Magyar Zene Music Quarterly





Magyar Zene

Hungarian Language Music Quarterly


Vol. 48 , No. 4 - November 2010







Euritmia, azaz „Wohlgereimheit”
Szimmetrikus struktúrák Johann Sebastian Bachnál
Eurhythmy or „Wohlgereimheit”
Symmetry in Johann Sebastian Bach’s Music (Abstract)
Mendelssohn „skót” hangneme? 397
Mendelssohn’s „Scottish” Tonality? (Abstract) 423
Zenei költészet vagy zenei próza?
Szkrjabin utolsó zongorapoémája
Musical Poetry or Musical Prose?
Scriabin’s Last Poème for Piano (Abstract)
Experimentum és népzene az Új Zenei Stúdió műhelyében 1970–90 között – és utána 439
Experimental Music and Folk Music in the Workshop of the New Music Studio in Budapest from 1970 to 1990 – and Afterwards (Abstract) 451



Historikus latin? 452
Historical Latin? (Abstract) 458

Work in Progress


Ligeti György zongoraetűdjeiről II. 459
The Piano Etudes of György Ligeti II (Abstract) 468



A kabbalától A fúga művészetéig – egy különleges könyv margójára
Göncz Zoltán: Bach testamentuma
[Zoltán Göncz: Bach's Testament] 452



Tartalomjegyzék 2010 473
Contents (Abstracts) 2010 477

The whole issue (pdf)








Eurhythmy or „Wohlgereimheit”
Symmetry in Johann Sebastian Bach’s Music


Symmetry in music is apprehended in various ways: the vertical symmetry of chords can be perceived „spatially” whereas the horizontal symmetry of form is temporal. The paper attempts to elucidate examples of the unusual formal symmetry of several of J. S. Bach’s compositions by conceptually placing them in an historical context with reference to „eurhythmy”. In German lands in the early 18th century the term „eurhythmy” denoted the harmonious proportions of both music and architecture. It is argued on the grounds of contemporary texts (Zedler, Walther, Mattheson, Riepel, Spiess) that the „architecture” of a musical work was sometimes planned in advance – rhetorically speaking dispositio and inventio were on equal terms. Three of Bach’s works are analyzed in detail: the 3rd movement of the F minor sonata for violin and harpsichord (BWV 1018); the F major Duetto for keyboard (BWV 803) from Klavierübung III; and the 5th movement of Cantata BWV 91.


Gergely Fazekas (1977) is a musicologist and music critic. He studied literature and philosophy at Eötvös Loránd University, musicology at the Ferenc Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest and at the Conservatoire Nationale Supérieur de Musique. In 2005 he began his PhD in musicology at the Liszt Academy where he has lectured since 2006 on 17th–18th century music history and New Musicology. His PhD thesis under preparation deals with J. S. Bach’s concept of musical form.

Back to top »




Mendelssohn’s „Scottish” Tonality?


Several of Mendelssohn’s minor- mode songs, duets, and choral songs feature a peculiar tonal move: a sudden shift takes us to the relative major (without a „modulation” proper), but the opening minor key soon returns equally abruptly (via its V). Closer examination of these pieces suggests that the composer used the major- mode excursus as a topos, whose associations include the ideas of farewell, wandering and distance (the latter both in the geographical and chronological sense, in accordance with the shift’s quasi- modal – thus equally exotic and archaic – character). I suggest that this topos may have influenced the tonal structure of at least three large- scale Mendelssohn compositions, all of which are closely related to the same exotic and historical ideas. In the Hebrides overture the relationship between the primary B minor and the secondary D major is (for a sonata- form movement) exceptionally equal: rather than acting as sharply contrasting tonal areas, they almost appear as two sides of the same key. The first- act finale of the unfinished opera Die Lorelei elaborates on the original topos in another way: the E- minor – G- major kernel is extended in both directions, resulting in a chain of third- related keys, which eventually takes us back to the opening E level (now turned into major). In the light of this example, the (less complete) third- layered tonal structure of the „Scottish” Symphony may also be understood as growing out from the same miniature song topos.
The present text is a translation of the author’s „Mendelssohn’s »Scottish« Tonality?”, 19th Century Music, vol. XXIX No. 3 (Spring 2006), 240–260.


Balázs Mikusi holds a PhD from Cornell University (Ithaca, NY), and has been Head of Music at the National Széchényi Library, Budapest, since January 2009. Previously he studied musicology at the Liszt Academy of Music, and held Fulbright and DAAD fellowships, among others. His scholarly interests are wide- ranging, but vocal music from the 18th and 19th centuries plays a special role – he has published several articles about the music of Joseph Haydn (Eighteenth Century Music, Journal of Musicological Research, Ad Parnassum, Studia Musicologica) and Mozart (The Musical Times, Mozart- Jahrbuch), as well as an essay on Schumann’s „exotic” works (The Musical Times). He is also author of a larger study on Bartók’s Scarlatti reception (Studia Musicologica).

Back to top »




Musical Poetry or Musical Prose?
Scriabin’s Last Poème for Piano


According to a widely accepted and recurring scholarly opinion, Alexander Scriabin was committed to musical poetry. By analysing Scraibin’s unique musical genre, the poème, my paper investigates whether such an opinion is valid or not. In order that Scriabin’s work may be classified, and the question in the title may be answered, we should first clarify the concepts of „musical poetry” and „musical prose”, then we should describe Scriabin’s own conception of poetry focusing on his compositions. To achieve such goals, I have chosen to analyse in this paper the last poème of the Russian master, op. 72 Vers la Flamme.


Ádám Ignácz (1981), music aesthetician. He graduated from Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE) in history and aesthetics. Currently he is enrolled in the Philosophy Doctoral School of ELTE (he is a PhD student of the Aesthetics Programme). His main academic interest is the cultural and intellectual background of the Gesamtkunstwerk- idea. He is writing his doctoral dissertation on the philosophy of Alexander Scriabin. He has been a member of Erasmus College since 2006. He has published several essays and reviews in renowned journals and essay volumes and has given conference lectures since 2006. He was the main organizer of the musicological conference Zenén innen és túl (Before and Beyond Music, 2008). Since 2008 he has been a visiting lecturer at ELTE.

Back to top »




Experimental Music and Folk Music in the Workshop of the New Music Studio in Budapest from 1970 to 1990 – and Afterwards


The American influence of experimental music became important in Hungary from 1970 and the following two decades in the work of the New Music Studio in Budapest. The collaboration of this group of musicians (composers, performers, conductors, musicologists) was based upon a common philosophy and aesthetics. Beside playing their own compositions, Zoltán Jeney, László Sáry, László Vidovszky, Albert Simon, Péter Eötvös, Zoltán Kocsis, András Wilheim, Barnabás Dukay, Zsolt Serei, Gyula Csapó (and several musicians around them) were the first performers in Hungary of works by the leading composers of American experimental music (e. g. works by John Cage, Christian Wolff, Morton Feldman, Steve Reich, Phil Glass).
During two decades of activity, this most radical workshop in Hungarian contemporary music generated much dispute in artistic life. Among them the most remarkable was that the composers working in this circle – similarly to the composers of the American and European experimental musical movements – were not involved in folk and historical traditions. The main reasons for this demarcation were on the one hand the discordance of folk music traditions and the new experimental compositional lines of construction around 1970, and on the other hand the opposition of this younger generation to the older Hungarian generations of composers and the rejection of romantic composing methods in Middle and Eastern Europe that used folk music from the 19th century as an important inspiration. Even so in the music of Zoltán Jeney, László Sáry and Péter Eötvös folk melodies appear in the background even in the early years of the New Music Studio as a concealed substratum, as an archaic tune or a hidden poetic message.


Tünde Szitha (1961) graduated as a musicologist from the Ferenc Liszt Academy of Music, Budapest; in 1996–1999 she attended the Doctoral Programme in Musicology at the same institution. She has been active as a music critic and journalist from 1985; her articles (mainly on contemporary music), reviews and interviews have been published in several periodicals. Her research is focused on Hungarian music after 1945: her short monographs on the Hungarian composers Zoltán Jeney and László Vidovszky were published in 2003 and 2007. Her PhD thesis in preparation is about experimental music in Hungary from 1970 to 1990. From 2002 to 2010 she taught music history at the University of Debrecen Faculty of Music. She is currently working as Promotion Manager for Universal Music Publishing Editio Musica Budapest Ltd.

Back to top »




Historical Latin?


During its long history, the pronunciation of the Latin language has undergone many changes, but these were only partially reflected by the rather conservative spelling norms. The present- day conventions of pronouncing Latin are based 1) on the hypothetical utterance in the classical era (1st century BC – 1st century AD), 2) on the variants of Medieval Latin, sometimes improperly identified with Ecclesiastical Latin, or Church Latin, and 3) on the reformed pronunciation of the so- called ’humanists’ of the 15th and 16th centuries. The first, called restored pronunciation, is employed in scholarly circles, mostly by classical philologists, the second is used in local variants, but chiefly according to Vatican usage by the Roman Catholic Church for liturgical purposes, the third, called Erasmian, was (and even today in Hungary, still is) the usage of the primary and secundary education of the Humanist type, and it was (and in places still is) that of the university education in Germanic countries and in Central Europe. Historians, medievalists, natural scientists, and chiefly doctors, pharmacists, jurists use a special mixture of the Medieval and Erasmian pronunciations.
One element of academic utterance (the letter „c” as „k”) is obligatory in the oratorio- opera Oedipus rex by Stravinsky, the Erasmian pronunciation is valid for Humanist Latin texts (e.g. in the metrical odes of Tritonius, or the Siebenbuerger Saxon Honterus). The author [urges] suggests that for chanting or singing all other Latin texts, only the single survival of Medieval Latin, namely Church Latin is suitable, and without an exact imitation of the hypothetical pronunciation of a given composer or of a given local tradition. So, even the strictest followers and ideologists of historical performance practice are right in singing every type of music, from Gregorian chant, Palestrina, Mozart as far as contemporary compositions with the same traditional pronunciation of their own. The author and his colleague have produced and are ready to bring in to vogue- a normalised Church Latin pronunciation based on the Hungarian tradition, for Hungarian musicians generally and especially for the Latin Mass.


Balázs Déri (1954) studied classical philology and pursued Iranistic studies at the Faculty of Humanities of Loránd Eötvös University (Budapest) from 1972 until 1979. From 1991 until 1995 he studied musicology at the Ferenc Liszt Academy of Music. Between 1979 and 1994 he worked as a member of the editorial staff of the Lexicon Latinitatis Medii Aevi Hungariae (Hungarian Academy of Sciences). From 1992 until 1997 he taught New Testament Greek and Latin at the Reformed Theological Academy (Budapest). Since 1998 he has been teaching at the Latin Department of the Loránd Eötvös University, and in 2002 he was named head of the same department. Between 2003 and 2006 he was the vice- dean of the Faculty of Humanities, and between 2005–2008 the director of the Institute for Ancient Studies; since 2008 he is a professor ordinarius of the University. He is a founder of the periodical „Magyar Egyházzene” (Hungarian Church Music), as well as its managing editor since 1993. As part of his field work he collects the liturgical music of Hungarian Jews, of Byzantine (primarily Serbian) Christians in Hungary, and of Oriental (Coptic and Syrian) Christians in Egypt, Syria, Turkey, India.

Back to top »




The Piano Etudes of György Ligeti II (Abstract)


Work on the doctoral thesis (DLA) by Mariann Marczi discussing György Ligeti’s piano etudes started in the spring of 2005 and ended in 2008. The central part of the thesis includes analyses of the three books of Ligeti’s etudes, altogether 18 pieces. The previous number of Magyar Zene featured the chapter dealing with the ars poetica of Ligeti’s etudes (with the Hungarian translation of three Ligeti texts), and the chapter summing up the results of the analyses. The latter discusses the message of Ligeti’s etudes, the influence of his childhood experiences on his compositional methods, and the importance of the sources of inspiration frequently mentioned by Ligeti himself. In this number detailed analyses of etudes no. 3 (Touches bloquées) and no 8 (Fém) are published.


Mariann Marczi (1977) began learning to play the piano at the age of four and in 1991 entered the class taught by Marianne Ábrahám and Gábor Csalog at the Béla Bartók Conservatory in Budapest. She received her Performance Artist Diploma and Master of Music degree in 2000 at the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music in Budapest under Professors Sándor Falvai, Péter Nagy and András Kemenes. She continued her postgraduate studies in Berlin at the Hochschule für Musik „Hanns Eisler”. She also took part in various master classes (György Kurtág, Zoltán Kocsis, Florent Boffard, and Pierre- Laurent Aimard). She completed her studies in 2005, studying in the Doctor of Music (DLA) department at the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music in Budapest. She has won prizes in several national and international competitions. She has played in the most important concert halls of Hungary and in almost all the countries of Europe. Her repertoire contains solo and chamber works from early baroque to contemporary music. Her name is associated with the first performance of some of the works in her repertoire. She regularly works together with contemporary composers such as György Kurtág,  Zoltán Jeney, Gyula Csapó, Gyula Fekete, Nikolai Badinski, Ruth McGuire and Valerio Sannicandro. She focuses especially on music by J. S. Bach, Béla Bartók and György Kurtág. She teaches in the piano department of the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music in Budapest.

Back to top »