The only single-volume biography of Bi??la Barti??k available in English, this fascinating book offers a fresh perspective on one of the most loved and frequently performed composers of the twentieth century, an artist who ranks with Stravinsky and Schoenberg as a leading figure in modern classical music.
Building on more than twenty-five years of research, Malcolm Gillies weaves together the varied aspects of Barti??k's life--the private and public man, the pianist, the champion of folk music, and the national and cultural figure--with a perceptive discussion of his music. The book looks at two pivotal moments in Barti??k's life--the first, the Budapest premiere of Richard Strauss's Also Sprach Zarathustra, which inspired Barti??k to begin his climb to the heights of modern composition. The second moment was when a vacationing Barti??k overheard a servant girl singing a folk song, an experience which sparked one of the great quests of modern music--Barti??k's epic effort to collect and preserve over 10,000 folk tunes. We see how Barti??k came to believe that if a particular interval or rhythm worked well in a folk tune, he could take its essence and creatively transform it in his own pieces, whether a string quartet or some of the innovative vocal pieces that he wrote. Gillies sheds light on both the modernist and folk influences that can be found in Barti??k's work, and he offers an engaging commentary on the full range of Barti??k's compositions, ranging from Bluebeard's Castle to his ballets The Wooden Prince and The Miraculous Mandarin, to his piano and violin concertos, and much more.
A delight for all classical music lovers, this book will be an absolute must-read for the legions of Barti??k fans.
Malcolm Gillies is a Vice-President of The Australian National University. An internationally recognized and preeminent Barti??k scholar, he has written extensively on twentieth-century music. His books include Barti??k Remembered and Barti??k in Britain: A Guided Tour.