Why 25th of March?

Béla Bartók

The world famous Hungarian composer and pianist, Béla Bartók, was born on March 25, 1881. Bartók has come to be regarded as one of the most influential modern composers of the twentieth century. Bartók displayed notable musical talent very early in life: By the age of four, he was able to play 40 pieces on the piano and began to compose dances at the age of nine. He studied formally on the piano at age of five with his mother as his first teacher. Béla studied piano with Thomán, a Franz Liszt pupil, and composition with Hans Koessler, at the Budapest Royal Academy of Music Between 1899 and 1903. In 1903 Bartók produced his first major work, the symphonic poem, Kossuth, honoring Lajos Kossuth, hero of the Hungarian revolution of 1848.

Bartók’s piano music, e.g. Allegro barbaro (1911) and Out of Doors (1926) and his pedagogical compositions, e.g.. For Children (1909–1910) and Mikrokosmos (1932–39), as well as the Forty-four Violin Duos (1931) occupy a significant place in 20th-century composition, and his six String Quartets (composed between 1908 and 1939) are considered among the finest modern representatives of the genre. Some of his larger scale orchestral works also had a significant world-wide success from their first performances, especially the Dance Suite (1923) and Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta (1936), the first of his compositions commissioned by the Swiss conductor and patron Paul Sacher. His concertos, particularly the Concerto No. 2 for Violin and Orchestra, are among the greatest works ever written for solo instruments and orchestra. His pantomime, The Miraculous Mandarin(1918–19, orchestration 1924), is also a classic masterpiece. These works put him close to the rank of Schoenberg and Stravinsky, the two most famous composer innovators of his generation.

Besides being piano professor at the Academy of Music in Budapest from 1907 on, Bartók gradually developed into a full-scale scholar. He was particularly interested in archaic features of peasant music that he described as a “natural phenomenon” whose study should be considered as “scientific” work. His extensive collections include some 3500 Romanian, 3000 Slovak and 2700 Hungarian melodies. Through his collection and analytical study of folk music, he was one of the founders of ethnomusicology.

Béla Bartók died at the age of 64 on September 26th, 1945 as one of most important composers in modern history with splashes of brilliance that few can exceed.

As a tribute to his talent and achievement, TalentDays have been oragnized on or around his birthdate ( 25th March) in Hungary and the neighboring countries since 2006.


Some of his works performed by Berliner Philharmoniker can be seen at: