Dr. Damjana Bratuz
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A Tribute to Béla Bartók
On the Twenty-fifth Anniversary of his Death
The University of Western Ontario Faculty of Music, Talbot Theatre
October 25, 1970.

  • INTRODUCTION by Damjana Bratuž

Before the program begins, I would like to say a few words concerning the significance of Béla Bartók in the world of today, especially for our young people. We speak today a great deal about the necessity to preserve our natural heritage. Like most musicians, from Beethoven to Webern and to Xenakis, Bartók loved and understood nature, and approached it as an artist; but he also studied it as a scientist, collecting and cataloguing plants, insects, and folksongs.

Folk tunes of illiterate peasants were for him a natural form of life as are shells, flowers, and butterflies. It was unthinkable to him that with the spread of civilization, or rather, of progress, so much natural beauty should be allowed to disappear, without at least trying to preserve in writing and on recordings what was once in the villages a musical form of life. His was not an easy task; he found such great difficulty in trying to publish his collection of Romanian Colinde – relics of ancient pagan rituals – that he finally paid out of his own meager resources in order to give to the world what he naively believed would astound scholars, and touch the heart of artists everywhere. But there was none of the echo he expected.

Today, at last, his Colinde transcriptions have been published in their entirety and you may see a copy exhibited outside in the hall, among all the other books, recordings, pictures, and examples of Hungarian folk art that have been assembled for this Tribute.

You may also see among the writings exhibited the reproduction of a postcard which Bartók sent in 1928 to his little son Peter from America. The picture is that of a pelican, with the famous lines by Ogden Nash which Bartók attempted to translate into Hungarian. In his version he added the image of a little pelican to be fed by the big one. I came across this reproduction recently, exactly on the day when it was announced on television that the pelicans in California are in danger of extinction since only one little pelican had been born this year.
For someone like Bartók who so deeply felt the sacredness of life in all its manifestations, these times would very much increase his concern.

In one of the essays exhibited outside entitled Why and How Does One Collect Folk Music, Bartók says that it is done by those, and for those, who still preserve a taste for wild flowers. He also says that proper research would uncover fundamental laws governing the creation of folk tunes over the entire globe. Folk tunes were for him miniature masterpieces - in the eyes of certain scholars a rather unbecoming thought on the part of a sophisticated composer. But for someone like Bartók, illiterate village musicians and trained Western musician alike are vessels of creative powers.

As a teacher I believe that upon closer acquaintance with Bartók’s life and work, our young people would find manifested in them many of the concepts with which they are so familiar today, nature, the brotherhood of all men on this spaceship Earth; they may find in Bartók’s music the magic encounter, reflected in most of his slow movements, between man with his fiddles, pipes, and dirges, man the creator of song, and the cosmic Night.

Should all the folksongs from Eastern and South-Eastern Europe disappear as a living product, they will still remain stored in Bartók’s music: some in their authentic form, as in the Four Slovak Songs and in the Four Hungarian Songs you will hear in tonight’s concert; others in their sublimated form, in their essence, as in the other works on this program.

Thank you.


Four Slovak Folksongs
    The Faculty of Music Singers
    Deral Johnson, conductor

String Quartet No. 6
    The University of Western Ontario String Quartet
    Robert Skelton, Joan Hysen, violins
    Ralph Aldrich, viola
    Mary Evens, violincello

Seven Pieces from Mikrokosmos, for Two Pianos
    Damiana Bratuz and Alfred Fisher, pianists

From Twenty Hungarian Folksongs
    James Stark, tenor
    Damiana Bratuz, piano

First Rhapsody
    Tsuyoshi Tsutsumi, violincello
    Damiana Bratuz, piano

    Robert Skelton, violin
    George Van Ostrand, clarinet
    Damiana Bratuz, piano


  Damjana Bratu TOP

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