Bela Bartok piano music

Boosey’s Bartók Bonanza

Sheet Music Review

Along with their outstanding new version of The First Term at the Piano – which I recently reviewed here – Bossey & Hawkes (in conjunction with Hal Leonard) have also just released the Bartók Piano Anthology.

Here’s a look at this interesting addition to the Bartók catalogue…

Bartók Piano Anthology

Adding to the complexity of selecting Bartók sheet music purchases, the new Bartók Piano Anthology might easily have been called The Bumper Book of Bartók.

At a massive 280 pages it might recall the Dover Edition publications were it not for the rather stark black cover:

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This isn’t a Greatest Hits publication however – rather it is a compendium of selected works from across Bartók’s output, as follows:

  • For Children (complete)
  • Allegro barbaro
  • Romanian Folk Dances
  • Romanian Christmas Carols
  • Suite Op.14
  • Fifteen Hungarian Peasant Songs
  • Improvisations on Hungarian Peasant Songs
  • Dance Suite
  • Out of Doors
  • Nine Little Piano Pieces
  • Three Rondos on Folk Tunes

This is a quirky selection, with beginner pieces nestling between post-diploma concert war-horses such as the Dance Suite and Allegro Barbaro. Obvious omissions, meanwhile, are the Sonata, the Sonatina, the 14 Bagatelles, the Petite Suite and of course the Mikrokosmos.

Regular readers will know of my penchant for Bartók and not be too surprised to learn that I have most of the included works in their previous editions, from which I can see the engraving has been lifted for this anthology. So here we once again have an identical reproduction of Peter Bartók’s pristine 1998 edition of For Children I alongside the more dated and dense looking 1925 original of the Dance Suite piano transcription, licensed from UE.

In some cases the licensed versions aren’t the most up-to-date – for example the Romanian Folk Dances use the 1918 UE source rather than Peter Bartók’s 1993 revised edition (also UE). That said, the differences are in typesetting rather than basic accuracy – I think it’s fair to say that all the editions bound together in the Bartók Piano Anthology are reliable and useful.

In terms of general presentation, the printing quality here is good, and the paper is better than I might have expected too. Only time will tell how durable the binding is, and as you might expect, it isn’t always easy to use as a performing edition without bending the spine back quite firmly.

I do rather wonder who this collection is for, given it offers such a broad range of music for players of very different abilities. That said, I think it would most suit the player at the upper level of ability who is keen to explore the concert works on offer here, while also investigating his easier music.

And if you are in the market for a bumper book of Bartók that includes the listed works, there is no doubt that this anthology offers a decent cost-effective way of acquiring a lot of scores.

The Bartók Piano Anthology is available from all standard music retailers.

Published by

Andrew Eales

Andrew Eales is a pianist, writer and teacher based in Milton Keynes UK, where he runs Keyquest Music - his successful independent music education business, private teaching practice and creative outlet.