I first met Bela Bartók in the year 1929. I was then fifteen and a half years old, nervous, shy and reserved. I was studying the piano with Ernst von Dohnányi, and one of my fellow-students was Lajos Hernadi, a former pupil of Bartók. Bartok and Hernadi were to give a piano duet concert for Budapest Radio, and I was to turn the pages. And so one spring evening in the studio of Hungarian Radio our first personal meeting took place. All sorts of rumours were flying around the musical circles of Budapest. Professor Bartok was not the most popular professor at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music, whose principal at that time was the violin virtuoso Jenő Hubay, and whose staff included personalities such as Dohnányi, Kodály and Leo Weiner. Bartok was far too strict, self-assured and remote for that. But all those who came into contact with him day by day would do anything for him. As a piano teacher he was exceptionally strict. He demanded the utmost precision from his students, especially in respect of rhythm. He was also very keen that his students should learn to analyse thoroughly the works which they played. He gave no composition lessons, for he said that composition could not be taught.
Bartók’s official and single title was “Professor”, one which he so amply deserved; and it was also the only one which he retained until the end of his life. The Academy of Music in Hungary at that time was simply swarming with “Masters” great and small. Bartok never wanted to be a “Mlaster”: he was however very pleased to be addressed as “Professor”. He seemed to like something about this cold academic title. The Professor often wrote letters protesting against this and that — often injustices, which he could not tolerate. One of the old servants at the Academy of Music summed this up best when he said, “ The Professor often writes letters, and then the authorities scratch their heads.” l shall never forget the tremendous moment when Bartok gave me his hand for the first time and looked into my eyes with that curious mixture of childlike naivete and deadly seriousness which is peculiar to all geniuses but also as if he wanted to penetrate me with his glance in order to divine my innermost thoughts. “You will really enjoy this marvellous music”, he said, and his serious expression melted into a gentle smile as he handed me the music l was to turn. It was the Schubert F minor Fantasia. l did not know the work, yet l shall never forgetthe manner of my learning it as long as I live.
Professor Bartók was playing the primo part, and 25 years later I can still hear the sound of the great melody, metallic without being hard, intense and yet dreamlike. Fascinated, l followed every note, and was assailed by countless questions to which l could find no satisfactory answer. How could this man be called cold and heartless, and his music in- comprehensible and cerebral ? This man, who interpreted Schubert with such humility, and played every single note with such reverence, just as if he were a sculptor at the piano — surely his own mu- sic must also contain emotion ? The interpretation of the F minor Fantasia, followed by some of Stravinsky’s smaller works and also by some of his own compositions, gave me my first insight into Bartók’s great musical personality.
So began my admiration for one of the greatest composers of this century. Nothing of its original intensity has been lost, but it has deepened with the years, aided by the close friendship which later grew up between us, and which lasted until his death.Andor Földes, "My First Meeting with Béla Bartók", from the booklet
Mikrokosmos, Sz 107
1 [N° 122, 125, 126, 128, 130, 137, 139] 7:58
2 [N° 140-143, 146, 148-153] 17:41
Suite, Op. 14, Sz 62
3 I. Allegretto - II. Scherzo - III. Allegro molto - IV. Sostenuto 8:36
Romanian Folk Dances, Sz 56
4 I. Stick Dance. Moderato - II. Sash Dance. Allegro 4:20
III. Stamping Dance. Moderato - IV. Horn (Bucium) Dance. Andante -
V. Romanian Polka. Allegro -VI. Fast Dance. Allegro - Allegro vivace
5 I. Allegro moderato - II. Sostenuto e pesante - III. Allegro molto 12:34
Out of Doors
6 I. Pesante - II. Andante - III. Moderato - IV. Lento - V. Presto 13:26
7 I. Allegretto - II. Moderato - II. Finale. Allegro vivace 3:45
8 Tempo giusto 2:29
Andor Foldes - p
Recorded at Beethovensaal, 1, Hannover ; January, 1955 [#5] ; May, 1955 [# 1-4 & 7] ; & June, 1955 [# 6 & 8]
See alos, in french