• THE IMMEDIATE SUCCESS OF BARTÓK: RECEPTION AND INFLUENCE OF THE CONCERTO FOR ORCHESTRA ON THE REPERTOIRE

      Bess, Adam
      Written in late 1943 and premiered the following winter in 1944, Concerto for Orchestra, Sz 116, BB 123, of Hungarian composer Béla Bartók was immediately regarded as a success by his critics and contemporaries alike. Presented as an entirely new compositional form, unheard before by audiences of the time, the Concerto for Orchestra brought strident fanfares coupled with delicate virtuosity, demanded of all performers of the orchestra. Though its reception was critically acclaimed, the troublesome events of World War II and rise of Socialism occurring alongside the conception and composition of the piece as well as its ground-breaking formal organization warrant closer analysis of the work as a possible anti-dogmatic composition. Drawing influence from the early concerto form, Bartók sought to emulate composers of the past and their emphases of individual performers in virtuosic solo concertos. Many other composers have been allured to the genre and their respective works across musical periods have entered the standard repertoire. However, arguably none have been so dramatic and contrasting as Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra, a five-movement quasi-symphonic work in which each movement features one instrumental section over another, complete with the virtuosic demands composers, performers, and critics have all come to know with the concerto genre. This analyses serves to provide examples and reviews which support the view of Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra as a sans-textbook composition which has since entered the standard orchestral repertoire as a representative of the new compositional attitudes of the 20th century. Additionally, this analyses strives to emphasize the impact of the work on Bartók’s contemporaries, who continue to emulate his techniques in respective compositions. Argumentative support will be garnered by examining personal writings and correspondence of Bartók as well as those of his contemporaries. Additionally, by analyzing score and recording notes as well as performance reviews from contrasting decades, an idea of how receptions and performances of the work have changed can be posited in support of the influence and preeminence of the Concerto for Orchestra as one of the most significant works in the orchestral body literature from the last 100 years.