Bela Bartok was born on March 25th 1881 in Nagy Szent Miklos, Hungary.
His father was the principal of an agricultural school, however he received his early music education from his mother, who worked as a piano teacher.
Many of Bartok’s compositions, as evident through his use of rhythm, melody, and modality, are heavily influenced by the folk music of his native region.
Bartok’s contribution to the development and popularization of Hungarian National Folk music was immense. In 1907 he began work as director of music at the Budapest Academy of Music where, together with Hungarian composer Zoltan Kodaly, he collected several thousand central European, Turkish, and North African folk melodies which were then published into anthologies.
From 1926 to 1939 he developed a 6-book series of 153 piano teaching pieces entitled, “Mikrokosmos”, which is still used by many piano students today.
Bartok had a strong disdain for racism and in 1949 when Nazism erupted in Germany, he moved his family to America. Unfortunately, there was little interest in the strong Hungarian nationalistic quality of his music and his remaining years were a struggle.
In 1943 he was diagnosed with leukemia and died two years later in New York City on September 26th, 1945 at the age of 64.