Bela Bartok Essay

6058 words - 24 pages

Béla Bartók was born in Nagyszentmiklos, Hungary on March 25, 1881. His early childhood was riddled with illness. Until the age of five, he suffered from a prominent skin rash that was brought on by a botched small pox vaccination he had received at the age of three months. Bartók was embarrassed by his appearance and avoided contact with other children, preferring to instead sit and listen to his mother play piano for hours on end. This was believed to be the cause of his shyness and distance from society later in life.Bartók contracted Bronchitis as a child and because of the illness did not begin speaking until age two. Pneumonia also hampered his motor skills and he was severely delayed in learning to walk.Bartók showed an early understanding of music. When he was only one and a half years old, he sat and nodded his head to a particular piece his mother played on piano. The next day he went to the piano and nodded his head in disapproval until his mother played the piece he wished to hear. He was also known to beat time on a small drum he was given while his mother played piano. As she played, he would adjust to her tempo changes. By the age of three he was playing the one-finger melodies for forty songs on the piano.At the age of five, Bartók developed a bronchial disorder and was diagnosed with curvature of the spine. To treat the disorder he was forced to stand all day without sitting. His meals were eaten while standing. When he became exhausted he was allowed to lay down, but only on his back. He was forced to sleep in that same position. One year later, at the age of six, the diagnosis was found to have been incorrect and after one treatment made a full recovery from the disorder.His mother tells of the first concert the young Bartók heard... an orchestra was expected to furnish background music as the listeners ate and drank. Béla Bartók went with his parents. As the orchestra began the Seminamide overture, he put his silver down and listened intently, asking, "How can all the others eat when such beautiful music is being played?" (Stevens, 5)Bartók received his first piano from his mother lesson on his fifth birthday and was playing a four-hand duet with her less than a month later.At the age of seven Bartók was found to have absolute pitch. Tragically, his father died that same year. After the death of his father, his mother moved the family (which now included his younger sister, Elza) to another house in Nagyszentmiklos. This was to be the first of many moves the family endured over the next few years.His mother began giving piano lessons to support the family, but her efforts were in vain and one year later was forced to move to the northern town of Nagyszollos, Hungary. There he continued his study of music and began to dabble with composition. He would make up dance tunes and his mother would notate them for him.The first true "discovery" of...

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