On his death-bed Bartók left a draft of what appears to be almost all of the solo viola part, but debate still persists on whether he really intended a four or a three-movement work. The orchestration is largely Serly’s although Bartók left fairly frequent short-hand prompts to what he had in mind. The revised edition, by Peter Bartók and Nelson Dellamaggiore, has restored many original Bartók features, but has not fundamentally challenged the orchestration. Along with the Walton Viola Concerto, it is among the most popular viola works of all time. An adaptation for cello is also available. There was some debate in the late 1940s over whether it might be better issued as a Cello Concerto, until the work’s commissioner, the legendary William Primrose, stepped in to assert its primary form.
Note by Malcolm Gillies