With the “Concerto for Orchestra,” Henle inaugurates a series of affordable study scores based on the text of the Bartók Complete Edition. When Bartók received the commission to compose this piece from Serge Koussevitsky in May 1943, it meant not only financial support, but also an important creative impetus for the gravely ill composer. By October, the five-movement concerto, which Koussevitsky enthusiastically dubbed “the best orchestral work of the last 25 years,” was already complete. The first performances in the winter of 1944–45 were also very successful. Nevertheless, Bartók was moved to set down an alternate ending, which the composer, who passed away in September 1945, would never be destined to hear. Bartók specialist Klára Móricz includes both versions in her edition and summarises the history and transmission of the “Concerto for Orchestra” in a fascinating foreword. A brief commentary section provides information about the principles underlying the edition.
Read more about this edition in the Henle Blog.
- Concerto for Orchestra
Béla Bartók (1881 – 1945) composed his Concerto for Orchestra in the summer and early autumn of 1943 for the Koussev itzky Music Foundation. He received the commission in May 1943 from the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s director, Serge Koussev itzky, who visited him in a New York hospital where he was being treated for what turned out to be a fatal illness, … more
About the composer
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.|