Magyar Zene Music Quarterly
Vol. 55 , No. 3 - August 2017
Methodus, Mors, Musica
The Choices of Zoltán Kodály
This paper will examine the interrelation between the ‘life’ and ‘career’ of Zoltán Kodály. In doing so, special attention will be devoted to the well- known bifurcation of Kodály’s musical activities as a composer and a music educator, respectively. Hitherto unpublished personal documents will show that Kodály’s turn to the medium of the children’s choir in 1925 was brought about by ‘life’: his exigencies as a composer by the catastrophic outcome of World War I for Hungary, and perhaps also by the emotional need of the forty years old who realized that he would not have any biological offspring. From the 1930s on ‘life’ offered more and more serious political challenges which brought to life in Kodály the composer of great motets and of munumental works in other representative genres. The next ominous turn of events around 1940 forced Kodály to acknowledge, that ‘the climate for work – i. e. the composition of large- scale musical works – was not favourable in this part of the world.’ In the next fifteen years, apart from writing choruses as a means of unequivocally expressing a quest for national independence (a Missa in tempore belli among them) the elaboration and promotion of his method of music education seemed to Kodály the only responsible way of creative life in a world which was hostile to both national and personal individuality. The last decade of his long life caused a change in Kodály’s attitude. One thread in his late choral work shows that the eighty years old Kodály looked upon ‘life’ as a mask for ‘death’. Music, by contrast, released from the bonds of education, appears in his Fancy, both Odes for Music, and Laudes Organi as a symbol of ‘life’ worth living.
Tibor Tallián (b. 1946), studied musicology at the Liszt Academy of Music, Budapest and at the University of Vienna. Since 1972 he has been a researcher at the Institute of Musicology of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Between 1998 and 2011 he was the director of this institute. He is Professor Emeritus of Musicology at the Liszt Academy of Music and – since 2011 – Editor in Chief of Studia Musicologica. His main research areas are the life and work of Béla Bartók and the history of 19th- and 20th- century Hungarian music with a special emphasis on opera as a genre and a cultural institution. He initiated in 1998 the complete critical edition of Ferenc Erkel’s operas
Zoltán Kodály’s Solfeggio Works and the Public Sphere of Post- Stalinist Hungary
Together with the appearance of a new piece entitled 50 Nursery- rhymes (Kis emberek dalai), the revised editions of two earlier solfeggio works by Kodály, namely his 333 Elementary Excercises in Sight- Singing (333 olvasógyakorlat) and his 15 Two- part Excercises (15 kétszólamú énekgyakorlat) were published in 1962, in Hungary. Owing to the predictable significance of their publicity, Kodály’s newly written fore- and afterwords were thoroughly examined by the state socialist educational administration, notably, by the Ministry of Culture. Based on archival sources, this paper reconstructs the internal discussions on Kodály’s texts, and the prepublication revision of the afterword of 333 Elementary Excercises. It is documented here that the post- Stalinist party state accepted proper public debate on educational matters, while a restricted plurality epitomized the public sphere generally. Kodály utilized both his informal political network and his publicity to enforce his educational agenda. In doing so, he did not find himself in conflict with the representatives of the political power only. Different, competing ideas were present in the music educational scene.
Lóránt Péteri is a musicologist and music critic. He is professor and head of the Musicology Department of the Liszt Academy of Music (State University), Budapest. He is a member of the Council of the Hungarian Musicological Society, and of the Musicological Committee of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. He has given papers about the musical life of state socialist Hungary and about the music of Gustav Mahler in international conferences (in Bristol, Brno, Budapest, Canterbury, Cardiff, Guildford, New York, Pittsburgh, and Radziejowice). Among his latest contributions are his chapters in Jeremy Barham (ed.): Rethinking Mahler. New York: Oxford University Press, 2017; and in Słavomira Żerańska- Kominek (ed.): Nationality vs. Universality: Music Historiographies in Central and Eastern Europe (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2016).
The Rhetoric of Intonation in Zoltán Kodály’s Works
My analyses seek to identify the role the ancient power of intonation plays in the creative process, and locate the intermediary state in which the moment of birth interrupts the superposition of the moments of still and already, and makes sensual the coming into being of the new work. The intermediary state, the no- man’s land, rests at the triple border of the former mousike, at the verges of poetry, dance and music, the grasping of which is a prerequisite for all musical creation. The reconciling of the guiding principles of poetic words with those of the gestures of dance, and the fertilizing of the moment as being removed from its historical continuity – this constitutes the magic of inspiration, which I seek to examine in Zoltán Kodály’s works in light of the figures of musical rhetoric.
The Harmonization of Folk Songs in Kodály’s Workshop
When Bartók and Kodály began systematic folksong collection, they encountered almost exclusively monophony, and it was this kind of music that inspired them. As a musical phenomenon, monophony differed sharply from the harmonically based, often over- harmonized polyphonic universe of Western music. The freshly discovered musical universe would not have been a true revelation if its essential harmonic implications would have been similar to those of the Western music. However, Bartók and Kodály were aware of the musical taste of the period and they knew that if they wanted to popularize their discovery and to impress wider audiences, or if they only wanted trained musicians to be astonished by Hungarian monophony, they had to dress the folk melodies in a Western- type of musical clothing. For both of them, the inspiration gained from the world of folk music and peasant music was essential for the composition. They viewed the mere harmonization of folk songs as the composer’s fullest task and they held as its highest degree the perfect mastery of the ancient musical language, its appropriation to the level of native language. In the issues of harmonization, Bartók and Kodály saw the same possibilities of solution, the most important of which is that the horizontal, that is melodic features should appear vertically, that is, in the harmony as well. The folk song arrangements and harmonizations of Kodály and Bartók reflect the stylistic changes of their oeuvre, as they evolved in a more or less parallel way.
Kodály’s use of harmony is based on a chord supply of Romantic and Impressionist origin. As research has pointed out, in the 1920s there was a stylistic change in his use of harmony, the first emblematic piece of which was the Dances of Marosszék. In his later works, which were similarly inspired from instrumental folk music, Kodály used more simplified and consolidated harmonies. In the finale of the Peacock Variations, the descending, fifth- shifting pentatonic melody appears in its original form. Here, Kodály musically illustrates, so to speak, his famous statement – „one of our hands is still held by Nogai-Tatar, Votyak, and Cheremiss(ian) people, the other by Bach and Palestrina”. In the Peacock Variations, he demonstrates in advance that these two distant worlds can be united. For Kodály, the harmonization of folk songs meant the art of harmonization, since the folk songs are masterpieces in their own right. Folk songs are (like) precious stones, which can be framed only by very few initiated goldsmiths.
Pál Richter was born in Budapest, graduated from the Liszt Ferenc University of Music as a musicologist in 1995, and obtained a PhD degree in 2004. His special field of research is 17th century music of Hungary, and conducted his PhD research in the same subject. Other main fields of his interest are Hungarian folk music, classical and 19th century music theory and multimedia in music education. Since 1990 he has been involved in the computerized cataloguing of the folk music collection of the Institute for Musicology of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and has participated in ethnographic field research, too. From 2005 he was the head of Folk Music Archives, and recently has become the director of the Institute of Musicology, Research Centre for the Humanities HAS. He regularly delivers papers at conferences abroad, publishes articles and studies and teaches music theory and the study of musical forms at the Liszt Ferenc University of Music in Budapest. Since 2007 he has been directing the new folk music training, and is the head of the Folk Music Department.
The Final Test of Artistic Knowledge’
Zoltán Kodály on Processing Folk Songs
In the case of the young Zoltán Kodály and Béla Bartók their motivation for collecting folk music was to renew the language of composed Hungarian music – which at the turn of 19th–20th centuries was written mostly in a Wagnerian style. This was characteristic also in Europe, of which the author cites examples from recent ethnomusicological literature. Kodály rarely spoke about his own compositions. One exception is the long conversation with Lutz Besch in 1964. The others are his own, personal notes, which were only published later, decades after his death (1967). Kodály the composer often declared his basis to be vocal. However, he was interested both as a researcher, and as a composer and educator of people in the complete traditional musical culture, including instrumental folk music. As a professor of composition at the Academy of Music in Budapest he many times drew attention to the importance of the musical mother tongue. In his memoirs he spoke also about the method of processing folk songs. But first of all he talked about knowledge of the country and the countryside including the people. When studying the music of a region, he personally examined its whole way of life and also the different ethnic groups and different nations. The author cites not only Kodály’ writings about processing folk songs but provides new sources for his Dances of Marosszék.
Lujza Tari (b. 1948 in Hungary), ethnomusicologist. Since 1980
member, 1980–85 and 1999–2006 secretary of the Committee of Musicology
of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, 1988–1994 academic secretary of
the Institute for Musicology of HAS. 1993 academic Degree (CSc) with the
following dissertation: Hungarian Manuscripts with Musical
Transcriptions in the First Half of the 19th Century. 1996–2007
Chairperson of the Hungarian National Committee of the International
Council for Traditional Music
19th Century Sources in Kodály’s Folksong Collection
An important and typical feature of Hungarian musical culture in the 19th century was the so- called popular art song. This moved along the borderline between folk music and art music, and its composers were sometimes known, sometimes anonymous. This article follows the work of Kodály in laying bare the characteristics of popular art song. He learned the genre at home from his mother. His examination of the characteristics of popular art song quickly led him to the material used to teach composition and ethnomusicology, because he regarded it as basic to make a distinction between popular art song and folk song. Already in 1910 he began to add printed and manuscript material from the 19th century to his manusript collection of folk music (Kodály- System) prepared at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. At its completion in 1957 the Kodály- System consisted of approximately 31,000 items about one third of which consists of this typical product of 19th century music. As an addition to the music collected in the field it puts the folk songs into an interesting context from the aspect of music history and cultural history, in this lending the collection a unique value.
Olga Szalay (b. 1953 Budapest) is a Bence Szabolcsi award holding ethnomusicologist. Since 1975 she has worked at the Budapest Institute for Musicology, at present she is a research fellow, a member of the editorial committee of A Magyar Népzene Tára (Collection of Hungarian Folk Music) and head of the folk music section. She has so far contributed to six of their last volumes. In 2003 she obtained her PhD from the University of Jyväskylä. Her most important publications are primarily to do with Kodály: Zoltán Kodály’s collection in Nagyszalonta (2001, co- author); Kodály. Zoltán Kodály, the ethnomusicologist and his scholarly workshop (2004); A hundred Hungarian soldier’s songs. The unpublished 1918 collection of Béla Bartók and Zoltán Kodály. Documents and historical background (2010, in Hungarian and German, Pitrè-prize, 2010 Palermo).
Zoltán Kodály and Slovakian Folk Music
The results of Bartók’s researches into the relationship between Slovakian and Hungarian folk music are today accessible. This article is an attempt to give a survey of Kodály’s activities in connection with this topic, looking at what he knew, his views and his questions. Most of the data relating to this are to be found in manuscripts in his estate held in the Kodály Archives. To process these in detail is the work of the future. Apart from a few scholarly publications the topic is also touched upon by numerous hand- written comments by Kodály which were later published, edited by Lajos Vargyas.
Klára Erdélyi- Molnár was born (as Klára Erdélyi) in 1969 in Nyíregyháza. From 1992 to 2008 she was a teacher of folk music and a folk violinist. In 1996 she graduated from the György Bessenyei Teacher Training College in Nyíregyháza as a teacher of singing, music and folk music. In 2000 she was awarded the title A Young Master of Folk Art. In 2010 she obtained her BA degree in the Folk Music Faculty of the Liszt Academy, and in 2014 her MA there in the Musicology Faculty’s ethnomusicological section. At present she is a student in the Liszt Academy’s Doctoral School. Her research topic is the folksong treasury of the Slovakians in Hungary, and the historical connections between the styles of Hungarian and Slovakian folk musc. Between 2010 and 2014 she worked as a cataloguer and librarian in the Martin Media Library at the House of Traditions [Hagyományok Háza]. Since 2014 she has worked as an assistant at the folk music department of the Budapest Institute of Musicology, and as an external lecturer in the Folk Music Departments of the Liszt Academy and its branch college the Béla Bartók Conservatoire.