Jewels in Her Crown: Treasures of Columbia University Libraries Special Collections

Exhibition Themes > Music > 235. Béla Bartók

235.  Béla Bartók (1881-1945).  Rumanian Folk Music. Autograph manuscript, ca. 1942. RBML, Béla Bartók Papers

Central to Béla Bartók's work as a composer was his work as an ethno-musicologist. With fellow Hungarian composer, Zoltán Kodály, he travelled throughout Eastern Europe and Turkey collecting folk music prior to the devastations of World Wars I and II. Alarmed by the spread of fascism, Bartók emigrated to the United States in 1940. On his arrival, he was commissioned by Columbia to transcribe a large collection of Yugoslav folk music, and was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University that year. He prepared the manuscripts of his work on Rumanian and Turkish folk music for publication, but was unable to find a publisher. He then donated the material to Columbia along with his tabulation of Serbo-Croatian folk music, held in the Parry Collection at Harvard, that had been published. By 1943 his health was failing and he died from leukemia in New York in 1945. His Rumanian and Turkish manuscripts were later published by his estate.

Gift of Béla Bartók, 1943 and 1944; transferred to RBML from Central Files, 1981

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