Bela Bartok Mikrokosmos, complete, the 6 Books, with sheet music
Béla Bartók and his music
Béla Viktor János Bartók (25 March 1881 – 26 September 1945) was a Hungarian composer, pianist, and ethnomusicologist. He is considered one of the most important composers of the 20th century; he and Franz Liszt are regarded as Hungary’s greatest composers.Through his collection and analytical study of folk music, he was one of the founders of comparative musicology, which later became ethnomusicology.
Paul Wilson lists as the most prominent characteristics of Bartók’s music from late 1920s onwards the influence of the Carpathian basin and European art music, and his changing attitude toward (and use of) tonality, but without the use of the traditional harmonic functions associated with major and minor scales.
Although Bartók claimed in his writings that his music was always tonal, he rarely uses the chords or scales of tonality, and so the descriptive resources of tonal theory are of limited use. George Perle (1955) and Elliott Antokoletz (1984) focus on alternative methods of signaling tonal centers, via axes of inversional symmetry.
Others view Bartók’s axes of symmetry in terms of atonal analytic protocols. Richard Cohn (1988) argues that inversional symmetry is often a byproduct of another atonal procedure, the formation of chords from transpositionally related dyads. Atonal pitch-class theory also furnishes the resources for exploring polymodal chromaticism, projected sets, privileged patterns, and large set types used as source sets such as the equal tempered twelve tone aggregate, octatonic scale (and alpha chord), the diatonic and heptatonia secunda seven-note scales, and less often the whole tone scale and the primary pentatonic collection.
He rarely used the simple aggregate actively to shape musical structure, though there are notable examples such as the second theme from the first movement of his Second Violin Concerto, commenting that he “wanted to show Schoenberg that one can use all twelve tones and still remain tonal”. More thoroughly, in the first eight measures of the last movement of his Second Quartet, all notes gradually gather with the twelfth (G♭) sounding for the first time on the last beat of measure 8, marking the end of the first section.
The aggregate is partitioned in the opening of the Third String Quartet with C♯–D–D♯–E in the accompaniment (strings) while the remaining pitch classes are used in the melody (violin 1) and more often as 7–35 (diatonic or “white-key” collection) and 5–35 (pentatonic or “black-key” collection) such as in no. 6 of the Eight Improvisations. There, the primary theme is on the black keys in the left hand, while the right accompanies with triads from the white keys. In measures 50–51 in the third movement of the Fourth Quartet, the first violin and cello play black-key chords, while the second violin and viola play stepwise diatonic lines.
On the other hand, from as early as the Suite for piano, Op. 14 (1914), he occasionally employed a form of serialism based on compound interval cycles, some of which are maximally distributed, multi-aggregate cycles. Ernő Lendvai analyses Bartók’s works as being based on two opposing tonal systems, that of the acoustic scale and the axis system, as well as using the golden section as a structural principle.
Milton Babbitt, in his 1949 critique of Bartók’s string quartets, criticized Bartók for using tonality and non-tonal methods unique to each piece. Babbitt noted that “Bartók’s solution was a specific one, it cannot be duplicated”. Bartók’s use of “two organizational principles”—tonality for large scale relationships and the piece-specific method for moment to moment thematic elements—was a problem for Babbitt, who worried that the “highly attenuated tonality” requires extreme non-harmonic methods to create a feeling of closure.
The cataloguing of Bartók’s works is somewhat complex. Bartók assigned opus numbers to his works three times, the last of these series ending with the Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 1, Op. 21 in 1921. He ended this practice because of the difficulty of distinguishing between original works and ethnographic arrangements, and between major and minor works. Since his death, three attempts—two full and one partial—have been made at cataloguing.
The first, and still most widely used, is András Szőllősy‘s chronological Sz. numbers, from 1 to 121. Denijs Dille subsequently reorganised the juvenilia (Sz. 1–25) thematically, as DD numbers 1 to 77. The most recent catalogue is that of László Somfai; this is a chronological index with works identified by BB numbers 1 to 129, incorporating corrections based on the Béla Bartók Thematic Catalogue. On 1 January 2016, his works entered the public domain in the European Union.
Béla Bartók‘s Mikrokosmos Sz. 107, BB 105 consists of 153 progressive piano pieces in six volumes written between 1926 and 1939. The individual pieces progress from very easy and simple beginner études to very difficult advanced technical displays, and are used in modern piano lessons and education. In total, according to Bartók, the piece “appears as a synthesis of all the musical and technical problems which were treated and in some cases only partially solved in the previous piano works.”
Volumes one and two are dedicated to his son Péter, while volumes five and six are intended as professionally performable concert pieces. Bartók also indicated that these pieces could also be played on other instruments; Huguette Dreyfus for example has recorded pieces from Books 3 through 6 on the harpsichord.
In 1940, shortly before they emigrated to the United States, he arranged seven of the pieces for two pianos, to provide additional repertoire for himself and his wife Ditta Pásztory-Bartók to play.
All of the six volumes progress in difficulty, namely:
- Volumes I and II: Pieces 1–36 and 37–66, beginner level
- Volumes III and IV: Pieces 67–96 and 97–121, moderate to advanced level
- Volumes V and VI: 122–139 and 140–153, professional level
The list of pieces is as follows:
|Volume I Six Unison Melodies (I) (a) Six Unison Melodies (II) (b) Six Unison Melodies (II) Six Unison Melodies (III) Six Unison Melodies (IV) Six Unison Melodies (V) Six Unison Melodies (VI) Dotted Notes Repetition (1) Syncopation (I) With Alternate Hands Parallel Motion Reflection Change of Position Question and Answer Village Song Parallel Motion with Change of Position Contrary Motion Four Unison Melodies (I) Four Unison Melodies (II) Four Unison Melodies (III) Four Unison Melodies (IV) Imitation and Counterpoint Imitation and Inversion (I) Pastorale Imitation and Inversion (II) Repetition (II) Syncopation (II) Canon at the Octave Imitation Reflected Canon at the Lower Fifth Dance in Canon Form In Dorian Mode Slow Dance In Phrygian Mode Chorale Free Canon||Volume II In Lydian Mode Staccato and Legato (I) Staccato and Legato (Canon) In Yugoslav Style Melody with Accompaniment Accompaniment in Broken Triads (a) In Hungarian Style (for two pianos) (b) In Hungarian Style Contrary Motion (2) (for two pianos) Meditation Increasing-Diminishing County Fair In Mixolydian Mode Crescendo-Diminuendo Minuetto Waves Unison Divided In Transylvanian Style Chromatics Triplets in Lydian Mode (for two pianos) Melody in Tenths Accents In Oriental Style Major and Minor Canon with Sustained Notes Pentatonic Melody Minor Sixths in Parallel Motion Buzzing (a) Line against Point (b) Line against Point Dialogue (with voice) Melody Divided||Volume III Thirds against a Single Voice Hungarian Dance (for two pianos) Study in Chords Melody against Double Notes Thirds Dragons’ Dance Sixths and Triads (a) Hungarian Matchmaking Song (b) Hungarian Matchmaking Song (with voice) Triplets In Three Parts Little Study Five-Tone Scale Hommage à Johann Sebastian Bach Hommage à Robert Schumann Wandering Scherzo Melody with Interruptions Merriment Broken Chords Two Major Pentachords Variations Duet for Pipes In Four Parts (I) In Russian Style Chromatic Invention (I) Chromatic Invention (II) In Four Parts (II) Once Upon a Time… (a) Fox Song (b) Fox Song (with voice) Jolts|
|Volume IV Notturno Thumbs Under Hands Crossing In Folk Song Style Diminished Fifth Harmonics Minor and Major (a) Wandering through the Keys (b) Wandering through the Keys Game (with Two Five-Tone Scales) Children’s Song Melody in the Mist Wrestling From the Island of Bali And the Sounds Clash and Clang… Intermezzo Variations on a Folk Tune Bulgarian Rhythm (I) Theme and Inversion Bulgarian Rhythm (II) Song Bourrée Triplets in 9|
8 Time Dance in 3
4 Time Triads Two-Part Study
|Volume V Chords Together and in Opposition (a) Staccato and Legato (II) (b) Staccato and Legato (II) Staccato Boating Change of Time New Hungarian Folk Song (with voice) Stamping Dance Alternating Thirds Village Joke Fourths Major Seconds Broken and Together Syncopation (III) (a) Studies in Double Notes (b) Studies in Double Notes (c) Studies in Double Notes Perpetuum mobile Whole-Tone Scales Unison Bagpipe Music Merry Andrew|
- Free Variations
- Subject and Reflection
- From the Diary of a Fly
- Divided Arpeggios
- Minor Seconds, Major Sevenths
- (a) Chromatic Invention (III)(b) Chromatic Invention (III)
- Six Dances in Bulgarian Rhythm (I)
- Six Dances in Bulgarian Rhythm (II)
- Six Dances in Bulgarian Rhythm (III)
- Six Dances in Bulgarian Rhythm (IV)
- Six Dances in Bulgarian Rhythm (V)
- Six Dances in Bulgarian Rhythm (VI)