Bartók’s Second String Quartet was composed – with several long interruptions – between 1915 and 1918, after he had spent several years almost solely devoted to collecting folk music. The melody and rhythms of the riotous middle movement “Allegro, molto capriccioso” provide impressive testimony of how his research trips had taken him as far as North Africa. The first edition of this quartet, published in Vienna in 1920, contains a conspicuous number of errors that were only partially corrected in a later revision undertaken by Bartók. As late as the 1940s he noted changes in his personal copy of the score that have never previously appeared in print.
These late changes by Bartók are taken into account in this definitive edition of the string quartets supervised by Bartók scholar László Somfai, with problematic passages in the sources carefully documented. It is the first-ever Urtext edition of this work.
- String Quartet no. 2 op. 17 (BB 75)
The six string quartets by Béla Bartók (1881 – 1945), composed between 1908 and 1939, are classics of the 20th century musical repertoire. They are sometimes regarded as a six-piece cycle, even though each was written in a very different style and under different conditions. Bartók’s String Quartet no. 1, premiered in 1910 after its completion in 1909, gained recognition … 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.|