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BARTÓK CONFERENCE AT BARD COLLEGE WILL FEATURE CONCERT ON SATURDAY, JUNE 3 “From the Wellspring to the Ocean: Béla Bartók’s Musicological Legacy in Today’s World” Marks 125th Anniversary of Composer’s Birth

Mark Primoff
ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. ― The great Hungarian composer, pianist, and ethnomusicologist Béla Bartók was born 125 years ago, beginning a cultural odyssey during which he made immeasurable contributions to music. On June 3 and June 4, Bard College will host a conference marking and exploring Bartók’s life and career, particularly his contributions to the study of folk music.

The conference, From the Wellspring to the Ocean: Béla Bartók’s Musicological Legacy in Today’s World, will bring together a panel of distinguished American and European scholars to discuss this aspect of Bartók’s work, highlighting its importance to the countries whose traditions he studied (Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, Serbia, Ukraine), as well as its wider impact on the fledgling discipline of musical folklore. The guests will present lectures and also engage in round-table discussions. Participants include Philip Bohlman, Donna Buchanan, Damjana Bratuz, Nice Facile, Christopher H. Gibbs, Lynn Hooker, Jill Johnson, Peter Laki, Vera Lampert, Prof. Barbara Rose Lange, Speranta Radulescu, Kristy Riggs, Marta Rudas, and Dr. Laszlo Vikarius. All conference sessions, which begin at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, June 3, will be held in the Olin Humanities Building at Bard College, Annandale-on Hudson, New York and are free and open to the public, with no registration required.

The program will also feature a concert, “The Influence of Folk Music: Bartók and Beyond,” on June 3, at 8 p.m. in LUMA Theater of the Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts, in which Bartók’s music will be juxtaposed with the folk music that inspired it. The concert will present the Hungarian folksinger Béata Palya who will perform some of the vocal melodies that Bartók arranged either for piano solo or violin duo; the vocal originals and the arrangements will be performed back to back. Palya enjoys an international career as a folksinger and has produced several highly successful CDs.

Bartók’s idea of modern music inspired by folk music has found echoes in the work of younger composers all over the world. The evening concert will also present the music of two contemporary composers, Bright Sheng and Roberto Sierra, who have used their respective ethnic heritages (Chinese and Puerto Rican, respectively), in ways that parallel Bartók’s use of his native tradition. The two composers will also discuss this particular aspect of their creative work, adding another new dimension to this celebration of Bartók’s anniversary. Tickets for the evening concert are $15 and can be reserved by calling the Fisher Center box office at 845-758-7900 or visiting the website at The symposium is free and open to the public. For information about the symposium call 845-758-7405 or write to


The Influence of Folk Music: Bartók and Beyond
Saturday, June 3, 8:00 p.m.
LUMA Theater, The Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts

Selection of Folk Songs
Beáta Palya, vocalist

Béla Bartók
From Forty-four Duos (1931)
Jennifer Chun, violin
Angela Chun, violin

From For Children II (1908–10; rev. 1943)
Blair McMillen, piano

Original Folk Songs
Beáta Palya, vocalist

Roberto Sierra
(b. 1953)
Trio No. 2 (2002)
Calvin Wiersma, violin
Sophie Shao, cello
Frédéric Lacroix, piano

Bright Sheng
(b. 1955)
String Quartet No. 3 (1993)
Daedalus Quartet

Béla Bartók
From For Children I–IV (1908–10; rev. 1943)
From Romanian Christmas Carols II (1915)
From Fifteen Hungarian Peasant Songs (1914, 1918)
From Improvisations on Hungarian Peasant Songs, Op. 20 (1920)
Blair McMillen, piano

Original Folk Songs
Beáta Palya, vocalist

Béla Bartók
Sonata for Piano (1926)
Blair McMillen, piano

Roberto Sierra
Sonata for Clarinet and Piano (2005–06)
Richard Faria, clarinet
Frédéric Lacroix, piano

Bright Sheng
Four Movements for Piano Trio (1990)
Min-Young Kim, violin
Raman Ramakrishnan, cello
Bright Sheng, piano




Saturday, June 3, 9:30-10:45 a.m.
Peter Laki (Oberlin College), introductory remarks

Jill Ann Johnson (University of Washington)
“Bartók as Ethnomusicologist: Talent, Timing, and Technology”

Philip V. Bohlman (University of Chicago)
“Béla Bartók and the People Without History”

Saturday, 10:45-11:00 a.m. --- coffee break ---

Saturday 11 a.m.- noon
Speranţa Radulescu (Bucharest, Romania)
“The Ethnomusicologist Béla Bartók Revisited a Century Later: A Small Case Study”

Damiana Bratuž (University of Western Ontario)
“Rethinking Bartók’s Boundaries”

Donna Buchanan
“Bartók and the Bulgarian Ethnomusicologist Raina Katsarova”

Saturday 12:15 – 1:45 p.m. --- lunch

Saturday 1:30-2:45 p.m.
Lynn Hooker (Indiana University)
László Vikárius (Bartók Archives, Budapest)
“The Bartók-Moeller Controversy”

2:45 – 3 --- coffee break

Saturday 3:00-4:30 p.m.
Roberto Sierra (Cornell University) and Bright Sheng (University of Michigan) discuss their music in connection with Bartók’s ideas about “folk music” influencing “art music”

Sunday, June 4, 9:30-10:45 a.m.
Márta Rudas
Vera Lampert Deák (Brandeis University)
“The Composer as Ethnographer: Attributes of Bartók’s Folk Music Research”

Sunday 10:45-11:00 a.m. --- coffee break

Sunday 11-12 p.m.
Nice Fracile
“The Phonographic Recordings and Transcriptions of Béla Bartók in the Light
of Comparative Research”

Kristy R. Riggs (Temple University)
“Bartók in the Desert: Challenges to a European Conducting Research in North
Africa in the Early 20th Century”

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This event was last updated on 06-14-2006