Magyar Zene Music Quarterly





Magyar Zene

Hungarian Language Music Quarterly


Vol. 53 , No. 2 - May 2015







A nagy háború küszöbén
Bartók hunyadi gyűjtésének néhány tanulsága
On the Eve of the Great War
Some Lessons of Bartók’s Hunyad Collection (Abstract)
„Egy évig csak Beethoven- , Brahms- , Bruckner- , Mahlerszimfóniákat vezényelni, és utána meghalni!”
Adalékok Jemnitz Sándor fiatalkori portréjához
„To conduct Beethoven’s, Brahms’s, Bruckner’s and Mahler’s
Symphonies for a Year and Then Die!”
Contributions to a Youthful Portrait of Sándor Jemnitz (Abstract)
Ironikus önarcképek?
Ligeti György: Hungarian Rock, Passacaglia ungherese
Ironic Self- Portraits?
György Ligeti’s Hungarian Rock and Passacaglia ungherese (Abstract)
Sári József és a posztmodern zene születése Magyarországon (1967–1990) 174
József Sári and the Birth of Postmodern Music in Hungary
(1967–1990) (Abstract)
Ó és új az első világháborús katonanótákban 187
Old and New in First World War Soldiers’ Songs (Abstract) 206



Kiadatlan Liszt- levelek a weimari Goethe–Schiller Archívumból 207
Unpublished Liszt- Letters From The Weimar Archives (Abstract) 235


The whole issue (pdf)








On the Eve of the Great War

Some Lessons of Bartók’s Hunyad Collection


In March 1914 Bartók gave a lecture on the folk music dialect of the Hunyad (Hunedoara) Rumanians, which was also published within a short period of time in a partly revised form in the scholarly journal Ethnographia. Both were based on his experiences gained from collecting folksongs in Hunyad County. The historical importance of this event – with regard to the gramophone records produced in connection with the lecture and the principles of ethnomusicological methodology that Bartók laid down in his essay – has often been discussed in the Bartók literature. My article aims at presenting some new aspects of this event, which raised great expectations but was thwarted by the outbreak of World War I.
The lecture was illustrated with live performances by peasants from Cserbel, the first and most exciting village that Bartók had visited during his field trip, and was dominated by the presence of the exceptionally talented bagpipe player, Lazăr Lăscuş. Revisiting the relevant correspondence and the lecture’s manuscript sources used by Bartók, I examine the material for the illustrations planned by the author and the possible way they were put into practice. The dance music played by the young bagpipe player is of a highly improvisational character and has a motivic structure; it was recorded previously in the field on one hand and later in Budapest on the other and offers multiple possibilities of comparison with Bartók’s proposed illustrations. In the essay- version the emphasis is on the doina- type melodies, the category that determines, in Bartók’s view, the main areas of dialect. Examining the published music examples I focus on their relationship with the field collection and the Budapest records respectively. The Hunyad collection also had a direct influence on Bartók’s compositional output: in this respect, finally, I discuss the case of the Hunyad colinde arranged in Rumanian Christmas Songs (1915).


Viola Biró (1985) studied musicology at the Gheorghe Dima Academy of Music in Cluj- Napoca (Kolozsvár), Romania (2004–2008), and at the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music in Budapest (2008–2010). Since 2010 she has attended doctoral studies in musicology at the same institution. She is writing her dissertation on Béla Bartók’s research into Romanian folk music and its influence on his compositions. Since September 2013 she has been a junior research fellow at the Bartók Archives of the Institute for Musicology, Research Centre for the Humanities of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.


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„To conduct Beethoven’s, Brahms’s, Bruckner’s and Mahler’s Symphonies for a Year and Then Die!”

Contributions to a Youthful Portrait of Sándor Jemnitz


Sándor Jemnitz (1890–1963) was one of the most respected music critics in Hungary from the 1920s onwards. He was also a composer, a conductor and a poet. However, he considered composition as one of his most important activities. In addition to writing programme notes and reviews, the greatest part of his works – besides his extensive correspondence – is in his diaries. He wrote diary entries on a daily basis. As if he were writing to his best friend, he confessed his most intimate feelings without having to fear any breach of confidentiality.
In the 20th–21st Century Hungarian Music Archives in Budapest, there are fifteen diaries written between autumn 1910 and the composer’s death. This study gives a summary of the period between 1910–1914. After a promising period of composition studies with Hans Koessler (Budapest) and Max Reger (Leipzig), the 23- year- old Jemnitz began his career as a conductor in small town theatres in Brema, Baden, Scheweningen, Iglau, Chernowitz and Allentsteig. His work, however, brought him neither satisfaction nor professional challenges. He wrote bitterly about his desperate wish in his diary: “To conduct Beethoven’s, Brahms’s, Bruckner’s and Mahler’s symphonies for a year and then die!” After depressing months and even years, in 1912 the young composer received an invitation from Arnold Schoenberg to study composition in Berlin. The Jemnitz-diaries are accurate chronicles of his lessons with Schoenberg.


Ilona Kovács graduated as a musicologist from the Ferenc Liszt Academy of Music Budapest. She obtained her PhD from the same institution (2010). Her thesis – Compositional Process in Ernst von Dohnányi’s Workshop. Studies of Sketches for Chamber Music – was based on researching the primary sources in the British Library (London) and the National Széchényi Library (Budapest). She also holds a degree in piano teaching and music producing. She has written numerous studies about Dohnányi (including “A Hybrid Form: the Second Movement of Ernst von Dohnányi’s String Quartet in A Major (op. 7)” in Studia Musicologica Academie Scientiarum Hungaricae (2009), a monograph about Zoltán Pongrácz (Budapest, 2004) and numerous articles on Hungarian composers in the 20th century. Since 2010 she has been an associate professor at the Hungarian Academy of Dance.


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Ironic Self- Portraits?

György Ligeti’s Hungarian Rock and Passacaglia ungherese


In an interview given to Ulrich Dibelius in 1993, György Ligeti virtually excluded Hungarian Rock and Passacaglia ungherese from his oeuvre, stating that the two harpsichord pieces had been intended as ironic commentaries to discussions with his pupils at the Hamburg Hochschule, and as reactions to “the whole neo- tonal and postmodern movement.” From today’s perspective, however, it is hardly questionable that these two pastiches are integral to Ligeti’s oeuvre, inasmuch as they anticipated some typical features, both technical and aesthetic, of Ligeti’s late style, such as overt historical and ethnic references, latent tonality, the simultaneity of diatonic and chromatic materials, and a paramount interest in complex
polyrhythmic structures.
This article focuses on the “Hungarianness” of the two pieces, a feature that is ostentatiously emphasized by their titles, analyzing which features can be regarded as Hungarian, how these are related to other, culturally more distant, references, and what role they are playing within the pieces. In both works, elements of Hungarian folk music are mixed with distant musical styles and idioms (the chaconne and passacaglia tradition, elements of jazz and rock, Balkan and Caribbean rhythms). As I point out, both pieces contain a number of “mistuned” Hungarian folk song imitations. But Ligeti’s melodies do not so much imitate specific folk songs as abstract melodic types. Moreover, they are alienated by the systematic transposition of some of their notes and phrases, while their characteristic melodic and rhythmic features, as well as their strophic structure are retained. I interpret the distorted and mistuned folk song imitations in the harpsichord pieces as metaphors of Ligeti’s ambivalent relationship with Hungary, as well as of his physical and mental detachment from his homelands, and the two works as ironic self- portraits of the Hungarian émigré composer living in the West.


Márton Kerékfy (1981) studied musicology and composition at the Ferenc Liszt Academy of Music, Budapest, and, after receiving his degree, he was a PhD student at the same institution. He completed his thesis (The Influence of East European Folk Music on the Music of György Ligeti) in 2014. He has been on the staff of the Budapest Bartók Archives since 2005 and has been editor-in-chief at Editio Musica Budapest since 2013.

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József Sári and the Birth of Postmodern Music in Hungary (1967–1990)


My paper aims at sketching the process which led József Sári (1935) to his compositional turn toward postmodern music around 1978. He began his careeras a representative of the modernist realm of young composers in Hungary in the 1960s. During the 70s he turned to different technical devices which helped him to get away from the poetical and compositional ideals of his generation. To find his own compositional path he was engaged to write character pieces following Schumann’s and Kurtág’s model, and the experimental character of the compositions of the New Music Studio Budapest, of which his brother, László Sáry was a member, also influenced him significantly. My analysis concentrates on the characteristics of Sári’s music, primarily on his devices which reconcile aleatory with minimal music, intellectualism with expressivity, and personal confessions with canon technique in such pieces as Alienated qoutations (1982), Praeludium, interludium, postludium (1979), Snapshots (1981) and Scenes (1988).


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 Programme in Musicology of the same institution. She spent a year on a German exchange scholarship (DAAD) 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 lecturer at 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 was awarded the ’Lendület’ grant of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, which funded the foundation of the Archives and Research Group for the 20th–21st Century Hungarian Music at the Musicological Institute of the Research Centre for the Humanities.


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Old and New in First World War Soldiers’ Songs


The oldest melody we find in this rich world is a verbunkos tune by János Bihari (1807). Of the songs fashionable during the time of the 1848–49 Hungarian war of independence two became First World War songs. And a song that appeared at the time of the Austrian- Prussian war of 1866 gained new life too. These historical songs are what we can regard as the oldest layer of wartime soldiers’ songs. Another group of old songs which became wartime ones contains some which Bartók assigned to his category C, in that although they are not in the new style, they are rhythmically new, having flexible dotted rhtythm. This type of rhythm in Hungarian folk music appeared in the 1870s, though it became widespread only in the 1880s and 1890s, going hand in hand not only with the new- style melodies which have an architectural structure, but permeating the descending old- style melodies as well. The next group consists of new- style,
indeed fully- fledged new- style songs – by fully- fledged new- style I mean songs with flexible dotted rhythm – which originated a few decades or a few years before the outbreak of the war. Most of them became wartime soldiers’ songs of course not with the original words, but with new ones. This group includes 28 melodies. The fourth and last group is the new ones, the ones originating during the war. This is the largest group and culturally the most important. We have, all told, 55 melodies which originated during the four years of the war, sung by Hungarian soldiers and with words about the war. All 55 are fully- fledged newstyle songs, they could hardly be otherwise. This fully- fledged branch of the style became widespread in the 1880s and 1890s, so it could come to dominate at the beginning of the 20th century. In this way the war reached Hungary at the moment when this new- style folk music spreading with unstoppable energy burst into bloom. We should not be surprised, therefore, if the best examples of the style are to be found precisely among the wartime soldiers’ songs.


János Bereczky (b. 1942). From 1967 till 2012 a research fellow at the Institute for Musicology of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. His main field of research is the development and systematization of new- style Hungarian folk music. The new- style songs in the Academy’s folksong collection (around 60.000 notations) have been archived using the system he invented. His most important books are Kodály  népdalfeldolgozásainak dallam- és szövegforrásai [The melodic and textual sources of Kodály’s folksong arrangements] (Budapest: 1984 – in collaboration with others), Ilmari Krohnin vaikutus unkarilaiseen kansanmusiikintutkimukseen [The Influence of Ilmari Krohn on Hungarian Ethnomusicology] (Jyväskylä: 2001 – in Finnish), Mikszáth Kálmán és a gyermekjátékok világa [Kálmán Mikszáth and the world of childrens’ games] (Budapest: 2006), A magyar népdal új stílusa I–IV. [The new style of Hungarian folksongs I- IV] (Budapest: 2013). Szabolcsi Prize, 2008.


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Unpublished Liszt- Letters From The Weimar Archives


The addressees of the first two (in French): Ignaz Moscheles and Julius Benedict, were both German musicians living in London. Liszt asked for their help before his concert- tour in England (1840) and concerning the publication of his works in the UK. Letter Nr. 3 (in French) is written to a leader of the Weimar Goethe Foundation, very important to Liszt, see his article on the subject. There are three French letters to several ladies. One (Nr.5) to the famous singer Pauline Viardot-Garcìa, one (Nr. 5) to a member of the befriended piano- manufacturer family Érard (Nr. 10) and one (Nr. 11) to his Neapolitan pupil Luisa Cognetti. Two of the letters (Nr. 12,15), in German, written respectively to the famous conductor Hermann Levi and a German professor, deal with Richard Wagner. Letter Nr. 14 (in German) to the piano- manufacturer Bechstein is written in favour of the church- music composer abbé Joseph Mohr. In letter Nr. 4 (in German) Liszt is asking the Vienna Home Secretary Baron Alexander von Bach (illnamed for his despotic politics in Hungary after 1848–49), to have his Gran Mass published at Austria’s expense. Letter Nr.6 (in French) is written to his good friend and compatriote Count Sándor Teleki. To the famous Hungarian violinist, his friend Ede Reményi (Nr. 8, in French) Liszt gives good advice concerning Hungarian musical life. To the humorous journal Borsszem Jankó (No. 7), the composer expresses his gratitude for the famous caricatures of him, published in the journal. To his Hungarian publisher Nándor Táborszky (Nr. 9, in German), Liszt gives instructions concerning the publishing of his work Hymne de l’enfant à son réveil. To his former Hungarian pupil Sándor Bertha who had become an enemy, Liszt wrote an unusually dry refusal (Nr. 13, in French). The envelope to Madame Munkácsy (Nr. 16), written MUNKASCY, proves that Liszt did not know Hungarian.


Klára Hamburger, born in Budapest, studied musicology at the Franz Liszt Music Academy Budapest, degree 1961. “Doctor of Sciences”, of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (2003), member of the Committee for Musicology. Worked as a librarian, an editor of music books (publishing house “Gondolat”, Budapest 1966–199O), Secretary General of the Hungarian Liszt Society (1991- 2005). Books: Liszt, a biography, in Hungarian [Budapest: Gondolat, 1966, 1980], in German: Franz Liszt [Budapest: Corvina Press, 1973, 1987] and in English [Budapest: Corvina Press, 1987]. Franz Liszt Leben und Werk. [Weimar – Köln – Wien: Böhlau Verlag, 2010.] A Concert Goer’s Liszt- Handbook, in Hungarian [Liszt kalauz, Editio Musica Budapest, 1986]; Liszt Ferenc zenéje (The Music of F. Liszt). Budapest: Balassi Kiadó, 2010; Franz Liszt. Lettres à Cosima et à Daniela [Mardaga, Sprimont, 1996]); Franz Liszt. Briefwechsel mit seiner Mutter. [Eisenstadt, 2000]. Studies in Hungarian, American, English, French, Dutch, Swedish, Russian periodicals and series. Editor of Franz Liszt. Beiträge von ungarischen Autoren [Budapest: Corvina, 1978]; Liszt 2000 [Budapest: Hungarian Liszt Society, 2000]. Papers at different international conferences in Hungarian, German, English, French, Italian. Award for Excellence of the American Liszt Society, 1994. Szabolcsi Prize, 2007. In July 2014 Klára Hamburger lost her husband, the opera- critic Ivan Kertész, after 57 years of marriage. Since then she has been living alone.


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