Magyar Zene Music Quarterly





Magyar Zene

Hungarian Language Music Quarterly


Vol. 56 , No. 4 - November 2018






Értelmezések és félreértelmezések a népzenekutatásban 371
Interpretations and Misinterpretations in Folk Music Research (Abstract) 384
Jelentéktelen kis apróság?
A gregorián custos
A Tiny Little Nothing? The Gregorian Custos (Abstract) 397
Sursum corda
A halál és az örök élet dilemmája Liszt Zarándokévek zongoraciklusának harmadik évében és a ciklus kései társdarabjaiban
Sursum corda
The Programme of Death and Eternal Life in Liszt’s Années de Pèlerinage
3rd Year and Some Late Works Surrounding it (Abstract)
A Debussy- hangzás: szín, textúra, gesztus 411
[The Debussy sound: colour, texture, gesture]   
„Akinek több magyarázat kell, az inkább ne zongorázzék”
Dohnányi Ernő a zenei interpretáció kérdéseiről
’The One Who Needs More Details Should Rather Not Play the Piano’
Ernő Dohnányi on Musical Interpretation (Abstract)

Menyegzők és asszonysorsok
A személyes és a személytelen Bartók Falun című népdalfeldolgozás- sorozatában
Weddings and Women’s Lives.  The Personal and the Impersonal in Béla Bartók’s Village Scenes (Abstract)
A magyar nemzeti hangtár létrehozására irányuló törekvések
(1908–2000) – 1. rész
Absztrakt (angolul) 471
Kroó György- prize 472
A 2018. évi, LVI. évfolyam tartalomjegyzéke 476
Contents (Abstracts) of Volume LVI, 2018 478



The whole issue (pdf)








Interpretations and Misinterpretations in Folk Music Research


The most versatile area of musical interpretations is the study of folk music used by relatively closed communities that live in a traditional culture, a musical culture existing in a non- written form and passed from generation to generation through oral tradition. Often collecting it is itself the result of a preliminary interpretation process, and each phase of folk music research depends on the researcher’s interpretation. It is sufficient to refer to the applicability of the musical notation developed for Western music, when we have to record the data of other musical cultures that have a completely different, non- diatonic tone system. At the same time, even an incomplete, but more or less correct transcription provides a lot more information than the mere recording. And conversely it is also true that sound recordings greatly contribute to the interpretation of the transcription by complementing its shortcomings. It is no coincidence that Bartók and Kodály considered it important to publish recordings together with the transcriptions. The formation of groups within folk music, their musically based systematization and publication also depends on the researchers’ interpretations. Hungarian folk music tradition can basically be described through the means used in Western music, but research still needs a number of additions and compromises to be able to provide an interpretation of the essence of the musical content that best reflects reality. During this process, of course, misunderstandings arise, which, with the augmentation of the stock of learning, are overwritten by subsequent reinterpretations and deepen our knowledge about the subject of our study.


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.


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A Tiny Little Nothing? The Gregorian Custos


Large monographs on Gregorian paleography pay undeservedly little attention to certain additional symbols of the musical notation. These include the custos, a staff sign, written out at the very end of each musical line in the plainchant sources. The introduction of the custos into musical notation is often mentioned in connection with the name of Guido of Arezzo, the creator of the staff system.
Serving as a useful aid for the interpretation of plainchant by indicating the pitch of the first note on the next system, the custos became a stable, obligatory element of Gregorian sources in some areas (mainly in the Mediterranean) from the first half of the 11th century. For musicological research, the custos could be an interesting topic from many aspects. One can investigate its role in the transmission, teaching and singing of Gregorian chant, furthermore, its geographically nonhomogeneous distribution and its different graphical forms are also worth studying. Based on our earlier paleographical studies, the shape of the custos in a musical source or source group proves to be locally determined and characteristic. The custos might even reveal the local provenance of a manuscript, so it can be used as a key during the identification of the manuscripts’ origin.


Gabriella Gilányi, senior research fellow at the Department of Early Music at the Institute for Musicology (Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Research Centre for the Humanities) in Budapest. She studied musicology at the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music; received her PhD in 2007. From 2004 she has worked in the Institute for Musicology. She has published several works on medieval plainchant. Her main research field includes the study of sources of the medieval Divine Office, retrospective plainchant style from the 17th–and 18th centuries in Hungary, and post-Tridentine chant- repertory. At present she is examining medieval musical notations and Central–European codex fragments containing liturgical music.


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Sursum corda
The Programme of Death and Eternal Life in Liszt’s Années de Pèlerinage
3rd Year and Some Late Works Surrounding it


From the beginning of the 1860s on, after the loss of his children, then of his mother, and later on of some of his close friends, Liszt was more and more absorbed in the antagonism between the question of death and that of eternal life, and this became a significant programme in his late music. At the beginning of the composition of the Années de Pèlerinage, third year, Liszt intended to give the title Feuilles de cyprès et de palmes to the set of piecess, which had a symbolical meaning for him. Albeit the title did not remain at the end of the composition of the set, the genesis of the composition of the pieces, and that of the cycle itself, supported by its tonal construction, explain the interpretation that Liszt finds elevation and the remedy for the soul from the bonds of death with the climax to the prayer Sursum corda.
This explanation is illuminated by a comparison of the similar musical solutions and methods in Liszt’s compositions written from 1860 to his death (e.g. Les Morts, Christus, Requiem, Die Legende von der heiligen Elisabeth, Von der Wiege bis zum Grabe), supplemented by related descriptions in Liszt’s letters on the significance of the prayer Sursum corda for him.


Zsuzsanna Domokos PhD graduated from the Ferenc Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest in 1987, and since 1986 she has worked as a researcher at the Franz Liszt Memorial Museum and Research Centre at the Academy of Music, from 2002 also as its deputy director, and from 2009 as the director. In 1993 she gained her university doctorate summa cum laude for her dissertation on Borodin’s opera Prince Igor, and her PhD dissertation with the title The influence of 19th century Roman Palestrina reception on Liszt’s music was defended in 2009 with summa cum laude. With Hungarian State scholarships she has worked in Moscow, St. Petersbourg, Vienna and Rome. She has delivered lectures at Hungarian and international conferences in Hungary, Austria, Germany, Italy, Finland, France and Slovenia. Her studies has been published in Hungary and abroad in journals of musicology. She has organized exhibitions and historical concerts in Budapest and abroad, and was the organizer of the Birthday Festival of Liszt in 2011 and 2016 at the Liszt Memorial Museum, Academy of Music, Budapest. In 2016 she was awarded the Bence Szabolcsi state award for musicologists. She is a member of the public body of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, the Hungarian Society for Musicology and the Hungarian Liszt Society.


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The Debussy sound: colour, texture, gesture


First published as „The Debussy sound: colour, texture, gesture” in Cambridge Companion to Debussy (Ed. Simon Trezise, Cambridge University Press, 2003)


Mark DeVoto, born 1940, is professor of music, emeritus, at Tufts University. He studied at Harvard and Princeton Universities, and has published extensively on music of the early 20th century, including Debussy, Ravel, and Berg. He edited the expanded fifth edition of Harmony (1987) by his former teacher, Walter Piston. He is the author of Debussy and the Veil of Tonality: Essays on his Music (2004) and Schubert’s Great C Major: Biography of a Symphony (2011). He has also edited writings of his father, the historian Bernard DeVoto (1897–1955).


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’The One Who Needs More Details Should Rather Not Play the Piano’
Ernő Dohnányi on Musical Interpretation


Though compared to his contemporaries Béla Bartók or Zoltán Kodály, Ernő Dohnányi did not leave an extensive legacy of prose writings, during the preparation of the edited collection of his writings and interviews (to be published in 2020) a surprisingly large number of documents have appeared. It seems that during a long life filled with wide- ranging professional activities, he was the author of numerous writings pertinent to the history of music and musical life: memoirs, articles and lectures on the subject of pedagogy, proposals for organizations, statements on public affairs, etc. Equally informative are the interviews he gave in his various capacities as composer, performer, teacher and director of an institution.
Based on his various lectures, interviews, prefaces and recollections, this study aims to present Dohnányi’s views on musical interpretation, for example the authenticity of interpretation, the importance of familiarity with style, the damaging influence of sound recordings, the technical background to a musical production, and – as the title suggests – the teachable elements of musical performance.


Veronika Kusz (b. 1980) is a senior research fellow of the Institute for Musicology of the Research Center for the Humanities of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. She studied musicology at the Liszt Academy of Music, and defended her PhD dissertation at the same institute in 2010. She was a Fulbright grantee in 2005–2006 working with Dohnányi’s American legacy. Her monograph on Dohnányi’s late years was published in 2015 and was awarded an Academic Youth Award by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in 2016. She has been a János Bolyai Scholar since 2015. She has published numerous articles in Hungarian periodicals and in foreign journals such as American Music, The American Harp Journal, Music Library Association Notes.


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The Jingle of the Hungarian State Railways
A Musicological Approach


Bartók’s Village Scenes (1924) were composed in a critical period of the composer’s life. Among the causes leading to his crisis was his encounter with the new artistic currents arisen during the early 1920s, and first of all with Stravinsky’s new works, his new aesthetic of objectivity, and his breaking with everything which was individual or personal as the heritage of the romantic area. Although Bartók did not agree with Stravinsky’s new ideas, they exerted a considerable influence on him. Several of his works composed in this period can be regarded as a reaction to the challenges presented by Stravinsky’s works and aesthetic theories and Village Scenes is one of the earliest examples of this reaction.
The influence of the Russian composer can be felt in many different layers of the composition, nevertheless, the present article focuses on questions regarding Bartók’s special reaction to one salient aspect, the impersonal, mechanical or even inhuman characteristics manifested in compositions like the Rite of Spring or The Wedding. Apart from clear points of comparison with Stravinsky’s „barbaric” works, Village Scenes also provides particularly revealing examples of Bartók’s strategies to balance Stravinsky’s influence for instance through his recourse to traditional, nineteenth- century forms of Schumann’s Lieder, his insistence on giving way to the expression of personal emotions and thereby to resist or avoid Stravinsky’s distinctive new fragmented structures and forms that renounce everything traditional. Furthermore, Village Scenes also shows how Bartók used folk songs to present a different kind of objectivity and to substitute a kind of supra- personal or transcendentally personal for Stravinsky’s impersonal.


Virág Büky graduated in musicology from the Ferenc Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest in 2002 with the thesis A vokális moresca. Egy népszerű műfaj a 16. század végi Itáliában. [The moresca vocale: A popular genre in late 16th century Italy]. In 2001–2004 she was a postgraduate at the Budapest Academy. At present she is a research assistant, working on her PhD dissertation on Bartók and the exoticism of the turn of the 20th century. Since 2000 she has been working at the Bartók Archives of the Institute for Musicology of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.

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The History of Efforts to Create a Hungarian National Sound Archive (1908–2000)

Part One


Despite the fact that the first Hungarian sound recordings were made at the end
of the 19th century, a Hungarian National Sound Archive does not exist even
today. The idea of a collection of Hungarian sound recordings with an institutional
background was first raised in 1908, and the creation of a Hungarian
National Sound Archive was recommended and endorsed from the 1930s by individuals,
such as, museologists, composers, ethnomusicologists, private record collectors,
sound recording experts, politicians, journalists and librarians, or institutions
like the Hungarian Radio or the Hungarian Branch of the International
Association of Music Libraries, Archives and Documentation Centres (IAML).
During the twentieth century, the plans changed a lot; various things were taken
into consideration: different points of view (ethnographical, musicological, discographical
etc.), different dimensions, and different technical backgrounds from
the possibilities of the 1930s to an online database.
In the present article I give a chronological overview of these efforts and their
contexts, with some consideration of projects which can be regarded as their offshoots,
like Béla Bartók’s contribution at the Commission Internationale de
Coopération Intellectuelle of the League of Nations in Geneva, the so- called
Patria Series, the Hungarian Radio’s collection or the planned record collection of
the Royal Hungarian Opera. I discuss the planned projects on the basis of archive
documents, the daily press, the specialist literature, and, in some cases, with the
help of interviews. This survey will demonstrate the progress of how the ideas of
collecting Hungarian sound recordings developed during the 20th century and
how the different institutions joined the issue of the national sound archive. It
also demonstrates the attitude towards sound recordings of personalities such as
Béla Bartók and László Lajtha.
Ferenc János Szabó DLA, PhD (1985, Pécs), pianist and musicologist. Studied piano at the Ferenc
Liszt Music Academy (Budapest) and chamber music at Kunstuniversität Graz. He has doctor’s degrees
DLA as pianist (2012) and PhD in musicology (2018) (both summa cum laude). He is a founding member
of the THReNSeMBle contemporary chamber music ensemble and the piano trio ‘Trio Duecento
Corde’. As a pianist, he has won several prizes at international chamber music competitions. Since
March 2013, he has been senior lecturer and coach at the Ferenc Liszt Music Academy in the class of Éva
Marton and Andrea Meláth.
Since September 2011, he has worked at the Institute for Musicology (Research Centre for the
Humanities, The Hungarian Academy of Sciences). His research fields are the history of Hungarian
sound recordings and performance practice. He has been awarded postdoctoral scholarships from the
Ferenc Liszt Academy of Music (2013) and the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (2013–2015), and the
Zoltán Kodály Scholarship for young musicologists (2016–2018).

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