Here is a collection of the original publications of Béla Bartók’s shorter writings, essays, articles, statements. All pieces are presented as digitized photocopies of the original publication. Our main aim is to present Bartók’s surprisingly numerous publications which are often difficult to trace. Although the bulk of the articles are shorter pieces, his full-length articles published separately in brochures (“Hungarian Folk Music and the Folk Music of the Neighbouring Peoples” or “How Do We Collect Folk Music”) are also included in this collection. In contrast, the voluminous books containing Bartók’s folk music collections and partly published in his lifetime, partly published posthumously based on his carefully prepared manuscripts, are at present outside the interest of the present site. Since the site is devoted to writings authored by Bartók, interviews, which are often important sources to his thinking, are not presented here. (For these, see the most comprehensive collection of interviews edited by András Wilheim in 2000 listed in the Bibliography.)
Bartók published his first piece of writing very early, a detailed introduction for the concert audiences to his symphonic poem, Kossuth, on the occasion of the work’s première in Budapest on 13 January 1904. While some other early writings were also devoted to his own works or to compositions by contemporary composers, such as Richard Strauss, as early as 1908 he also tried his hand at scholarly publication of folk melodies. By the 1910s fresh folk song research, the discussion of his steadily growing collections of Hungarian, Romanian and Slovak folk songs and instrumental pieces, had become the focus of his publications. He published his first scholarly monograph in 1913, the first strictly musicological discussion of Romanian folk music from Bihor (then Bihar) County. From then on, the most important form of his scholarly undertakings were monographic collections of folk music (Hungarian, Romanian, Algerian Arab, Slovak, Turkish) published or prepared for publication with detailed scholarly introduction and notes. In certain periods, however, he was deeply involved with writing articles for both an expert readership and the general public on folk music research and, from time and again, questions of contemporary art music, music history and performance practice. In 1920/21, in the wake of the First World War he published a particularly large number of articles in American, English, French, German and Italian journals on modern music, new Hungarian music, folk song research and, especially, the influence of folk music on modern composition, a topic that occupied him most intensively in the following two and a half decades.
Whereas the selection of Hungarian folk songs from Transylvania (1921) published under Bartók and Zoltán Kodály’s name, was mainly Kodály’s work, Bartók’s overview of Hungarian folk songs was published as A Magyar népdal (1924) in monographic form (in German as Das ungarische Volkslied, 1925, and in English as Hungarian Folk Music, 1931). Further large-scale ethnomusicological publications based on his own collections were devoted to Romanian folklore (on the folk music of Maramureș, 1923, and the monograph on his colindă collection, 1935, on his own expenses). Although he signed a contract to publish his complete Slovak collection in book form in Czechoslovakia, the three large volumes were only published posthumously, and only became complete several decades after his death (Slovenské ľudové piesne, 1959, 1970, 2007). His collection of Turkish folk music (collected in 1936) and the most comprehensive study of his Romanian collections were still prepared for publication, but these also only appeared after his death (Rumanian Folk Music, 3 vols., 1967, Turkish Folk Music from Asia Minor, 1976), just like his transcriptions and introduction to a selection from Milman Parry’s Yugoslav folk music, on which he worked at Columbia University New York (Serbo-Croation Folk Music, 1951).
Bartók composed his articles for foreign journals mainly in German and occasionally in French during most of his career. In the final years of his life in the United States he wrote his articles in English. Many of his shorter articles were published in translation in other languages (Polish, Romanian, Turkish, etc.). The present homepage collects these publications in other languages, too, especially because they are also often occasional and individual versions of articles.
Several scholars devoted themselves to the idea of collecting and publishing Bartók’s writings. Some collections appeared already in his lifetime. His three Ankara lectures were published together in 1936 in Turkish translation by László Rásonyi and his scholarly articles on Romanian folklore were collected and translated into Romanian by Constantin Brăiloiu (1937). Most of his shorter writings were, however, widely dispersed. Following pioneering publications by Lili Alpár and János Demény, András Szőllősy single-handedly catalogued, collected and published Bartók’s writings in Hungarian first in smaller collections and finally in the monumental Bartók Béla Összegyűjtött Írásai [Béla Bartók Collected Writings] (1966), a masterly collection and presentation of texts with all their variants then known. The richest collection in any foreign language remains to be Béla Bartók Essays together with the accompanying Studies in Ethnomusicology, both edited by Benjamin Suchoff (1976 and 1997), but selections in German, French, Italian, Romanian, Slovak, Chinese and Japanese have also been published. Pioneering editions by Denijs Dille and László Somfai, based on manuscripts of unpublished writings, appeared in the series Documenta Bartókiana. The Bartók Béla Írásai [Béla Bartók Writings] series, launched in 1989 with a preface by László Somfai, is a critical edition based, for the first time, on both manuscript sources and publications. Writings in this series, planned to comprise eight volumes, are presented arranged according to subject matter. Its published volumes were edited by Tibor Tallián, Vera Lampert, Dorrit Révész and Viola Biró. It still does not attempt at collecting all writings in the published language; rather, it presents writings in Hungarian adding the original text of selected important manuscript sources in the original language (Hungarian, German, French or English) in the appendix to the individual volumes. Whereas a critical edition based on all available sources can be considered the most important scholarly edition of a text (the main endeavour of the new critical edition of Bartók’s writings), the original publications as they were printed in Bartók’s lifetime remain invaluable historical documents. The present site, part of the website Béla Bartók’s Works, has been established to collect and make available these documents.
To give an overview of all the pieces of writing, we also present a full list based on all previously published systematic lists, including those by András Szőllősy, Benjamin Suchoff, Elliott Antokoletz, as well as the results of more recent philological work carried out in the frame of the Bartók Béla Írásai series. While all published writings can be studied in their original form in facsimile, all the texts have been made searchable on the site.
In the collection of articles we took into consideration the scholarly bibliographies by András Szőllősy, Benjamin Suchoff and Elliott Antokoletz as well as new results from work on the Bartók Béla Írásai series. Individual articles can be arranged either chronologically or according to genre. While the articles can be studied in facsimile at present, all texts will gradually be searchable. The site is provided with a list of abbreviations and a bibliography. The Abbreviations list frequently referenced publications and libraries. The Bibliography contains not only titles of reliable bibliographies and editions of the writings but also articles and prefaces devoted to Bartók the writer.
In creating the present site, the lion’s share was taken by Viola Biró, helped by other colleagues on the staff of the Budapest Bartók Archives, first of all Virág Büky and Zsuzsanna Schmidt. We are grateful to all the institutions that provided us with digital copies of publications. Such a site, however, could not even have been planned without the systematic collecting in the Bartók Archives during its past 60 years, which made it a central collection of the composer’s writings, too.
Head of the Budapest Bartók Archives