In the Czechoslovakia of the 1950s, traditional folk music was officially presented as the most important resource of national musical identity. Folk- or folk-inspired music was ubiquitous. Although this intensity had subsided in the following decades, the role of folk music as a symbol of national identity remained strong until the end of the communist rule in 1989. While the ideology of nationalism used folk music as its tool, it also influenced the way this music was collected, researched, and presented. The article presents examples from two closely related areas to document this phenomenon: folk music research and folk music revival. A closer look reveals how the idea of state-promoted nationalism influenced the ways researchers presented their findings, how they filtered out material that was deemed unsuitable for publication, and how traditional music was revived on stage or in media by folk music and dance ensembles. Critical analysis of research materials and audiovisual documents from the 1950s and 1960s will show how censorship accompanied a folk song from its collection in the field, through publication, to a stylized production on stage or in film.
As an overt response to the Soviet bloc invasion of Czechoslovakia, Karel Husa’s Music for Prague 1968 makes an obvious nationalistic statement. In his foreword to the published score, Husa describes Prague’s use of the Hussite war song “Ktož jsú boží bojovníc” as its most important unifying motive. He says this song has long been “a symbol of resistance and hope.” The author does not debate the work’s nationalistic intent, he finds remarkable that, in 1968, Husa was an American citizen, teaching at Cornell, and using compositional techniques not frequently associated with Eastern European nationalism. If musical nationalism (expressed by folkloric elements) in Eastern European countries can be used to express primacy over avantgarde music, Music for Prague 1968 presents the opposite — a traditional war song submersed in an entirely Western European/American musical language. The study examines several portions of the composition to demonstrate the ways in which Husa expresses his nationalism in a non-nationalistic manner, including chromatic transformations of the Hussite song; the integrally serial third movement, in which unpitched percussion instruments are intended to represent the church bells of Prague; and the opening movement’s non-tonal bird calls, intended to represent freedom. Furthermore, Music for Prague 1968 uses a Western avant-garde language in a way that Husa’s other overtly nationalistic post-emigration pieces (Twelve Moravian Songs, Eight Czech Duets, Evocations of Slovakia) do not. In this light, it will be seen that Music for Prague 1968 fills a special role in Husa’s nationalistic display.
From the late nineteenth to the early twentieth century, the Jewish communities of Eastern Europe supported the development of musical theater in Yiddish. Given the difficulties of life in the shtetl, comprising isolation from non-Jewish neighbors, limited educational opportunities, poverty and political oppression, Yiddish opera functioned as a statement of Jewish nationalism. In this paper, I will discuss the historical conditions under which it was presented, including the following factors: effect of folk music styles documented in the field research of ethnomusicologists in Eastern Europe; topicality of subject matter in Yiddish opera as definition of the growing Jewish nationalist political movement; and identity and background of important composers and performers of the genre, and the effect of emigration to the United States on the style and content of their work.
In an atheist society, such as the communist one, all forms of the sacred were anathematized and fiercly sanctioned. Nevertheless, despite these ideological barriers, important articles and volumes of Byzantine — and sometimes Gregorian — musicological research were published in totalitarian Romania. Numerous Romanian scholars participated at international congresses and symposia, thus benefiting of scholarships and research stages not only in the socialist states, but also in places regarded as ‘affected by viruses,’ such as the USA or the libraries on Mount Athos (Greece). This article discusses the mechanisms through which the research on religious music in Romania managed to avoid ideological censorship, the forms of camouflage and dissimulation of musicological information with religious subject that managed to integrate and even impose over the aesthetic visions of the Party. The article also refers to cultural politics enthusiastically supporting research and valuing the heritage of ancient music as a fundamental source for composers and their creations dedicated to the masses.
Folksong settings are usually the least appreciated works of a composer. Focusing on Béla Bartók's guiding principles in creating folksong settings, the author examine the motivations that have driven other composers to use folk material in their works. The spread of the idea of nationalism, resulting in the endeavor to create an idiomatic national language of music played the lead in many cases. But the folksong as an exotic object also exerted an enormous appeal on composers and audiences alike, making folksong settings generally, but not always, a profitable undertaking as well. In the long run, the artistic quality of the folksong, its expressive power despite its succinct form, fascinated composers and inspired them to create a wealth of folksong settings.
The so-called first national operas were usually not the earliest national operas, but works arbitrarily chosen in accordance to the given political and cultural circumstances. In the majority of cases, they reached this status during Romanticism, when the ideology of nationalism and historicism was dominant. This fact determined the topic and the language of libretti, as well as the musical means themselves, leading to the “contradictory” result of “global” musical setting of “local” narrative. The understanding what is national and what is international, and for whom, opens the question if “national opera” exists at all. It seems that the key criterion in this respect is actual reception. This thesis will be considered through the cases of the first Croatian and Serbian operas, written between 1846 and 1904, in the framework of their social and political contexts.
Framed by Béla Bartók’s criticism of Ferenc Erkel’s nationally inappropriate style in his polemic “On Hungarian Music,” this article examines, on the one hand, the overlap between the conventions of the bel canto Italian mad scene and the structure of verbunkos in Act 3, scene 1 of Erkel’s Bánk bán, and, on the other, the dramaturgical and national significance of Erkel’s particular mixture of such international and Hungarian traditions. In particular, I consider the seeming incongruence between the typically celebratory mood of the csárdás and its function as the cabaletta of Melinda’s mad scene as an expression of Hungarian national preoccupation with victimhood (propagated by such foundational national texts as Mihály Vörösmarty’s 1836 Szózat, which has served as Hungary’s “second national anthem”). Melinda’s mad scene takes place on the banks of the Tisza River on the Great Hungarian Plain, a location of central importance to Hungarian national identity. This environment, which Erkel and his librettist invented for the mad scene, reinforces Melinda’s tragic role as a symbol of the nation. With eye and ear attuned to Hungarian traditions on several different levels, a close reading of this scene demonstrates that even when Erkel works within well-worn traditions of the international opera stage, he does so in a manner specifically suited to the spirit of nineteenth-century Hungarian nationalism.
Nationalism]. Budapest : L'Harmattan .
Győrfy , Eszter 2012 Csodák és csodatörténetek a szőkefalvi kegyhelyen [Miracles and Miracle Stories at the Shrine of Seuca]. In Pócs , Éva (ed.) Szent helyek, ünnepek, szent szövegek. Tanulmányok a romániai