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The Second Rhapsody, one of Bartók’s technically most demanding concert pieces for violin, arranges archaic-improvisatory bagpipe imitations for concert performance. The arrangement itself shows a well-designed, coherent structure: the succession of dances, tonally and motivically related between each other, outline a kind of evolutionary progression from free motive-structure to strophic form. Bagpipe-music had a long-term influence on Bartók’s violin music, figuring as episodes in original works like the two Violin Sonatas or the Violin Concerto; but none exploits the genre to such an extent as the Second Rhapsody. The violin pieces with motive-structure of fascinatingly wild and virtuoso character were among Bartók’s major discoveries of the collecting trips to the Maramureş region. For the Rhapsody Bartók chose melodies from the one-time Ugocsa county, whose music, closely related to that of Maramureş county, was considered by him “the most interesting in our country [i.e., Hungary of the time], due exactly to its primitive character.” In Maramureş these melodies are less eccentric; instead, the violinists have a broader and more varied repertoire of dance music. In my article I discuss the different types of violin music of this region, focusing on structural, melodic, or interpretational elements that were of special interest for the composer. For this investigation I have made use of the primary sources of the respective collections: phonogram recordings, field notations, later transcriptions.

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