Magyar Zene Music Quarterly





Magyar Zene

Hungarian Language Music Quarterly


Vol. 49 , No. 2 - May 2011







A műelemzés lehetőségeiről: „Valami zenét”
Hamlet és a Hamlet zenét beszél
The Scope of Analysis: “Come, Some Music”
The Discourse of Music within the Play and the Prince (Abstract)
A tematikus metamorfózis mint revíziós módszer
Néhány megjegyzés Liszt variációs technikájához
Thematic Transformation as a Method of Revision
Some Remarks on Liszt’s Variation Technique (Abstract)
Zampognarók, pifferarók és más zarándokok Liszt Christusában 163
Zampognari, Pifferari and Other Pilgrims in Liszt’s Christus (Abstract) 177
Brahms, a programzenész? 178
Brahms the Composer of Programme Music? (Abstract) 189
A nemzeti opera eszményének átértékelődése a 19- 20. század fordulóján
A korabeli bécsi, budapesti, prágai sajtóvisszhang és egynémely tanulságai
The Re- evaluation of the National Ideal in Opera at the Turn of the 19th and 20th Centuries
The Reactions of the Press in Vienna, Budapest and Prague, and Some Lessons from them (Abstract)
„Hol minden piros, fehér, zöldben jár!”
A csoportok, az alteritások és a nemzet diskurzusai Ausztria- Magyarország operettjeiben
“Where Everything is Red, White and Green”
Discussions about Collectiveness, Differentiation and Nation in Austro- Hungarian Operetta (Abstract)
A pentatónia Vántus István művészetében
Harangszó [Bell Music]
Pentatony in the Music of István Vántus (Abstract)



I. Memoárkötet Lajtha Lászlóról
Solymosi Tari Emőke: Két világ közt. Beszélgetések Lajtha Lászlóról.

[Emőke Solymosi Tari: Between two worlds. Interviews about László Lajtha]

II. „Én és a zene”
Lajtha László utolsó vallomásai önmagáról, kompozícióiról (1960–1962)
Erdélyi Zsuzsanna: A kockás füzet. Úttalan utakon Lajtha Lászlóval

[Zsuzsanna Erdélyi : Squared paper note-book. On untrodden paths with László Lajtha]


The whole issue (pdf)









The Scope of Analysis: “Come, Some Music”
The Discourse of Music within the Play and the Prince


The essay, considering the relation of Hamlet the play and Hamlet the Prince, analyses the inherent, stifled and disharmonious musicality of the basically nonmusical speech- text in the spoken words (or the rarely heard songs) of the characters. It follows up the sound effects on the stage, mostly unpleasant; the verbally mentioned references to music, mostly discordant in the given situations; and the occasional outbursts of instrumental and vocal tunes, mostly of foreboding. Special attention is focused on Ophelia and the Grave- digger, as musically mythical figures: latter- day Persephone and Hades. And all through on Hamlet, paradoxical Everyman, representative of the newly emerging cult of individuality, the eloquent prose- singer of tragic melody. On the whole: the analysis contends that there is an atonal, concretely modern music in the classic tragedy.


István Géher (b. 1940) has been professionally present in the field of Hungarian literature and Anglo-American studies for more than 45 years as a poet, essayist, teacher, literary historian, critic and translator. The fields of his activity are creative writing and translating, university teaching, publishing,
using the media (mainly radio and television) for spreading the knowledge and understanding of world literature and organizing English and American scholarly studies in Hungary. In 1985 he was visiting professor at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, in 2004–2005 visiting professor at the Institute of Eastern European Studies, Vienna, in 2003–2009 visiting professor of the Education Abroad Program at the University of California and University of Wisconsin. Prof. Géher has taught at Loránd Eötvös University Budapest (ELTE) since 1972, and from 2001–2005 was head of the Department of English Studies. In 1993–2010 he was Director of the English Renaissance Doctoral Studies, in 2003–2010 full Professor of English and American Literature, and from 2010 Professor Emeritus of English and American Literature in the same institution. Since 1990 he has been President of the Hungarian Shakespeare Committee, and from 2006 President of the Association of Hungarian Translators. In the course of his long career he has published ten books, more than a hundred literary essays, and has delivered lectures at universities and conferences in Hungary and abroad. As a senior Shakespeare scholar he has organized professional cooperation with Hungarian theatres and foreign (European and American: Nürnberg, Stratford, New York, Minneapolis) institutes of research. At present he is engaged on a fiveyear project of selecting and editing a representative collection (15 books) of William Faulkner’s work.

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Thematic Transformation as a Method of Revision
Some Remarks on Liszt’s Variation Technique


In his amusing parody of Liszt (Confidential Letters to August Lewald on the French Stage, letter 10, 1837), Heinrich Heine portrayed the musician as a piano virtuoso varying given themes, namely the four beasts of the Apocalypse (cf. Rev 4:6–8). Although Heine was no musician and his writing was obviously meant as a caricature, in my opinion, it is apt, insofar as variation principle played an important role not only in Liszt’s piano extemporizations but also in his activity as a composer. As many have pointed out (e.g. Alfred Heuß at the beginning of the 1910s, and Bernard Hansen in his 1959 unpublished dissertation Variations and Variants in Franz Liszt’s Musical Works, respectively), Liszt’s characteristic method of composition, thematic transformation, is also a kind of variation technique. In a thoughtful paper held at the 1978 Eisenstadt international Liszt conference (later published under the title Liszt’s Idea of the Symphonic), Carl Dahlhaus claimed that Lisztian thematic transformation originated from the symphonic tradition and regarded it as a surrogate of the Beethovenian thematische Arbeit. He also claimed that the method was discovered by Alfred Heuß in his analysis of the symphonic poem Ce qu’on entend sur la montagne. In my study I argue that, contrary to Dahlhaus’s interpretation, thematic transformation may have originated rather from the characteristic variation technique of the extemporizing piano virtuoso than from the symphonic tradition. One of the members of Liszt’s German circle, Richard Pohl, already used the term thematische Transformation in his analysis of Liszt’s Faust Symphony. I show through some examples that Liszt used thematic transformation not only in his orchestral works but also in other genres (in his piano works and songs) and not only as a composition principle within a single work but also as a method of revising his earlier pieces.


Péter Bozó (b. 1980 Budapest), musicologist. From 1998 to 2003 he studied musicology at the Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest. He was a PhD student at the same university from 2003 to 2006. He received his PhD for his study A Buch der Liedertől a Gesammelte Liederig: Liszt összegyűjtött dalainak első
négy füzete és előfutárai (From Buch der Lieder to Gesammelte Lieder: The First Four Volumes of Liszt’s Collected Songs and Their Predecessors) in 2010. Between 1999 and 2007 he worked as a contributor at the Budapest Liszt Memorial Museum and Research Center. From 2005 to 2009 he was assistant lecturer at the Theatre Department of Kaposvár University. He was awarded the Kodály Scholarship of the Hungarian Ministry of Culture and Education in 2005, 2006 and 2007. From 2006 he was an assistant research fellow at the Institute for Musicology of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, and since October 2010 he has been a research fellow. Between 2006 and 2009 he was the assistant editor of the international journal Studia Musicologica. He has been writing music reviews for Muzsika since 2002; since 2008 with a Pro Musica scholarship. At present he is studying the history of operetta in Hungary between 1860 and 1958; his postdoctoral researches are funded by the Hungarian Scientific Research Fund. He has lectured at the annual conferences of the Hungarian Musicological Society, at the First Stuttgart International Liszt Conference and at the International Musicological Workshop of the ESF ’Music, Culture and Politics in Early Nineteenth- Century Europe, 1815–1848’. In 2011 he received the Prize of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences for Young Scholars.

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Zampognari, Pifferari and Other Pilgrims in Liszt’s Christus


A musical quotation newly identified in Liszt’s Christus fills a significant part in the work. The large episode of the Pastorale of Einleitung (mm. 233- 353.) refers definitely to an Italian folk musical type known from historical transcriptions, baroque and romantic pieces and Italian folk music collected in the 20th century. This quotation allows us to interpret the Weihnachtsoratorium as a paraphrase of Christmas customs. By it Liszt evokes the figure of Italian shepherds playing the zampogna and piffero (bagpipe and pipe), who march into the church at the beginning of midnight Mass. The Mass is represented by the movement “Pastorale und Verkündigung des Engels” quoting the Gloria and Alleluja, which are characteristic parts of Christmas Mass because of their absence from the Masses of Advent. The choralelike
non- liturgical “Stabat mater speciosa” may refer to the procession at the end of Mass, when a puppet representing the Child or a relic of the Bethlehem crib is taken round in the church. In the fourth and fifth movements Liszt makes an own crib, a Bethlehem scene consisting of contemporary figures according to the custom which is especially popular in Italy. By using well- known folk musical quotations, Swiss and Italian shepherds and Hungarian kings are evoked, and by a newly identified Tannhäuser- quotation also Wagnerian shepherds and pilgrims. Either of them can represent the composer. As a creator Liszt’s ideal was St. Francis of Assisi who set up the first crib to celebrate the Christmas Mass with it. According to legend the puppet placed in the manger changed into living Christ before St Francis’s very eyes. In one of his writings Liszt also said his aim was to animate Christ for his listeners. Liszt also broadens Italian customs to become grandiose. The participants in the Mass are Catholics from all ages from the Gregorian and Palestrinian era to Liszt’s time, augmented by folk Catholicism. Swiss and German Protestants and Hungarian pagans also arriving at the manger. Finally, they will all constitue the crowd listening to the words of Jesus heard at the beginning of the part “Nach Epiphania”.


Kata Riskó (1985) studied musicology at the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music, Budapest. She graduated in 2008, her dissertation focussing on Bagpipe- Episodes in Classical Music and their Folk Music Relations. In 2008 she started her PhD studies in musicology at the same institution on the topic of the instrumental folk music of the northern dialect of the Hungarian speech area. She is an assistant lecturer in folk music theory at the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music and a writer of music criticism.

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Brahms the Composer of Programme Music?


This study follows on from an article on Schumann by A. Newcomb, and writings by Kenneth Hull, Dillon Parmer and others. It attempts to reveal the hidden poetic programme of Brahms’s Fourth Symphony in E minor, pointing out the deliberate self- quotations, and what can be considered deliberate allusions, as well as the thematic connections of the main theme of the first movement which link it in part to Brahms’s songs (chiefly “O Tod…” from the Four Serious Songs) and in part to a section from Schumann’s opera Genoveva which was clearly important to Brahms for personal reasons. It suggests an interpretation of the
slow movement too, and draws attention to the role of the so- called Clara motif.


Sándor Kovács (b.1949) studied piano and musicology at the Liszt Academy. After graduating he taught there, becoming head of the Department of Musicology in 2005. In addition he worked at the Bartók Archives at the Institute for Musicology of the Hungarian Academy osf Sciences (until 2001), taught and still teaches at the Béla Bartók Musical Institute at Miskolc University (heading the Institute from 2001 to 2005), and since 1997 has been the editor and programme planner for Hungarian Radio’s weekly New Musical News.

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The Re- evaluation of the National Ideal in Opera at the Turn of the 19th and 20th Centuries
The Reactions of the Press in Vienna, Budapest and Prague, and Some Lessons from them


The Reactions of the Press in Vienna, Budapest and Prague, and Some Lessons from them While outside Hungary in the eyes of the press, national opera (Erkel) was not nationalist enough, for the domestic press in the last decades of the Austro- Hungarian Monarchy national opera had become too nationalist, as though this represented an obstacle to a particular composer having relevance abroad. In the eyes of critics as sharp- witted and even more sharp- tongued as Eduard Hanslick, this duality of views appeared early and together, largely as an involuntary aversion to every kind of attempt at nationalism.
Politically speaking the years immediately following the Austro- Hungarian Compromise (1867) would have been the most opportune time to make Erkel known in Vienna – and alongside it in the German cultural area. However the plot of Bánk bán and Erkel’s personal attitude regarding the Compromise were probably at that time too much of a sensitive issue.
In terms of cultural policy the International Exhibition of Music and Theatre at the end of the 19th century could have presented itself as an opportunity to première Erkel’s Bánk bán in Vienna. The fact that instead they performed – among other things – Katona’s Bánk bán (i. e. the literary original on which Erkel’s chief opus was based) may have been for several reasons. Possibly the nationalist ideal in opera now seemed out of date in the second capital of the Autro–Hungarian Monarchy, Budapest.
In terms of programming policy it was in fact Gustav Mahler who should have staged Bánk bán at the Vienna Court Opera, as he did Dalibor at the start of his period as artistic director, and not just for political reasons, as was alleged by the Pest press, whose jealousy was barely concealed, and which looked askance at the “ Czech Compromise”. The fact that all the signs indicate that Mahler did not even entertain the idea of a Vienna performance of Erkel may have been connected equally with both his personal tastes and the memories he had of Budapest.
The fact that Smetana’s Dalibor was more successful in winning wider recognition among German speakers at the end of the 19th century than Erkel’s Bánk bán is explained partly by its post-Wagnerian, more modern symphonic musical language. Even so, stylistic reasons are not enough to explain the singular fact that Erkel’s most important work is today, at the start of the 21st century, unknown outside Hungary. In the meantime opera houses all over the world are again being conquered by Italian belcanto and French grand opera – the two main operatic styles from which Erkel took his inspiration. One of the possible reasons for the lack of success so far in “exporting” Bánk bán is to be sought in the cultural and political connotations of the work, and its being defined as a purely national opera.


Máté Mesterházi finished his studies in musicology at the Budapest Liszt Academy in 1983. He later studied cultural management at the Vienna Conservatoire. He regularly publishes articles on wideranging issues to do with the performance of opera in Hungary and internationally. Since 2002 he has worked in the central library of the Liszt Academy as a research assistant, and also teaches the history of opera and oratorio at the Academy. In 2010 his work as a dramaturg was recognised by the Hungarian State with the award of the Kálmán Nádasdy prize.

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“Where Everything is Red, White and Green”

Discussions about Collectiveness, Differentiation and Nation in Austro- Hungarian Operetta


Based on the extension and differentiation of the Habsburg Empire’s capitals, operetta played an important, even essential part in the construction of national identities, of the Self and the Other in Austro- Hungary and its neighbours. Taking up everyday idioms and turning them into collective musical symbols, operetta librettists and composers could laud, defame, integrate or exclude nationalities. While Hungary was a stable, affirmative topos in operetta since 1867, Bohemia’s representation ranged from hefty, but benignant caricatures to openly- hostile grotesques, echoing the delicate domestic developments. When it came to exogenous nations like Serbia, against which the Monarchy took a strong line, operetta unleashed its full mocking powers. But surprisingly operetta was not only the medium of Austro- Hungarian hegemony: the Moravian composer Karel Moor is indicative of a secessionist usage of the genre.


Stefan Schmidl (b. 1974) studied Musicology and Art History at the University of Vienna. He obtained his PhD in Musicology in 2004. Since 2005 has been a postdoctoral research fellow at the Department of Musicology at the Austrian Academy of Sciences. He is also a research fellow in the interdisciplinary project Sites of Science: Towards a Cultural Topography of early 20th century Vienna (2005–2006) and researcher at the Institute for Culture Studies and History of Theatre at the OeAW (2007–2010). From 2009 he is a Permanent lecturer in Music History and Applied Music Theory at the Vienna Conservatory Private University. He has held various lectureships at the University of Vienna and the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna. His research fields are: Music in popular culture (film in particular), identity studies (especially studies in musical national images), music of the turn-of-the- century and in post- war Europe.

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Harangszó [Bell Music]

Pentatony in the Music of István Vántus


In 1964 István Vántus drew up a composing table with the intention of creating his own musical language, the so- called system of “endless pentatony”, the completed form of which he claimed to discover accidentally in 1985. The experience of this discovery led him to fix its tonal system – the system of “curved musical space” – as being intrinsically given, as being a perfect system. It was in this excited frame of mind that Vántus completed Harangszó – Maros Rudolf emlékére (Bell Music – in memory of Rudolf Maros), which unfolds from a Cheremissian folk song. Thus in his oeuvre, which was rooted in folk music, Harangszó became the work which stated clearly what its connection with folk music was, and a key work for the further development of the composer’s tonal system. The article focusses attention on two works: the above mentioned Harangszó funeral music, together with Vántus’s most important work, his opera Aranykoporsó (The Golden Coffin) – which is linked to its subject also by means of a pentatonic musical figure – in other words on works which make use of borrowed pentatonic melodies. In searching for the traces of Hungarian folk music in Vántus’s works I wish to highlight the two ways (as structure and as surface) in which pentatony appears in them.


Mária Illés (b. 1961) graduated in 1983 from the Music Faculty of Szeged University as a teacher of Piano and Solfège, and in 1989 from the Budapest Liszt Academy in Musicology. Since 1994 she has taught music history and style analysis at Szeged. Since 1999 she has been the music critic of the Szeged magazine Hangoló and from 2001–2003 was the music critic of Délmagyarország. Her writings appear regularly in journals and anthologies and collections of essays. Her field of research is the music of István Vántus. Since June 2010 she has been a doctoral candidate at the postgraduate school of the Liszt Academy, and her thesis in preparation deals with István Vántus’s musical language and its foundation upon a special tonal system.

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