chapter  2
55 Pages

Studies of Bartók’s style and aesthetics

Considers the Third String Quartet (1927) to be Bartók’s best achievement to date. Contrasts Bartók’s approach to the developmental process in this work with that of Schoenberg and Stravinsky, stating that “it moves as a spiral in faithful repetition of the tasks of its origin, in a process that is at the same time continuous rejuvenation.” Discusses Bartók’s individual orientation to movement models, the work also revealing his ability to maintain the vitality of Hungarian folklore without “retreating into romantic security.” Discusses the quartet within the larger context of his works, evaluating his development of three basic formal types. Then explores the means by which he was able to transform the traditional structures, including those of his native folk music and the sonata, for instance, into a fresh conception. Also provides a lucid description of Bartók’s approach to thematic/motivic material, contrapuntal texture, and instrumental color. Argues that the quartet freed him from his temporary seduction by the neoclassical Stravinsky and from his own past as well.