The String Quartet No. 6 was the last piece Bartók composed in Hungary before emigrating to the U.S. in 1940, in the midst of the Second World War. It was his last composition for several years, in fact, until the famous Concerto for Orchestra was commissioned and written in 1943. The sixth quartet is notable in that each movement begins with a similar theme, marked "Mesto," or "sadly." In the first three movements, this theme is followed by a different character, but the final movement departs from this pattern, maintaining the "mesto" motive throughout. This may be partly related to the death of the composer's mother during the writing of this work; earlier sketches show that he planned a livelier, folk-dance-inspired ending, but at some point he changed direction, turning the movement into an intensely introspective memorial.
This edition contains parts for two violins, viola, and cello.
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