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Thread: B. Bartok's solo piano music

  1. #1
    Captain of Water Music Ouled Nails's Avatar
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    B. Bartok's solo piano music

    I have been listening to the "complete solo piano music" of Bela Bartok, with Gyorgy Sandor at the piano. Of these five CDs, over forty percent of the music time consists of pedagogically inspired and conceived pieces: first in chronological order, the two volumes of his "For Children," then the "Ten Easy Pieces," and of course the six volumes of the Mikrokosmos.

    People often view Bartok as some very percussive, highly dissonant, composer, which is true in a number of famous works and in many string quartets. But when he wrote for the piano nearly half of his output is more joyous, more entrainant, and certainly accessible to a younger audience.

    Any forum member who has played/practised some of these piano pieces? Anyone who has done the entire Mikrokosmos?

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    Captain of Water Music some guy's Avatar
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    Well, I can only speak for myself, but I've always thought of Bartok as a percussive, joyous, dissonant, entrainant composer who's accessible to any adventurous listener of whatever age. (As the years go by, the adventurous part gets less and less important. That is, it takes less adventurousness to like Bartok in 2007 than it did in 1970.)

    But to answer your query, I did take piano lessons when I was a freshman in college. I enjoyed the Bartok and the Kabalevsky pieces the best. They were the most rewarding to play--the most worth the effort of practicing!!

    Since I'd started so late, and then got caught up in other things, I never got very good, but it was fun to have pieces that were both musically solid and negotiable by a beginner.

  3. #3
    Vice Admiral Virtuoso rojo's Avatar
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    The entire Mikrokosmos? I don`t think so!

    I`m ashamed to say I haven`t used any of it. I know I should. In my defense, there is just so much repertoire for piano that one can`t use all of it, and one can`t learn all of it.

    I have heard a few pieces from Mikorokosmos, and I liked some but not all. Oddly enough, I never learned any Bartok in my studies. I do enjoy many of his works though, and I love that word, 'entraînant', I use it often. What would be a good english equivalent?

    Anyway, you`ve got me interested; I`m going to investigate using Bartok piano stuff.
    ''Music, I feel, should be emotional first and intellectual second.'' - Maurice Ravel
    ''The greatest education in the world is watching the masters at work.'' - Michael Jackson


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    Captain of Water Music Ouled Nails's Avatar
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    I am not a musician (very sad, but true ) and can only rely on listening to derive what observations I am willing to venture on public forums such as this. Mikrokosmos sounds to me like a very gradual method to learn how to play the piano. It's amazing how a gifted composer such as Bartok took the time to develop these 153 consecutive pieces. You may want to take a look at the first volume (1-36) for beginning students (if you do teach beginners). All of these pieces are very brief and the learning curb follows these assignments:
    (volume 1) -- six unison melodies - dotted notes - repetition - syncopation - with alternate hands - parallel motion - reflection - change of position - question and answer - village song (a first folkloric tune) - parallel motion and change of position - contrary motion - four unison melodies - imitation and counterpoint - imitation and inversion - pastorale - imitation and inversion - repetition - syncopation - canon at the octave - imitation reflected - canon at the lower fifth - little dance in canon form - in Dorian mode - slow dance - in Phrygian mode - free canon.

    Altogether, this first volume of 36 pieces can be played in 15-16 minutes.

    The subsequent volumes not only become technically more demanding but also introduce a nice variety of folkloric traditions and variations such as: "In Hungarian Style," "In Oriental Style," "From the Island of Bali," closing the whole Mikrokosmos series with "Six Dances in Bulgarian Style." But Bartok also introduces students to classical traditions such as his short hommage to JSB, to Robert Schumann, a Bourrée, and so forth.

  5. #5
    Seaman, Mezzoforte
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    Is anyone else outrageously impressed by Ouled Nails' insights considering s/he is not a musician?

    Out of interest, what got you into music theory if you don't play/sing yourself?

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    Captain of Water Music Ouled Nails's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Curtin View Post
    Is anyone else outrageously impressed by Ouled Nails' insights considering s/he is not a musician?

    Out of interest, what got you into music theory if you don't play/sing yourself?
    I truly appreciate your generous compliment, John, but music "theory" is probably not how I would characterize my grasp of classical music; "observation" is a much safer word for this traveler to cultural lands where the language is always foreign. And like anyone who ventures there without a sufficient knowledge of the language, I am bound to make numerous mistakes so do be indulgent when that happens (and it will). In answer to your questions, implicit and explicit, ON is a he who has always been interested in composer biographies. Not exactly fresh out of college either . The first book I read on Bartok was something like 36 years ago.... How about you, John? Are you a musician?

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    Captain of Water Music Ouled Nails's Avatar
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    Okay, Tom. I have just read your other posts and now realize that you play the violin and you're from western Australia. I gather that Perth is really booming with newcomers these days so my traveler/foreigner metaphor is not completely off the mark.

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