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Béla Bartók: Cantata profana

  • The Giant Stags (1930)
  • for tenor, baritone, mixed choir and orchestra
  • 3 3 3 3 - 4 2 3 1 - timp, perc(3), hp, str
  • Duration: 16–17'
  • Soloists:
  • Instrumentation details:
    1st flute
    2nd flute (+picc)
    3rd flute (+picc)
    1st oboe
    2nd oboe
    3rd oboe
    1st clarinet in A (+cl(Bb))
    2nd clarinet in A (+cl(Bb)
    bass cl(Bb))
    3rd clarinet in A (cl(Bb))
    1st bassoon
    2nd bassoon
    3rd bassoon (+cbsn)
    1st horn in F
    2nd horn in F
    3rd horn in F
    4th horn in F
    1st trumpet in C
    2nd trumpet in C
    1st trombone
    2nd trombone
    3rd trombone
    bass tuba
    violin I
    violin II
  • Choir: SATB
  • Composer: Béla Bartók
  • Text source: old Rumanian folk songs
  • Text adapter: Béla Bartók
  • Original language: Hungarian
  • Translator: Béla BartókBence SzabolcsiRobert Shaw

Work introduction

Béla Bartók's large-scale work for tenor, baritone, double mixed choir and orchestra tells the story of a father and his nine sons, who go out to hunt a stag but are themselves transformed into deer in the process. The Cantata profana, subtitled “The Magical Deer”, was written in 1930 and inspired by Romanian Christmas stories, using pagan and mythological motifs to combine natural, didactic and symbolic elements in the story. The strictly rhythmic narration of the choir and the sharp, melismatic statements of the soloists form a multi-facetted contrast.


The complete perusal score (PDF-preview)

World première

London (GB)
Aylmer Buesst

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