Composer Béla Bartók makes his US debut on December 22, performing the New York premiere of his Rhapsody for Piano and Orchestra with the New York Philharmonic and Willem Mengelberg. He performs the US premiere of his First Piano Concerto at the Hall two months later.
In 1940, Bartók and his wife, Ditta, moved to New York City for good. Among the pieces Bartók composed in the US were the Sonata for Solo Violin—Yehudi Menuhin premiered it at Carnegie Hall—and his most popular work, the Concerto for Orchestra.
Bartók returned to Carnegie Hall in 1943; his performances with Ditta, an accomplished pianist, and the New York Philharmonic were his last. He spent the brief remainder of his life in an apartment just two blocks from Carnegie Hall. He died on September 26, 1945, at West Side Hospital.
Bartók kept composing until only days before his death, but left two works unfinished. Although he did little more than begin to sketch out his viola concerto, his third piano concerto (which he was writing for his wife) was almost complete, requiring only a few minor additions by his former student, Tíbor Sérly.
On February 26, 1946, the Philadelphia Orchestra and conductor Eugene Ormandy presented the New York Premiere of that final, posthumously completed concerto at Carnegie Hall, with Bartók’s friend György Sándor as soloist.
Next entry: 1927 George Antheil presents the US premiere of his Ballet mécanique