Even before his String Quartet no. 3 appeared in print in 1929, Bartók was already working on a fourth in the summer of 1928. This five-movement work is arranged symmetrically around a highly expressive middle movement dominated by the cello, and calls for various playing techniques such as pizzicato glissandi and the famous “Bartók pizzicato” in which the string is snapped audibly against the fingerboard. Premiered to great success in London in February 1929, it was published in late 1929/early 1930 - however with so many errors that a revised edition of the score was issued already in 1932.
In their edition, László Somfai and Zsombor Németh have also consulted Bartók’s letters for interesting details about performing the work. These are given as footnotes in this Urtext edition. In addition, the “Notes on performance practice”, which are already obligatory in Henle’s Bartók editions, provide information on performing the Bartók pizzicato and on many other issues.
- String Quartet no. 4 (BB 95)
This composer, who numbers among the most important musical figures in the first half of the twentieth century, is known principally for his research into Hungarian folk music, the elements of which he incorporated into his style. His broad oeuvre includes numerous works for orchestra, piano, and chamber ensembles, as well as choral music; songs with piano accompaniment; and an opera.
|1881||Born in Nagyszentmiklós on March 25. First piano instruction from his mother.|
|1893–ca. 1896||Piano studies with László Erkel in Pressburg (Bratislava).|
|1899–1903||Studies piano and composition at the Budapest Academy of Music. Symphonic poem “Kossuth” in 1903.|
|from 1905||Together with Zóltan Kodály he begins scientific field research into Hungarian folk music and thereby refutes conventional notions. He becomes acquainted with the music of Debussy.|
|1905–07||Suite No. 2, Op. 4, for small orchestra.|
|1907–34||Professor of piano in Budapest.|
|1908–09||“For Children,” 85 transcriptions of folk songs for piano, later only 79.|
|1915–17||String Quartet No. 2, Op. 17, with percussive playing techniques.|
|1917||Premiere of his ballet “The Wooden Prince.”|
|1918||Premiere of “Bluebeard’s Castle,” Op. 11 (composed 1911), partially based on the sounds of French music.|
|1920||Improvisations on Hungarian Peasant Songs, Op. 20.|
|1926||Performance of the pantomime “The Miraculous Mandarin.” Piano cycle “Out of Doors.”|
|1926–39||“Mikrokosmos” for piano (six volumes).|
|from 1934||Editor of the complete edition of Hungarian folk music.|
|1936||Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta as avant-garde work.|
|1937–38||Concerto (No. 2) for violin and orchestra.|
|1940||Emigrates to the United States.|
|1945||Piano Concerto No. 3; his concerto for viola remains unfinished. Death in New York on September 26.|