Bluebeard's castle: op. 11

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Courier Corporation, 1921 - Music - 67 pages
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The first vocal work and the only opera written by Bela Bartok (1881 1945), "Bluebeard's Castle" is considered the greatest Hungarian opera. Though it is concentrated into a single act and has only two characters, it burns with a fully operatic intensity "a musical volcano," as Zoltan Kodaly called it, "that erupts for 60 minutes of compressed tragedy."
The libretto, a symbolist drama by the distinguished writer Bela Balazs, takes off from Perrault's fairy tale to present a psychological case study of a nervous bride trying fully to enter the world of her new husband a darkly charismatic man into whose life she is confident she will be able to bring warmth, brightness, and love. He warns her not to ask what lies behind the seven doors in his gloomy castle, but after insisting that her love gives her the right to know everything about him, she learns the horrifying truth about the man she has married.
An early (1911) work of great assurance and promise, this short opera will be a revelation to listeners who know only Bartok's later music. It has a wholly different sound and, in its preoccupation with textures and timbre, shows the influence of Debussy and Richard Strauss. "Bluebeard's Castle" is the composer at his most sensual far from the more angular Bartok of later years.
This new edition of a long-neglected classic has been reproduced directly from a rare copy of the 1921 vocal score, featuring a piano reduction by the composer and a German translation by Wilhelm Ziegler. For this edition, Stanley Appelbaum has provided an informative Introduction and a full English synopsis based on the original Hungarian text. The result is an inexpensive, indispensable performance aid for the vocal soloist, speaker, and rehearsal pianist.

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About the author (1921)

Bela Bartok, one of the outstanding composers of the twentieth century, was born in Hungary in 1881. When he was five years old, his mother began to teach him to play the piano. By the age of nine, he had begun to compose his own music. Between 1899 and 1903, he attended the Academy of Music in Budapest; in 1907 he was appointed professor of piano. Bartok's early compositions were complex and not well received by the public. In 1905 he turned his attention to collecting and cataloging the folk music of his native Hungary. With the help of his friend and fellow Hungarian, composer Zoltan Kodaly, Bartok produced a series of commentaries, anthologies, and arrangements of the folk music that he had collected. Bartok's interest in folk music had a profound effect on his compositions. The influence is seen in the unadorned power of his music, especially in the rhythmic drive of fast movements and in his use of folk melodies, rhythms, and harmonic patterns. Throughout his life, Bartok had to struggle to make a living. Yet he refused to teach musical composition, believing that this would inhibit his own composing. Instead, he earned a living teaching piano and performing. During the 1920s he traveled throughout Europe giving piano recitals, and, in 1927 and 1928, he made a concert tour of the United States. In 1940, after the outbreak of World War II, Bartok left Hungary to settle in the United States, where he continued to perform and compose music. Among his most famous compositions are the Mikrokosmos for piano (1926--27), Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta (1936), and Concerto for Orchestra (1943). Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge became his patron and supported him. Bartok died of leukemia in 1945.

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