Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)



First Advisor

Jack Guerry


This study examines Bela Bartok's Scherzo for Piano and Orchestra, Op. 2 (1904), a work that was composed during a period when the composer's style was about to undergo a radical change. Chapter One charts the course of Bartok's training as a pianist, discusses his compositional influences, and provides a brief history of the Scherzo and its more familiar sibling, the Rhapsody for Piano and Orchestra, Op. 1. Chapter Two looks at the Scherzo in detail, addressing the following: the overall form, the harmonic plan, the size and use of the orchestra, the idiomatic piano writing, and the use of thematic transformation (or alteration). In the course of the description, several features are pointed out--namely: Bartok's assimilation and (perhaps subconscious) imitation of certain stylistic characteristics of Brahms, Liszt, Wagner, and Strauss; the curious absence of the piano in approximately 60% of the work; the prevalent interval of the third; the numerous tempo changes; the expressive lyricism and exciting climaxes; and the use of humor in the mocking, jesting style. Chapter Three is a brief conclusion that summarizes the strengths and weaknesses of the Scherzo, revealing details of Bartok's compositional style at the time the work was composed.