What Musician Was Active With Bartók in Collecting and Analyzing Hungarian

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


Béla Bartók was a Hungarian composer, pianist, and ethnomusicologist. He is considered one of the most important composers of the 20th century. He was active in collecting and analyzing Hungarian folk music.


Bartók’s interest in collecting and analyzing Hungarian folk music began in 1899. He persuaded Zoltán Kodály to join him in his research, and the two men became lifelong friends and collaborators. Kodály helped Bartók transcribe and analyze the folk songs they collected, and Bartók often used these melodies as the basis for his own compositions.

The life and work of Zoltán Kodály

Zoltán Kodály was born in Hungary in 1882 and died in1967. He was a composer, ethnomusicologist, linguist, philosopher, pedagogue and collector of folk songs. He is considered one of the most important figures in Hungarian music. Bartók and Kodály were close friends and worked together collecting and analyzing Hungarian folk songs.

Kodály’s influence on Bartók

Bartók became interested in folk music during his student years, and in 1905 he met Zoltán Kodály, with whom he would collaborate for the rest of his life. One of their first joint projects was a collection of Hungarian folk songs which they started that year. The two composers analyzed the songs together, dividing them into groups according to type and structure. Bartók’s arrangement of the folk tunes for piano duet, entitled For Children (), were published in 1909 and became some of his best-known pieces.

The two men’s shared interest in Hungarian folk music

Bartók and Kodály were united by their shared interest in Hungarian folk music. In 1905, they founded the Society for Hungarian Folk Music, with the aim of collecting and analyzing the country’s musical heritage. They traveled around Hungary, often on foot, collecting and transcribing folk songs. Bartók also took an active role in promoting folk music in the concert hall, giving lectures and writing articles on the subject.

Bartók’s collecting trips

Bartók made several collecting trips with fellow Hungarian ethnomusicologist Zoltán Kodály, with whom he co-founded the Hungarian Academy of Sciences’ Ethnographic Commission in 1906. These trips, called “expeditions” by Bartók, were conducted over a period of thirty years and covered a large area from Transylvania to the Middle East.

The two composers’ different approaches to folk music

Bartók and Kodály had different approaches to collecting and analyzing folk music. Bartók was mainly interested in the music itself, while Kodály was interested in the people who performed it. Bartók collected folk songs from all over Hungary, as well as Romania and other parts of Europe. He then analyzed the music to try to understand the structures underlying it. Kodály, on the other hand, focused his work on Hungarians living in the countryside. He believed that folk music was an important part of Hungarian culture and identity, and he wanted to help preserve it.

The influence of Hungarian folk music on Bartók’s compositional style

Bartók was deeply influenced by the music of Hungary and sought to collect and preserve the country’s traditional songs and dances. He was also interested in the way that folk music could be used to create new works, and he often incorporated Hungarian folk melodies into his own compositions. This can be heard in pieces such as the “Romanian Folk Dances” and the “Hungarian Folksongs”, both of which are based on authentic folk tunes.


In conclusion, we can say that Bartók was indeed an active musician in collecting and analyzing Hungarian folk music. He was also highly influential in spreading awareness of this type of music to both Hungary and the rest of the world.

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