The Yolanda and David Katz Faculty of the Arts, The Buchmann-Mehta School of Music
Course: Béla Bartók and a philosophy of modernism
1st semester, 2016-2017
Seminar, 4 hour weekly course
The course will be held in English.
Name of Lecturer: Judit Frigyesi (יהודית פריגישי)
Reception time: by appointment
Preparation, participation and class presentations (50%), independent research (50 %):
(1) preparation for the classes
a. bringing to class the musical score and/or the text assigned
b. reading, listening to, and analyzing the work assigned for the class according to directions
(2) participation in class discussion and demonstrated work during workshops
(3) independent research
(4) written project = final work.
Note: All students are required to have worked on the material prior to class and must come to the class prepared according to schedule
Description of course
This course aims to provide introduction to the music, aesthetics and cultural context of the composer Béla Bartók. Bartók is one of the greatest artists of 20th century avant-garde music. Besides the inexhaustible fantasy and emotional power of his works, Bartók’s life exemplifies the morality and responsibility of the artist of the era and his works are the expression also of this morality. The course cannot aim at the discussion of even all major works. Its primary purpose will be to help students to gain a new perspective and be able to approach Bartók’s works with relevant questions regarding the music’s emotional and aesthetic meaning/message. One important aim of the course is to provide contextual knowledge that is indispensable for the interpretation of Bartók’s music: his ethnomusicological oeuvre and the nature of folk musics he studied, the socio-cultural context of Central Europe, and within it, Hungary, and the artistic trends and ideas of the time. The pillar of the course will be Bartók’s major composition Music for String, Percussion and Celesta (1936). This work will be analyzed at depth and will be regarded as the starting point for the discussion of a variety of other key-issues of Bartók’s music.
Classes 1-2: Introduction
(a) Bartók’s life and oeuvre: a brief overview
Suggested readings: Bartók, Péter: My Father, Gillies: Bartók remembered, Somfai and Lampert: "Béla Bartók", Stevens: The Life and Music of Béla Bartók, Tallián: Béla Bartók.
(b) Bartók’s aesthetics and the “correct” performance of his works
Suggested reading: Frigyesi: “How Barbaric Is Bartók’s forte?”
(c) Bartók scholarship: issues and problems
Suggested reading: Somfai: Béla Bartók: Composition, Concepts and Autograph Sources.
(c) Assignments and the discussion of the concept of narrative and our “self-experiment”
II. Bartók’s “night music”
Classes 3-4: Bartók’s “Night-music”-type and its dramatic function
(a) The “The night’s music” from the series Out of Doors for piano (1926) -- discussion of “self-experiments” and the meaning of the metaphor of the “night” on the basis of the music’s effect
(b) The dramatic function of “night-music” in the so-called “bridge form”: String Quartet No. 2 (1915-7), No. 4 (1928), No. 5 (1934), Divertimento for chamber string orchestra (1939), Piano Concerto, No. 3. (1945)
(c) Alternate slow movement-types: Piano Concerto No.1 (1926) and Violin Concerto (1937-38)
Classes 5-6: Night in Bartók’s life and in 20th- century art
A brief analysis of two major works: Bluebeard’s Castle, opera (Op. 11, 1911) and The Wooden Prince, ballet (1915-17)
Classes 7-8: Music for Strings Percussion and Celesta/III
(a) Analysis of the movement
Suggested reading: Grabócz. “Narrative Analysis in the Comparative Approach to Performances: The Adagio of Bartók’s Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta”, Frigyesi: Béla Bartók and Turn-of-the-Century Budapest (chapter 8)
(b) “Night” in Hungarian folk tale and poetry
Suggested reading: Frigyesi: Béla Bartók and Turn-of-the-Century Budapest (chs. 6-7)
Classes 9-10: Dream, fantasy and the “story”
a brief overview of all the movements of Music for String Percussion and Celesta and discussion of the assignment for independent project
III. Folk music and the problematic of the “folklorist” (optimistic?) ending
Classes 11-12: The meaning of folk music for Bartók
(a) Hungarian Folk music and Hungarian society
Suggested reading: Frigyesi: “Béla Bartók and the Concept of Nation and Volk…”
(b) Bartók the folklorist
Suggested reading: selected articles dealing with folk music from Bartók Essays
(c) Bartók’s folk song arrangements and his piano performances:folk song arrangements and Improvisations, Op. 20 (1921)
Classes 13-14: Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta/IV and other endings
(a) Analysis and interpretation of movement IV from Music for Strings Percussion and Celesta
(b) Bartók’s other “folklorisitic endings” and the collapse of the “happy finale”
Works to be discussed: String Quartet No. 2 (1915-7), No. 5 (1934), and No. 6. (1939), and the Piano Concerto No. 1 (1926)
IV. The musical narrative and the compositional process
Classes 15-18: Analysis and discussion of two major compositions and their compositional process on the basis of Bartók’s manuscripts:
String Quartet No. 3 (1927) and Sonata for Violin and Piano, No. 2 (1922)
Classes 19-20: An overview of the development of Bartók’s aesthetics
V. Music for Strings Percussion and Celesta/I and summary
Classes 21-22: Independent meetings and discussion
Classes 23-24: Group discussion
Classes 25-26: Conclusion
BASIC SECONDARY LITERATURE
Note: This bibliography contain only books and articles in English and only (1) basic general studies and (2) works that directly deal with topics discussed in class.
Catalogues of Bartók’s works:
László Somfai's catalogue ("BB numbers") in Somfai's book "Composition, Concepts...": complete catalogue of compositions with list and location of autographs sources)
András Szőllőssy's catalogue ("Sz numbers") in Újfalussy, Bartók.
Dille, Denijs. Thematisches Verzeichnis der Jugendwerke Béla Bartóks 1890-1904 [Thematic catalogue of Béla Bartók's youthful works 1890-1904]. Budapest: Akadémiai, 1974. ("DD numbers")
Antokoletz, Elliott. Béla Bartók: A Guide to Research. New York and London: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1988.
Bartók's and Kodály's writings:
Bartók, Béla. Béla Bartók Essays. Edited by Benjamin Suchoff. New York Bartók Archive, Studies in Musicology 8. New York: St. Martin's Press; London: Faber and Faber, 1976.
---. Béla Bartók Letters. Edited by János Demény. Translated by Péter Balaban and István Farkas. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1971.
---. Paul Sacher Stiftung, ed. Béla Bartóks Briefe an Stefy Geyer. 1907-1908 (Basel: Paul Sacher Stiftung, 1979)
---. The Hungarian Folk Song, Edited by Benjamin Suchoff. Translated by M. D. Calvacoressi. Albany: New York State University Press, 1981.
---. Rumanian Folk Music, edited Benjamin Suchoff, vol I-III
Kodály, Zoltán. The Selected Writings of Zoltán Kodály. Selected from the Hungarian original Visszatekintés. Összegyűjtött írások, beszédek, nyilatkozatok edited by Ferenc Bónis. 2 vols. (Budapest: Editio Musica, 1979). Translated by Lili Halapy and Fred Macnicol. London: Boosey and Hawkes, 1974.
Basic books on Bartók's life and art:
Bartók, Péter. My Father. Homosassa , Florida: Bartok Records, 2002.
Bónis, Ferenc, comp. Béla Bartók. His Life in Pictures and Documents. Budapest: Corvina, 1972.
Frigyesi, Judit. Béla Bartók and turn-of-the-century Budapest. Berkeley: California University Press, 1998.
Gillies, Malcolm. Bartók remembered. New York and London: W. W. Norton and Company, Inc., 1991.
Somfai, László and Vera Lampert. "Béla Bartók" in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 6th ed. Stanley Sadie, vol 2, 192-225. London: Macmillan Publishers Ltd., 1980.
Stevens, Halsey. The Life and Music of Béla Bartók. New York: Oxford Univesity Press, 1964.
Tallián, Tibor. Béla Bartók. The Man and His Work. Budapest: Corvina, 1981.
[Ujfalussy, József. Béla Bartók. Translation by Ruth Pataki, rev. Elizabeth West. Budapest: Corvina; Boston: Crescendo, 1971. (Includes the Szöllőssy’s thematic catalogue)]
Basic book on Bartok’s manuscripts and creative process:
László Somfai. Béla Bartók: Composition, Concepts and Autograph Sources (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996)
See the essay-review of this work: Frigyesi, Judit. “Béla Bartók: Composition, Concepts, and Autograph Sources, by László Somfai,” Journal of the American Musicological Society, vol 52/2 (Summer 1999), 324-334.
Introduction to analysis (especially tonal/pitch):
Béla Bartó’s analyses of his own pieces and his "Harvard lectures," in Suchoff’s Essays.
Lendvai, Ernő. Béla Bartók. An analysis of his music. London: Kahn and Averill, 1971.
Antokoletz, Elliott. The music of Béla Bartók. A study of tonality and progression in twentieth-century music. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California press, 1984.
Gillies, Malcolm. ed. The Bartók Companion. London, 1993.
Laki, Péter. ed. Bartók and his World. Princeton: University Press, 1995.
Amanda Bayley. ed. The Cambridge Companion to Bartók. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001
Works and articles related to the topics of our course (other than chapters in the basic books above):
Frigyesi, Judit. “How Barbaric Is Bartók’s forte? About the Performance of Bartók’s Fast Movements for Piano and Strings, with Emphasis on the First Movement of the Fifth String Quartet,” The String Quartets of Béla Bartók: Tradition and Legacy in Analytical Perspective, ed. Dániel Péter Biró and Harald Krebs (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2014), 200-243.
---. “Surface musical process versus background structure: two instances of last-minute corrections in Bartók’s works,” Annales Suisses de Musicologie/Schweizer Jahrbuch für Musikwissenschaft, Neue Folge 27 (Bern, Berlin, New York, etc: Peter Lang, 2007), 39-62.
---. “Bartók’s non-classical narrative: Sonata for Violin and Piano, No. 2 (1922),” International Journal of Musicology Vol. 9. (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang Europäischer Verlag der Wissenschaften, 2005), 267-289.
---. “Béla Bartók and the Concept of Nation and Volk in Modern Hungary,” The Musical Quarterly vol. 78/2 (Summer 1994), 255-287.
Grabócz, Márta. “Narrative Analysis in the Comparative Approach to Performances: The Adagio of Bartók’s Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta”. Studies in the Sources and the Interpretation of Music. Essays in Honor of László Somfai on His 70th Birthday, ed. László Vikárius and Vera Lampert (Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 2005).
Kárpáti, János. Bartók's String Quartets. Translated by Fred MacNicol. Budapest: Corvina Press, 1975.
Leafstedt, Carl S. Inside Bluebeard’s Castle. Music and Drama in Béla Bartók’s opera. New York, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999.
Schneider, David E. Bartók, Hungary, and the Renewal of Tradition -- Case Studies in the Intersection of Modernity and Nationality (Berkeley: California University Press, 2006.
Somfai, László. "Manuscript Versus Urtext: The Primary Sources of Bartók's Works," Studia Musicologica (1981)
---. “»Per finire«. Some Aspects of the Finale in Bartók’s Cyclic Form” in Studia Musicologica 11 (1969), 391–408.
---. A Characteristic Culmination Point in Bartók’s Instrumental Forms” in József Ujfalussy, János Breuer (ed.), International Musicological Conference in Commemoration of Béla Bartók 1971 (Budapest: Editio Musica, 1972), 53–64.
Vikárius, László. „Béla Bartók’s Cantata Profana (1930): A Reading of the Sources.” Studia Musicologica 35, nos. 1–3 (1993-94), 249–301
---. “The Sources of Béla Bartók’s Opera Duke Bluebeard’s Castle (1911): The Fascinations of Balladry.” In 17. slovenski glasbeni dnevi. 17th Slovenian Musical Days. April 9–12, 2002, Ljubljana, Slovenia. Szerk. Primož Kuret. Ljubljana: Festival Ljubljana, 2003, 109–123
Scholarly journals and series with emphasis on Bartók and Hungarian music:
Studia Musicologica (SM), Documenta Bartókiana, The New Hungarian Quarterly, Hungarian Music Quarterly, Hungaroton complete edition of Bartók's work (accompanying essays)