Romanian Folk Dances

Composer: Béla Bartók (b. 1881 - d. 1945)
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Composer: Béla Bartók (b. 1881 - d. 1945)

Performance date: 03/07/2012

Venue: St. Brendan’s Church

Composition Year: 1915

Duration: 00:06:26

Recording Engineer: Anton Timoney, RTÉ lyric fm

Instrumentation Category:Duo

Instrumentation Other: vn, mar

Artists: Ji Hye Jung - [marimba]
Catherine Leonard - [violin]

These six short electrifying pieces were originally composed
for solo piano before their dual transformation for this evening’s performance.
In the years from 1905 to 1914, Bartók and his friend Kodály collected and
notated more than 6,000 folk tunes in their quest to preserve the vanishing
musical heritage of the Balkan highlands. Most of the Romanian Folk Dances
originated in Transylvania, which was part of Hungary in 1915 but became part
of Romania in the postwar settlement, forcing Bartók to change the work’s title
from Romanian Folk Dances in Hungary to its present one. In fact Bartók got
into a lot of trouble with the Hungarian nationalists for his folk music
researches, which clearly indicated the multi-ethnic nature of much of the
Hungarian hinterland.

Unlike much of Bartók’s music where he re-creates an
imaginary folk music, the Romanian Folk Dances are his re-workings of folk
tunes he had collected. The importance of these pieces is the comparison with
the so-called folk tunes from composers like Brahms and Dvorák, who sourced
their faux folk music from gypsy fiddlers rather than the real thing. Bartók
succeeds brilliantly in rescuing the unpredictability, the harshness and the
freshness of the original.