On the left, you can browse folksong arrangements by genre, work, and movement. Works are listed chronologically, following the numbering (BB numbers) in László Somfai’s work list. (A list of Bartók’s works ordered by BB numbers is available here.) Each folk melody used in Bartók’s compositions has a unique reference number (L numbers), which corresponds the numbering in Vera Lampert’s book Folk Music in Bartók’s Compositions).
By clicking on an L number on the left, identification data of the selected movement and work (number and title of the movement, L number, work title, year of composition, BB number) appear on the right, along with a music example showing the folk melody as it first appears in the arrangement. In the case of works or movements edited in two versions in the Bartók Complete Edition, both versions are shown.
By clicking on the tab Folk Music Source you can access the original phonograph recording(s) of the folk melody or melodies (wherever available), as well as the following recording data: reference code, place, and date of the record, the collector’s name, the name and age of the informant, the melody’s performance, the ethnicity of the informant, and further remarks (if necessary). Below these, you can view the original transcriptions of the melody or melodies. We use the historical names of localities that were in effect at the time of the recording of the melodies. In the case of localities which do not belong to Hungary today, however, the current official place names are also provided. By clicking on the name of a locality you can jump to the Map.
There are many folk songs which Bartók transcribed more than once, and he also revised several of his early transcriptions. The transcriptions in facsimile are shown in chronological order and are marked by letters of the alphabet. In establishing the chronology of the transcriptions we generally consider the date of Bartók’s last revision, but we also consider earlier layers in a transcription if they are more relevant to the arrangement. If an arrangement is based on different variants of a melody, all source melodies are provided, and they are numbered. If Bartók took the words and the melody from different sources, we also provide the textual sources. Those transcriptions that Bartók published in the editions of his arrangements are marked with #. These are no scholarly transcriptions; Bartók typically produced them, sometimes relying on more than one variant, after composing the arrangement.
The facsimiles of the transcriptions can be viewed by clicking on their captions. For short descriptions of the manuscript and printed collections referenced in the captions as well as the abbreviations used, see Sources and Abbreviations. Unless noted otherwise, handwritten transcriptions are in Bartók’s hand.
By clicking on the tab Audio Recording and Score you can access one or two recordings of the arrangement and an excerpt from its score. In addition to representative modern renderings, we also provide here recordings of Bartók’s own interpretation (wherever available). The score excerpts are taken from the Bartók Complete Edition.
By clicking on the tab Lyrics you can read the words of vocal works in original and in literal English translation.
By clicking on the tab Comparison you will see a music example which allows comparison of selected original transcriptions of the folk melody with the version(s) used in the arrangement. In the case of melodies of which several original transcriptions survive, we did not consider necessary to include all transcriptions; instead, we provide one or two versions that stand closest to the version(s) used in the arrangement, plus the last transcription edited by Bartók. From alternative readings and deviations between stanzas within one transcription only those are incorporated in these music examples which are relevant to the arrangement; these variants are given either as ossias or as numbered footnotes. Bartók’s original footnotes are likewise numbered, while editorial notes are marked with *. Editorial additions are in square brackets. (In case of missing tempo markings, for example, we have supplied the marking from another transcription of the same version of the melody, made in close proximity to the quoted transcription.) Obvious misspellings in folksong texts have been tacitly corrected, but transcriptions of the same text produced at different times are quoted diplomatically. Individual transcriptions are referred to by the identification letters provided under the tab Folk Music Source; in the case of transcriptions containing more than one layers of writing, “orig.” means the first layer. To facilitate comparison of different transcriptions, individual notes of the melodies are synchronized vertically within the music examples.