16 Mar 2020

Simon Rattle on Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra (11 min.)

The Concerto for Orchestra is one of Béla Bartók’s last works. As an avowed anti-fascist, the Hungarian composer emigrated to America in 1940 – seriously ill, with almost no financial reserves and with very poor earning prospects, since his work was hardly known in the New World. In this work, the orchestra members themselves emerge from the collective as soloists. Bartók’s late work was on the programme of a concert by the Berliner Philharmoniker under the baton of its former chief conductor Sir Simon Rattle. Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the performance in March 2020 took place without an audience, but was broadcast in the Digital Concert Hall. In this introduction, Sir Simon talks about Bartók’s difficult American years, the “dark heart” in the middle movement of the Concerto for Orchestra, and the quotations from his own and other composers’ works which the composer integrated into the piece.

The concert