Dissertation Index

Author: Attar, Ron

Title: Analysis of Bela Bartok's Performances to Selected Compositions

Institution: Bar-Ilan University, Israel

Begun: December 2003

Completed: June 2007


Bela Bartok is known as a composer, scholer and a pedagogue-three areas that draw from and enrich one another. Yet, Bartok was also a performing pianist. Beginning with the 1920s he performed both as a soloist and with chamber musicians. He has his performances recorded at every possible occasion and regarded these recordings as an integral part of his compositional legacy. Nevertheless, the significance of these recordings has not been fully acknowledged.
Recordings of three pieces from three different periods are analyzed in this work: Improvisations on Hungarian Peasant Songs, op. 20, for piano (1920, BB83/Sz 74; pieces 6-15 from fifteen Hungarian Peasant songs (1914-1918,BB 79/Sz 71)and Six Dances in Bulgarian Rhythm from Mikrokosmos Vol. 6(1932-1939, BB 105/sZ 107).

The multi-sectioned structure of the three pieces discussed in this dissertation suggests that in spite of the spontaneous an improvised appearance of the performances, Bartok had a systematic approach and clear plan for the performance.He never performs two successive formal units with the same performing style, even if these have similar melodic and rhythmic orientation belonging to the same folk music type. In each section, Bartok finds a particular musical element that he emphasizes and that determines the basic performing style of that section. These decisions appear to have been guided by the sense of an exceptional performer who always imagines himself to be in real concert situation.
Since there is always one determining character that defines a given section, in the course of the performance Bartok rapidly moves from character to character. In this way, he creates a proression that constantly shift moods progressing toward a climax in every piece. This dissertation attempts to describe the way in which Bartok's performances outline this unwritten, dramatic narrative of the works.

Keywords: performance, recording, rubato, character,folk-song, interpretation, style, plane, narrative



Capter 2: Improvisation on Hungarian Peasant Folksongs op. 20

Capter 3: Sections 6-15 from Hungarian Peasant Folksongs

Chapter 4:Six Dances in a Bulgarian Rhythm from Microcosmos no. 6

Summery and Conclusions

Bibliography and Discography

Appendix no. 1: Dramatic Narrative created by performing style (tables)

Appendix no. 2: Classification of Bartok's performing styles

Appendix no. 3: Scores of the compositions referred to in the research study

Appendix no. 4: Original and slowed speed recordings of the compositions referred to in the research study on c.d



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