Bela Bartok, BARTOK: Concerto for Orchestra / Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta

Justin Davidson

By Justin Davidson

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
The Concerto for Orchestra made Bartok a hero to orchestral musicians everywhere.

The traditional 19th century concerto sets off a soloist against the great orchestral mass, bestowing a heroic role on a single performer. When the Hungarian composer Béla Bartók came to the U.S. and was asked to write a piece for the Boston Symphony Orchestra, he wanted to honor the virtuosity of the individual musicians, who are most often lost in the anonymity of white tie and tails. So he invented a genre: the concerto for orchestra — that is, a symphonic piece that treats the ensemble as a collection of soloists. Other composers have taken up the title, but no other work has achieved the currency of Bartók's, or earned the gratitude of underappreciated orchestral musicians all over the world.