Help me learn to love Bartok
I just started my Masters on viola. Up until now I have avoided such pieces as the Hyndemith and Bartok concertos mainly for the fact that I don’t enjoy the music. I feel like it has no direction and no story being told. Walton viola concerto is not as bad but I absolutely love the Forsyth viola concerto. I know I cannot avoid it for much longer and can see having to finally dig into Bartok concerto soon.
I need some help wrapping my head around the detail of this sort of thing. Is there something you would recommend reading or noticing about the music?
How much Bartok have you listened to? Are you familiar with the quartets, the concerto for orchestra, the violin duets? It might be helpful if you expose yourself to Bartok's music in general, but especially his string music. For the viola concerto specifically, it might be helpful when looking at the overall piece to remember that however modern Bartok was as a composer, he generally relied upon the sonata form and contrapuntal methods and was a big fan of Debussy. He also primarily thought of himself as a researcher of eastern European and Mediterranean folk music, which was a great influence on his choice of melodic material.
Listen to the violin duets, they´re a good start. Then you should listen some quartets. I think bartok it´s a really good start for listening of modern music and I love it!
A good accessible piece by Bartok that I think is quite enjoyable to those who aren’t overly excited about 20th Century music are the Romanian Folk Dances for violin and piano.
I was just going to suggest that. There are violin duet versions of his Romanian Folk Dances.
That's a great suggestion. A little more modern than the Romanian Folk Dances is "Contrasts," a short 3-mvt piece written for Benny Goodman and Josef Szigeti, which is sort of like sideways jazz.
The Divertimento for Strings is cool, as is the Concerto for Orchestra, and of course Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celeste. There's a lot of good music from him. I use to feel the same way about Brahms. I hated him, but I found a logical order to listen to his music and I eventually acquired a taste for it.
I adore Bartok.
Bartok's violin duets are the first "real" music I ever played, aged 12, and I loved them. But I confess I'm still stumped by some Bartok - e.g. the third quartet, the violin sonatas... It either gets you or it doesn't.
For the viola concerto, try and find Menuhin's recording: his unique sound reveals all the mystery, anguish and frenetic energy of this work like no-one else's. Likewise in the violin concertos.
Pamela had the right idea. I recommend looking at painting and sculpture that was created in the years 1850 to 1950. Pianists grow up with Bartok because we've got the Mikrocosmos.
I am having troubles to understand how one can help you learn to love something?
Rocky, I think it's a bit like an arranged marriage. He feels (or perhaps his teacher feels) that he should work on Bartok as a stepping stone in his violistic development. Since it's hard music, he's going to be at it for a while. As such, one starts by looking, listening, getting to know, appreciating, and, in time, yes, maybe fondness evolves. Nobody starts out loving broccoli.
If the OP is planning to audition for professional orchestras when he is out of school, he really does need to learn the Bartok viola concerto. It is *the* standard audition solo. Some people play Walton, which works, and we also sometimes hear Schwanendreher. Those are the three we hear most but Bartok most of all by far. There's a reason for that. It's great music and it is quite difficult, so it gives people an opportunity to display both chops and musicianship.
It's a beautiful piece; you'll learn to love it.
When obliged to learn music I don't like, I just treat it as an exercise in tone (and articulation), taking pleasure from playing well. But it is certailly demoralising to have to play music that gives you nothing back.
I love plenty of music nowadays that I used to be indifferent or even hostile to. Sometimes playing a work (as opposed to just listening to it) has sort of unlocked the ideas in it and I've started to appreciate what the composer is doing.
I agree with Scott. I will probably never really like Vieuxtemps, but when I played the 2nd concerto, I saw it as an exercise in openmindedness, and I came around a little. Still not going to listen to Vieuxtemps in my free time, but look at it as a chance to give a piece your most committed performance. In a way, it can be kind of freeing to work on a piece that you don't have a lot of preconceptions about.
I've heard a vintage clip of Bartok playing his own music on the radio . I was struck by the simplicity of his approach . Very focused and light !!
I love Bartok...especially after realizing everything is symmetrical architecturally and intervallic. Take this 4th quartet, it's a giant a mirror from the middle and everything comes from a small motivic cell.
I discovered Bartok's string quartets when they corresponded to my teenage angst, when stories or films no longer had to finish nicely. My favorites still are the austere 3rd and the desolate 6th, but I also love the works which sublimâte into a frenetic, celebratory finale.
Scott Bailey has a good point. How many of us would be classical music lovers at all if we hadn't studied that kind of music since childhood? Sure, probably some, but just as surely not all. So, we learned to enjoy by first appreciating and understanding. I really think there's something to that.
Perhaps just learning the viola concerto will show you if you love Bartok or not
In high school, I had a wonderful girlfriend from an Italian family. I was Irish Catholic. I had lunch at their house after church one Sunday and there were a lot of olives in the food. I hate olives.
I personally love the Bartok Viola Concerto and have for awhile, but I remember that I had to listen to it several times before I started to like it, so maybe just immersing yourself in a few recordings for a few weeks might help. There is a book called Bartok's Viola concerto by Donald Maurice all about the concerto that might help you understand it more. It is pricy, so I would see if you can get it through your university library.
No one actually likes Bartok. It's all an elaborate con to make someone feel like they aren't smart enough or cool enough or whatever enough to be a 'real' musician.
I do love the Bartok viola concerto, but still have problems listening to his quartets... some years ago I made a viola to a player of the Gewandhaus Leipzig, and heard Bartok quartet cycle (with the Vegh quartet) all the time while I was making it. Even so, it refused to be accepted by my ears. I do have to give them a new chance.
Well, one could always use a few tricks from behavioural psychology toolkit....
Here's Antoine Tamestit playing the Bartok with the London Symphony.
When I learned the bartok, I hated it at first and came to love it. Learning it will allow you to acquire the taste. Especially the 2nd movement, which I found beautiful.
All music has basic elements: melody, harmony, rhythm, structure, and maybe a few more. And each great composer (and even the wonderful one's who we may consider beautiful but not so great) has what I think of as a unique "voice," a way of composing that you can spot pretty quickly.
As an added thought, I'm an amateur musician but I consider myself a professional music lover. I've always believed that knowing what to appreciate (and not just what to listen for) and how to appreciate it in a piece of music is perhaps a much over-looked focus of attention.
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