Concerto for Orchestraop. BB123 (1943)
Boosey & Hawkes
Symphony Hall, Boston, MA
Boston Symphony Orchestra / Serge Koussevitzky
Bartók’s most popular piece for full orchestra, the Concerto began as a work of gratitude on recovering sufficiently from serious illness. Despite a “lugubrious death-song” as the third movement (Elegia), the Concerto’s general lightness, humour and systematic exposure of all parts of the orchestra made it an immediate success when it was performed in late 1944 by the Boston Symphony Orchestra, under the work’s commissioner, Serge Koussevitzky. Interesting comparative works of the period are the Concerto for Orchestra that the Chicago Symphony Orchestra commissioned from Kodály and premièred in 1941, and Lutoslawski’s Concerto for Orchestra (1950-54).
Note by Malcolm Gillies