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Stylistic principles in three chamber works by Bela Bartok with particular reference to the role of the piano.

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The thesis discusses the following three works composed by Bartok between 1922 and 1938 : Sonata no. 2 for Violin and Piano, Rhapsody no. 1 for Violin and Piano and "Contrasts" for Violin, Clarinet and Piano. Details relating to Bartok's compositional style in the three chamber works are investigated, with particular reference to the role of the piano. The piano writing is not innovative, but the traditional boundaries are extended by means of the melodic idiom, harmonies and rhythms. The thesis considers traceable musical influences viz. folk music and the influence of other composers; form and the tonal-contrapuntal fabric, rhythm and meter, and performance considerations. The value of Bartok's own recordings is addressed with regard to a critical evaluation of Bartok's own interpretation, the importance of the precisely notated scores, the controversial Bartok tempi, the application of rubato and broken chord figurations and Bartok's views on pedalling, articulation and ornamentation. Examples of all the above-mentioned aspects are traced in the three works concerned, and the pianistic style and dynamics and the interaction between the piano and the other instruments are discussed. The three works are compared and Bartok's development as composer of chamber music is traced through this comparison. The existence of Bartok's own interpretation of the Sonata, Rhapsody and "Contrasts", is of particular value to the study and serves as a main point of reference regarding the performance aspect. Using these recordings as a basis, the thesis considers the works from a pianist's point of view and insights are offered into possible problematic areas in performance, in relation to the piano part as well as the ensemble. The knowledge acquired through the preceding analysis of the works assists in a better understanding of the works and ensures an ultimately more successful performance.


Thesis (M.Mus.)-University of Natal, Durban, 1990.


Theses--Music., Bartok, Bela, 1881-1945--Criticism and interpretation.