Originally posted by ChronicLeaky
I just heard "Musik für Seiteninstrumente, Schlagzeug und Celesta". It is great, but I'm not sure why. Can anyone explain, or recommend something else by this dude?
You like it because you have good taste in music.
It may have to do with the complexity of the rhythm and harmonies, or the way he uses elements of Hungarian folk music, or the instrumentation, or... well, I don't really know. My own love affair with Bartók started in childhood. As my mother is a piano teacher, we had Bartók's piano pieces for children ("Gyermekeknek" - gotta love Hungarian!) lying around, and I tried (with varying success) to play them long before I got piano lessons. I still think they are a lot of fun to play, although I wouldn't listen to a recording. When I was eight, my sister and my brother played Bartók's Rhapsody no. 2 for violin and piano (or orchestra), and I totally fell in love with that piece. It's hard to separate my personal feelings for it from its musical value, but I think it is a very nice piece, although not one of his big works.
Another piece by Bartók that I have a special relationship with is the second string quartet. I played it at a chamber music seminar, and we had a great teacher and worked very hard on it for three weeks, analysing every chord, getting into every detail, so I got a much deeper understanding of it than I had when we started playing it, opening up a whole new world. This is definitely great music, although probably not greater than some of his other string quartets (I also love the fifth very much); the reason why I love this one above the other ones is again personal and partly coincidental. But the string quartets in general are definitely recommendable.
It's "Saiteninstrumente", by the way. Even though "Seite" and "Saite" sound exactly the same, a "Seite" is a side or page, while a "Saite" is a string.