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BARTOK, who began to compose when he was nine, entered the Royal Hungarian
High Schcol for Music at Budapest, and first became known, not as a Composer, but as a Pianist. His latent aptitude for composition was awakened by hearing Strauss's Symphonic Poem, Thus Spake Zdrathustra, and soon he was producing works in various forms, including a Symphonic Poem of his own, entitled Kossuth (the name of the leader of the Hungarian Revolution in the middle of the last century), which Richter performed at a Halle Concert in Manchester.
A Piano Quintet and some pieces were other early works. He has devoted a great deal of his time to his studies in folk music, travelling as ' far afield as Arabia in his investigations. He has put his view of the attitude of the composer to folk-music .very clearly. Its -appropriate use, he says, ' is not, of course, limited to the sporadic introduction or the imitation of these melodies, or to the arbitrary thematic use of them in works of foreign or international tendencies. It is rather a question of absorbing the means of musical expression hidden in this treasure of folk-tunes, just as the most subtle possibilities of any language may be assimilated. It is necessary for the composer to command the musical language so completely that it becomes the natural expression of his own musical ideas.'
Perhaps the work which best shows Bartok's manner of utilizing folk material, is his Dance Suite, written in 1923, for a concert that celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the union between the cities of Buda and Pest. Bartok's style, here as in most of his later works, is bold and uncompromising. The Suite, which has been heard two or three times in London, is one of the most vigorous and vital products of the new Hungarian School.
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