November 2010: Infernal Dance: Inside the World of Béla Bartók

“In repertoire like this, Salonen and the Philharmonia are the ones to follow.” - The Guardian on Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Philharmonia performing Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra, February 2010

Highlights include:

  • Performances of all Bartók’s major orchestral works, including the three piano concertos with Yefim Bronfman
  • Rarely heard works including the early symphonic poem Kossuth and the monumental choral work Cantata profana
  • Semi-staged performances of his only opera, Duke Bluebeard’s Castle, with Sir John Tomlinson and Measha Brueggergosman as Bluebeard and Judith
  • The complete string quartets, performed by the Takács Quartet as part of the Southbank Centre International Chamber Music Season
  • A UK first: a complete performance in a day of Bartók’s complete Mikrokosmos for solo piano – 153 pieces written over 13 years.
  • Performances in London and Basingstoke by the leading Hungarian folk ensemble, Muzsikás
  • Chamber concerts featuring the music of Bartók’s contemporaries, including Dohnányi, Kodály and Enescu
  • A study day led by Series Consultant Malcolm Gillies
  • Extensive digital resources, including more than a dozen new documentary films about Bartók’s life and influences, made on location in Hungary, Vienna and New York by the Philharmonia’s award-winning digital team (, from mid November 2010)

The Philharmonia Orchestra has announced full details of Esa-Pekka Salonen's 2011 follow-up to City of Dreams: a year-long, pan-European exploration of the life, influences and music of Béla Bartók. Salonen, who has recently confirmed that he will be extending his term as Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor of the Philharmonia Orchestra, will be conducting 20 concerts in 11 European cities. The project also includes chamber events, a study day, a major series of online resources including more than a dozen new short documentary films, and performances by the leading Hungarian folk group Muszikás.

Esa-Pekka Salonen describes Bartók as “a composer whose music speaks very directly”: “It is completely original music; deeply, deeply moving and affecting. I think it is going to be a fascinating journey”.

The series brings together many of the leading exponents of Bartók’s music, together with academics, musicologists and archive and museum curators based in both Europe and the USA. The Takács Quartet will be performing all of Bartók’s string quartets over two evenings in October 2011 as part of the Southbank Centre International Chamber Music Season. Orchestral soloists include Yefim Bronfman, who performs all three piano concertos between January and November, Christian Tetzlaff, performing the 2nd Violin Concerto, and Sir John Tomlinson and Measha Brueggergosman, who take the roles of Bluebeard and Judith in a semi-staged production of Duke Bluebeard’s Castle in October. Series Consultant and leading Bartók scholar Professor Malcolm Gillies has brought together a group of international specialists in Bartók’s life and music to write articles and to contribute to a considerable body of new documentary films that the Philharmonia’s digital department have put together, filming in Hungary, Vienna and New York. The leading Hungarian folk ensemble Muzsikás, who fuse traditional Hungarian music with the classical compositions of Kodály, Kurtág and Ligeti, will be performing in both London and at The Anvil Basingstoke.

Together with Southbank Centre and The Anvil Basingstoke, the other major partner in the series is the Royal College of Music, who are presenting an orchestral programme at Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall in October, plus five chamber concerts featuring the music of Bartók and his contemporaries; and, on 27 October, a unique six hour event on The Clore Ballroom at Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall, when the entire Mikrokosmos – 153 piano pieces written over 13 years – will be performed in one session by RCM students.

David Whelton, Managing Director of the Philharmonia Orchestra, explains that the Orchestra relishes the opportunity to bring one of the 20th century’s great musical voices to life:
“Bartók is the music of colour; of dramatic passions, sensuality and exoticism. The chance for us to spend a year exploring this rich and extraordinary music is extremely exciting and we look forward to bringing together the finest musicians, historians and scholars from around the world to help us bring this wonderful composer to life.”