BÃÂ©la BartÃÂ³k was born in Nagyszentmiklos, Hungary on March 25, 1881. His early childhood was riddled with illness. Until the age of five, he suffered from a prominent skin rash that was brought on by a botched small pox vaccination he had received at the age of three months. BartÃÂ³k was embarrassed by his appearance and avoided contact with other children, preferring to instead sit and listen to his mother play piano for hours on end. This was believed to be the cause of his shyness and distance from society later in life.
BartÃÂ³k contracted Bronchitis as a child and because of the illness did not begin speaking until age two. Pneumonia also hampered his motor skills and he was severely delayed in learning to walk.
BartÃÂ³k showed an early understanding of music. When he was only one and a half years old, he sat and nodded his head to a particular piece his mother played on piano.
The next day he went to the piano and nodded his head in disapproval until his mother played the piece he wished to hear. He was also known to beat time on a small drum he was given while his mother played piano. As she played, he would adjust to her tempo changes. By the age of three he was playing the one-finger melodies for forty songs on the piano.
At the age of five, BartÃÂ³k developed a bronchial disorder and was diagnosed with curvature of the spine. To treat the disorder he was forced to stand all day without sitting. His meals were eaten while standing. When he became exhausted he was allowed to lay down, but only on his back. He was forced to sleep in that same position. One year later, at the age of six, the diagnosis was...