Concerto for Orchestra

Bela Bartok: Concerto for Orchestra

I listened to this amazing music carefully again last night. The recorded performance was coupled with a documentary that I also found quite interesting because it presented the historical aspects of what went on in Bartok’s life at the time that this music was composed.

Conductor Pierre Boulez explains that Bartok experienced tow different “planes” in his compositions: One was the traditional Viennese School of composition, and the second plane was represented by Hungarian folk tunes that Bartok studied and cataloged quite carefully.

This music was composed in the shadows of World War II, but Bartok left Europe for the US, and this work was composed in New York on a commission by Koussevitzky of the Boston Symphony.

• The first movement is an introduction in Sonata form
• The second movement is devoted to several pairs of instruments (Bassoons, clarinets, flutes, etc, each pair playing a unique melody
• The 3rd movement is titled “Elegie” and is the emotional center of the composition
• The fourth movement is a humorous intermezzo
• The finale is played at a very fast pace and based on Hungarian folk tunes. This movement was supposed to showcase the virtuosity of American orchestras during the 1940’s.

Here is a section of the Bartok documentary (2007) with the Berlin Philharmonic, conducted by Pierre Boulez

And here is part of the Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra – the first movement – with Boulez conducting the Orchestre de Paris

Tags: Bela Bartok, Concerto for Orchestra, Pierre Boulez, Berlin Philharmonic

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