The experience triggered an "Aha! He became obsessed with tracking down original folk tunes from tiny villages in Hungary and Romania. Together with fellow composer Zoltan Kodaly, Bartok recorded, notated and collected thousands of original tunes, ultimately preserving an entire culture. Bartok's discovery of these folk songs would be the defining factor in the development of his unique style and voice.
The best known of all his folk-related compositions are the Romanian Folk Dances. When Bartok combined the unique harmonies and rhythms of these songs with his penchant for odd—sometimes even perverse—story lines, the result was shocking. And some of the music still gives me a jolt today. Consider the opening of the suite from Bartok's ballet, The Miraculous Mandarin audio.
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The angry scales played by the violins and the spitting woodwinds immediately send us to a foreign and frightening place. It's the perfect set-up for the story of three shady characters who lure people up to their room to beat and rob them. Later, the hooligans try robbing the Mandarin. There's a weird dance and a chase scene before they try to kill him. But nothing—neither strangling nor suffocation—works.
The Mandarin just stares at them with eyes of fire. Finally, overcome with compassion, one of his tormentors touches the Mandarin, and his wounds begin to bleed and he dies in her arms. The era in which Bartok lived was rife with these over-the-top story lines. Bram Stoker's Dracula , set in nearby Transylvania, was written in , and Freud had recently published " On the Interpretation of Dreams.
So I don't think it was unusual for Bartok to pick a revisionist rendition of a dark and terror-filled fairy tale as the libretto for his first and only opera, Duke Bluebeard's Castle. As the music begins, we hear those exotic folk intervals in the lowest region of the orchestra, introducing us to the dark, inner world of Duke Bluebeard, his castle and his soul. Bluebeard's new wife, Judith, has heard the rumors of him murdering his former wives, but she loves him anyway and believes she can bring light and warmth to his world of darkness. Throughout the opera, Judith is met with seven locked doors.
She pleads with Bluebeard to open them and he does so reluctantly, one by one.
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The first door reveals Bluebeard's torture chamber, with its bloody musical motif. The climax of the opera occurs with the opening of the fifth door, revealing Bluebeard's vast kingdom. Finally, Bluebeard resists opening the last door. As Judith insists, the door swings wide to reveal all of his past wives. And now Judith must join them for eternity.
Irish Peasant Songs in the English Language (Joyce, Patrick Weston)
Delving so deeply into Bartok's music represented one of the highlights of my musical career. In this respect, she was more typical of peasant believers than historians have assumed. Familiarity with liturgical language and the Bible was not confined to Old Believers and evangelical groups within Imperial Russia. She wrote rather than dictated her letters. Some of these salutations and comments exemplify the more formal language that Orthodox believers of all classes believed was necessary in this type of communication, but others are a reminder that on a daily basis oral greetings, many sayings and references to time were religiously based.
I united with you, O Christ. It was customary for ill men and women, regardless of class, to make vows to God that they would visit a particular holy site to give thanks for their recovery. In , this time in connection with her own health, she embarked on an ambitious pilgrimage circuit to major holy sites, some at a distance from Pazdery.
Elizaveta did not go into any detail about the relics and miracle-working icons housed at these sites, presumably because she did not need to. These were popular pilgrimage destinations that were described in the religious pamphlet literature and pilgrimage magazine Russkii palomnik The Russian Pilgrim. We do not know if Elizaveta had companions on these occasions but, given concerns of safety, she in all likelihood would have travelled in the company of either family members or neighbours, or a combination of the two.
If Elizaveta and her companion pilgrims went by foot rather than rail and cart on any of these trips, they would have been consciously strengthening the sincerity of their pledge. If they did travel by rail, they would have joined peasant migrants in crammed third-class carriages. Even if their physical illnesses were not cured, they came away renewed from having entered holy space and having shared in the miraculous, i. Elizaveta did not travel with her husband on these occasions, for what reasons we do not know.
It appears that Elizaveta herself travelled to Kronshtadt earlier in spring , since she asked Vasilii to finance such a trip in her letter dated 19 September II, She would also have made cash donations as well as offerings of ribbons, towels and cloth at the monastic sites in exchange for candles and special prayer services.
She probably purchased holy water, holy oil, religious pamphlets and other paraphernalia from peddlers who set up stalls outside the monastery gates. Her desire to visit the most ancient Orthodox city in the empire was part of her quest for salvation II, Her monetary donations to holy sites in Jerusalem and Mount Athos in lieu of physical pilgrimages sought additional intercessional prayers for herself and her family members II, Women were not allowed, of course, on Mount Athos, so an actual trip there was out of the question for Elizaveta.
A voyage from Odessa to Jerusalem would have been not only costly but time-consuming for this devout woman. Elizaveta was also clearly unable to follow the example of those pious single women who, free from family responsibilities, became full-time pilgrims. For example, in an elderly, illiterate, and impoverished noblewoman described herself to an observer as a pilgrim by profession.
As a teenager she had fled an unconsummated marriage forced upon her by her mother, dedicating her life to wandering from one religious site to another. For the next thirty-three years she supported her travels to such far away places as Solovki in the White Sea region and Jerusalem by selling lace that she had made herself.
Bela Bartok: Finding a Voice Through Folk Music : NPR
She travelled several times to holy sites in Kiev, Moscow and Voronezh. She also ventured out to monasteries in Zadonsk and Solovki in , and again in , to Jerusalem. In all of these places she studied the contemplative way of life and purchased icons, as well as books recounting the lives of the saints and containing prayer cycles. In fact, in other letters we learn a good deal about matchmaking and expectations regarding the choice of spouse.
After several failures in matchmaking, Elizaveta was concerned that her son would remain a bachelor: The advice she gives him comes from a poem by A. If you marry gold, you will be selling yourself; if you marry status, forget about your wife!
List of compositions by Béla Bartók
Chase a nightingale into your cage; pick from among the maidens a little birdie wife II, She often travelled to the market town of Sharkan where her sister lived and Sarapul. A portrait photograph of her taken in shows a matronly woman dressed in a dark, ready-to-wear dress with puffed sleeves, lacework on the bodice and a high collar with covered buttons.
Her hair is parted in the middle and partially covered with a cap, from which lace is cascading downward, rather than with a kerchief II, Elizaveta, too, was not immune from the influences of upward mobility. Ivan also reported that they had their photograph, a copy of which he included with the letter, taken at the Virpsha Studio II, , — Material objects and photographs demonstrated a new sensibility of individual success and independence, a blending-in with lower-middle-class society.
At the same time, she uses her new status as a marriageable young woman to claim that she needs to have a room of her own: Long gone were the days when peasant girls embroidered their own trousseaus and when peasant women wove their own cloth and sewed their own clothes. Owning ready-to-wear clothing and other factory- made items represented upward mobility and attracted potential suitors as familiarity with urban goods became common.
Events connected to the life cycle are ever present in the descriptions, including the birth and christening of children, but not the rituals surrounding the events. It would appear, for example, that working bees, where marriageable peasant women did handiwork while suitors entertained them with song, were no longer part of the non-agricultural calendar. The need to purchase consumer goods to compete in an evolving, more fluid, class marriage market, had displaced rituals and activities that might have once been confined to a rural if not always purely peasant milieu, when gentry and clergy would have participated in some of these events.
Those who did not wish ultimately to take up the rigours of cloistered life could, nonetheless, find employment and shelter in these institutions. Only then will we have a better sense of the everyday experiences and the choices that these women enjoyed. Frank and Mark D. Princeton University Press, , pp.
Gromyko, Mir russkoi derevni Moscow: Hoch who complained about the unreliability of ethnographic sources found himself utilizing them to explain the practice of brideprice on the Gagarin estate of Petrovskoe. See his Serfdom and Social Control in Russia: Petrovskoe, a Village in Tambov Chicago: University of Chicago Press, , pp. Ransel eschewed the use of ethnographic sources in his Mothers of Misery: Child Abandonment in Russia Princeton: Imperatorskoe russkoe geograficheskoe obshchestvo po otdeleniiu etnografii, together with some of her unpublished writings under the title Village Life in Late Tsarist Russia: Indiana University Press, Legal Culture in the Countryside, — Bloomington: Scythian Books, , p.
Oxford University Press, , chapter 8. New Histories for the Empire , ed. Indiana University Press, , pp. The Cosmos of a Sixteenth-Century Miller , trans. Johns Hopkins University Press, demonstrates the ways in which a miller brought before the Inquisition was influenced by written culture. Ironically, revolutionary groups after emancipation were more sympathetic to the religious practices and rituals of Old Believers and sectarians than those of Orthodox peasants, but only insofar as they believed that these peasant groups, by virtue of their being divorced from the official church, were revolutionary by nature and, therefore, more likely to follow calls for the overthrow of the autocracy.
Stella Rock, Popular Religion in Russia: Routledge, , p. Joanna Hubbs, Mother Russia: For other uncritical readings of nineteenth-century ethnographic materials and acceptance of dual faith as reflective of peasant beliefs, see Linda J. Sharpe, and Elizabeth A.
Women in Nineteenth-Century Russia
Northern Illinois University Press, , pp. For examples of work that eschew the concept of dvoeverie underlying popular religiosity, see Chris Chulos, Converging Worlds: Greene, Bodies Like Bright Stars: Oxford University Press, , pp.
Oxford University Press, and Christine D. Northern Illinois University Press, Popular Religion in Russia and Ukraine , ed. University of Toronto Press, , pp. Shevzov, Russian Orthodoxy , Chapter 5, pp. A Handbook Westport, Conn.: Greenwood, , p. Popular Religion , pp. See her Russian Myths Austin: University of Texas Press, , p. There is a tendency, however, to underestimate the knowledge that believers had of Orthodox principles and the effect of extraliturgical work that Orthodox clerics undertook in the nineteenth-century.
For a discussion of extraliturgical activities see Gregory L. Women, Work, and Family in Russia, — Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, Literacy and Popular Culture, — Princeton: The World the Peasants Made London: Longman, , p. For a pioneering book that integrates religious with other aspects of Russian village life, see M. Buganov, O vozzreniiakh russkogo naroda Moscow: Cornell University Press, Vera Shevzov is sensitive to the rural parish but argues rightly that the ecclesial community embraced more than peasants; it included all believers, including clerics.