Lecture: Béla Bartók (Listen and Read)

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Lecture: Béla Bartók
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Hello everyone, how was your weekend?
I'll be passing back your essays on nationalism and its influence in musical compositions.
I was actually surprised that no one decided to write about Bela Bartok,
though I realize now that we never got an opportunity to cover him in class, so...
Get out your notebooks, and listen up.
Bela Bartok was from... was from Hungary and lived in the 1800s and early 1900s.
He's regarded as one of the greatest composers of the 20th century.
He wasn't terribly fond of the Romantic music style that had become popular during his youth.
During his childhood, the concert hall of Austria-Hungary was filled with Romantic-style compositions,
usually by German composers.
You see, composers in the early 1900s who worked in the Romantic style
tended to be very popular in Austria-Hungary.
Bartók was a part of the composing circles at that time,
and he wanted to change that popularity.
He ended up traveling, exploring the countryside,
and listening to the songs of farmers and small-town people.
Back then... In the rural areas, I mean..
in the countryside and small towns, traditional music was more common.
Bela Bartok actually traveled throughout a fair expanse of Eastern Europe.
He enjoyed stopping in to watch celebrations, attended weddings, ceremonies, and dances.
The music there, in the wide-open spaces, was much different than the tunes found in concert halls.
There was nothing 'Romantic' about it at all.
There were no orchestras or composers.
So the music he listened to in the countryside, we now refer to as folk music.
So! He wanted to research the folk music
and ensure those traditional pieces were documented before they had the chance to change too much or be lost in history.
Actually, Bartok didn't consider himself a composer during that trip.
The proper term would be ethnomusicologist
or someone who studies regional traditional music.
His work during those years would have a huge impact on European music,
especially the parts of folk music he did incorporate into his own compositions.
He took parts of those songs, like unusual rhythms, and used them as a base of his work.
He frequently quoted folk song melodies verbatim.
One of his most recognizable musical elements, the glissando, was likely taken from Croatian folk music.
Yes! Eric?
What is a Glissando?
A Glissando is a continuous slide upward or downward between two notes.
For instance, the whistling pitch of a bomb falling is a glissando from a very high to a lower note.
Thanks for asking.
Anyway, when Bartok's new music was performed,
the traditional folk roots garnered instant appreciation and popularity.
He was a bit lucky:
his music came out at a time when nationalism was just starting to rear its head within the people of Austria-Hungary.
His music fit right in with the mindset of the time and became wildly successful.
Particularly, his ballet “The Wooden Prince” premiered right when the fervor for national identity was strengthening,
and his strong folk song elements reflected that excitement.
Unfortunately, while he was popular in his homeland,
worldwide recognition was lacking while he still lived.
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