Together with Stravinsky and Schönberg, Hungarian Béla Bartók belonged to those important composers who had a formative, directive influence on the music of the first half of the twentieth century. He was inspired by the archaic rhythms and keys of his Hungarian home country to create a new kind of musical language that seemed somewhat disturbing upon first hearing. The music theoretician and composer Theodor W. Adorno commented: "Something from this truly archaic, revolutionary folklore lives on in Bartók ? and he is irksome for its sake."
However, just a few years after his death, Bartók's works were dominating the international concert programs in the contemporary music category. The recordings featured on this compilation were made between 1940 and 1959 and include Bartók's Music for Strings, Percussion and Celeste, Concerto for Orchestra and the three Piano Concertos. The compilation also includes an award-winning production of Bartók's one and only opera, Bluebeard's Castle. Bartók's Contrasts is an integral part of the collection (the trio was commissioned by Benny Goodman and Joseph Szigeti) together with a selection of his famous string quartets in the legendary recordings made with the Végh Quartet. The composer himself recorded Microcosmos, one of the most important educational, artistic works for piano.
The world-class musicians featured on the recordings guarantee equally exciting and interpretations and include such illustrious names as Yehudi Menuhin, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Julius Katchen, Géza Anda and Benny Goodman. The star conductors include Ferenc Fricsay, Wilhelm Furtwängler and Rafael Kubelík.