Bartók’s works for choir form a special but important part of his oeuvre. Between 1903 and 1935 Bartók wrote many works for unaccompanied choir and one with piano accompaniment, totalling 56 (mostly short) movements. They are partly arrangements of Hungarian, Slovak, and Romanian folk songs, and partly settings of poetic and folklore texts.
Now, Hungarian music publishing house called Editio Musica Budapest Zeneműkiadó has published the Urtext edition of Béla Bartók’s complete works for choir in three volumes. This set is based on the Béla Bartók Complete Critical Edition published jointly by Editio Musica Budapest Zeneműkiadó and G. Henle Verlag of Munich.
The lyrics in this Urtext edition are in the original languages and in the translations authorized by the composer. Literal English translations are provided in the appendix, which also includes early and alternative versions of the works. The editions are complete with informative prefaces (also in English, and German) and detailed Editorial Comments (also in English). The Comments give an overview of the textual, folk-music, and compositional sources, and provide detailed information on the performance practice of Bartók’s choral works.
The three volumes are also available cloth-bound in slipcase
Some of the pieces, namely the two- and three-part choruses for children’s and female voices could be used as important movements for music pedagogy. They are singable well also by children’s choirs. The new choral edition includes English versions of these two- and three-part choruses that were authorized by the composer.
A couple of Hungarian recordings of the choruses are based on the score of the Urtext edition, which was in preparation at that time. The eminent Budapest Music Center Records published Bartók’s complete choral works in 2014. Some extracts from the CDs could be heard out on the website of the record label.
In Spring of 2021 an enchanting theatrical concert titled Bartók in Motion was streamed during the epidemic. In this performance the Hungarian Saint Ephraim Male Choir sang many choral works by Bartók for male voices, for example Four Old Hungarian Folk Songs.
Béla Bartók’s Choral Works
Based on the Béla Bartók Complete Critical Edition (Z. 15009), these three cloth-bound volumes in slipcase include Bartók’s complete choral works. The lyrics in this Urtext edition are in the original languages and in the translations authorized by the composer. Literal English translations are provided in the appendix, which also includes early and alternative versions of the works.