The Cambridge Companion to Elgar (Cambridge Companions to Music)
The Cambridge Companion to Elgar : Daniel M. Grimley :
Increased literacy provided the incentive for a dramatic increase in the printing industry, which became one of the largest industries in Hungary at the time of the Millennium Exhibition. Contributors to this river of ink included not just professional journalists, but also politicians. According to progressives and leftists, chauvinism was the mask used by the powerful, especially the big landowners, to avoid basic reforms such as universal suffrage, land reform and ordinary human rights. The nationalities, the races and denominations. It would be worthwhile to assemble into a mosaic some of what they have called not Hungarian in the last ten years.
Budapest is not Hungarian. The centralization of administration is not Hungarian. The stock exchange is not Hungarian. Socialism is not Hungarian.
The Cambridge Companion to Michael Tippett
The Secession and Symbolism are not Hungarian. It is not Hungarian to leave the [religious] denominations out of education. Irony is not Hungarian. Universal suffrage is not Hungarian. And above all: that which our conditions do not [already] grant us is not Hungarian. Things of this sort can often be read, still more often heard. And here is the dilemma. How should we refer to the quality which gives every happiness to our culture, if we have to brand all the terms of this happiness as dangerous, looking at the same culture? And is this condemnation of inevitable manifestations of assimilation a stimulation to assimilation?
As Ignotus illustrates, any progressive solution was liable to be labelled as anti-Hungarian by the chauvinists. Though some assimilated Jews could be more chauvinistically nationalist than many Magyars, radicals were labelled Jewish just as capitalists were. That not all radicals were Jewish is demonstrated by Ady, who came from a family of impoverished Magyar nobility.
For Hungarian, Romanian, or Slav, Our sorrows have always been one. For our shame, our suffering Has been akin for over a thousand years. When will we unite? When will we say something of importance, We, the oppressed, the broken down, Magyar and not Magyar? He turned down a scholarship to the Hochschule der Musik in Vienna to attend the Academy of Music in Budapest, probably at least in part because of his nationalist leanings. Even French was more acceptable since France did not rule over Hungary, and French cultural influence was sometimes sought as an alternative to German influence.
But still, in his zeal for things Hungarian and his ideological problems with German, he was not above an occasional anti-Semitic remark or slur against Germans who continued to speak mostly in that language.
Most simply did not understand, or wish to understand, his more unconventional harmonies; they seem to have excused them only because the programme appealed so strongly to nationalist sentiment and the emotional sweep of the piece overall was so captivating. Though they had moral and some financial support from friends for this endeavour, the volume drew a resounding note of indifference from the general public.
His conversations with Budapest intellectuals would encourage the conclusions he was drawing from his own contacts with peasant musicians in the field, which gradually brought about a shift in his understanding of nationalism as well. He began collecting folksongs from non-Hungarians, the music of the Slovaks from and that of the Romanians from , to better understand Hungarian songs; but soon he was collecting more songs from these nationalities than from Hungarians.
His musical interactions with peasants of all ethnicities further developed his contempt for social pretensions. But it is also clear that he had become more of a cosmopolitan: he was a touring concert pianist who made his home in the centre of Pest, for several years within a few steps of the Music Academy, and he partook of the intellectual ferment of the city see Fig. To feel thus squandered, not merely as an individual but as humanity as a whole, in the way we behold the individual fruits of nature squandered, is a feeling beyond all other feeling.
Certainly only a poet: and poets always know how to console themselves. When established Hungarian orchestras were both unwilling and unable to play avant-garde scores by Hungarians, the New Hungarian Music Society set out to form their own ensemble that would be committed to performing them well, educating the country about music, and broadening the way Budapest audiences thought about music — Hungarian music in particular.
Yet even after moving he still spent a great deal of time in the city. His rural collecting trips and family life in the suburbs were only part of a way of life: equally important was the intellectual energy he absorbed from the cultural ferment of Budapest, including its ongoing debates on Hungarian culture.
It also demonstrates how the class and ethnic tensions of the time pervaded this project: We can discover among the songs adapted by the gypsies many melodies borrowed from some Slavonic neighbour, which slipped by chance into Hungarian folk music. The supercilious Magyar lords pay tribute to these songs with the compulsory national enthusiasm. But then they face the recently unearthed, valuable ancient Magyar melodies from Transylvania as strangers, uncomprehending. They neither love nor understand this truly Magyar folk music.
From his family and social connections to the radical statement of his folksong research, all his work was coloured by or spoke to this environment. Men of letters envisaged programmes which included the creation of national art built upon the foundations of national customs and folklore. The call went out to members of literary and scientific societies asking them to collect folk tales and folksongs, and the response was so great that by mid-century the material gathered was large enough to fill several volumes. This unfortunate omission was partly remedied by folksong collectors of the second half of the century.
Not knowing, however, the difference between the songs in oral circulation, they uncritically took up in their collections popular tunes, patriotic songs and school songs intermingled with folksongs. Soldiers skilled in fancy dance steps, even acrobatic movements, were specially assigned to lure young men into the service. The music was provided by gypsy bands which were always available for such events. Historians are of the opinion that the gypsies used folk tunes known to the people, giving the local Hungarian tradition primary emphasis. But throughout the development of this dance music many foreign features were also absorbed.
The oldest musical elements may have been carried over from the Heiducken dance — a heroic dance of sixteenth-century mercenary soldiers — indicated by the motivic construction and the trumpet-like fourth jumps in the tunes. In the hands of the gypsies, however, the folk melodies were overlaid with ornamentation, scalic flourishes, augmented seconds and Phrygian cadences — the Balkan or Eastern heritage of the gypsies — and were set into a harmonic texture by the use of the cimbalom, a probable influence of Western practices. By the beginning of the nineteenth century the national characteristics of the dance were well developed and every layer of society could identify with them.
Hungarian poets of the period describe the Magyar as a slow dance with a gradual increase of tempo without ever changing its serious, stately nature, thus fitting the dignity of the noble men who danced it. The fast part, friss, was regarded as a distortion, an element from folk tradition that did not suit the ballroom style.
It grew from dance music into a musical style, reaching its zenith between and This was a society that had already outgrown folk culture but did not yet reach the standards of higher culture. They also penetrated the villages where they endured smaller or larger changes stimulating the development of newer, so far unknown, forms. But in fact both were folkloristic products of an age that did not learn the true meaning of folksongs.
But the early impressions struck deep roots in his memory. Music of the nineteenth century became his first musical mother tongue. And when he relinquished the Romantic Hungarian style, the verbunkos spirit continued to surface in his music throughout his life. It should be remembered that the verbunkos was a performance art during most of its history.
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By the end of the nineteenth century, however, the style showed its limitations. It is never how it was, but how it could have been if, in those promising times of national awakening, Hungarian music had evolved out of the roots of folk tradition. The —49 War of Independence and the years of oppression that followed were still vivid in the memory of the Hungarian people. Although the Compromise pact with Vienna in granted many of the demands of the Independence Movement it remained a confirmation of the Dual Monarchy.
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And when the emperor denied this last demand the Movement reached revolutionary pitch. The verbunkos and the post-Romantic musical idiom were not compatible. At first he was looking for beautiful songs which he could use in his compositions. Scientific questions pertaining to folksong research did not enter his mind. Figure 2. Folk-music tradition in the villages was competing with urban pseudofolksongs which were popularized throughout town and country by travelling theatre troupes and gypsy bands.
A valuable part of the musical folklore repertoire was heard only from an older village generation and the danger that the songs would die out with them was real. Contemporary politicians and cultural leaders did not take folk-music research seriously, nor did they understand what musicians could possibly contribute to the cause of folklore. Cultural prejudice against a semi-educated agrarian peasantry and chauvinistic political attitudes against nationalities were impeding their projects.