“A kind of elaborate symphonic poem to be danced to”, explained Bartók. Despite the success of its premiere in 1917, he came to realize that there was much musical padding in the work (for which he blamed the librettist, Béla Balázs). Over the following fifteen years he made many cuts in the stage version, and produced two leaner orchestra suites, but still felt it was the least successful of his three works for stage. Although the only acknowledged ballet of Bartók’s output, the dance impulse in many of his other works lends itself naturally to balletic presentation.
Note by Malcolm Gillies