Quasi Adagio: Bartok

Knowledge Skills

Béla Bartók (25 March 1881 – 26 September 1945) was a Hungarian composer, pianist, and ethnomusicologist. He is considered one of the most important composers of the 20th century; he and Franz Liszt are regarded as Hungary's greatest composers.

Learner Skills

This piece requires a good understanding of pulse and rhythm which will aid the phrasing, rests and ties.
The dynamics require a sublty that is a little more advanced than usualy required for the grade.

Although from a collection pieces called "For Children" it is appealing to many adults due to its tonality and hypnotic rhythms.

Stylistic Skills

This is a slow piece based on a Hungarian folk song. The style is gentle in character with a gentle lilting rhythm. The tone is slighly melancholy with the dynamics playing a significant role in the character.

The name Quasi Adagio gives the tempo "as if resembling adagio or slowly"

Articulation Skills

This piece has a number of short phrases at the start with some very clear advise on natural breath like dynamics. These dynamics produce almost an unwritten phrase as the music rises to the peak of the dynamics, and then falls away.

The left hand phrases punctuate the right hand with a phrase that grows and falls in a similar way to the half way point.

The piece ends with the phrasing an dynamics all producing the feeling of dying away and diminishing.

Sound Skills

The tone of the piece is slightly haunting in character, the key is A minor but uses the melodic variety of the scale ascending with the raised sixth note (F sharp) giving a major second interval to the E. However the expected raised seventh note never arrives leaving an uncertainty. The occasional natural sixth adds to the confusion in its descending nature leaving a feeling of 'missing'. This is added to by the smorzando and the listener is left feeling that something is complete; yet not quite.

The homophonic texture of this piece leads to a cantabile melody which we are told should be dolce or sweetly. You can achieve this by advising a learner to raise the right hand slightly giving a clearer bell like tone.

Technical Skills

The phrasing in this piece requires careful observation as the slur may continue in one hand and break in the other. Careful observance will enhance the performance, singing the melody using a multi syllable word on the slurs may help perfect this technique.

Pedal Skills

Pedal work would enhance this piece however is not expected at this grade.

Practice Skills

This piece will benefit from individual hands practising the phrasing and dynamics.

Teaching Skills

to follow

Performance Skills

The final performance of this piece should leave the listener wanting more, although short it is a powerful few bars that can change the feeling in the room. This would be apparent in an excellent performance.

Exam Skills

An accomplished learner will be confident and full of character with a rocking tempo and a secure pulse. It will include plenty of detail.


Performance Video
Tutorial Video
Available to Purchase

A 12 page downloadable workbook with a story, questions, quizzes & practice charts.



A 12 page downloadable booklet with scales, exercises, arpeggio and broken chords.

A 12 page booklet with related theory questions.



A 12 page downloadable workbook of ear training and sight reading with QR codes. 


Purchase the required
book for this piece.


A 12 page teaching skills



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