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Béla Bartók

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About the composer Béla Bartók

Béla Viktor János Bartók (Hungarian pronunciation:March 25, 1881 - September 26, 1945) was a Hungarian composer and pianist. He is considered one of the most important composers of the 20th century and is regarded, along with Liszt, as Hungary's greatest composer (Gillies 2001). Through his collection and analytical study of folk music, he was one of the founders of ethnomusicology.
Béla Bartók was born in the small Banatian town of Nagyszentmiklós in the Kingdom of Hungary, Austria-Hungary (since 1920 Sânnicolau Mare, Romania) on March 25, 1881. Bartók's family reflected some of the ethno-cultural diversities of the country. His father, Béla Sr., considered himself thoroughly Hungarian, because on his father's side the Bartók family was a Hungarian lower noble family, originating from Borsod county (Móser 2006, 44; Bartók 1981, 13), though his mother was from a Roman Catholic Serbian family (Bayley 2001, 16). His mother, Paula (born Paula Voit), had German as a mother tongue, but was ethnically of "mixed Hungarian" origin: Her maiden name Voit is German, probably of Saxon origin from Upper Hungary (Since 1920 in Czechoslovakia, since 1993 in Slovakia), though she spoke Hungarian fluently. Among her closest forefathers there were family names like Polereczky (Magyarized Polish or Slovak) and Fegyveres (Magyar). Béla displayed notable musical talent very early in life: according to his mother, he could distinguish between different dance rhythms that she played on the piano before he learned to speak in complete sentences (Gillies 1990, 6). By the age of four, he was able to play 40 pieces on the piano; his mother began formally teaching him the next year.
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