Among Franz Liszt’s symphonic poems, Hunnenschlacht (“The Battle of the Huns,” 1857) and Von der Wiege bis zum Grabe (“From the Cradle to the Grave,” 1883) were inspired by the visual arts. With these works, Liszt attempted to translate painterly figurations into music; this intention is particularly embodied in his symphonic transformation of Wilhelm Kaulbach’s monumental fresco, Hunnenschlacht. Liszt was attracted by the idea of religious devotion and at the same time identified himself with the Huns. This paper considers the ways in which Liszt expressed the narrative plot and imitated the visual qualities of the Hunnenschlacht fresco by deploying innovative instrumental techniques and a progressive formal structure. This work illustrates Liszt’s interest in combining different art forms, and the prominent use of an apotheosis is an expression of the Beethovenian symphonic model. Liszt shared with early-nineteenth-century Romantics such as E. T. A. Hoffmann an interest in synaesthesia, associating colors with sounds. In Hunnenschlacht, he used the graphic illustration of the fresco as his primary source, yet he also attempted to convey the various tone colors associated with the figures. This interpretative process is explained in his preface to the score, in which Liszt describes the lights and colors associated with the Huns, the Romans, and the Cross. The peculiar treatment of instrumentation, including the use of wooden and sponge drum sticks, organ, unusual combinations of instruments, and an audacious treatment of dynamics, vibrantly depict the distinct colors or lights that envelop the principal figures in the painting.
The question how visual art absorbs music has been the subject of much investigation. The reverse question, namely how music absorbs visual art, has until now received little attention. Franz Liszt was perhaps the first to be inspired by visual art in his compositions. The starting point was his encounter with the art of Italy (Sposalizio and Il penseroso in book II of Années de pèlerinage), later followed symphonic poems (Hunnenschlacht based on Kaulbach and Von der Wiege bis zum Grabe probably based on Zichy); his Totentanz for piano and orchestra was inspired by Orcagna and Holbein. In Liszt it is a matter of the poetic content of music and the unification of the arts, where in principle music can be connected not just to literature, but to all branches of the arts. Linked with literature, it reflects the forms and structures of literature. The question is, therefore, whether all this is valid for visual art as well. Does Liszt just compose a ”story,“ or does he also take over the structures of art? And what influence did these works have on later composers?
The intellectual and artistic culture of the Dual Monarchy was marked by a diversity and richness that was inseparable from the multi-ethnic and multilingual nature of the Habsburg territories. As attempts to integrate the variety of cultural products of the Monarchy into a coherent identity run the risk of oversimplification, the following article offers a discussion of the works of several individual authors, artists, composers, philosophers, and scientists, locating these works within often divergent intellectual and artistic trends the broad range of which may be the single most conspicuous feature of the cultural identity of the Habsburg Empire. It presents the legacy of the Dual Monarchy as one rich in diverse contributions to the cultures of Europe and the world.
This paper deals with an Abgar image in the Liszt Ferenc Memorial Museum (Budapest), which was used as a devotional image by the composer. First the relationship of this representation to its prototype, the cult image of S. Silvestro in Capite in Rome is examined. Second we discuss information about the panel's first possessor, an abbess of the Poor Clares in Pozsony (today's Bratislava), whose name is known from the inscription of the verso. Not only do we attempt a more precise dating based on this information, but also endeavour to place the picture in its original context. The use of images among the nuns of the order of St. Clare, and the question on what occasion the abbess may have received this panel are also considered. The third part addresses the issue of Liszt's relations with Rome, in particular the role his cordial relationship with Pope Pius IX may have played from his painting's point of view. As music and visual arts were considered closely related in Liszt's eyes, in the last part of the paper an analogy is drawn between the composer's Abgar image and his sacred choral works in terms of their archaicism.
In 1957, when the Soviet Union sent into orbit Sputnik 1, the first artificial satellite in history, the Cold War stepped into a new phase; the Space Age began. In 1961 came another victory: the first man in space was also communist. In this regard, the Sixties were about the nuclear arms race that meant a scientific and technological competition as well. Then came Apollo 11, the spaceship and the lunar module, which proved unquestionably that the West had won this war. This paper discusses the Hungarian artistic reception of this scientific and technological war. Some artists served well the aims of the Eastern Bloc; others had their own political and aesthetic motivation. Some used the official visual culture; others tried to transform it. Describing the scientifically and technologically oriented visual arts (mainly painting) of the Long Sixties (1957–1973), I will focus mainly on one topic: aviation and military technology. Besides, I intend to deconstruct the apparently plausible narrative that claims that the early heroism (late Fifties) of the Soviet technological and military supremacy turned into a resigned acceptance of defeat in the early Seventies
The trope of the valiant woman/women fighting with arms during the Ottoman siege of Szigetvár in 1566 has mainly been studied by Hungarian historiography and literary history, and art history has hardly paid attention to the motif in the visual arts. In the historical and literary sources the trope has had three distinguishable – and sometimes connected – variants since the 16th century, each of them also represented in Hungarian works of art.
The story of the woman fighting at the side of her husband already cropped up in the Hungarian historical song created in the year of the battle: before the final charge the defenders wanted to kill their wives or brides to save them from falling into pagan hands but a valiant woman asked her husband to give her armour and weapon to fight the enemy. The story passed into the Transylvanian German poet Christian Schesaeus’ Ruinae Pannonicae (1571) and into a Latin-language album in memory of Miklós Zrínyi published in Wittenberg in 1587. The motif is included in the mid-17th century biographies of women by the French Jesuit poet Pierre Le Moyne, in the February 1749 issue of Mercure de France and in several 18-19th century German and Austrian periodicals and literary works. From the early 19th century the heroic deed of the brave woman of Szigetvár appeared in several Hungarian magazines and pieces of juvenile literature often together with the story of the valiant women of Eger.
The first visual representation of the brave woman of Szigetvár is the monumental painting about Zrínyi’s charge from Szigetvár by Austrian Peter Krafft created upon the commission of the National Museum in 1825: there is a helmeted woman with a determined look in her eyes among the troops charging out of the castle. This detail was to be repeated not only in several engravings made after Krafft’s painting but also in multiplied prints including title-pages of printed music.
Another variant of the trope appears in the Italian Giovanni Michele Bruto’s manuscript of the history of Hungary written in the 1570s-80s. In this version some brave women and mothers whom their husbands wanted to kill entreated them to let them die fighting against the foe with their children held as shields. This motif is included in German-language plays on Zrínyi by August Werthes and Theodor Körner written at the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries. The women and children locked in the castle are also shown in Alajos Rohn’s lithograph Zrínyi’s oath after Béla Vízkelety’s painting of a tableau vivant staged after Körner’s Zrínyi play in a charity performance at the National Theatre of Pest on 3 April 1860. Women and children are important actors in Bertalan Székely’s monumental painting Zrínyi’s charge (1879–1885) showing a woman picking up a fallen sword to fight the Ottomans.
The third variant of the motif of the courageous woman cropped up in literature at the turn of the 18-19th century: in the plays by Werthes and Körner Zrínyi’s wife blows up the powder-house with a torch to send as many of the intruding Ottomans into the netherworld as she could. The best-known example of the theme is the oil painting by Xavér Ferenc Weber The final moments of Szigetvár (1871) also shown at the 1873 Vienna World Fair. A fusion of historical and legendary elements can be seen in the 20th century colour print entitled Ilona Zrínyi’s heroism in defence of the castle of Munkács 1688 in which Ilona Zrínyi is about to dip her torch into a powder barrel to kill the invading Ottomans while defending the castle of Munkács in 1688 (actually against the Habsburg imperial troops).
David Hume, Essays: Moral, Political and Literary (London: Oxford University Press, 1971) 213.
Matthew Craske, Art in Europe 1700-1830: A History of the VisualArts in an Era of Unprecedented Urban Economic Growth (Oxford
The study presents a case that can be taken as a model of the political conception of the publicity of art in post-1956 Hungary. It is related to Lajos Kassák, the emblematic figure of progressive Hungarian art from the 1910s, who was tolerated by the Kádárian regime as a writer but rejected as an artist. The paper explores the problems of presenting Hungarian art abroad from an angle of art policy. In February 1960 a noted gallery owner in Paris, Denise René wished to exhibit Lajos Kassák's works. According to regulations, the permits of the Ministry of Culture and the Hungarian National Bank had to be obtained for the transportation of the pictures abroad. The Bank permit covered both taking the pictures out of the country and selling them. The process of obtaining permission was administered by the Hungarian National Gallery, as no private person was allowed to exhibit abroad without an institutional background. Kassák being a universally respected personage of the Hungarian art scene, it appeared only natural for the most prestigious Hungarian art institution to back up the cause of his Paris exhibition. There were no doubts about the smooth management of the case since the Hungarian reviewer of Kassák's art in the exhibition catalogue was the general director of the National Gallery who was also the secretary general of the Association of Hungarian Artists. Everything appeared to be progressing as planned, but as time passed, it was less as less probable that Kassák would be given an exit visa, since Nóra Aradi, a hard-liner department head at the ministry suggested to her superiors that they should not support Kassák's personal trip to Paris of reasons of cultural policy. Since the pictures arrived in Paris, the exhibition could not be cancelled. Two things could be done: to keep Kassák at home, undertaking to face a minor international scandal, and to punish those responsible for it. Kassák did not get an exit visa and for “breeching of authority” all the ministry personnel involved as well as the directors of the Kossuth Press printing the catalogue and the National Bank were called to the book. Disciplinary action was initiated against Ödön Gábor Pogány, general director of the National Gallery. True, the director violated some legal rules, but his gravest mistake as a faithful cadre was not the ignorance of formalities but the failure to cooperate with his party and ministry superiors about a delicate issue of art policy. In his catalogue text the director picked that strain in Lajos Kassák's complex art to praise highly to the west European public which was simply ignored by that-time Hungarian communist art policy as non-art. This preface was written by a person with whose knowledge and agreement the cultural leadership of that time wholly ignored Lajos Kassák as a visual artist. That he was fully aware of his “deed” is clearly proven by meaning his Kassák laudation for the French public alone, without publishing it in Hungarian. He was fully aware that Kassák was “exportable” to the West, but not “presentable” at home. He thus did far more than commit a simple disciplinary offence. His deed exposed a contradiction, suggesting to the cultural politicians that there were two kinds of art policy in Hungary – one for domestic use and one for abroad. This tendency had to be stifled, not only because it caused a great uproar among artists at home that non-figurative art was prohibited but Kassák's abstract works were allowed to travel abroad. (A few years later, however, this double-dealing came to fundamentally characterize the Hungarian cultural policy concerning visual arts.) The Kádárian regime found Kassák a contradictory person. Though his art did not satisfy the canon of the new regime, his international reputation and prestige in the art community earned him a “silent respect”. Because of his leftist, social democratic past he preserved his authority in the eye of the political elite many of whom including János Kádár knew him personally. His art in general and his commitment to abstraction, however, prevented him from becoming a favourite of the regime. The paradigmatic art of the period was socialist realism, though not in its original sense prevalent in the fifties. Essentially, abstract art was still branded as formalism and its practitioners were squeezed out of the art scene. That applies to Kassák, too. His exhibitions were banned even when he was honoured by the highest state award, the Kossuth prize, for his writings. So it appears that the regime wished to resolve the embarrassingly contradictory situation around Kassák by decorating him. Acontributory factor to the denial of Kassák's exit visa to the vernissage in Paris was the fact that the French capital was a hub of the Hungarian emigration. Among the organizers and visitors of the exhibition there were many who had left the country after the 1956 revolution and were sharply critical of Kádár's system. As can be seen, the years 1959–60 were a highly turbulent period in Hungarian politics. Retaliations were still going on for the revolution, Imre Nagy, premier of the revolutionary government was executed a year earlier. There was purging on the art scene as well: the association of artists was disbanded and then reorganized, and the institutions of the art life were adjusted to the ideas of the new era. The way of Kassák was treated part of the great “tidying up”: it was more important for the regime to appear consistent and ideologically pure than to bother about the domestic and foreign criticism.
The study analyses a peculiar feature of the archaeological material known from the 6th-10th-century Carpathian Basin, i.e. the mostly aniconic nature of the visual arts during the Avar and Hungarian Conquest periods. The author attempts to explain the generally rare appearance of human depictions and anthropomorphic ornaments. Thus he seeks to investigate the main reasons for employing visual ornaments and proposes some probable reasons that may lie in the background of the increase of human depictions in the Late Avar period.