Béla Bartók

Kossuth, symphonic poem for orchestra, Sz. 21, BB 31

    Description by Steve Horowitz

    Lajos Kossuth, the great revolutionary leader who led the fight -- though unsuccessfully -- for his nation's independence, was revered by Bartók and his Magyar compatriots for fostering the cause of Hungarian statehood. Kossuth (1903), Bartók's ten-section symphonic poem inspired by the patriot's exploits, chronicles Kossuth's attempts to liberate his homeland. In one of the most characteristic aspects of his style, Bartók uses echoes of folk and dance music to reveal the true, noble Magyar character; at the same time, distorted strains of the Austrian national anthem suggest the martial machinations of the imperialists. Bartók contrapuntally combines these themes in a manner that effectively creates tension and which undoubtedly stirred the emotions of the Hungarians who first heard the work; its premiere, which occurred during a revival of Hungarian national feeling, was a great success. The battle scenes are particularly compelling; a great clashing of sounds signals the fierce fighting, and then the resulting catastrophe, as the Magyar soldiers are overwhelmed by their enemies. The work winds down into quietude, evoking the melancholy of a terrible loss.

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2016 Decca 4789311
    2014 Naxos 8573307
    2013 CPO 777784
    2011 Decca
    2007 Hungaroton 32502
    2006 Philips 000689002
    2000 Hungaroton 41002
    2000 Arion 68251
    1999 Philips 456575
    1996 Carlton 00712
    1995 London 443773
    1995 Hungaroton 31179