Full Name: Béla Viktor János Bartók
Years active: 1881-1945
Number of compositions: Around 120
Number of symphonies: 0
Number of concertos: 6
Number of string quartets: 6
Style: Organic, folksy, schizophrenic. Bartok was really into folk music, and he incorporated a lot of the rhythms and melodies into his own compositions. At the same time he was pushing the envelope of normal tonality, so his music has a very 20th century feel to it. As you can imagine, the combination of modern and traditional styles leads to some interesting juxtapositions.
Concerto for Orchestra, 4th Movement
This is an example of how he uses folk rhythms, but with a hardcore modern sound. When I first started listening to classical music I found this kind of aggressive music a lot more appealing than Mozart and Beethoven and Bach. YMMV.
Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta, 2nd Movement
You might recognize this from Being John Malkovich. It’s the 3rd movement of the awesomely titled “Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta”. A celesta is that thing with a keyboard. It’s like the bastard offspring of a Glockenspiel and a piano, instead of hammers hitting strings (like in a piano) they hit little metal plates.
Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta, 3rd Movement
Usually I don’t have two movements from the same piece on these pages, but there is such variation in this piece that I’ve made an exception. This is another of Bartok’s pieces which has been used as a movie soundtrack, in the case in The Shining. I think it sounds like (super creepy) animals sneaking up on you through the forest at night. Ahhhh!