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The Importance of Bela Bartok

In: Film and Music

Submitted By cmh547
Words 635
Pages 3
Courtney Houston
October 11, 2015
World Music
The Importance of Bela Bartok

On March 25, 1881 the world of music was forever changed, as Bela Bartok had now entered the world. Born in Hungary, Bela grew up studying piano. At the young age of nine, he began composing dance music. He finally commenced showing his work to the public at age eleven. He continued to study piano at the Royal Hungarian Academy of Music. Upon completion of his studies, Bela along with composer Zolan Kodaly recognized a style of music they had never seen before, Hungarian folk music. This is where Bela’s significant importance in music begins. The pivotal point of Bela’s career was when he heard the Dosa’s song. The song moved him so much that he wrote it down. This became the inspiration he needed and he began to “collect the finest examples of Hungarian folk music and raise them to the level of works of art” (Alves). He was able to truly define the folk music of Magyar as its own rather than gypsy music, as it was formerly classified. His research did not stop with Hungarian music. Bela continued to study folk music of many different cultures including Romanian, Bulgarian, Macedonian, Croatian and more. In turn, Bela Bartoks’ work as a composer began to become infused with the style of pheasant Hungarian folk music by including thematic, harmonic and rhythmic nuances. During and after the First World War, Bela’s composing began to shine. Not only did he compose two ballets and an opera, he created two masterpieces known as Cantata Profana and Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta as well as many other pieces. His pianist abilities really exploded as he began performing concerts throughout Western Europe and the United States. This gave Bela the opportunity to share as well as preserve the traditional Hungarian folk music with the world. Bela fled Hungary to the United States after the outbreak of the Second World War. There he continued his career as a respected pianist and a teacher. At Columbia University, Bela worked on cataloging and preserving two more country’s folk music; Serbia and Croatia. Unfortunately, the United States is where the demise of Bela Bartok took place. Although he had already made a great impact on music, in 1945 leukemia has decided his work was done. Bela’s influence to twentieth century music as a composer, pianist and ethnomusicologist should not be underrated. Bela’s abilities in all three fields are tightly woven together and led to the reason of why he was so influential. His skill to hear and record music allowed him to preserve traditional Hungarian music. His ability to play piano as well as compose, permitted for him to share the music with other people, keeping it alive. Finally, his knack as a teacher allowed him to spread his influence to others and pass along years of historical music.
As we know, Bela Bartok is seen today as one of the greatest composers, pianists and ethnomusicologists of all time. Bela gave traditional folk music a voice and was able to bring the styles of music he studied into the twentieth century as well as today. Without Bela, true folk music may not have been preserved. He is one of the main reasons that today we have the ability to study cultures of the world though their music.

Works Cited

Alves, William. "Chapter 8 Eastern Europe." Music of the Peoples of the World. Boston, MA: Schirmer Cengage Learning, 2010. 107-16. Print.
"Bela Bartok | Hungarian Composer." Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d. Web. 10 Oct. 2015.
"Bela Bartok." - New World Encyclopedia. New World Encyclopedia, n.d. Web. 11 Oct. 2015.
"Bela Bartok Biography." - BelaThe G Bartok Childhood, Life and Timeline. The Famous People, n.d. Web. 11 Oct. 2015.…...

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