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#2111455 - 07/02/13 09:49 AM Isn't Bartok's Mikrokosmos a great book?
pianolover85 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/07/13
Posts: 94
What do you think?

I am a beginner piano learner who very accidentally came across Bartok's Mikrokosmos book levels 1-6 and purchased them all. They seem to be very well laid out and in my opinion beat any method books I have ever tried. I like the simplicity of the approach and quite like the composition.

Why aren't they more popular?

Also would serious pianists use those as a stand alone method book a repertoire practice?

Warm Regards,
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#2111528 - 07/02/13 11:40 AM Re: Isn't Bartok's Mikrokosmos a great book? [Re: pianolover85]
Plowboy Online   content
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Registered: 06/26/08
Posts: 2279
Loc: Huntington Beach, CA
They are fun to play.
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#2111656 - 07/02/13 03:15 PM Re: Isn't Bartok's Mikrokosmos a great book? [Re: pianolover85]
Recaredo Offline
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Registered: 05/04/11
Posts: 1072
Loc: Southeast of Spain
Mikrokosmos is my only piano method, currently I am working on the third volumen and am pretty pleased with it. I feel my playing improves a bit after learning every piece.
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#2111685 - 07/02/13 04:03 PM Re: Isn't Bartok's Mikrokosmos a great book? [Re: pianolover85]
yester Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/04/13
Posts: 76
When I started playing I worked through volume 1.
I liked the progress I made, I think the book is didactical great.
But yet even if the pieces are brillant music, I don't get in love with them. Don't know why.
Maybe the hungarian touch is to weird to my ears.
Music is a matter of taste, and these pieces do not meet my taste.
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I made my first piano-step on June 2010.

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#2111688 - 07/02/13 04:08 PM Re: Isn't Bartok's Mikrokosmos a great book? [Re: pianolover85]
Brent H Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/11
Posts: 843
I love those type of tunes. I've worked my way into the early parts of the third book plus played a smattering of stuff from the others. Bartok is one of the few 20th-century "classical" composers I dig.

Back before making the switch to piano I recorded some of his violin duos by playing both parts on my mandolin, overdubbed. Some of those are more "out there" than the Mikrokosmos, at least in the early book.
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#2111709 - 07/02/13 04:37 PM Re: Isn't Bartok's Mikrokosmos a great book? [Re: pianolover85]
zrtf90 Offline
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Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2310
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
Why they aren't more popular is beyond me. For a beginning pianist they are first rate. For more advanced students they make an excellent course in sight reading.

The material is progressive and if you like one of the exercises it would make satisfying repertory material. The music appeals to young and old.

I personally would use no method as a stand alone course. My lad is using this along with John Thompson's, Beyer 101, Burgmuller Op. 100, Guhl's Keyboard Proficiency, Beatles music arranged by yours truly and some easier classics also hand picked by myself. He ditched Alfred's quite quickly as musically unsatisfying.
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#2111804 - 07/02/13 07:57 PM Re: Isn't Bartok's Mikrokosmos a great book? [Re: zrtf90]
Daniel Corban Offline
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Registered: 05/17/13
Posts: 214
Loc: Canada
I am using it strictly for sight reading practice and warm up. I knew nothing of this series until I read a sight reading book that recommended it.
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#2111812 - 07/02/13 08:15 PM Re: Isn't Bartok's Mikrokosmos a great book? [Re: pianolover85]
Happy Birthday earlofmar Offline
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Registered: 03/21/13
Posts: 1408
Loc: Australia
I use vol 1 for sight reading practice. Ideal for beginners like me.
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#2111851 - 07/02/13 10:23 PM Re: Isn't Bartok's Mikrokosmos a great book? [Re: pianolover85]
raikkU Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/20/13
Posts: 73
Can you post examples of the type of pieces they contain? Thanks.
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#2111900 - 07/02/13 11:53 PM Re: Isn't Bartok's Mikrokosmos a great book? [Re: zrtf90]
Michael_99 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/12
Posts: 935
Loc: Canada Alberta
zrtf90,, I have read your post, here:

Why they aren't more popular is beyond me. For a beginning pianist they are first rate. For more advanced students they make an excellent course in sight reading.

The material is progressive and if you like one of the exercises it would make satisfying repertory material. The music appeals to young and old.

I personally would use no method as a stand alone course. My lad is using this along with John Thompson's, Beyer 101, Burgmuller Op. 100, Guhl's Keyboard Proficiency, Beatles music arranged by yours truly and some easier classics also hand picked by myself. He ditched Alfred's quite quickly as musically unsatisfying.

____________________________________________

Thanks, for the great post, Richard.

I am a beginner without a teacher so I am always looking for good things to play to help me grow.

I love Thompson. Just finished book 1 and excited about book 2.

I will check out Bartok's Mikrokosmos the next time I am at the music store.

I will also check out
Beyer 101,
Burgmuller Op. 100,
Guhl's Keyboard Proficiency.


I know that Alfred's is famous but the old Thompson books do it for me.



Edited by Michael_99 (07/02/13 11:54 PM)

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#2112146 - 07/03/13 11:38 AM Re: Isn't Bartok's Mikrokosmos a great book? [Re: pianolover85]
Vitali.P Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 06/17/13
Posts: 5
Loc: Germany
raikkU, there are youtube videos with the pieces:
Béla Bartók - Mikrokosmos, Volume I, 1-17
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PbEkw7WUhEg
and other similar videos.

BTW, IMSLP has a scan of Mikrokosmos
http://imslp.org/wiki/Mikrokosmos,_Sz.107_(Bart%C3%B3k,_B%C3%A9la)
It is from a Russian book it seems. But of course it does not affect the notes smile

These are definitely nice pieces for beginners. However somehow I did not like the music and played none of them.

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#2112228 - 07/03/13 02:17 PM Re: Isn't Bartok's Mikrokosmos a great book? [Re: Vitali.P]
pianolover85 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/07/13
Posts: 94
Thanks for putting up the samples. I think it is a great resource and more people should give it a try. There is also a professional/ commercial CD of the pieces by Jeno Jando on Amazon. Please cheek those out.

Regards,
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#2112248 - 07/03/13 03:06 PM Re: Isn't Bartok's Mikrokosmos a great book? [Re: pianolover85]
floydthebarber71 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/07/12
Posts: 178
Loc: South Africa
I have this on sheet, started going through it but then found Bach Inventions. I don't know if they can be compared, I have no idea, but with my limited time I decided I'll prioritise Bach (prefer to have that in my repertoire)...and hope to start going through that towards the end of this year.
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#2112284 - 07/03/13 04:06 PM Re: Isn't Bartok's Mikrokosmos a great book? [Re: floydthebarber71]
Daniel Corban Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/17/13
Posts: 214
Loc: Canada
I wasn't aware that either was intended to be memorized and re-played later. Mikrokosmos excels at sight reading practice, since it has odd and unexpected melodies.
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#2112318 - 07/03/13 05:02 PM Re: Isn't Bartok's Mikrokosmos a great book? [Re: pianolover85]
Ken. Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/07/08
Posts: 285
I had my first look at Mikrokosmos a few weeks ago. There was a post a while back with recommended selections from it and I picked one of them, #82 in Book 3. I like it! I'm using the Bach Inventions for my technical practice though, so I'll probably use Mikrokosmos for fun and interest, just playing through them rather than practising them up to tempo. The Mikrokosmos tunes I will be listening to are from "Zoltán Kocsis plays Bartók"

The Inventions seem to be good for hand independence, practising counterpoint, and getting the fingers going, whereas Mikrokosmos is good for odd time signatures, rhythms, and intervals. They sound more mechanical whereas the Inventions are more flowing. They are probably quite complementary.

I've heard a quite a few people say the Inventions are great for your piano playing. I haven't heard so many say that for Mikrokosmos.
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#2113107 - 07/05/13 05:56 AM Re: Isn't Bartok's Mikrokosmos a great book? [Re: pianolover85]
rnaple Offline

Silver Supporter until April 24 2014


Registered: 12/23/10
Posts: 1987
Loc: Rocky Mountains
I have had more than one teacher look at Mikrocosmos with a particular fondness. Including my present teacher.
I am at a point that exercises are not yet for me. This is my teachers decision. The only thing I'm doing is the Hannon on pg78 of Alfred. She looks at me very determined as tells me nothing else.
I know from exercise physiology that there is something to what she is doing with me. Very important to develop physiologically in the right steps. From simple to sophisticated. Don't try sophisticated until you got the simple taken care of. Physiologically this can lead to failure.
In other words: I highly suggest a good teacher with exercises. They know the right time, place, and amount.
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Your brain is a sponge. Keep it wet. Mary Gae George
The focus of your personal practice is discipline. Not numbers. Scott Sonnon

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#2113152 - 07/05/13 09:07 AM Re: Isn't Bartok's Mikrokosmos a great book? [Re: pianolover85]
Happy Birthday torquenale Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/29/12
Posts: 275
Loc: Italy
My second son uses Mikrokosmos, he is at the beginning of the second book. His teacher loves this method, she says that every exercise has a meaning and is useful.
I love the sound of the pieces, all of them. I bought also Books 3 and 4 when they were offered on Amazon at a low price.
Last year I read all book 1 and this year I tried book 2 (but not as sight reading exercise); the more advanced pieces are difficult but fascinating if you love Bartok.
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#2113154 - 07/05/13 09:15 AM Re: Isn't Bartok's Mikrokosmos a great book? [Re: pianolover85]
Brent H Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/11
Posts: 843
I'm fairly certain that Mikrokosmos was never intended as a sight-reading practice material. Although obviously one can practice sight-reading on any sheet music they've never seen or heard before.

The books, taken together as a "method", seem to have a very good mixture of technical/facility improvement content and introduction to unusual modes and rhythms. Compared to something like the Bach Inventions the variety in Mikrokosmos is hugely greater, although the intensity of hand independence and pure technique workout in the Bach is much more.
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Current Life+Music Philosophy: Less Thinking, More Foot Tapping

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#2113287 - 07/05/13 02:37 PM Re: Isn't Bartok's Mikrokosmos a great book? [Re: pianolover85]
tangleweeds Offline

Silver Supporter until Jan 11 2012


Registered: 12/21/08
Posts: 1269
Loc: Portlandia
IIRC, Mikrokosmos originated as a piano method Bartok created for his son. It was revised and refined as time passed and the son grew up, but I'm pretty sure that was its original intent.

I first heard of it being suggested for sight reading practice in this ebook, which used to be free, so many of us downloaded and read it. But I wouldn't be surprised if the idea hadn't originated elsewhere as well.

There's a certain logic in using Mikrokosmos for sight reading practice if you want to cultivate your responses to the unexpected, so as to make sure you're reading what is written instead of following your expectations.

OTOH, a big part of sight reading is learning what to expect, so that you can read by chord and pattern instead of note by note, and Mikrokosmos would be less helpful with that.


Edited by tangleweeds (07/05/13 02:38 PM)
Edit Reason: spelling
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#2113290 - 07/05/13 02:45 PM Re: Isn't Bartok's Mikrokosmos a great book? [Re: pianolover85]
tangleweeds Offline

Silver Supporter until Jan 11 2012


Registered: 12/21/08
Posts: 1269
Loc: Portlandia
For more info, here's an interesting article about Mikrokosmos on AllMusic.com
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#2113295 - 07/05/13 03:18 PM Re: Isn't Bartok's Mikrokosmos a great book? [Re: tangleweeds]
Daniel Corban Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/17/13
Posts: 214
Loc: Canada
All of that info is contained right in the introduction written by the author himself.

The reason it is good for sight reading is the sheer variety and eccentric melodies presented in a progressive manner. I am sure I found this book on these forums.

Here is the full book, Sight Reading Skills, where Mikrokosmos is recommended.
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#2113324 - 07/05/13 04:29 PM Re: Isn't Bartok's Mikrokosmos a great book? [Re: pianolover85]
Brent H Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/11
Posts: 843
I'm sure it is a perfectly cromulent source of sightreading fodder and did not mean to imply otherwise. Just pointing out that it wasn't written with that purpose in mind.

Moving on from the sightreading tangent, has anyone mentioned Suchoff's book "Bartók's Mikrokosmos: Genesis, Pedagogy, and Style"? It's a neat sort of teacher's guide to the use of Mikrokosmos for its original pedagogical purpose.
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Current Life+Music Philosophy: Less Thinking, More Foot Tapping

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#2113330 - 07/05/13 04:48 PM Re: Isn't Bartok's Mikrokosmos a great book? [Re: pianolover85]
tangleweeds Offline

Silver Supporter until Jan 11 2012


Registered: 12/21/08
Posts: 1269
Loc: Portlandia
Thanks Brent, that looks interesting and very useful. From the Amazon "Look Inside", it appears to have very specific info for each piece, which would be very helpful particularly to anyone working on their own, or using the series to teach.

Here's an Amazon link for anyone else who wants to sample the book (Google books doesn't seem to have a sample of this one).
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#2113909 - 07/06/13 07:14 PM Re: Isn't Bartok's Mikrokosmos a great book? [Re: pianolover85]
Michael_99 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/12
Posts: 935
Loc: Canada Alberta
pianolover85, I went to the music store to check out

__Bartok's Mikrokosmos Why aren't they more popular?

because you mentioned them. I didn't look at all of the books but I didn't understand why anyone would get them. They were quite expensive and thin. I say that because The John Thompson books are 5 dollars and consist of 75 pages of solid pieces with instructions for each grade. So when you say 6 books, they are thin so what does the 6 represent a grade or what? Why are they thin and called a number and are very expensive?

____Also would serious pianists use those as a stand ____alone method book a repertoire practice?

They might but I don't know why. When I think of playing anything, it is to improve my ability to play the piano and so it must teach me something or teach a technique.

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#2113917 - 07/06/13 07:26 PM Re: Isn't Bartok's Mikrokosmos a great book? [Re: pianolover85]
Brent H Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/11
Posts: 843
They are not a "method" in the sense of the Thompson or Alfred books. They are just a resource that Bela Bartok created for his son to use when studying piano. Living every day next to (arguably) the greatest composer of his generation (and a concertizing soloist, at that) his son didn't need a "how to" method book.

What generations of pianists have discovered is that the Mikrokosmos pieces offer a pretty unique window into some styles of music that are not featured in a typical piano method. And each piece has a very specific technical and/or musical intention for pedagogy. There are notes in the books and appendices in each (most?) of the volumes that make the intention clear.

But most beginners would need a piano teacher's guidance in actually learning the skills being taught by most of the Mikrokosmos pieces. And in any case, it was never intended as a comprehensive "learn to play piano" method laying out everything one needs to know. Additional instruction or materials would be needed for a beginner, no doubt.

The people I know who are most "into" Mikrokosmos are those with some musical background and an appreciation for Bartok's type of "folk" or "ethnic" musical influences. Maybe they are new to piano but they have a framework to start with into which Mikrokosmos fits. Or some people just really, really dig Bartok.
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Current Life+Music Philosophy: Less Thinking, More Foot Tapping

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