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Béla Bartók: folk music, censorship and anti-fascism

If you’ve ever seen Stanley Kubricks’ film The Shining you will have heard some of Bartók’s characteristic ‘night music’ – in this instance the eerie third movement of his magnificent Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta. During his lifetime he was branded a ‘young barbarian’ by the French press, and in 1923 the Daily Mail published a specifically Bartók-bashing headline entitled ‘Is it music?’ Even Time magazine in 1945 – the year of his death – referred to his compositions as being ‘piquant and cacophonous.’ So who exactly was Béla Bartók? Born in Hungary in 1881, his birthplace of Nagyszentmiklósis is now in Romania. Suffering from frequent bouts of ill health as a child, including p

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Darlington, UK

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