Concerto for Orchestra
Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta
The Concerto for Orchestra is among the composer's last works. It was commissioned by the Koussevitzky Music Foundation in 1943 in memory of the distinguished conductor Sergey Koussevitzky's wife, Nathalie, and received its first performance by the Boston Symphony Orchestra under Koussevitzky in December 1944. The work displays the virtuoso talents of different sections of the orchestra, using devices of textural and dynamic contrast, thus justifying its title. Bartok himself wrote of the gradual transition of the work from the severity of the first movement, to the third, with its song of death and to the finale with its reassertion of life. The second movement varies this progress by treating pairs of instruments in different harmonic intervals, a light-hearted interlude.