, BB 63 composed in 1911, is one of Béla Bartók
Béla Viktor János Bartók was a Hungarian composer and pianist. He is considered one of the most important composers of the 20th century and is regarded, along with Liszt, as Hungary's greatest composer...
's most famous and frequently performed solo piano
The piano is a musical instrument played by means of a keyboard. It is one of the most popular instruments in the world. Widely used in classical and jazz music for solo performances, ensemble use, chamber music and accompaniment, the piano is also very popular as an aid to composing and rehearsal...
pieces. The composition is typical of Bartók's style, utilizing folk elements. The work combines Hungarian and Romanian scales; Hungarian peasant music is based on the pentatonic scale
A pentatonic scale is a musical scale with five notes per octave in contrast to a heptatonic scale such as the major scale and minor scale...
, while Romanian music is largely chromatic
The chromatic scale is a musical scale with twelve pitches, each a semitone apart. On a modern piano or other equal-tempered instrument, all the half steps are the same size...
The opening melody of Allegro barbaro
is largely pentatonic (the first 22 notes of the melody use a cell that consists only of a whole tone and a minor third, the building block of the pentatonic scale). Indeed, the opening melody uses a Phrygian mode subset.
As noted by Lendvai, like many other compositions by Bartók,
also in "Allegro barbaro" numerical series like the Fibonacci sequence are widely employed.
As an example, the ostinato F# minor pulsating chords occur in groups of 3, 5, 8, or 13 bars.
The composition was arranged for orchestra by Jenő Kenessey in 1946.
Progressive rock group Emerson, Lake & Palmer
Emerson, Lake & Palmer, also known as ELP, are an English progressive rock supergroup. They found success in the 1970s and sold over forty million albums and headlined large stadium concerts. The band consists of Keith Emerson , Greg Lake and Carl Palmer...
arranged the piece for the first track, titled The Barbarian, on their eponymous 1970 debut
Emerson, Lake & Palmer is the eponymous debut album of British progressive rock band Emerson, Lake & Palmer, released in 1970.As a first album from the newly formed supergroup, the album clearly demonstrates the variety of influences the artists brought with them, in the mix of instrumental and...