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Composer: Béla Bartók

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Fact file
Year of birth1881
Year of death1945
NationalityHungary
Period20th century
Béla Bartók
Biography

Béla Bartók is one of the most important composers of the 20th century. He was also an accomplished pianist, teacher, as well as a collector and arranger of folk song from Hungary and other countries. Bartók's music talent became evident when he started playing the piano and composing at a very early age. In his early and academic years, he was influenced by the works of Brahms, Schumann and later Richard Strauss. Bartók's first acquaintance with Hungarian folklore was in 1904, after which he found his true musical identity, composing two string quartets, the one-act opera Duke Blue Bluebeard’s Caste, the ballets The Wooden Prince and The Miraculous Mandarin. His first two piano concertos were composed between 1926 and 1931, which were extensively performed by him at the piano. His fame as a composer and pianist grew, but he was more devoted to his folk-music studies and to developing his musical language. Until 1940, before moving to the USA, he wrote three quartets, the Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta as well as the Sonata for two pianos and percussion. Bartók lived in the USA from 1940 until 1945, during which time he lectured and gave concerts. By commission from the Koussevitzky Foundation in 1943, here he composed one of his masterpieces, the Concerto for Orchestra. He died from leukaemia on 26 September 1945 in New York, leaving just a sketch of his Viola Concerto and his Third Piano Concerto missing just seventeen bars to completion.