Born to a Croatian father in Constantinople and educated in Vienna, August Adelburg (1830–1873) was a true cosmopolitan. His explicitly “national opera” about Miklós Zrínyi (c1508–1566), a Hungarian national hero of Croatian origins, was premiered in Hungarian translation on 23 June 1868 in the National Theater in Pest. The libretto (originally in German, and adapted by the composer from a drama by Theodor Körner) includes a preface that adumbrates a wholesale theory of cosmopolitanized national opera, as it were. Elaborating his views as expressed in his 1859 essay against Liszt’s On the Gypsies and their music in Hungary, Adelburg insists that the hegemony of the three traditional musical styles—German, French, and Italian—is obsolete, since “the tones have a single expressive language, which is divided into as many dialects as there are musical nations in the world.” At the same time, he also considers the overly use of less “worn-out” national styles misguided, since letting each character sing in the same manner is like “putting a Parisian lady’s hat, instead of an antique helmet, on Minerva’s head, and dressing the Roman emperors in black tailcoat, rather than sagum.” Therefore, a truly up-to-date national opera must in fact be “cosmopolitan” (Adelburg himself uses the term) in its sensitive portrayal of each individual character. Following a brief analysis of some of the most prominent “national” numbers of the work, I conclude by suggesting that Adelburg’s ideas about “cosmopolitanizing the national” render his Zrínyi a kind of mediator between two outstanding Hungarian operas of the period: Mihály Mosonyi’s “all-Hungarian” Szép Ilon (1861), and Ferenc Erkel’s “cosmopolitan” Brankovics György (1874).
Haydn scholarship has long been aware that Joseph Haydn was not the first to set Marchimont Nedham's Invocation of Neptune text. The libretto of Friedrich Hartmann Graf's ode even survived in the British Library, but further settings by Johann Christian Fischer and Ignaz Pleyel remained in complete obscurity. An anonymous Invocation composition from Haydn's personal music collection (now in the National Széchényi Library, Budapest) inspires reconsideration of this problem. The work was probably performed on 23 May 1792 in the Hanover Square Rooms at 'Mr. Fischer's Night' and may well be Fischer's composition (if not one in fact co-written by Fischer and Pleyel, which could explain our complete lack of information about the performance of a third pre-Haydn Invocation setting). Apart from clarifying some details of the genesis of Haydn's Invocation, comparison with the anonymous setting also allows us to better appreciate the sensitive relationship between text and music in Haydn's work.
Clara Schumann gave her first Pest concerts in February 1856. A survey of the enthusiastic reviews reveals that she was received as the foremost representative of “classic art,” whose performances gave the Hungarian public—until then mostly admiring exhibitionist virtuosos—an entirely new idea about what music was capable of. The moral superiority of Clara seemed also confirmed by her generous donation to the future National Conservatory, which was initially commented on in the most flattering terms in the press. In early March, however, the Pester Lloyd aired that the generous donation may not have been absolutely voluntary, an anonymous go-between having forcefully talked the pianist into financially supporting the institution. Induced by the recent discovery of Clara Schumann’s original deed of foundation (acquired in July 2011 by the Music Collection of the National Széchényi Library) this article seeks to reconstruct the story in some detail by rehearsing the press debate surrounding the donation, exploring the financial situation of the Music Society of Pest-Buda in the 1850s, scrutinizing the minutes of its board meetings, as well as comparing Clara Schumann’s contribution with those given by other traveling musicians.
, composed between 1796 and 1799, have mostly been given but scarce attention by scholars. In this paper I strive to re-contextualize the partsongs both as regards Haydn’s own oeuvre and the history of the genre in general. I argue that, while the composer may have been aware of the male quartets by his brother Michael, and was certainly familiar with the English glee tradition, his partsongs consciously seek to redefine the genre by raising its compositional, as well as performing, standards to a uniquely high level (hence the word “utopia” in my title). While the composer’s aim appears to have been to set an example by exploring diverse artistic possibilities of the genre, the reception of his partsongs proved highly selective: the religious songs were praised as worthy models by conservative writers, whereas the comic pieces puzzled critics with their combination of highly elaborate music and resolutely lowbrow texts, which did not seem to deserve, as it were, such compositional care. Thus, the reception of the partsongs reinforces a common Haydn stereotype of the early 19th century: he is seen as a master of outstanding originality and compositional skill, whose achievements can only be admired, but whose example is not always to be followed.
The long-held notion that Bartók’s style represents a unique synthesis of features derived from folk music, from the works of his best contemporaries, as well as from the great classical masters has resulted in a certain asymmetry in Bartók studies. This article provides a short overview of the debate concerning the “Bartókian synthesis,” and presents a case study to illuminate how an ostensibly “lesser” historical figure like Domenico Scarlatti could have proved important for Bartók in several respects. I suggest that it must almost certainly have been Sándor Kovács who called Scarlatti’s music to Bartók’s attention around 1910, and so Kovács’s 1912 essay on the Italian composer may tell us much about Bartók’s Scarlatti reception as well. I argue that, while Scarlatti’s musical style may indeed have appealed to Bartók in more respects than one, he may also have identified with Scarlatti the man, who (in Kovács’s interpretation) developed a thoroughly ironic style in response to the unavoidable loneliness that results from the impossibility of communicating human emotions (an idea that must have intrigued Bartók right around the time he composed his
Duke Bluebeard’s Castle
). In conclusion I propose that Scarlatti’s Sonata in E major (L21/K162), which Bartók performed on stage and also edited for an instructive publication, may have inspired the curious structural model that found its most clear-cut realization in Bartók’s Third Quartet.