With its joie de vivre, the "Dance Suite" was Bartok's first big success on the world stage. Cem Mansur describes it as "a brilliant masterpiece - no one knows where folk music begins and 'modern' music ends."
Beethoven ile Bulusma 3
Turkish National Youth Philharmonic Orchestra
Conductor: Cem Mansur
MP3 recorded by Deutsche Welle (DW) in the Beethoven Hall on September 19, 2012
Commissioned to write for the 50th anniversary of the unification of the cities Buda and Pest into a single Hungarian capital, Bela Bartok produced a dance suite for large orchestra with percussion, celesta and piano - a work that he claimed would celebrate "the development of brotherhood among peoples."
Bartok didn't just draw inspiration from Hungarian motifs and dances. He also imitated melodic-rhythmic turns of other Eastern European and even Middle Eastern folk music traditions. He dubbed this "fictional farmer music," writing: "For instance, the melody of the first theme in the first movement recalls Arab farmers' music, but it has Eastern European folk rhythms."
"Indeed, the Hungarian or Transylvanian melodies and dances melt together with Bartok's own ideas into a single whole," said Cem Mansur. "Such an unusual idea; it's as if you'd invite a king and a farmer to sit down and talk - and it would work!"