Magyar Zene Music Quarterly
Vol. 53 , No. 1 - February 2015
Liszt, Language, and Identity: a Multinational Chameleon
Throughout his life Liszt projected diverse identities, which were sometimes embraced by the public, and sometimes questioned. These „contradictions” in his character have been the subject of much confusion and debate, and one aspect in particular still has scholars perplexed: Liszt’s national identity. Writers have come down on all sides, declaring Liszt was „really” Hungarian, French, German, or „cosmopolitan”, yet the role of language in projecting these identities has so far been overlooked. This article maps Liszt’s fluctuating proficiency and frequency of use of languages onto his biography. It identifies clear patterns that suggest his linguistic „reconstructions” were a means of deliberately adapting his identity as appropriate. It draws patterns from a wide range of Liszt’s letters in order to establish why and how he used a device commonly referred to in sociolinguistics as „codeswitching”. This is a concept whereby bilingual speakers switch language mid- conversaton or mid- sentence. The article argues that Liszt switched language to bring forward certain identities to certain recipients. It concludes by considering how „codeswitching” may also relate to his music, by applying the concept to the symphonic poem Héroïde funèbre. (First published in 19th Century Music, Vol. 36, No. 3, Spring 2013)
Joanne Cormac is a Music Lecturer at Oxford Brookes. She studied Music at the University of Nottingham and then completed an MMus and PhD at the University of Birmingham, supervised by Professor Kenneth Hamilton. She is currently reworking her doctoral thesis, entitled Liszt as Kapellmeister: the Development of the Symphonic Poems on the Weimar Stage, into a book. Since completing her doctoral work, Joanne has been an Early Career Research Associate at the Institute of Musical Research. Her research interests include 19th- century German theatre, programme music, genre development, and issues related to identity and ’otherness.’ Her recent publications include an article entitled ’From Tragedy to Melodrama: Rethinking Liszt’s Hamlet’ in 19th- century Music Review.
„Scriabin and the Spirit of the Revolution”
Preservation or Rejection?
The view, according to which the takeover of the Bolsheviks in 1917 created a tabula rasa in Russian music history has enjoyed large popularity up to recently. It entailed the argument that the Bolshevik revolution completely parted ways with the musical heritage of the foregoing bourgeois culture. In my paper I will refute this view by referring to the early, pre-1932 Soviet reception of the Silver Age composer Alexander Scriabin (1872–1915). I will shortly introduce those artists and politicians, who became the most important admirers and supporters of Scriabin’s work, and who tried to find him a place in the new political- aesthetical environment. Among them we can find the symbolist writer and philosopher Vyacheslav Ivanov, the ex- futurist composer Arthur Lourie, the co- founder of the Association of Contemporary Music (ASM) Leonid Sabaneev, or the first Soviet People’s Commissar of Education Anatoly Lunacharsky. They all agreed that Scriabin became a forerunner of the Revolution, and forgave his attraction to mysticism and theosophy. This is why this article also examines the exact relations of Marxism and Scriabin’s philosophy and locates references to the concept of revolution in the artistic approach of the composer.
Ádám Ignácz (1981), music aesthetician. He graduated from Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE, Budapest) in history and aesthetics. He was enrolled in the Philosophy Doctoral School of ELTE, and he received his PhD in 2013 (Dissertation title: Composer on the Stage. The Problem of Portaying The Artist in the Artist Operas of Scriabin, Schoenberg and Pfitzner). He was awarded state grants to conduct research at the Humboldt University Berlin and University of Vienna. His has published articles on musical expressionism, symbolism, futurism and on Hungarian popular music in national and international journals. He has presented papers at conferences in Hungarian, German and English (e.g. in Vilnius, Birmingham, Liverpool, Kiel, Luzern). Since 2013 Ádám Ignácz has been working as a research fellow for the ’Lendület’ Archives and Research Group for 20th–21st Century Hungarian Music, Institute for Musicology, Hungarian Academy of Sciences.
Composition without Prospects of Publication
Bartók and the Great War
Although Bartók gave up composition in the first months of the war – he stopped working on the ballet The Wooden Prince and the 2nd quartet – in the spring of 1915 he already finished new compositions (Romanian sets for piano), in 1916 created significant scores (Suite for piano op. 14, song cycles opp. 15–16, etc.), and 1917–1918 belong to his most productive years. The July 1918 contract with the publisher Universal Edition, Vienna, offered the chance to revise his scores written in the war years. This essay investigates three cases: Fifteen Hungarian Peasant Songs which was ready to print in 1914 but Bartók revised it in 1918 by replacing three movements; the omission of the 2nd movement of Suite op. 14; and the reason why op. 18 includes only three studies instead of the planned „six or seven.”
László Somfai (1934). Professor Emeritus at the Liszt Academy of Music (State University) in Budapest and former director (1972–2005) of the Bartók Archives of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Recently he has been working on the Bartók thematic catalogue and on volumes of the forthcoming Béla Bartók Complete Critical Edition. His recent Bartók studies in Magyar Zene include “Az utolsó Bartók- partitúrák és a ‘klasszikus’ stílus értelmezései” [The „Classical” Last Scores of Béla Bartók] 47/1 (2009) and “‘Romlott testëm’ és a ‘páva’- dallam. Széljegyzetek Bartók 1. vonósnégyesének egy témájáról” [“Romlott testëm” and the Peacock melody. On the origin of a theme of Bartók’s First String Quartet] 48/2 (2010).
Bartók’s Contrasts, Benny Goodman, and Free Playing
Benny Goodman was only 28 years old when he reached the pinnacle of his career, bringing his big band to Carnegie Hall in January 1938. Joseph Szigeti, who took an interest in jazz and admired Goodman’s playing for its expressiveness and technical proficiency, was present at that tremendously successful historic concert. In the same year, he suggested the idea to Goodman to underwrite a commission for a short concert piece by Bartók for clarinet, violin, and piano with virtuoso candenzas, in the vein of the violin rhapsodies. Bartók completed the piece in September 1938, and Goodman returned to Carnegie Hall a year after his famous jazz concert with the premier of two movements (Verbunkos and Sebes) of Bartók’s work. Two years ago the manuscript sources of the Contrasts once in Goodman’s possession came to the collection of Yale University. The copy made of the fair copy of the score prepared by Bartók on tissue paper and the clarinet part (of which the second movement, Pihenő, is holograph) provide a few hitherto unknown details about the work’s formation. The reviews of the sound recording of the Contrasts, made during the composer’s visit to the United States in the spring of 1940, are unequivocal in the praise of Goodman’s performance, while the reception of his later recordings of classical music was less enthusiastic. In searching for the sources of this discrepancy, I will look into the various manifestations of „free playing”, so prominent in both Bartók’s and Goodman’s artistry.
Vera Lampert studied musicology at the Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest between 1964 and 1969. The first decade of her career was spent at the Budapest Bartók Archives (1969-1978). Then she moved to the United States where she worked as music librarian at Brandeis University from 1983 until her retirement in 2014. The focus of her interest is Bartók’s ethnomusicological work and its influence on his compositions. In her book, Folk Music in Bartók’s Compositions: A Source Catalog (Budapest, 2008) she published the original sources of the melodies appearing in Bartók’s folksong arrangements. She contributed essays to The Bartók Companion (Oxford, 1993), Bartók and His World (Princeton, 1995), and The Cambridge Companion to Bartók (Cambridge, 2001). She is also involved in some of the major projects of the Bartók Archives: in the collected edition of Bartók’s writings and the complete edition of his works.
Folk- Inspired Elements in Bartók’s Style
This study focuses on folk musical phenomena which seem to play an important role in the changes taking place in the musical style of the young Bartók. Analysing his compositions dating from between about 1907 to 1920 some concrete, often abstract tonal and rhythmic elements are outlined as peculiarly important ones for the composer for the period. It appears that Bartók was equally interested in the sources of several ethnic groups’ folk music and art music of these elements. In fact, their presence in different sources and their distinct appearance in them might have allowed for him their universal and independent character. The purpose of this study is to seek new data for the topic of folk music inspiration in Bartók’s style, incorporating as sources equally his folk music collections, folk musical publications, his compositions based on folk tunes or not, and earlier and contemporary art musical examples.
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.
„Széles az Isonzó vize…” [Wide Is the Water of the River Isonzo…]
The First World War and Folk Music Research