Hungarian Pictures

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Hungarian Pictures
Hungarian Sketches
by Béla Bartók
Native nameMagyar képek
CatalogueSz. 97, BB 103
Performed22 January 1932 (1932-01-22): Budapest
26 November 1934 (1934-11-26): Budapest
Published1984 - Budapest

Hungarian Pictures, sometimes also referred to as Hungarian Sketches, Sz. 97, BB 103 (Hungarian : Magyar képek) is a suite for orchestra by Hungarian composer Béla Bartók finished in 1931. The suite consists of orchestrations of earlier short pieces for piano composed between 1908 and 1911. [1]



The original piano pieces were created during Bartók's journey around Romania and Hungary, when he started collecting and arranging folk music that further transformed his somewhat Lisztian early style into the style he came to develop. Therefore, many of the compositions from this period were either based on folk music or created from scratch with a reasonable resemblance to folk music. [2] However, neither money nor widespread fame would be plentiful in his lifetime, as he had to struggle with a moderate opposition in his country to his modern style and some of his major works, such as The Miraculous Mandarin, being banned for years. [3]

From the 30s onwards, Bartók started arranging some of his piano music for orchestral concert performance with the expressed intent of making money out of it. This was the case of his Transylvanian Dances, arranged from his Sonatina, and this set, which takes five pieces from works created two decades earlier. The set was completed in August 1931 in Mondsee. Pieces 1, 2, 3 and 5 were premiered in Budapest by the Budapest Concert Orchestra under Massimo Freccia on January 24, 1932. The first complete performance of the whole suite took place two years later, in November 26, 1934, with Heinrich Laber conducting the Philharmonic Society Orchestra. [4] It was eventually published by Editio Musica Budapest in 1983 and arranged for wind quintet by Christopher Sears in 1985. [5] [6]


The suite consists of five movements and has a duration of 12 minutes. The movement list is as follows:

  1. An Evening in the Village (from Ten Easy Pieces, Sz. 39, BB 51, No. 5)
  2. Bear Dance (from Ten Easy Pieces, Sz. 39, BB 51, No. 10)
  3. Melody (from Four Dirges, Op. 9a, Sz. 45, BB 58, No. 2)
  4. Slightly Tipsy (from Three Burlesques, Op. 8c, Sz. 47, BB 55, No. 2)
  5. Swineherd's Dance (from For Children, Sz. 42, BB 53, Vol. 2, No. 40)

Even though all of the pieces sound like original folk melodies, only the last one in the set uses genuine folk material. The suite follows a common practice by Bartók: using a slow central movement surrounded with two scherzos. The score calls for a large symphonic Orchestra: two flutes and piccolo, two oboes, two clarinets and bass clarinet, two bassoons, two horns, two trumpets, two trombones and tuba, timpani, xylophone, triangle, side drum, snare drum, cymbals, bass drum, harp, and a string section.

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  1. Bayley, Amanda (26 March 2001). The Cambridge Companion to Bartók. Cambridge University Press. ISBN   9780521669580 . Retrieved 6 March 2018.
  2. Crino, Erika (2006). A performing analysis of Bela Bartok's Three Burlesques, Op. 8c (Thesis). University of British Columbia. doi:10.14288/1.0105461 . Retrieved 6 March 2018.
  3. "Classical Music News from NAXOS.COM". Retrieved 6 March 2018.
  4. Huscher, Phillip. "Hungarian Sketches" (PDF). Retrieved 6 March 2018.
  5. "Bartók Béla: Hungarian Pictures". Retrieved 6 March 2018.
  6. "Bartók Béla: Hungarian Pictures". Retrieved 6 March 2018.