Bartok's Viola Concerto: The Remarkable Story of His Swansong
When Bela Bartók died in September of 1945, he left a partially completed viola concerto commissioned by the virtuoso violist William Primrose. Yet, while no definitive version of the work exists, this concerto has become arguably the most-performed viola concerto in the world. The story of how the concerto came to be, from its commissioning by Primrose to its first performance to the several completions that are performed today is told here in Bartók's Viola Concerto:The Remarkable Story of His Swansong. After Bartók's death, his family asked the composer's friend Tibor Serly to look over the sketches of the concerto and to prepare it for publication. While a draft was ready, it took Serly years to assemble the sketches into a complete piece. In 1949, Primrose finally unveiled it, at a premiere performance with the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra. For almost half a century, the Serly version enjoyed great popularity among the viola community, even while it faced charges of inauthenticity. In the 1990s, several revisions appeared and, in 1995, the composer's son, Peter Bartók, released a revision, opening the way or an intensified debate on the authenticity of the multiple versions. This debate continues as violists and Bartók scholars seek the definitive version of this final work of Hungary's greatest composer. Bartók's Viola Concerto tells the story of the genesis and completion of Bartók's viola concerto, its reception over the second half of the twentieth century, its revisions, and future possibilities.
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LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - billsearth - LibraryThing
I found the history of this music not very exciting. However the author does a good job in the first chapter describing the circumstance of Bartok's move to New York and his dissatisfaction of living ... Read full review
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accelerando Adagio Allegretto Allegro Ansermet Atar Arad Bartok Estate Bartok Records Bartok's death Bartok's music Bartok's Viola Concerto bassoon beats Bela Bartok Boosey & Hawkes Budapest Burton Fisch cadenza cello certo chapter chord chromatic commissioned complete composer composer's compositional process copy Csaba Erdelyi David Dalton David Soyer Dorati draft Ernest Ansermet Figure App final golden section Halsey Stevens Hungarian included instrument last movement Laszlo Somfai Lento parlando letter manuscript markings material measures melody ment Menuhin motive Nelson Dellamaggiore notes octatonic octave original passage performance Peter Bartok phrasing pizzicato played possible premiere Primrose's reconstruction rhythm Saranac Lake Scherzo Scottish second movement Second Violin Concerto Serlv Serly version Serly's sketches slurred solo viola soloist String Quartet structural suggestions Symphony Orchestra tempi tempo texture theme third movement Third Piano Concerto three movements three revisions Tibor Serly tion trill Victor Bator violist William Primrose York
Page 16 - ... the score has to be written, which means a purely mechanical work, so to speak. If nothing happens I can be through in 5 or 6 weeks, that is, I can send you a copy of the orchestral score in the second half of October, and a few weeks afterwards a copy (or if you wish more copies) of the piano score. Many interesting problems arose in composing this work. The orchestration will be rather transparent, more transparent than in the Violin Concerto. Also the sombre, more masculine character of your...
Page 16 - ... Concerto, intended for William Primrose, and a new— and uncommissioned— Piano Concerto. It had been many years since he had worked simultaneously on two major scores; now his desperate activity seems to have been prompted by a realization of the gravity of his illness. On 8 September he wrote to Primrose: I am very glad to be able to tell you that your Viola Concerto is ready in draft, so that only the score has to be written, which means a purely mechanical work, so to speak. If nothing...
Page 16 - ... The orchestration will be rather transparent, more transparent than in the Violin Concerto. Also the sombre, more masculine character of your instrument executed some influence on the general character of the work. The highest note I use is 'A,' but I exploit rather frequently the lower registers. It is conceived in a rather virtuoso style. Most probably some passages will prove to be uncomfortable or unplayable. These we will discuss later, according to your observations. The Viola Concerto...
Page 14 - ... August, a letter that remains only as an incomplete fragment, apparently never posted: About mid July I was just planning to write you a rather desponding [sic] letter, explaining [to] you the various difficulties I am in. But, then, there stirred some viola-concerto ideas which gradually crystallized themselves, so that I am able now to tell you that I hope to write the work, and maybe finish at least its draft in 4-5 weeks, if nothing happens in the meantime which would prevent my work.