Béla Bartók is an Hungarian composer and pianist from the first half of the XXth century. His work on traditional and popular music from eastern Europe is so important he is now considered a precursor in ethnomusicology. Bartók studied the piano and harmony in Bratislava and Budapest, under Hans von Kœssler, Leo Weiner, and most importantly Zoltán Kodály’s supervision. Kodály started working with him on popular and traditional music transcription in 1905.
Bartók became teacher at the royal Academy of Budapest in 1907 and composed his first pieces of work, Three popular Hungarian songs (first string quartet), his one and only opera Bluebeard’s Castle, and two ballets (The Miraculous Mandarin and The Wooden Prince).
At that time, he started going on tour with Ditta Pástory, and old student of his who became his second wife. From 1934, Bartók focuses on composing and receives lots of orders. Exiled in the USA, he lived in New York and met Kousssewitsky, Yehudi Menuhin and Benny Goodman. He dies in 1945 from a leukaemia, at the high point of his composer career.