Why Is BéLa BartóK's Music Important?

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Hungarian composer Béla Bartók (1881–1945) is revered both for his abilities as a pianist and for his compositions, which blend Hungarian folk tunes with classical music. Bartók studied and analyzed Hungarian, Romanian, and Arabian folk tunes, publishing thousands of collections of them during his lifetime. While others had been influenced by ethnic music, Bartók was the first to make it an integral part of art music composition, creating a unique style that influenced American composers such as Aaron Copland (1900–1990). In 1940 Bartók moved to the United States where he was commissioned by Columbia University in New York City to transcribe Yugoslav folk melodies. Although he spent his last years in poverty and neglect, his contributions to the world of music have since been revived and celebrated. Among his masterpieces are three stage works: The Wooden Prince (1914–1916), The Miraculous Mandarin (1919), and Duke Bluebeard's Castle (1911). Bartók also published studies of folk music in English such as The Hungarian Folk Song (1931) and Serbo-Croatian Folk Songs (1951).

Further Information: Béla Bartók. [Online] Available http://w3.rz-berlin.mpg.de/cmp/bartok.html, October 23, 2000; Béla Bartók. [Online] Available http://www.futurenet.co.uk/classicalnet/reference/composers/bartok.html, October 23, 2000; Béla Bartók. [Online] Available http://www.ny.boosey.com/composerpages/bartok.html, October 23, 2000; Fasset, Angela. Béla Bartók: A Biography. New York: Dover, 1970; Griffiths, Paul. Béla Bartók: A Biography. London: J. M. Dent, 1984; Stevens, Halsey. The Life and Music of Béla Bartók. New York: Oxford University Press, 1964.

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