Universal Edition - Blog

François-Xavier Roth conducts Bartók’s Dance Suite in Lucerne

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 23 August 2017

Béla Bartók (c) public domain, ed. Johannes Feigl

François-Xavier Roth (c) Marco BorggreveBéla Bartók composed his Dance Suite, which would become one of his most frequently-played compositions, in 1923. Although the themes are Bartók’s, they sound like peasant music: Hungarian, Romanian, Slovakian and Arabian, commingling in some of the movements.

As Bartók himself pointed out, “The melody of the first theme in the first movement is reminiscent of primitive Arabian folk music, whereas its rhythm sounds East European.” Thus he remained faithful to his guiding idea of confraternisation among peoples.

Tonight François-Xavier Roth and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra will perform the Dance Suite at the Lucerne Festival.

Find out more

Bartók’s Piano Concerto No 1 premièred 90 years ago

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 01 July 2017

Béla Bartók (c) public domain, ed. Johannes Feigl

Béla Bartók wrote the first of his three piano concertos in the autumn of 1926. The Concerto No 1 was intended for Bartók’s own concert appearances, and the first performance was given exactly 90 years ago, on 1 July 1927, in Frankfurt am Main as part of the International Society for Contemporary Music Festival, with Bartók as soloist under Wilhelm Furtwängler.

Due to its technical difficulty and its innovative approach – the instrument is treated rather like a percussive instrument than a piano – the work only slowly won recognition, which led the composer to defend it: “The piano concerto is far better and significant than the Dance Suite.”

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100th anniversary of Bartók’s Wooden Prince

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 12 May 2017

The Wooden Prince (c) Magyar Állami Operaház

Béla Bartók worked on his The Wooden Prince between 1914 and 1917. Thanks to the perseverance of Italian conductor Egisto Tango, the ballet received its world première on 12 May 1917 – however only on the condition that 30 orchestral rehearsals would be granted. Bartók’s reaction to this: “The fact that he will only take the project on if he is able to prepare it down to the very last detail is the best thing one can hear from a conductor”.

Today, on the day of the 100th anniversary of its world première, Bartók’s The Wooden Prince will be performed by the Hungarian National Ballet.

Find out more on the website of the Hungarian State Opera

135th anniversary of Béla Bartók

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 25 March 2016

Béla Bartók (c) Universal Edition

It is obvious that if there remains any hope for the survival of folk music [...] an artificial erection of Chinese walls to separate peoples from each other bodes no good for its development.

A complete separation from foreign influences means stagnation: well assimilated foreign impulses offer possibilities of enrichment. (Béla Bartók)

Béla Bartók was born today 135 years ago.

The quote above is taken from a text by the composer on “race purity in music” – read more on our MusikSalon.

Bluebeard at the Wiener Festwochen

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 19 June 2015

Herzog Blaubarts Burg - Foto: Bernd Uhlig

The Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester and Kent Nagano will be performing Bluebeard´s Castle by Béla Bartók at the Wiener Festwochen: Andrea Breth’s production premières tonight with follow-up performances on 21, 23 and 25 June:

Read a (German) interview with director Andrea Breth on Kurier.

We are happy to say that the opera in 1 act will also be performed tonight at the Xinghai Concert Hall in Guangzhou. Find out more on their website.

New Bartók biography

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 27 May 2015

Béla Bartók by David Cooper

His opera, Bluebeard’s Castle, is as psychologically penetrating and daring as anything by Schoenberg, but jump forward two decades to the mid-Twenties and the lushness has been purged away. The music is still intense but the intensity is channelled through angular lines, grinding dissonances, and a pitiless counterpoint as severely rational as Schoenberg’s so-called ‘12-note’ music. (Ivan Hewett, The Telegraph, 27 May 2015)

Ivan Hewett of The Telegraph has reviewed David Cooper’s biography of Béla Bartók.

Read the full review.


Bluebeard’s Castle: “Bartók’s portrait of marital failure chillingly realised”

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 29 January 2015

Bluebeard’s Castle; wood engraving by Gustave Doré, public domain

Charles Dutoit’s performance with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the final work in a Hungarian-themed evening, was a fine reminder of [Bluebeard’s Castle’s] power to haunt and disturb by musical means alone. (Tim Ashley, The Guardian, 28.01.2015)

Find Tim Ashley’s full review of Bluebeard’s Castle at the Royal Festival Hall on The Guardian.

Marital hell – Tim Ashley's opera guide

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 08 January 2015

Bluebeard’s Castle; wood engraving by Gustave Doré, public domain

Alban Berg: Wozzeck (c) Universal EditionAll five operas, significantly perhaps, were first performed within a relatively short period – 1887 to 1925 – when the nature of marriage as an institution was under scrutiny right across the arts: think of the plays of Ibsen, Strindberg, Chekhov and Shaw, and the fiction of Henry James, Proust and DH Lawrence. (Tim Ashley, The Guardian, 6.1.2015)

In his final opera guide, Tim Ashley of The Guardian picked five operas that explore marital hell. Three of these picks are UE works: Leoš Janáček’s Katya Kabanova, Béla Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle and Alban Berg’s Wozzeck.

Read the full article on The Guardian.

Bluebeard’s Castle at the Tyrolean Festival Erl

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 11 July 2014

Wood engraving by Gustave Doré, public domainWhen the première of Béla Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle did not achieve the success he had hoped for, the composer withdrew for a long time from public life. Today, the one-act opera is one of the undisputed masterpieces of the 20th century. Bartók’s only opera will be performed today and tomorrow at the Tyrolean Festival Erl in a production by Gustav Kuhn.

Béla Bartók: Bluebeard’s Castle
opera in 1 act | 60'
11.07.2014; 12.07.2014, Festspielhaus Erl; Bluebeard, István Rácz, Andrea Silvestrelli; Judith, Svetlana Kotina, Marianna Szivkova; Orchester der Tiroler Festspiele Erl, cond. Tito Ceccherini


Bartók’s String Quartet No. 4 is Ivan Hewett’s Classic 50 No 42

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 22 October 2013

Béla Bartók (c) Universal EditionThe third movement of Béla Bartók’s String Quartet No. 4 has made it on Ivan Hewett’s list of 50 classics by the world’s greatest composers.

Hewett on Bartók: “He wanted to escape from Germanic ideas of what music should be like, with its ‘tyranny of major-minor’ as he called it. And here, in the villages of his homeland, was a music that was miraculously free of those ideas. It was modal, and full of odd asymmetrical rhythms - as were the Rumanian, Bulgarian, and Turkish melodies that found their way onto Bartók’s cylinder recorder, as he tramped around Eastern Europe in search of old melodies.”

Find the full article on The Telegraph.

The Wooden Prince in Berlin

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 16 September 2013

Alan Gilbert’s performance of Witold Lutosławski’s Symphony No. 4, Leoš Janáček’s Putování dušičky and Béla Bartók’s Der holzgeschnitzte Prinz [The Wooden Prince] with Thomas Zehetmair and the Berlin Philharmonic was impressive. The concert took place on 13 September at the Berliner Philharmonie, here is a snapshot from the evening:

Gilbert, Berlin (c) Universal Edition, Sarah Laila Standke

Happy Birthday Béla Bartók

Posted on 25 March 2012

Béla BartókHappy Birthday Béla Bartók (25.03.1881—26.09.1945).

See a full work list here and read our introduction here.

A full list of forthcoming performances can be found in our performance database.

Bartók one of Top Ten Classical Composers

Posted on 24 January 2011

The New York Times’ music critic Anthony Tommasini has published his Top 10 Classical Music Composers. Squeezing in at 10th place is UE composer Béla Bartók.