a schoolteacher. During Bartók’s childhood, his mother taught him basic piano skills and gave him his first lessons.

In 1899, Bartók joined the Royal Academy of Music in Budapest to study piano, where he met Zoltán Kodály, the prestigious Hungarian composer and pedagogue.

After leaving the school, Bartók wrote his first symphonic poem, which honored Lajos Kossuth for his efforts during the Hungarian Revolution of 1848.

Bartók collected thousands of Hungarian folk songs of Magyar, Slovak, Romanian, Bulgarian and Transylvanian origin. His investigation and research on Hungarian folk music marked him as one of the founders of ethnomusicology, a term used to describe the comparative study of music.

In the late 1930s, Bartók explicitly criticised Hungary's siding with Nazi Germany. His anti-fascist expressions and political views made it impossible for him to stay in the country, therefore, in 1940, Bartók immigrated to the United States, and settled in New York City where he lived until his death.

 

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