Béla Bartók

Fun Facts

  • Bartók's mother began giving him piano lessons when he was five years old. He was a frail and sickly child, but exhibited remarkable talent from an early age.

  • When he was eleven, Bartók gave a public performance of his own compositions.

  • Traveling through remote Hungary with an Edison phonograph, Bartók recorded villagers singing and playing native folk songs. These tunes would become his life-long inspiration.

  • Bartók wrote only a single opera: Bluebeard's Castle.

  • Because of Bartók's opposition to Nazi Germany, he was forced to emigrate to the United States in 1940. His son, Péter Bartók, enlisted in the United States Navy and served in the Pacific during the war.

  • Bartók's compositional style combined folk music, classicism, and modernism.

  • Bartók's collection and research of folk music pioneered ethnomusicology, the study of music in its cultural and social context.

  • Although he became an American citizen in 1945, Bartók never felt fully at home in the U.S. and found it difficult to compose.

More Resources

Fun Facts

Check out our collection of interesting and (some) little known facts about Bartók.


View Béla Bartók's full biography.