Bela Bartok – part 1

Bela Bartok was a Hungarian composer born in 1881. His parents were Bela Sr. and Paula (nee Voit). You can read our previous blog on his mother here.    Bela started playing the piano quite young. His father passed away unexpectedly when Bela was 7 and over the next few years, Bela, his mother, and his sister moved a couple of times, ending up in Pozsony. This is where he gave his first recital for the public which included a piece he had written himself.
From 1899 to 1903, Bartok studied at the Royal Academy of Music in Budapest. It is here that he met Zoltán Kodály. They would become lifelong friends. A 1904 summer trip to a resort sparked his interest in folk music and in 1907, Kodály introduced him to the music of Debussy. Both would influence Bartok’s works in the years to come.
1907 was also the year that Bartok started to teach piano at the Royal Academy. In 1909, Bartok married Márta Ziegler. He was 28 and she was 16. In August of 1910, their son Bela III was born. After 15 years of marriage, they divorced and Bartok married Ditta Pásztory in 1923. She was 19 and he was 42. 1924 saw the birth of their son, Péter.
During this time of his life, he continued to compose. He wrote his opera, a ballet, quartets, and several other pieces. He continued to travel and gather folk music though his travels had to stop when WWI broke out. We will leave him here for this week and look at the later part of his life in our next blog!


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