The fourth installment of my Hybrid Highbrow podcast gets at a musical phenomenon that I have wanted to explore for a while: the affinity that the jazz world has for the Hungarian composer Béla Bartók. In pursuit of this nexus, I’m serving up some wonderful tracks by Richie Beirach, Tabula Rasa, Oliver Haynes, the Peter Sarik Trio, and others.
If you don’t know much about Bartók, he was born in 1881 in what was then the Austro-Hungarian empire. He grew up with two loves: one for his native Hungary, the other for the study of classical piano and composition. Bartók unified these passions by integrating eastern and central European folk music into his works, which are full with modernist influences: especially those of the French composer Claude Debussy. This is why Bartók’s rich, intense music sounds both folksy and cosmopolitan at the same time. It is also infused with wonderful indigenous melodies that sometimes have a bit of a blues sound to them.
No surprise then that jazz composers love Bela Bartok. Listen for yourself . . . and enjoy!
Link to the Mixcloud podcast.