Bela Bartok – Ethnomusicology

An excerpt taken from my Ethnomusicology class – written in 1929 by Bela Bartok (famous composer…I loved playing his Six Romanian Folk Dances for the violin in college)


Talking about rural life, let me add my own observations concerning the relationships between peasants of different nationalities.

Now, when these peasants are at war at the command of their leaders, and the different nationalities seem to be intent on obliterating each other, perhaps it is appropriate to point of that there has not—and never has been the slightest trace of hatred or animosity against each other among these people.

They live peacefully side by side, each speaking his own language, following his own customs, taking it for granted that his neighbor, speaking another language, does the same. An overwhelming proof of this is offered by the words of the lyric folk songs, the mirror of the peoples soul.

It is hard to find among these words any thought expressing animosity towards other nationalities. And even if we should find a line or two poking fun at the foreigner, these have no more significance than some of the words by which people of the soil good-naturedly ridicule their pastor or their own shortcomings.

There is peace among the peasants; hatred against their brothers is fostered only by the higher circles!

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