Béla Bartók


Composer, pianist, and ethnomusicologist Béla Bartók (1881–1945) was born in Nagyszentmiklós, Hungary (present-day Sânnicolau Mare, Romania). He studied music in Pressburg (present-day Bratislava, Slovakia) and at the Budapest Academy of Music. In 1904 he began collecting folksongs, which he recorded and classified. Between 1907 and 1934 he was professor of piano at the Budapest academy. His compositions include an opera, two ballets, orchestral music, chamber music, and folksong arrangements. This photograph of Bartók is from the archives of the League of Nations. In 1931 Bartók was invited to join the League’s Committee on Intellectual Cooperation, partly in recognition of his international interests and openness to a wide range of musical styles from different ethnic groups. The committee was established in 1922 for the purpose of building up international relations among teachers, artists, scientists, and members of other intellectual professions and improving the working conditions of the educated workforce. Its members included the scientists Marie Curie and Albert Einstein and the novelist Thomas Mann. In 1926 the committee moved from Geneva to Paris, where it was reestablished as the International Institute of Intellectual Cooperation. The photograph is in the archives of the League, which were transferred to the United Nations in 1946 and are housed at the UN office in Geneva. They were inscribed on the UNESCO Memory of the World register in 2010.

Last updated: August 5, 2016