Magyar Zene Music Quarterly





Magyar Zene

Hungarian Language Music Quarterly


Vol. 51 , No. 2 - May 2013







„A mi népünk az ön népe, de az enyém is…”
Kodály Zoltán, Kádár János és a paternalista gondolkodásmód
„Our people is yours, but also mine…”
Zoltán Kodály, János Kádár and the Paternalistic Thought (Abstract)
Kurtág magyar identitása és a Bornemisza Péter mondásai (1963–1968) 142
György Kurtág’s Hungarian Identity and The Sayings of Péter Bornemisza (1963–1968) (Abstract) 153



Veress Sándor Radó Ági zongoraművészhez intézett levelei (1967–1973) 154
Sándor Veress’s Letters to the Pianist Ági Radó (Abstract) 207

Work in Progress


Johann Sebastian Bach kantátastílusának változása 209
The Change of Style in Johann Sebastian Bach’s Cantatas (Abstract) 243


The whole issue (pdf)








„Our people is yours, but also mine…”
Zoltán Kodály, János Kádár and the Paternalistic Thought


This paper examines the personal relationship between the composer, musicologist and educator Zoltán Kodály and the communist politician János Kádár (1912–1989), who was the leader of the Hungarian party- state between 1956 and 1988. Their actual communication can be reconstructed with the exploration of archival documents from the period of 1959–1966. It appears, however, that Kodály’s personality and beliefs exerted a lifelong influence on Kádár – or, at least, Kádár claimed such an influence was exerted on him. Indirect evidence suggests that their correspondence can be traced back to the period of 1948–1950 during which Kádár held the position of Minister for Home Affairs. Apart from his worldwide reputation as a great musician, Kodály was regarded as a Hungarian national icon who was also nominated for head of state by some important organizations during the anti- Stalinist revolution of 1956. Kádár, who was installed as political number- one by the Soviets, directed the brutal repression of the revolution. Despite their differing world views, the two celebrities conducted a meaningful communication on the basis of their paternalistic approach to Hungarian society as well as their shared commitment to careful reforms and considerate modernization as opposed to the often traumatic and radical political and social changes which Hungarian people witnessed, suffered, or generated between 1918 and 1958.


Lóránt Péteri, musicologist and music critic, is Reader and Member of the Doctoral Council at the Liszt Academy of Music, Budapest. He graduated from the same institution in 2002 and also from Eötvös Loránd University, where he studied history, in 2006. As a postgraduate research student, he received supervision from the University of Oxford in 2004/05 and received his Ph.D. from the University of Bristol, UK, in 2008 with a dissertation entitled ’The Scherzo of Mahler’s Second Symphony: A Study of Genre’. Among his contributions are the studies „God and Revolution – Rewriting the Absolute: Bence Szabolcsi and the Discourse of Hungarian Musical Life”. In: Blazekovic Z. and Dobbs Mackenzie B. (eds.): Music’s Intellectual History. New York: RILM, 2009); and „Form, Meaning and Genre in the Scherzo of Mahler’s Second Symphony”. Studia Musicologica 50 / 3- 4, 2009.

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György Kurtág’s Hungarian Identity and The Sayings of Péter Bornemisza (1963–1968)


After the political and cultural seclusion of the 1950s young Hungarian composers turned to West European new music. While learning contemporary compositional techniques they were searching for a new Hungarian identity in music. The musicological discourse about new Hungarian music concentrated on the ’Hungarianness’ of their music too. Composers turned to Hungarian literary texts, and referred to Hungarian musical culture with musical allusions. From Kodály and Bartók they inherited the idea of combining up- to- date West European compositional techniques with earlier Hungarian tradition, that is, they were aware of the primacy of tradition.
The concerto for soprano and piano, The Sayings of Péter Bornemisza (1963–68) by György Kurtág (b.1926) represented for Hungarian musicians the paradigmatic example of new Hungarian music, modern and traditional at the same time. Similarly to Kodály’s Psalmus Hungaricus (1923), it was based on an old Hungarian text from the 16th century. The vocal part, however, refers to Webern’s melodic concept, the piano part follows Stockhausen’s piano writing, and Kurtág quotes neither Hungarian folk music nor old Hungarian art music. My paper will reveal that analysis of the composition can help us to answer the question why contemporaries felt that Kurtág’s piece unambiguously represents a Hungarian identity. Kurtág – like his contemporaries – uses symbols, word- painting and allusions relating to certain words while concentrating on the picturesque elements of music. The source of this compositional attitude is Kodály’s oeuvre, especially the Psalmus Hungaricus. From this angle Kurtág’s Sayings represents the new- old Hungarian musical tradition.


Anna Dalos (Budapest, 1973) studied musicology at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music, Budapest, from 1993 to 1998; between 1998 and 2002 she attended the Doctoral Program in Musicology of the same institution. She spent a year on a German exchange (DAAD) scholarship at the Humboldt University, Berlin (1999- 2000). She is currently working as a senior researcher at the Musicological Institute of the Research Centre for Humanities of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. She is has been a lecturer in the DLA Program of the Franz Liszt Academy of Music since 2007, and visiting lecturer at the International Zoltán Kodály Pedagogical Institute of Music, Kecskemét since 2010. Her research is focused on 20th- century Hungarian music, history of composition and musicology in Hungary. She has had journal articles published on these subjects, as well as short monographs on several Hungarian composers (Pál Kadosa, György Kósa, Rudolf Maros). Her book on Zoltán Kodály’s poetics was published in 2007 in Budapest. In 2012 she won the ’Lendület’ grant of from the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, which funded the creation of the Archives and Research Group for 20th- and 21st- Century Hungarian Music.

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Sándor Veress’s Letters to the Pianist Ági Radó


The Institute for Musicology’s Department of 20th- Century Music History, as part of the disposal of Sándor Veress’s estate, acquired a valuable collection of manuscripts and books following the composer’s death. The collection consisted primarily of Veress’s university and pedagogical manuscripts plus a selection of his books, while the more important documents of his estate, the composer’s musical manuscripts and letters together with other items, were purchased by the Paul Sacher Stiftung collection in Basle. Last year Ági Radó, an internationally known Hungarian pianist living in Baltimore, enriched the Hungarian Veress- collection with valuable manuscripts, namely 33 letters he wrote to her. Ági Radó’s request regarding their fate was that the letters in Hungarian should as soon as possible be published in one of the Hungarian musical journals.
In response to her request we are publishing here the letters Sándor Veress wrote to her. Through this publication the literature has become enriched by new aspects: above all the literary dimension of a new, individual side of the Veress correspondence. The letters can also be valued as an important source for Veress’s biography by virtue of their providing an authentic reference point for one of the composer’s perhaps most problematic periods.
I would like to express my thanks to Claudio Veress, Sándor Veress’s son, for his permission to publish the letters, to Ági Radó for her gracious donation, and also to her friend and colleague Lewis Berman for his willing support and contribution to this publication.


Melinda Berlász since 1966 has been a fellow of the Institute for Musicology of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, as a department head since 1995 and senior research fellow since 1999. She is a member of Musicological Committee of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Her major research area is 20th century Hungarian music history. Upon her initiative, the first monographic volume of studies on Sándor Veress appeared in Hungarian in her edition, with the personal involvement of the composer himself. (Berlász M.–Demény J.–Terényi E.: Veress Sándor. Tanulmányok, Budapest, Editio Musica, 1982). Another undertaking, also with the participation of Sándor Veress, was the publishing of the tunes and documents of Veress’ Moldavian collection in 1989. (Veress Sándor: Moldvai gyûjtés. ed.: Melinda Berlász–Olga Szalay, Budapest: Múzsák kiadó, 1989). As a result of professional collaboration and friendship lasting for over a decade, Sándor Veress asked Melinda Berlász to select the Hungary- related material from his estate and deposit it in the Institute for Musicology of HAS. On the Veress centenary she edited the first collection of Veress choruses for children’s, female and male choirs (Editio Musica, Budapest 2007.). The publication of the choruses for mixed voices (Vol.II.) was realised in 2010.

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The Change of Style in Johann Sebastian Bach’s Cantatas


Of Bach’s 188 surviving sacred cantatas 24 are from the period before Leipzig and 164 from Leipzig. In these works he treats the chorale melody in basically five different ways: 1. Simple four- part chorale arrangement 2. Hidden chorale arrangement 3. Choral cantus firmus treatment 4. Organ- like chorale arrangement 5. Experimental chorale treatment combining various composing techniques. The chief difference between the two sharply divided cycles of cantata composition lies in a change in the frequency of ways of treating the chorale and a considerable increase in the ratio of movements with a chorale, as well as the appearance of a completely new 6th type. This 6th type I have called the Leipzig chorale treatment. Its characteristic is that the chorale melody arranged for four voices and sung by the choir is embedded in a characterful and independent musical texture. Furthermore Bach took great care to make the character of the basic musical texture derive from a characteristic, pictorial element taken from the text of the chorale.
If we examine the surviving music of the cantors who preceded Bach, we can see clearly that of the three immediate preceding cantors at the Thomaskirche (Sebastian Knüpfer, Johann Schelle, Johann Kuhnau) it is the chorale treatment of Johann Schelle with its profound basis in Christian symbolism that had a strong influence on Bach’s new cantata style that developed in Leipzig. We may surmise that Bach wanted to contribute to an already existing Leipzig chorale tradition, one of whose features was an increase in the number of chorale arrangements in each cantata together with a way of treating the chorale here appearing as new, and which copies the cantors who preceded him.


Soma Dinyés was born in 1975, studied in Budapest and graduated as a choral conductor from the Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest in 1999. He completed his DLA in music theory at the Liszt Academy of Music in 2012. In the spring of 1995 he founded the Ars Longa Choir and Chamber Orchestra with a view to improving the standards of the authentic performance of Baroque music on the Hungarian music scene. Soma Dinyés has taught solfeggio and music theory at the Béla Bartók Musical Secondary School in Budapest since 1999, and he also plays the organ or harpsichord continuo in numerous instrumental groups (Budapest Festival Orchestra, the Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra, Musica Profana, Aura Musicale). He is a member of the Bratislava- based Solamente Naturali chamber orchestra with whom he performs extensively around Slovakia and Europe (Brussels, Murcia, Warsaw, etc.).

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