Friday, December 3, 2010

Bartok Lived in Riverdale Too

It ends up that Hungarian composer Bela Bartok lived in the Bronx, just down the street from where I live now. Small world, eh?

After leaving Europe to avoid the Nazis, Bartok settled in Forest Hills, Queens in 1940. The next year, he crossed the Harlem River to Cambridge Avenue in Riverdale. Apparently, the well-treed parks of the neighborhood put the composer at ease and reminded him of Budapest; he stayed for three years before moving to 57th Street, close to Carnegie Hall. He passed in 1945.

While in Riverdale, Bartok worked for Columbia University as a researcher--he was a renowned collector of Hungarian folk music--and also composed his most famous work, the Concerto for Orchestra, which the Boston Symphony Orchestra premiered in 1944. Here's the last movement:

You can hear snippets of this piece and get a little background on NPR.org.