Pub. Date:
Oxford University Press
Bartok's Viola Concerto: The Remarkable Story of His Swansong

Bartok's Viola Concerto: The Remarkable Story of His Swansong

by Donald MauriceDonald Maurice
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When Bela Bart k died in September of 1945, he left a partially completed viola concerto commissioned by the virtuoso violist William Primrose. Yet, while no definitive version of the work exists, this concerto has become arguably the most-performed viola concerto in the world. The story of how the concerto came to be, from its commissioning by Primrose to its first performance to the several completions that are performed today is told here in Bart k's Viola Concerto:The Remarkable Story of His Swansong.

After Bart k's death, his family asked the composer's friend Tibor Serly to look over the sketches of the concerto and to prepare it for publication. While a draft was ready, it took Serly years to assemble the sketches into a complete piece. In 1949, Primrose finally unveiled it, at a premiere performance with the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra.

For almost half a century, the Serly version enjoyed great popularity among the viola community, even while it faced charges of inauthenticity. In the 1990s, several revisions appeared and, in 1995, the composer's son, Peter Bart k, released a revision, opening the way or an intensified debate on the authenticity of the multiple versions. This debate continues as violists and Bart k scholars seek the definitive version of this final work of Hungary's greatest composer.

Bart k's Viola Concerto tells the story of the genesis and completion of Bart k's viola concerto, its reception over the second half of the twentieth century, its revisions, and future possibilities.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Maurice's study opens a window into the deeper levels of Bartok's musical processes and thought. Its strength also lies in its detailed documentation and musical insight into the problems surrounding the accurate determination of the compositional parameters as well as the publication and performance rights of such a work left incomplete by the composer...Donald Maurice's book is an important addition to the field of Bartok research. It can be recommended to all who deal with the multiplicity of issues related to Bartok studies, general musicological studies of the compositional process (sketches, drafts, revisions), performance practice, history of the concerto genre, and other issues pertaining to practical and scholarly questions." —Music and Letters

"Devoted entirely to the Bart k Viola Concerto, Donald Maurice's rich and fascinating book, Bart k's Viola Concerto, is the result of more than 20 years of research and study."—Strings

"Thoroughly researched and fascinating book"—The Strad

"I will tell you now that Maurice's book on the Bart k Viola Concerto is the most important work pertaining to the viola since the 1998 release of The Anthology of British Viola Players compiled by John White. This book in essence is the synthesis of Donald Maurice's eighteen years research on every meaningful aspect of the concerto he could identify."—Dwight Pounds, Journal of the American Viola Society

"Violists and music scholars have reason to be greatly indebted to Dr. Maurice and to Oxford University Press for an intriguing and definitive revelation of the genesis of the world's most performed viola concerto. After twenty years of research the author presents information hitherto unknown about the concerto itself, a surprising revelation about its true first performance, and his meticulous analytical comparison of the three editions...Bart k's Viola Concerto holds an appeal and fascination for a wide range of readers. The benevolent treatment of all personalities provides interest for the humanist; the perceptive and highly analytical comparisons of the three current versions of the concerto (Serly, Erd lyi and Maurice) should enlighten and intrigue the theoretician; and the generous references and facsimiles of correspondence will inform the musicologist."—Ralph Aldrich, Journal of the Canadian Viola Society

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780195156904
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 03/04/2004
Series: Studies In Musical Genesis, Structure, and Interpretation
Pages: 240
Product dimensions: 9.40(w) x 6.30(h) x 0.90(d)
Lexile: 1430L (what's this?)

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