Béla Bartók: Romanian folk dances

Béla Bartók collecting folk songs with phonograph from Slovakian peasants in Zobordarázs (today Dražovce, part of Nitra city, Slovakia), 1907

In 1909 Béla Bartók began to collect Romanian folk music around Belényes/Beiuș, encouraged by his local Romanian teacher friend János Bușiția. He also continued collecting in the following year and in 1912-1913, making several tours in various Romanian regions of Eastern Hungary (now Romania). Based on the material collected, in 1915 he composed the piano piece Romanian folk dances, which he dedicated to his friend in Belényes. In 1917 he also arranged it for orchestra, and in 1925 Zoltán Székely made of it a highly successful transcription for violin and piano.

The only five or six minutes long piece consists of six movements, six separate dances. The 1 Jocul cu bâtă (Stick Dance) was collected from two Gypsies – a violinist and a folk viola player – in Mezőszabad/Voiniceni, the 2 Brâul (Round Dance) and 3 Pe loc (Stamping) pair dance from a piper in Egres/Igriș, the 4 Buciumeana (Dance of Bucium) with a three-quarter time from a Gypsy violinist in Bucsony/Bucium, the 5 Poarga românească (Romanian Polka) from a Romanian fiddler in Belényes/Beiuș, just like the 6 Mărunțelul (Short steps) fast pair dance.

Several hundred versions of this piece are available on the net. The complexity and diversity of the rhythm structures within the tight basic rhythm, the rapid alternation of the different dance styles, the Eastern European and even more oriental tunes have inspired many adaptations, and the Romanian dances of the Hungarian composer were felt by many cultures and peoples as their own. By way of these versions it became a kind of a wandering melody, similarly to the formerly heard Ottoman melody, which has been adopted by every people from Anatolia through the Balkans to the Mediterranean. Below we present some of these versions. *

Bálint Vázsonyi and Oliver Colbentson

The original version for piano, played by Bálint Vázsonyi (1936-2003) just as energetically as the original dances must have been.

The violin-piano transcription in the similarly powerful performance by Oliver Colbentson (1927-2013) and Erich Appel.

The Rajkó Gypsy Band, Budapest, 2004

The Klezmer All Star Clarinet Gang, 2006. Arranged by the mandolin player, Avi Avital

The Italian Atem Saxophone Quartet, Civitanova, Marche, 20 Aug. 2011

The Macedonia Clarinet Quartet

The Argentine Brian Caballero on bandoneon

Liu Fang (pipa = Classical Chinese lute) and Michael O’Toole (guitar). Waterford Cathedral, 29 Sept. 2008

Ma Xiaohui (erhu = Classical Chinese two-stringed violin) and Tim Ovens (piano). Shanghai

The Italian brass band Ottomanìa, a version full of original solutions, Rome, Palazzo Barberini, 19 June 2011. (YouTube does not allow the embedding of the video, you can see it on their site.)

Two Far Eastern prodigy child performances, from Korea (Shin Sihan, violin, Jan Hoitjink, piano) and an eight-year-old Japanese girl (solo piano), both of them interpreting with a brilliant sensitivity this piece from a remote culture

Ad finally an orchestral version at the Academy of Music of Budapest, by the Danubia Orchestra conducted by Domonkos Héja, where before each movement the Muzsikás Folk Ensemble plays the original folk versions with their own decorations. The first video is the introduction by the Muzsikás with the first two movements, the second one the orchestral version with the rest.

The dances in Bartók’s original field recordings from the archives of the Institute of Musicology of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Thanks to the original uploader and to Kip W, who called our attention to them.

4 comentarios:

Kip W dijo...

Here are Bartok's field recordings, at YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MhCoDIiWtzw

dumneazu dijo...


Studiolum dijo...

Yes, this was the apropos of this post. I have also included the story in footnote under the asterisk at the end of the introduction, before the musical examples. I did not want to put this disgusting case in the main text and thus elevate it at the same level of this beautiful music and its story.

Studiolum dijo...

Thanks, Kip W! I will also include it in the selection.