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.
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.
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.
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)
All 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.
When 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
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.
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: