The Modern Age

twentieth century

(Classical Music Map)


I. History of Classical Music  (by John Stanley)
The great composers and their masterworks in MP3 format
Albeniz Borodin Donizetti Hindemith Prokofiev Schutz
Albinoni Brahms Dowland Janacek Puccini Scriabin
Allegri Britten Dvorak Kodaly Purcell Sibelius
Arne Bruckner Falla Leoncavallo Rachmaninov Smetana
Auber Busoni Field Liszt Rameau Strauss J.S.
Bach Byrd Gabrieli Lully Ravel Strauss R.
Barber Carissimi Gershwin Mahler Respighi Stravinsky
Bartok Charpentier Gesualdo Mendelssohn Rimsky-Korsakov Tallis
Beethoven Cherubini Glinka Meyerbeer Rossini Tchaikovsky
Bellini Chopin Gluck Monteverdi Saint-Saens Telemann
Bernstein Clementi Gounod Mozart Scarlatti Verdi
Berwald Corelli Grieg Mussorgsky Schoenberg Victoria
Berlioz Couperin Handel Pachelbel Shostakovich Villa-Lobos
Bizet Debussy Haydn Paganini Schubert Vivaldi
Boccherini Delibes Hildegard Palestrina Schumann Wagner
Orff  "Carmina Burana"
II. History of Jazz

Bela Bartok



Bela Bartok not only is the greatest composer Hungary has produced, but his music — a unique synthesis of the Western classical tradition with mid-European folk music — is one of the outstanding musical achievements of the twentieth century.

Bartok was born in Nagyszentmiklos, a small town now in Romania. His father, a teacher and amateur musician, died when Bartok was young, and his mother, Paula, had to support her family by teaching the piano. Paula Bartok was fully aware of her son's musical gifts — his earliest compositions date from his ninth year — and she finally managed to find a permanent teaching position in Poszony (now Bratislava), where she found excellent piano and harmony teachers for the young composer.

In 1899 Bartok had to decide where to continue his studies, and although the Vienna Conservatoire was the obvious choice, Bartok followed the advice of his schoolfellow, Erno Dohnanyi, and went to the Budapest Academy. There he was considered a virtuoso pianist of outstanding potential. As a composer, like Dohnanyi he initially took Brahms as a model. But in 1902 and 1903 he was profoundly affected by two new preoccupations: the music of Richard Strauss and the rising tide of Hungarian nationalism. Both influences found expression in 1903 in the symphonic poem Kossuth, based on the life of the leader of Hungary's 1848 uprising.

Bartok found a further and more enduring outlet for his nationalist sentiments in Hungarian folk songs, which he started collecting in 1904. This led to a lifelong collaboration with Zoltan Kodaly, a pioneer in the field. From 1906, Bartok made annual trips, using an Edison phonograph as recording equipment, to collect songs not only in Hungary but also in Romania, Slovakia, and Transylvania.

Also through Kodaly, Bartok was introduced to the music of Debussy, which was a revelation to him. The twin influences of Debussy and folk song formed the background to the composition of his first mature works, the First string quartet of 1908 and various short piano pieces, including the 14 Bagatelles. In 1909 he married his teenage pupil, Marta Ziegler, to whom he dedicated his one-act opera Bluebeard's castle, an allegorical study of the individual's ultimate isolation from the rest of humanity.

Starting in 1907, Bartok served as a professor of piano at the Budapest Academy, a position that gave him a degree of security and enabled him to continue his research into folklore, including a visit to northern Africa in 1913. His health was too frail for active participation in World War I; during the period 1914 to 1917 he wrote the ballet The wooden prince and his Second string quartet, works that show the impression made by Stravinsky's rhythmic innovations in The rite of spring and Schoenberg's experiments with tonality. In the pantomime The miraculous Mandarin Bartok pushed to an audacious extreme these tendencies towards driving rhythmic exuberance and unusual orchestral colours (variations, or shades, of tone).

The 1920s saw the consolidation of Bartok's international reputation as composer and pianist, both in solo music and partnering the great Hungarian violinists of the time, such as Joseph Szigeti. He wrote virtuoso works to perform himself in the 1920s and 1930s, including the First and Second piano concertos, the Piano sonata, and the Sonata for two pianos and percussion. The last was written for himself and his second wife, Ditta Pasztorv, whom he had married in 1923 following his divorce from Marta. Its journey from primeval darkness to searing light makes for a gripping aural experience.

Impressive too is the Music for strings, percussion and celesta of 1937, one of many classic commissions by the Swiss conductor Paul Sacher. This work creates the sense of an odyssey, enhanced by the telling return of the first movement's tortuous and mysterious fugue theme towards the end of the final fourth movement. The slow movement contains a favourite Bartok device, a "night music" section where, in an atmosphere of hushed expectancy, a tapestry is woven of the tiny sounds of nocturnal animals and insects.

In 1940 the Bartoks moved to New-York to escape the political situation m Hungary. The declining health, periods of depression, and financial worries that clouded Bartok's American years did not prevent him from completing such masterpieces as the Concerto for orchestra and the Sixth string quartet. The delicate Third piano concerto was practically finished when Bartok died in New York in September 1945.


Bela Bartok



Bela Bartok (1881-1945)



Concerto for Violin and Orchestra
Wanda Wilkomirska
Allegro non troppo
Allegro molto
Piano concerto No.2
Idil Biret

Adagio - Piu adagio - Presto 
Allegro molto 
Violin concerto Nr. 2
Patricia Kopatchinskaja
Burleske for violin and piano
Patricia Kopatchinskaja
Suite for Piano Sz 62
Allison Lovejoy
Sonata Sz. 80
Stephane Ginsburg
Allegro moderato
Sostenuto e pesante
Allegro molto


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