The oeuvre of Béla Bartók (1881–1945) includes a group of compositions usually labelled as “barbarian”. This study focuses on the delineation of the characteristic structural features and aesthetic ideals of this “barbarism”. It examines the various contexts tied to Bartók’s personality. At the time when his personal style was evolving in around 1910, he was significantly influenced by stylizations of authentic Norwegian folklore in the late works of Edvard Grieg (1843–1907). This study aims to point out that “barbarism”, a term with mostly negative connotations, is not very suitable word for the stylistic orientation in Bartók’s musical oeuvre that was primarily inspired by archaic peasant folk dance music. In addition, it investigates the consequences and impacts of the theory of the “barbarian character” of Bartók’s music on its performance.