Magyar Zene Music Quarterly





Magyar Zene

Hungarian Language Music Quarterly


Vol. 50 , No. 4 - November 2012





Magyar Zene 50


Euriant és Loherangrin 365



J. S. Bach és a zenemű fogalma 378
J. S. Bach and the Concept of “Work of Art” (Abstract) 401
Irodalom a zenében: Liszt Ferenc 402
The Literary Canon of Ferenc Liszt (Abstract) 418
Liszt és a rossz ízlés 419
Liszt and Bad Taste (Abstract) 443
Kontrasztok (?)
Gyakorlati és esztétikai megfontolások Bartók zeneszerzői munkájában
Contrasts (?)
Practical and Abstract Ideas in Bartók’s Compositional Process (Abstract)
Eszmények és emlékek Bartók Negyvennégy hegedűduójában 457
Ideals and Memories in Bartók’s Forty Four Violin Duos (Abstract) 471

Short Contributions


„…Mit atyáink beszéltek el nekünk, elmondjuk az ifjú nemzedéknek…”
Dobszay László oktatási koncepciója
“…as our Forefathers Spoke to us, so Should we Tell it to the Younger Generation…”
László Dobszay’s Concept of Teaching (Abstract)




The whole issue (pdf)







J. S. Bach and the Concept of “Work of Art”


As a point of departure the article takes one of the provocative thesis- sentences of Lydia Goehr’s highly controversial book (The Imaginary Museum of Musical Works: An Essay in the Philosophy of Music, 1992) according to which it was not Bach’s intention to compose musical works of art. The question is approached from different angles (Bach- reception around 1800 and the 16–17th century German musica poetica tradition), contemporary linguistic usage is investigated, as well as the formulations on the covers of Bach’s scores, and the aesthetic debate that took place in the middle third of the 18th century, one of whose important issues was the relations between the intellect and the senses. It is argued that in the case of a musical work of art, it is impossible to describe the thinking of the period, or even of a single composer, with a single theory of general validity. This is because while it is true that at that time the overwhelming majority of musical works came about not as autonomous works of art but in connection with an occasion, function or activity, nevertheless in some cases Bach created works of art in the modern sense of the term.


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. Since 2006 he has been lecturing at the Liszt Academy on 17–18th century music history and New Musicology. His PhD thesis finished in October 2012 is entitled “J. S. Bach and two cultures of musical form”.

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The Literary Canon of Ferenc Liszt


How can a literary historian assess the choice of texts made by Liszt? Two contradictory hypotheses merit some consideration. On the one hand, the composer accepted Goethe’s idea of a Weltliteratur and sought to rely on the masterpieces of an international canon; on the other hand, it cannot be denied that some of the texts he set to music were written for minds and ears conditioned differently from ours. The main strength of Liszt’s approach to literature is internationalism, but literary canons are as changeable as musical repertoires, and one might well argue that a text begins to lose its literary value the moment it is appropriated by a composer. Regarding the relationship between text and music, one can distinguish four types. The difference between vocal music and instrumental works inspired by literature is clear- cut. Scores headed by a text represent a third type. The three Petrarca sonnets of the Deuxième Année of Années de Pèlerinage may represent a fourth type, which could be called the instrumental transcription of
vocal music. My tentative conclusion is that in all of these cases one should avoid the temptation to regard the music as an “addition” to the text. The function of music is not “to do justice to poetry”. It is misleading to speak about elements that are “alien to the text” or “incompatible with the poem”. The text has to be deconstructed by the composer. Inspiration cannot be ignored, but the aesthetic quality of the music does not depend on the artistic value of the poem used by the composer.


Mihály Szegedy-Maszák is Professor of Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies at Eötvös Loránd University, Professor Emeritus of Central Eurasian Studies at Indiana University, a member of Academia Europaea (London) and the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. He is the author of Literary Canons: National and International (2001), fourteen books in Hungarian (among them monographs on the authors Zsigmond Kemény, Sándor Márai, Géza Ottlik, and Dezső Kosztolányi), editor- in- chief of a three- volume history of Hungarian literature (2007) and the journal Hungarian Studies, co- author of Théorie littéraire (1989), Epoche – Text – Modalität (1999), A Companion to Hungarian Studies (1999), Angezogen und abgestoßen: Juden in der ungarischen Literatur (1999), The Phoney Peace: Power and Culture in Central Europe 1945–49 (2000), National Heritage – National Canon (2001), and Der lange, dunkle Schatten: Studien zum Werk von Imre Kertész (2004). He has published articles on the culture of the Habsburg Monarchy, the theory of the novel, Romanticism, modernism, postmodernism, translation, and inter- art studies, Richard Wagner, Henry James, Gustav Mahler, Béla Bartók, Ezra Pound, Wilhelm Furtwängler, and Buster Keaton in English, French, German, Polish, Romanian, Chinese and Hungarian.



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Liszt and Bad Taste


Everyone will probably agree that no great musician has been as frequently accused of bad taste as Liszt. And everyone will probably also agree that these accusations have had no effect on his stature as a great musician, even among the accusers. So what is bad taste, then, if it is so easily separable from artistic stature? It is a concept that has been poorly historicized or contextualized, if at all. This paper is an attempt to start the process, using Liszt as bellwether.


Richard Taruskin is Class of 1955 Professor of Music at the University of California at Berkeley, and the author of the Oxford History of Western Music. His publications on Russian music include monographs on Musorgsky and Stravinsky, and two collections of essays, Defining Russia Musically (1997) and On Russian Music (2009).

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Contrasts (?)
Practical and Abstract Ideas in Bartók’s Compositional Process


Most analyses of Bartók’s Contrasts focus on abstract compositional ideas, such as musical language, form, and motivic unity. Manuscript sources, however, show that practical considerations played an equally important role in the compositional process. Bartók adventurously exploited the potentials of both the instruments (clarinet, violin and piano) and the musicians (Benny Goodman and Joseph Szigeti) for whom he composed the piece, but, within certain boundaries, he was also ready to make concessions to them.
Since Bartók was commissioned to write the piece, the composition had to fill a number of essentially practical requirements. When he began composing, some of the basic characteristics of the work, the instrumentation, the need to include virtuoso cadenzas for both soloists, the number, the tempi and the approximate durations of movements, as well as some stylistic features Bartók had to regard as given. Even so, the composer did not adhere strictly to all of the requirements. The compositional process of Contrasts, therefore, can be interpreted as a simultaneous realization of both practical and abstract ideas.


Márton Kerékfy (1981) studied musicology and composition at the Ferenc Liszt Academy of Music, Budapest, and, after receiving his degree, he was PhD student at the same institution. The subject of his forthcoming PhD dissertation is going to be the influence of folk music in György Ligeti’s oeuvre. He has been on the staff of the Budapest Bartók Archives since 2005.

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Ideals and Memories in Bartók’s Forty Four Violin Duos


The 44 Duos are unique among Bartók’s folksongs arrangements in the characteristics of its choice of melodies. Its peculiarity consists not only in juxtaposing Hungarian, Slovakian, Rumanian, Ruthenian, Serbian and Arab folk tunes. In the 44 Duos Bartók chose melodies which represent musical connections between the above- mentioned ethnic groups. One can find examples of the influence of the Hungarian “new- style” in Slovakian folk music, Hungarian “old- style” in Rumanian music, Ruthenian “kolomejka” rhythm in Hungarian and Slovakian folk songs. There are also borrowed melodies, and musical elements, which are present in melodies of various ethnic groups.
The selecting of particular types in the 44 Duos can be explained by the aim to express ideas which are conceived by Bartók several times. One aspect of these ideas is the cooperation of Hungarians, Rumanians and Slovaks which should be free from a national bias. Other aspect is the brotherhood of peoples in spite of all wars and conflicts. He wrote that his music served this idea by arising from Hungarian, Slovak, Rumanian, Arabic and other sources. Responding to nazi ideology he also stated that the “race impurity” of folk music is a beneficial phenomenon, as new styles or new types of melodies can be born through the interaction of folk music.
The other group of pieces of the 44 Duos (excepting some easy ones for beginners) are based on Hungarian, Slovakian, Rumanian and Ruthenian tunes of folk ceremonies. Bartók named the type of ceremony but did not mark the ethnic provenance of the source in the titles. Therefore this group can represent an imaginary cycle of ceremony songs of the Carpathian basin. This is on the one hand a picturesque phrasing of the ideas mentioned above. On the other hand it evokes the peasant life and ceremonies of the multiethnic Hungary before World War I and a reminiscence of period of Bartók’s collecting trips.


Kata Riskó (1985), musicologist. She studied musicology at the Liszt Academy of Music in 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 language area. She is an assistant research fellow at the Institute for Musicology of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.

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“…as our Forefathers Spoke to us, so Should we Tell it to the Younger Generation…”
László Dobszay’s Concept of Teaching


The guiding principle of László Dobszay’s wide- ranging life and work was teaching. He taught throughout his life, including all ages from small children to students at the Music Academy, as well as adults and teachers. Apart from his numerous textbooks, in his writings on musical pedagogy he analysed the problems of teaching today (not just music teaching), the causes of them, and suggested recommendations
for solving them. He attached special importance to applying nowadays the model offered by the church schools and singing schools of the middle ages, since by adopting the education system developed during the Carolingian period, medieval Hungary was in a short time made a part of Western European culture (“we could say the country joined the European Union of those days”). Looking through the scholarly and extremely practical things he wrote on this subject, as well as summarizing how the singing schools that he founded operate, and their results, I here outline his pedagogical credo.


Ágnes Dobszay (b.1961) graduated from the Department of Musicology at the Liszt Academy in 1985. From 1986 until 2010 she taught general music history, Hungarian music history, folk music, score reading, gregorian chant, and the history of church music in the department of singing and choir conducting at the Faculty of Humanities of Budapest University (ELTE). From 1993 until 2006 she also taught singing classes and voice training at the Budapest School of Singing, as well as being in charge of liturgy practice. Beginning in 1977 for decades she sang in the Schola Hungarica, and in the Tomkins Choir from 1981 until 1985. Since 1982 she has often appeared as soloist in concerts of contemporary music. In 2003 she obtained the degree of DLA with her dissertation “Magyarországi zeneszerzôk offertóriumai a 18. század második és a 19. század elsô felében” [Offertories by Hungarian composers in the second half of the 18th century and the first half of the 19th century]. Since 1990 she has taught the history of church music, the reciting of gregorian chant, Hungarian Music History, folk music, liturgical methodology, score reading and the methododogy of teaching in the Department of Church Music at the Liszt Academy.

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