On this day—December 22—in 1927, Belá Bartók (who is probably better known as a composer) made his Carnegie Hall debut as a pianist, performing the New York premiere of his own Rhapsody for Piano and Orchestra with the New York Philharmonic conducted by Willem Mengelberg. Bartók and the orchestra reprised the piece the following afternoon.
For his 2011–2012 Perspectives series, pianist András Schiff was adamant that he focus on Bartók and the vibrant legacy the composer left on their native Hungary. As Schiff points out, Bartók was also a New Yorker, moving here in the midst of World War II and living for a time on 57th Street—only a few blocks away from Carnegie Hall.
Here, Schiff provides a personal and, at times, moving insight into his fellow-Hungarian's life, music, self-imposed and unhappy exile, and death in the US.
Related: Perspectives: András SchiffHistory of the Hall