Béla Bartók, entomologist

Béla Bartók is renowned as one of the twentieth century’s greatest composers and as one of the founders of ethnomusicology. Less known is his love of animals, particularly his fascination with insects.

When he was a child he bred silkworms, and later he systematically collected insects, assembling a beautiful assortment. His son Béla Jr. recalled helping him with this hobby. “The most important instruction that he gave…was that no pain whatsoever was to be inflicted on the animals. And so he always took the appropriate drug with him on his insect-collecting expeditions. The insects, therefore, died and came into his collection without any suffering.”

This according to “The private man” by Béla Bartók, Jr. (as translated by Judit Rácz), which is included in The Bartók companion (London: Faber & Faber, 1993).

Today is Bartók’s 130th birthday! Above, a watercolor caricature of him as an insect enthusiast by his cousin Ervin Voit. Below, Zoltán Kocsis plays his “Mese a kis légyrõl” (From the diary of a fly, Mikrokosmos, BB 105, Sz. 107, VI/142).

5 Comments

Filed under 20th- and 21st-century music, Animals, Nature, Science

5 responses to “Béla Bartók, entomologist

  1. Pingback: Bumble boogie | Bibliolore

  2. Pingback: Insects in rock ’n’ roll cover art | Bibliolore

  3. Pingback: Zoltán Kodály, ethnomusicologist | Bibliolore

  4. Pingback: Rovarok lemezborítókon - Hangtárnok

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s