… now that men, tired fathers, raised for peace went out to the lands worldwide to hide in trenches to kill each other sadly, almost without anger in their peaceful hearts, going through sufferings that surpass Dante’s fantasy about the anguishes of Hell; now that the whole world considers the war an enormous disaster – this feeling must insolubly be saved for the next generations. They should know what it is; they should learn from it, if at all they are able to.Melchior Lengyel (1916)
The Miraculous Mandarin, both the work itself and its uneasy, disquieting hero, symbolizes constant struggles with seemingly insurmountable difficulties: of fulfilment defiantly challenging all possible obstacles. This work’s fate was doomed, at least during the composer’s lifetime, by its world premiere in Cologne, provoking scandal, demonstrations and the immediate ban of the production’s staging. It would be inaccurate, however, to assume that this resulted from bad luck; that if the composition and orchestration could have been completed at the opportune moment (that is, significantly earlier, in fact as early as 1920) and the initial performance would have taken place at a fitting venue such as in liberal Berlin rather than in the conservative Cologne, that this work could have reached a status comparable to Stravinsky’s Sacre du printemps of 1913 in twentieth-century Western music.8 The adversity Bartók’s work faced is not independent of its unique artistic radicalism. The lengthy composition history and repeated revisions indicate the difficulty Bartók experienced whilst creating his uncompromisingly expressive narration of the daring subject matter. His approach and creative processes regarding The Miraculous Mandarin might be aptly expressed by his description of his then most recent composition, the Five Songs op. 16 on poems by Endre Ady of 1916: “My Ady-Songs are so savage that for the moment I would not dare step on stage with them in Vienna.”9
Shelf-mark at the Budapest Bartók Archives (Bartók Archívum) of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Institute for Musicology, Research Centre for the Humanities
Budapest Bartók Archives
Bartók-hagyaték [Hungarian Bartók Estate], GV
Full score final copy in source sigla used at the former New York Bartók Archives
Gábor Vásárhelyi’s private collection including BH
Peter Bartók’s collection, now deposit at PSF
Piano sketch in source sigla used at the former New York Bartók Archives
Paul Sacher Foundation (Paul Sacher Stiftung), Basel
Transcription for two pianos, final copy, in source sigla used at the former New York Bartók Archives
Transcription for two pianos, sketch, in source sigla used at the former New York Bartók Archives
Universal Edition Continuity sketch from the beginning of the “Chase” (fig. 59) to the end (first ending),82 2 Black Pocket-book, ff. 15r– 24v (VG, BH: I/206).
Complete draft in short score format with preparatory notes for orchestration including two versions of the ending (first and second ending), as well as partial sketches for the orchestration (PB 49PS1, deposit at PSF, pages with stamped numbering pp. 1–52, including a title page, blank versos and fragmentary leaves).
Mostly autograph fair copy in four-hand piano reduction format (with the first and third ending) including drafts of passages and further notes regarding orchestration (PB 49TPPS1, deposit at PSF, title page plus pages numbered pp. 1–60, with pasted-up fragments of music paper;in its original condition two pages were seemingly missing because two leaves were pasted together; the third ending subsequently added; back cover; now with stamped numbering pp. 01–66). Since this source was originally written with the first ending, it represents an early stage of composition. The second ending in four-hand piano reduction format, originally prepared for this manuscript, is now held with the draft (Source A). The complete manuscript was restored in summer 2012 at PSF and this is how the two seemingly missing pages (original numbering pp. 18–19) finally came to light. An intermediary stage of pp. 27–28 (original numbering) containing the music between 2 bars before fig. 50 to 2 bars before fig. 54 was reproduced in facsimile in Nyugat 16/11–12 (June 1923). The beginning and end of this section is marked in the manuscript. 3
Autograph two-hand piano reduction starting only at fig. 6, where the curtain is raised (earlier held at the Historical Archive of UE, now at the Wienbibliothek im Rathaus, Bartók 001; title page with handwriting and numbered pp. 3–35), pasted-up revisions and inserted newly written pages including only the second ending written on subsequently added substitute leaves (pp. 33–35). 4
Autograph two-hand piano reduction of the original ending (first ending; music according to the early rehearsal figures: 1 bar before fig. 124 to 5 bars after fig. 140; GV, BH: I/217, 2 leaves, i.e., 4 pages). It probably once belonged to the autograph of the two-hand piano reduction (Source C).
Copy of the two-hand piano reduction prepared for the Budapest Opera House. The beginning (on pp. 1–1a) is Bartók’s subsequently added autograph manuscript, since the model of this copy (Source C) did not include the beginning. The continuation is in Márta Ziegler’s hand with revised passages in Ditta Pásztory’s hand (formerly at the Budapest Opera House, now BBA, BA-N: 2155, title page and pp. 1, 1a, 1b–39). 5 On the inner title page, in librarian Sándor Herczeg’s hand, is: “Bartók Béla | 1921,” which suggests that this score was submitted in connection with the production planned for the Budapest Opera House in spring 1921. See also the voucher written and signed by Herczeg: “Csodálatos mandarinból 1 zongora kivonat és 1 szöv[eg]. k[önyv]. érkezett 1921 május hó 9-én Üdvözöl őszinte hived Herczeg” [1 piano reduction and a libretto were submitted on 9 May 1921, With best wishes, Yours sincerely, Herczeg]. The libretto is unfortunately missing.
Autograph full score with the second ending (PB 49FSFC1, deposit at PSF, title page and pp. 1–127), also including the special ending for the concert version (pp. 129–30) and the full score draft and fair copy of the third ending (PB 49FSFC2, numbered pages with stamped pagination pp. 01–22, the last page is a discarded page originally intended to be a title page). Bartók may have used this manuscript at the rehearsals in Cologne, and he entered his revisions of which he later prepared two lists. Added to the manuscript is furthermore a “Fragezettel” [Questionnaire] with questions from the editor or engraver and Bartók’s answers as well as a copy of the changes based on the experience of the Cologne rehearsals entitled “Änderungen im ‘Mandarin”’ [Changes to the Mandarin]. The list of changes is a copy of an original (now in Wienbib- liothek im Rathaus, Bartók 003), itself prepared on the basis of the list which is now kept with the copy of the full score once written for the Opera House (Source I) as a supplement (a).
Copy of the full score from the Budapest Opera House (Full Score “A”), in Ditta Pásztory’s and Márta Ziegler’s hands, with Bartók’s additions, written with the second ending (BBA, BA-N: 2165, pp. 1–127 and 1 blank page, 1924). The third ending was written on substitute leaves numbered pp. 118–26 intended for this manuscript (now kept in Wien- bibliothek im Rathaus, Bartók 024 (D), see Source O (d)). This full score was given to BBA by the Budapest Opera House where it was held previously (round stamp of the Library of the Hungarian State Opera and a square stamp in which the shelf-number is not entered can be seen on p. 1) but it belonged originally to UE as shown on the remaining part of the pasted-up name of the publishing house at the bottom of the front flyleaf and on the stamped name at the bottom of p. 1. The full score was certainly used as loan material at productions including the premiere at Cologne in 1926 as it bears conductor’s markings (probably also by Eugen Szenkár) throughout the score. On p. 83 (actually subsequently inserted before the original p. 83, which was then changed to p. 83a), Bartók entered instructions for the performance of the first (short) version of the concert piece: “Bei Konzertaufführungen beginnt das Stück bei [Nr.] 36 (Maestoso) und endet (statt S. 83 usw.) mit diesem Schluss” [At concert performances the piece starts at fig. 36 (Maestoso) and closes with this ending (instead of p. 83 etc.)]. On p. 93 (3 bars before fig. 84) the first known instruction to use what is generally called the “Bartók pizzicato” appears to have been entered during the rehearsals in Cologne in 1926: “Derart pizz. gespielt, daß die Saite am Griffbrett anschlägt” [A pizzicato should be played where the string rebounds off the fingerboard]. 6
Copy of the four-hand piano reduction in the hands of Ditta Pásztory and Márta Ziegler, with Bartók’s additions (1924), engraver’s copy of the first edition (PN UE 7706, 1925) with the second ending (PB 49TP- PFC1, deposit at PSF).
Copy of the full score made for the Budapest Opera House (Full Score “B”) in the hand of copyist Ottó Chomout (1925). 7 The original notation contains the second ending; the third ending was written on additional leaves and inserted with the inscription “Csodálatos mandarin |partitura, új rész | 1931” [Miraculous Mandarin | full score, new part |1931] (BBA, BA-N: 2154, title page, flyleaf and music papers with foliation ff. 1–76; original pagination pp. 1–160, plus new ending pp. 1–9). This full score was used at rehearsals for the failed productions in 1931 and 1941 and bears conductor’s markings by Sergio Failoni (conductor of the 1931 rehearsals for a planned production); however, it may have been used as early as the 1920s. It is supplemented with two leaves of music paper containing two lists of revisions: (a) an autograph list entitled “Änderungen im ‘Mandarin”’ [Changes to the Mandarin], based on the experiences at the Cologne rehearsals and performance (pp. 1, 3– 4); (b) a further list of revisions in Hungarian (subsequently written on p. 2). Throughout the score, cuts are marked. One layer of these, where blue pencilled brackets and pencilled shading mark off bars to be omitted, seems to correspond to the 1955 UE full score. Further cuts include one marked by red pencilled boxing with pencilled shading (see, e.g., pp. 118–19, where both blue and red markings appear).
Copies of the two-hand piano reduction made for the Budapest Opera House (currently held at the archive of the Hungarian State Opera House): (1) “Csodálatos mandarin | zongora kivonat | Főrendezői példány | 1926” [Miraculous Mandarin | piano reduction | Régisseur’s copy | 1926], 54 pages, with blank leaves inserted between the sheets of music for stage directions, which were entered in connection with the 1931 rehearsals. It only includes the second ending. (2) “Csodálatos mandarin | zon- gorakivonat | Színpadi rendező” [Miraculous Mandarin | piano reduction | Stage manager], originally 54 pages but pp. 33–52 are missing and instead part of a different third copy is inserted: (3) pp. 65–76 of a missing copy of the piano reduction (a single ternio), music from 1 bar before fig. 92 to 7 bars after fig. 112. Obviously, this is from the copy used by Sergio Failoni, conductor of the planned 1931 production, as it contains Italian comments probably based on discussions with the composer.
Almost complete set of orchestral parts prepared for and used by the Budapest Opera House (currently held at the archive of the Hungarian State Opera House), originally 54 separate and numbered volumes (now missing nos. 1, 19 and 38) with title and instrument names, dated 1945 (the date of the final Budapest first performance) on labels pasted on each cover. It was originally copied with the second ending, whereas the third ending was inserted into each part on separate manuscript sheets written in the same hand as the supplement to the full score. All parts include markings of the cuts indicated in the full score as well as individual notes by musicians.
Bartók’s own copy of the UE first edition of the four-hand piano reduction (PN UE 7706, 1925), with a 1-page autograph addition containing the four-hand transcription of the special ending for the concert version (GV, BHadd: 80). Bartók and György Kósa performed an excerpt from this copy on 8 April 1926 on the Hungarian Radio. The last page contains Bartók’s autograph sketches for the third ending. Throughout the score there are numerous markings indicating cuts. These were likely entered at different occasions and have different functions. Thus, e.g., the deletion of the whole section between figs. 50 and 54 (the section reproduced in Nyugat and discussed in this article) suggests that it was not part of the excerpt played on the radio. There are three important cuts in the first half of the work: one in the scene of the old rake and one in both the second and the third decoy game. (That in the second was then partially revoked.) Some further short cuts might also be related to the single four-hand performance. Further series of short cuts appear from fig. 79 onwards, which are evidently unrelated to the radio concert and might be related to discussions with choreographers such as Aurelio (Aurél) Milloss or Gyula Harangozó. A previously unknown source, Milloss’s own copy of the four-hand piano reduction (Source P), shows surprisingly close similarities in one layer of cuts with those in Bartók’s copy.
Publisher’s copy of the concert version with markings probably for engraving but not corresponding to the final edition of the concert version (Wienbibliothek im Rathaus, Bartók 022 (D)). Originally only from fig. 36 on pp. – and 5-60; pp. 1–4 seems to have been replaced when the manuscript became part of the complete concert version and original pp. 5–60 were renumbered as pp. 59–114, whereas the first part of the copy consists of pp. 1–58 (sole numbering). Title page, without pagination, originally for the shorter earlier form of the concert version entitled: “Bartók | Zwei Szenen | aus | ‘Der wunderbare Mandarin’ |Partitur” [Bartók I two scenes | from | “The Miraculous Mandarin” |full score], which was then changed to “Bartók, | Konzert-Suite | aus | ‘Der wunderbare Mandarin’ | Partitur” [Bartók, | concert suite | from I “The Miraculous Mandarin” I full score]. Two further changes appear, “Konzert-Suite” was later deleted and replaced by “Szenen” [scenes] in Bartók’s hand, and under the title an alien hand entered in parentheses: “(für Konzertaufführungen)” [for concert performances]. The verso of the title page contains the list of instruments in the copyist’s hand with additions and corrections in other hands including that of the composer.
Bartók’s own copy of the first edition of the concert version, Der Wunderbare Mandarin: Musik aus der gleichnamigen Pantomime (PN UE 8909, 1927), with autograph corrections and conductor’s markings (GV, BHadd: 79). On the verso of the inner title page the instruments are given on a pasted-on printed slip of paper; the “Inhalt der Pantomime ‘Der Wunderbare Mandarin”’ is printed directly on the page and below it appears Bartók’s autograph draft of the scenario in Hungarian for the entire concert version, which was then printed in German translation on an additional slip of paper pasted in copies of the edition later sold, such as the one in BBA (BA-N: 2981, Z. 150).
Miscellaneous engraver’s copy of the first edition of the full score of the complete work in 1955 (PN UE 8909, identical with the PN of the 1927 edition of the concert version; Wienbibliothek im Rathaus, Bartók 024 (D); see also Source G). The source contains four different units. (1) A corrected copy of the original 1927 published full score of the concert version. (2) Three smaller supplements were added to this: (a) a leaf to be inserted between pp. 26 and 27, marked as aa–bb; (b) one bifolio and an added leaf to be inserted between pp. 72 and 73 marked as cc–gg; (c) one bifolio with the inscription “Ballet continuation” marked as hh–kk to be included after the end of the concert version. All three insertions are written on manuscript paper from Zurich (Schutzmarke | Musikhaus | Hüni Zürich | No. 330) and added after the 1927 score. Two further additions are found in the copy of the score. (3) An enlarged photo of a manuscript copy of the music from 2 bars before fig. 79 to 6 bars after fig. 103 numbered as pp. 87–116 running continuously, containing editor’s markings and corrections entered onto the photocopy. The missing manuscript copy, which was reproduced via photograph, was written by a professional copyist on manuscript paper marked “Beethoven.” This copy seems to follow the copy for the Budapest Opera House (Source I) generally leaving out the omitted passages reflected in Source I, although there are differences. Finally, (4) the third ending is written as a special manuscript copy on pp. 118–126 (p. 117 being the title page of this manuscript). The copy of this final section from fig. 104 to the end is signed after the double bar-line: “Chomout Ottó Kngl. ung. opernhaus Bpest.” [Ottó Chomout Royal Hungarian Opera House Budapest]. This copy was thus still made by Chomout who worked on the copy of the original full score for the Budapest Opera House (Source I).
Copy of the first edition of the four-hand piano reduction (1925) from Aurelio (Aurél) Milloss’s legacy (Cini Foundation, Venice). On the inner title page in pencil: “Reisz Gy,” name of the original possessor, György Reisz known as composer György Ránki, who bequeathed the copy with a dedication to Milloss written in ink: “Milloss Aurélnak őszinte nagyrabecsüléssel és sok szeretettel | Ránky György | 1936.” [To Aurél Milloss with highest regard and love | György Ránky | 1936.] The score contains many markings including occasional fingering, numberings likely for purposes of choreography, and more than one layer of deletions. The latter cuts include the deletion (in pencil and red pencil) of the passage between figs. 71 and 76 as indicated by Bartók himself as optional for stage performances. Further short scattered cuts appear from fig. 79 on p. 55 onwards. These seem to have been initially entered in green pencil and then either strengthened or revised in red pencil and occasionally erased, restoring part of what was formerly deleted. A comparison with the deletions in Bartók’s own copy of the piano reduction (Source L) suggests that these cuts almost exactly match the cuts entered originally in green pencil. Interestingly, a few remarks in Italian by Milloss seem to refer to what he considered Bartók’s final decision regarding the cuts. Thus, e.g., on p. 63 over a longer deletion from fig. 91 he wrote in capital letters: “BARTÓK HA LASCIATO POI ANCHE QUESTE 5 BATTUTE IN VITA” [Bartók later restored these 5 bars, too]. The remark might refer either to some information on Bartók’s “final version” or, more likely, it may refer to a comparison of Universal Edition’s later published scores of 1955. (The Cini Foundation also preserves a copy of the 1955 full score, which, again, bears markings by Milloss. As a later source, relevant probably with regard to Milloss’s later productions of the Mandarin, it is not considered here.) Amongst the markings, there are very few which resemble Bartók’s hand: accel[.] at 5 bars after fig. 17 in blue pencil followed by a short wavy line of extension over the first system on p. 16 and a pencilled calmo 2 bars later and, again, accel[.] at 5 bars before fig. 58, followed by a dashed line of extension up to the end of the line, the last system on p. 41, 1 bar after fig. 58. I find it impossible, however, to identify the hand with certainty. A handwritten copy of the third ending is also held with this source. On the inserted manuscript, obviously written by a Hungarian musician, the title reads “Uj befejezés a mandarinhoz” [New ending to the Mandarin], to the right “zongora | 1931” [piano | 1931]. Immediately above the music in the middle, completely covered by blue ink shading but readable underneath, is the inscription “Failoni mester péld.” [Maestro Failoni’s Copy]. This suggests that it might have been copied for Sergio Failoni, perhaps in connection with the 1931 rehearsals. This copy might have found its way to Milloss via János Ferencsik in connection with the Sca- la production of The Miraculous Mandarin in 1942.
This essay is primarily based on my Hungarian article published in Magyar Zene 51/4 (2013), 410444, which itself drew upon various previous papers and lectures held alternately in Hungarian, English or German, and which are enumerated there in detail. This article contains, however, some new insights especially based on a recent study of the dancer and choreographer Aurelio (Aurél) Milloss’s marked-up copy, now at the Fondazione Cini, Venice, of the published four-hand piano reduction of The Miraculous Mandarin (see Source P in the Appendix). Work on the sources and evolution of The Miraculous Mandarin was generously supported by OTKA (Hungarian Scientific Research Fund) in the framework of the Bartók Complete Edition project preparatory to the Béla Bartók Complete Critical Edition, which was finally launched in 2016 and from which four volumes have since been published. A critical edition of The Miraculous Mandarin shall, however, probably remain unpublished until 2044 when the copyright, the longest amongst Bartók’s works, is due to expire, 70 years after the death of the playwright Melchior (Menyhért) Lengyel (1880–1974). Note that source sigla in parentheses refer to the descriptions of sources in the Appendix to the present article.
“First ending” in this list always refers to slightly different versions of the earliest ending, which was revised before the publication of the four-hand piano reduction in 1925. The ending published in Bartók’s lifetime is here called (as throughout the essay) the “second ending,” while the last, significantly revised, version of the ending labelled in the sources as “new ending 1931” is here called “third ending.”
In some earlier lists, this source was mistakenly considered independent, whose original was lost. A detailed comparison with the autograph four-hand piano reduction clarifies that the facsimile was reproduced from this source; however, the manuscript contains significant later additions as well, and this is why initially it may appear different from the facsimile in Nyugat.
This source was first identified on the basis of a facsimile reproduced in an exhibition catalogue Universal Edition, 1901-2001 (Wien: Universal Edition A.G., 2000), 20-21.
The two-hand piano reduction was first edited by Peter Bartók: Erstausgabe, 2000, Universal Edition A. G. Wien: UE 31 431.
On the appearance of the instruction here and in other sources, see my article, VIKÁRIUS, “A ‘Bartók-pizzicato’-ról,” Part 1, 10-11, Part 2, 32-33.
Ottó Chomout’s name appears in earlier literature mistakenly as “Chamouk.” Ottó Chomout was a trombonist in the orchestra of the Budapest Opera House between 1919 and 1945. See A magyar Kir?lyi Operaház évkönyve 50 éves fenn?ll?s?nak alkalm?ból [Yearbook of the Royal Opera House on the 50th anniversary of its foundation] (Budapest: Magyar Királyi Operaház, ), 10 and 107; and A budapesti Operah?z 100 éve [100 years of the Budapest Opera House], ed. by Géza STAUD (Budapest: Zeneműkiadó, 1984), 524 (list of orchestral musicians). See, further, the copy signed by Ottó Chomout in the miscellaneous material of the preparatory copy for the 1955 edition of the full score (Source O).
“Had the work been first performed in Berlin as Bartók wanted, or in Paris, and had Universal Edition been more adept at publicity, The Miraculous Mandarin might have gained a following comparable to that of Le Sacre du printemps” This is how John Vinton lamented in his pioneering article, in which he discusses the revisions of the Mandarin. See John VINTON, “The Case of The Miraculous Mandarin” The Musical Quarterly 50/1 (January 1964), 17. Cf. László Somfai’s opinion in Vera LAMPERT and László SOMFAI, “Béla Bartók,” in The New Grove Modern Masters: Bartók, Stravinsky, Hindemith (London: Macmillan, 1984), 54: “If it had been performed at the time of its completion in piano score (1918-1919), it might have produced a sensation to rival that of The Rite of Spring … .”
Bartók to Klára Gombossy, 29 July 1916, first quoted in Denijs DILLE, “Bartók et Ady,” in id., Béla Bartók: Regards sur le passé (Louvain-la-Neuve: Institut supérieur d’archéologie et d’histoire de l’art college Érasme, 1990), 299. On this important correspondence, see László VIKÁRIUS, “Intimations through Words and Music: Unique Sources to Béla Bartók’s Life and Thought in the Fonds Denijs Dille (B-Br),” Revue Beige de Musicologie 67 (2013), 179-218; and id., “Inter arma moderna non silent musae: Bartók during the Great War,” Revue Belge de Musicologie 71 (2017), 209-225.
Eugen Szenkár’s recollection. See Annette von WANGENHEIM, Béla Bartók “Der Wunderbare Mandarin:” Von der Pantomime zum Tanztheater (Köln: Ulrich Steiner Verlag, 1985), document no. 59. Cf. Elisabeth BAUCHHENSS, Eugen Szenkar (1891-1977): Ein ungarisch-jüdischer Dirigent schreibt deutsche Operngeschichte (Köln etc.: Böhlau, 2016), 70-75. English translation my own.
Cf. Béla BARTÓK, Jr., Apám életénekkrónikája [The chronicle of my father’s life] (Budapest: Helikon / Hagyományok Háza, 2/2006 [1/1981]), 247. On the lists of revisions, see László VIKÁRIUS, “A ‘Bartók-piz- zicato’-ról, egy különös akkordról és A csod?latos mandarin kéziratairól” [On the “Bartók pizzicato,” a strange chord and the manuscripts of The Miraculous Mandarin], Muzsika 52/8 (August 2009), 8-11; 52/9 (September 2009), 31-35.
See, e.g., the letter by Universal Edition to Bartók, 27 May 1924. The correspondence between Bartók and his publisher in Vienna, Universal Edition, is still largely unpublished. Most of the composer’s original letters belong to Peter Bartók’s collection, now held in the Paul Sacher Foundation in Basel, whereas letters by the publisher survive partially in Peter Bartók’s collection and in Hungarian Bartók collections, Gábor Vásárhelyi’s private collection of the Hungarian Bartók estate, and the Budapest Bartók Archives, where copies of all known items belonging to this crucial series of some 1,300 documents can be studied. Some of the letters mentioned or quoted here are available in the selection by Adrienne GOMBOCZ and László VIKÁRIUS, Briefwechsel zwischen Bartók und der Universal Edition: Ein Querschnitt (Budapest: Bartók-Archiv Budapest, Musikwissenschaftliches Institut der Ungarischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2003) <https://www.gko.uni-leipzig.de/fileadmin/Fakult%c3%a4t_GKO/Musikwissenschaft/2.2-Forschung/ Musikerbriefe/5_Vikarius.pdf> (accessed 13 November 2019).
Menyhért LENGYEL, “A csodálatos mandarin: pantomime grotesque” [The Miraculous Mandarin: A grotesque pantomime], Nyugat 10/1 (1 January 1917), 87-93, now accessible online: ¡https://epa.oszk. hu/00000/00022/nyugat.htm¿ (accessed 13 November 2019).
Lengyel published his pacifist articles under the serial title “Egyszerű gondolatok” [Simple thoughts], see, e.g., the source of the motto above, Nyugat 9/1 (1 January 1916), 40. For a clear differentiation from the Grand Guignol, see Vera LAMPERT, “The Miraculous Mandarin: Melchior Lengyel, his Pantomime, and his Connections to Béla Bartók,” in Bartók and his World, ed. by Péter LAKI (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1995), 155-156.
See Bartók’s letter to his wife, 5 September 1918, Bartók Béla családi levelei [Béla Bartók family letters], ed. by Béla BARTÓK, Jr. (Budapest: Zeneműkiadó, 1981), 282. The early stages of composition are discussed in Judit FRIGYESI, “Who Is the Girl in Bartók’s The Miraculous Mandarin? A Case Study of Mi- mi’s Deleted Scene and its Dramatic Meaning,” Studia Musicologica 53/1-3 (2012), 241-274.
GOMBOCZ and VIKÁRIUS, Briefwechsel, 64. All English translations from this source are my own unless otherwise indicated.
GOMBOCZ and VIKÁRIUS, Briefwechsel, 74.
Béla BARTÓK, “About The Wooden Prince (1917),” in id., Essays, ed. by Benjamin SUCHOFF (London: Faber & Faber, 1976), 406.
Note that the first and most common meaning of the word “pantomime” is “Brit. A theatrical entertainment, mainly for children, which involves music, topical jokes, and slapstick comedy and is based on a fairy tale or nursery story, usually produced around Christmas.” See “Pantomime,” in Oxford Dictionary of English, ed. by Catherine SOANES and Angus STEVENSON (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2/2005 [1/1998]), 1273–1274. This well-established British usage illuminates why the genre designation for Bartók’s work might be occasionally entirely misunderstood. I am grateful to Paul Merrick who, many years ago, first brought to my attention the special British usage of the word.
For a detailed interpretation of Bartók’s two “ballets” with regard to the main contrasting tendencies in ballet traditions, see Daniel-Frédéric LEBON, Béla Bartóks Handlungsballette in ihrer musikalischen Gat- tungstradition (Berlin: Verlag Dr. Köster, 2012).
“Ich sehe, dass die U.E. den ‘Mandarin’ als ein Ballett anzeigt; ich muss bemerken, dass dieses Werk weniger ein Ballett als eine Pantomime ist, da ja darin eigentlich bloss zwei Tänze vorkommen. Es wäre also entschieden praktischer, dasselbe eine Pantomime zu nennen.” English translation my own.
“Ich habe in der letzten Zeit die Musik zu einer einaktigen Pantomime von M. Lengyel ‘der wunderbare Mandarin’ in den Skizzen vollendet … Leider habe ich zur Instrumentation der Pantomime, ferner zu anderen Arbeiten keine Möglichkeit.” [I have completed the draft of a one-act pantomime by M. Lengyel, “The Miraculous Mandarin” … Unfortunately, I have no opportunity to undertake the orchestration of the pantomime or else any other work.” Bartók’s letter to Universal Edition, 11 July 1919. English translation my own.
GOMBOCZ and VIKÁRIUS, Briefwechsel, 61.
“[A]s Dohnányi explained: ‘As Béla creates he is not conscious of the effects.’ How right Dohnányi was is proven by the reception given to Bartók’s pantomime, ‘The Miraculous Mandarin.’ Melchior Lengyel … had sent a libretto to Dohnányi, but the latter was unable to undertake it, first because his two operas were still unfinished, and second, but more important, he thought the theme, on a grand guignol subject, was more suitable to Bartók’s style. Bartók accepted the assignment and later showed the score to Dohnányi, who tried to draw his attention to what he thought must be a mistake in the introduction. Lengyel had set the first scene against the background of Paris, Bartók began immediately with exotic music thus precipitating the atmosphere which should begin to make itself manifest only with the appearance of the Mandarin, and should depict his strange character and strange world.” See Elza GALAFRÉS [sic], Lives…Loves…Losses (Vancouver: Versatile, 1973), 236-237.
Entry in Lengyel’s diary before 5 July 1919: “The other day Béla Bartók played on the piano the music of the ‘Miraculous Mandarin’ … to us in the flat of a mutual friend, Professor Thomán … Wonderful music! Incomparable talent!” See Menyhért LENGYEL, Életem könyve [The book of my life], ed. by József VINKÓ (Budapest: Gondolat, 1987), 156, translation from LAMPERT, “The Miraculous Mandarin,” 163.
Bartók’s letter to his wife, Márta Ziegler, 6 April 1920, BARTÓK, Jr. (ed.), Bartók családi levelei, 306. István Strasser conducted the 1916 Budapest première of Bartók’s Two Portraits.
Cecil GRAY, Musical Chairs (London: Home & Van Thal, 1948), 182, quoted in Malcolm GILLIES, Bartók in Britain: A Guided Tour (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989), 122-123, also reprinted in Malcolm GILLIES, Bartók Remembered (London: Faber and Faber, 1990), 68.
Heseltine’s unpublished letter to Colin Taylor, 17 October 1921, quoted in GILLIES, Bartók in Britain, 123.
Béla BARTÓK, “Schönberg and Stravinsky Enter ‘Christian-National’ Budapest without Bloodshed (1921),” published in László SOMFAI, “Vierzehn Bartók-Schriften aus den Jahren 1920/21: Aufsätze über die zeitgenössische Musik und Konzertberichte aus Budapest,” in Documenta Bartókiana, ed. by id. (Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó, 1977), vol. 5, 72.
The two pictures reproduced here appear in GALAFRÉS, Lives… Loves… Losses, 179. The date and place of the pictures’ production are not mentioned in the book.
BARTÓK, “Schönberg and Stravinsky,” 69.
Elza Galafrès’s involvement in “the direction of dance” and “the choreography” was also considered in connection with the rehearsals for the planned 1931 Budapest performance directed by László Márkus. Cf. Károly KRISTÓF, Beszélgetések Bartók Bélával [Béla Bartók in interview] (Budapest: Zeneműkiadó, 1957), 67, newspaper announcement of 9 October 1930.
Márta Ziegler’s letter to her mother-in-law, 14 May 1919, BARTÓK, Jr. (ed.), Bartók családi levelei, 295. English translation my own.
Signed as O. B. and published in the Prager Presse on 22 February 1927, see amongst reviews published in János DEMÉNY, “Bartók Béla pályája delelőjén (1927-1940)” [Béla Bartók at the zenith of his career (1927-1940)], in Zenetudományi tanulmányok Bartók Béla emlékére, ed. by Bence SZABOLCSI and Dénes BARTHA (Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó, 1962), 203 (= Zenetudományi tanulmányok, vol. 10).
In the following I quote from Peter Bartók’s translation of Lengyel’s text printed before the music in the currently available Universal Edition study score (Philharmonia Ph 550 ©2000).
All sources suggest that Bartók himself edited the libretto for insertion into the score. He undertook a similar process whilst working on The Wooden Prince. The composer characterized his “simple and extended sentences” that “might not turn out to be worthy of Nyugať in connection with the edited text of the earlier work. See Bartók’s letter to Klára Gombossy, 10 June 1916, quoted in VIKÁRIUS, “Intimations through Words and Music,” 201.
If not otherwise specified, the quotations from the score are also taken from the Philharmonia study score edition. Regarding the exact placement of the stage directions, the four-hand piano reduction published in 1925 has also been taken into consideration.
According to the draft (Source A), Bartók undertook more than one change of harmony before finalizing the phrase in several stages.
The twelve pitches are introduced in the following order (repeated pitches are placed in parentheses): G-sharp, A, F, E/B-flat/E-flat, (A)/C-sharp/D, (A)/C/G, (E/B-flat/E-flat), B/(D), (E-flat)/G-flat. A further tendency characteristic of Bartók is the chromatic, partly symmetrical, extension and narrowing of the harmonic procedure: G-sharp, A, F followed by E/B-flat, then B/E-flat (i.e., F to E to E-flat, and G-sharp to A to B-flat to B), followed by A/C-sharp/D and B-flat/E-flat followed by B/D (i.e., A to B-flat and D to E-flat to D).
It is precisely here that the music should have been used to express the “heavenly ravishment of the Girl” in the altered libretto submitted to the publisher and sent to Bartók.
The pantomimic nature of the scene is analyzed extensively in LEBON, Bartóks Handlungsballette, 165-168. It is not coincidental that part of the autograph manuscript (Source B) of this scene is reproduced on the cover of his book.
Two of the most detailed and perceptive descriptions of the music of the scene in the secondary literature refer to the Girl’s reaction. Since neither is available in English translation, I am quoting the relevant text in both of them in full in my own rendering. “The leading melody, although it is heard briefly in the clarinet parts (marcato), gives way to a misty, opaque sound. The previously heard piano passages become settled and are foregrounded here. The string tremolo adds a shadow to the soundscape. The hardly perceptible scene seems to refer to the fear and inner struggle of the Girl. It is characteristic that the pair of clarinets creates a momentary twelve-tone cluster. This mood is underlined by the smorzando closing of the scene. This was the last moment of recoil, doubt let itself be felt for the last time.” György KROÓ, Bartók színpadi művei [Bartók’s stage works] (Budapest: Zeneműkiadó, 1962), 219. “This is where these ‘repulsions’ on the clarinets, if one may refer to them as such, take their extending-narrowing symbolism; their effect is only heightened by the tentacles of the melody stretching intervals of sixths and even sevenths.” Ernő LENDVAI, Bartók dramatur- giája [Bartók’s dramaturgy] (Budapest: Akkord, 1993), 194.
This is not necessarily specifically in the scene in question but repeatedly and quite consistently, Lebon connects the musical representation of the Mandarin’s gaze to the appearance of the celesta, whilst also considering the gaze itself as an erotic symbol. See LEBON, Bartóks Handlungsballette, 129-134.
Interestingly, however, when playing this first form of the concert piece with György Kósa on the Hungarian Radio in 1926, Bartók probably decided to leave this section out. See the description of his own copy of the published piano reduction (Source L) in the Appendix.
GOMBOCZ and VIKÁRIUS, Briefwechsel, 64.
“Im Herbst 1924, als ich Ihnen die Partitur des ‘Mandarin’ zuschickte, habe ich Ihnen zugleich brief- lich mitgeteilt, dass ein Teil der Musik auch zu Konzertaufführungen verwendbar ist und habe angegeben, welchen Teil ich meine. Dazu habe ich eine Seite Partitur als Schlusstakte beigefügt (als ‘Beilage’). Diese Seite muss in der Ihnen zugeschickten Partitur sich befinden. - Von hier aus kann ich Ihnen nicht gut An- fang und Ende dieses, zu Konzertaufführungen verwendbaren Teiles angeben, da ich die Originalpartitur nicht hier habe, doch werde ich dies in Budapest nach meiner Rückkehr tun können. Ich bitte sich [= Sie] jedoch mir baldigst mitzuteilen, ob Sie das erwähnte Beilageblatt gefunden haben. – Dieser Teil kann übrigens keine ‘Suite’ genannt werden, sondern ‘Musik’ oder ‘Zwei Szenen’ aus dem Wund. Mand. Reiner beabsichtigt dieses, und nicht die Suite aus dem Holzg. Prinzen aufzuführen.” English translation my own.
“Folgender Teil des ‘Mandarins’ ist zur Konzertaufführung bestimmt: Von [Nr.] 36 bis [Nr.] 37 (fer- mata lunga); der folgende Teil, von [Nr.] 37 bis 4. Takt nach [Nr.] 44, wird weggelassen; dann kommt: 6. Takt vor [Nr.] 45 bis 2. Takt nach [Nr.] 75 einschliesslich; dann folgen die zu diesem Zwecke verfassten Schlusstakte (auf dem ‘Beiblatt’ oder ‘Beilage’ in der Ihnen im Herbst 1924 zugeschickten Partitur). Damals, vor zwei Jahren habe ich Ihnen diesbezüglich dasselbe brieflich mitgeteilt, mit dem Unterschied, dass ich damals den Strich zwischen [Nr.] 37 und 4. Takt nach [Nr.] 44 nicht für nötig hielt.” [The following section from the Mandarin is intended for concert performance: From fig. 36 to fig. 37 (fermata lunga); the following section from fig. 37 to 4 bars after fig. 44 is left out; then comes: 6 bars before fig. 45 to 2 bars after fig. 75 (inclusively); then follow the specially composed closing bars (on the “enclosure” that I sent you together with the full score in the fall of 1924. Two years ago I also advised you on this in a letter similarly except for the fact that at that time I did not consider necessary the cut between fig. 37 and 4 bars after fig. 44.] English translation my own.
Fritz (Frigyes) Reiner conducted this short first form of the concert version on 1 April 1927 with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. See Sarah LUCAS, Fritz Reiner and the Legacy of Béla Bartók’s Orchestral Music in the United States (PhD Dissertation, Iowa City, IA: University of Iowa, 2018), 136. An examination of the publisher’s original manuscript copy of the concert version (Source M) indicates that it must have originally started at fig. 36; see the description in the Appendix.
GOMBOCZ and VIKÁRIUS, Briefwechsel, 72.
A further short cut, specified in Bartók’s letter, from 3 bars before fig. 11 to 6 bars after fig. 12, fourteen bars in all, in which the Girl is presented as she tries to resist the tramps, would break the momentum leading to the first decoy game in a concert performance.
See Bartók’s 16 October 1928 letter to Universal Edition, GOMBOCZ and VIKÁRIUS, Briefwechsel, 80.
For a basic list of the primary sources, see László SOMFAI, Béla Bartók: Composition, Concepts, and Autograph Sources (Berkeley, CA etc.: University of California Press, 1996), 309. An initial comprehensive attempt to describe the sources in detail was undertaken by Alexander Crouch in his BA dissertation, Alexander CROUCH, The Sources and Evolution of Béla Bartók’s The Miraculous Mandarin: A Case-Study (BA Dissertation, Sydney: The University of New South Wales, 1997), 28-49. Unfortunately, however, he did not have access to all the sources and the descriptions are not always entirely reliable.
“Béla works on the pantomime by Lengyel and he has completed about half of it. He played it to me last week for the first time and he did so every evening since then.” Márta Ziegler’s unpublished letter to her mother-in-law, 12 February 1919, quoted in BARTÓK, Jr., Apám életének krónikája, 174. English translation my own. Although it is not specified in this report which half of the work had been completed, it is very likely that the first half is here referred to, therefore it was probably only after early February 1919 that Bartók continued composing on empty pages of his Black Pocket-book. See Béla BARTÓK, Black Pocket-book: Sketches 1907-1922, ed. by László SOMFAI (Budapest: Editio Musica Budapest, 1986). Crouch suggested that sketches for the first part, a continuation of which is found in the Black Pocket-book, might have existed and he included them in his stemma. See CROUCH, The Sources and Evolution, 32.
See BARTÓK, Black Pocket-book, ff. 15r-24v. With regard to Bartók’s use of his sketchbook generally preserved for use during trips, it should be noted that the composition of The Miraculous Mandarin took place in a particularly politically and socially turbulent period in Hungary - in the wake of the First World War - between the autumn of 1918 and the spring of 1919. In this period the composer was often away from his home in Rákoskeresztúr (then still outside of the capital and only accessible by train). His frequent visits to Budapest, often lodging with friends (especially the Kodálys or occasionally Béla Balázs) might have necessitated his reliance on his sketchbook rather than large-size music sheets for which he required the comfort of his study. The known biographical data are unfortunately not precise or detailed enough to reconstruct daily events regarding this period of Bartók’s life. you to try and force it out somehow from Scherchen during your upcoming visit to Berlin. Should you succeed, I shall be very grateful.] English translation my own. In his letter of 18 April 1921, director Hertzka promised to meet Scherchen in Berlin and ask for the score to be returned.
According to Bartók’s letter to Emil Hertzka of 7 April 1921: “Aus Berlin habe ich den 4-händigen Auszug des ‘Mandarin’s nicht erhalten, also bitte ich nun Sie, gelegentlich Ihres bevorstehenden Aufenthaltes in Berlin denselben von Herrn Scherchen irgendwie herauszuzwingen. Gelingt es, so werde ich Ihnen sehr dankbar sein.” [I have not received the 4-hand reduction of the “Mandarin” from Berlin, so I am now asking
See Bartók’s letter of 22 March 1921. Hertzka acknowledged receipt of a copy of the finalized contract with the Opera House in his letter of 23 May 1921.
The voucher is currently held at the Budapest Opera House.
The progress on the orchestration can be followed in detail in Bartók’s reports included in his correspondence with his publisher. He started work on 5 June 1924, and two days before Péter’s birth on 29 July he sent the first part of a copy of both the four-hand piano reduction and the full score (Sources G and H). Freshly completed leaves of the manuscript were sent with three further dispatches on 25 September and 7 and 9 November.
Whereas paste-ups in the manuscripts preserved in the Bartók Archives were opened, those in the autograph two-hand piano reduction in Vienna were not. It was A. Nirschy (Aurél Nirschy-Ott), who first published a long article including many short musical excerpts from the early version, based on the copy of the two-hand piano reduction (Source E) then still held at the Opera House. See A. NIRSCHY, “Varianten zu Bartóks Pantomime Der wunderbare Mandarin,” Studia Musicologica 2 (1962), 189-223. Interestingly, the article is dated at the end: (1951, 1959). One wonders whether it might have been related to the preparation of the revised edition of the four-hand piano reduction in 1952, and subsequently the first complete edition of the full score in 1955.
These leaves have survived separately amongst papers belonging to Ditta Pásztory’s estate and were subsequently added to the collection of the Hungarian Bartók estate. That Bartók carefully preserved these leaves discarded from his manuscript demonstrates that he did not wish to conceal the early version of his work from posterity.
John Vinton was the first to present early versions of longer sections from the draft (Source A) and the four-hand reduction (Source B), comparing the 1919 version with the 1924 version in VINTON, “The Case of The Miraculous Mandarin.” More recently, four facsimile pages from the final section have been reproduced in Judit Frigyesi’s article, FRIGYESI, “Who is the Girl,” 246-249.
Due to the complete and costly restoration of the draft kindly undertaken at the Sacher Foundation, two seemingly missing pages came to light which were pasted together and whose existence could not have been suspected on the basis of even the best quality colour copy of the manuscript. This section (on original pp. 18 and 19) contains a significant part of the longer version of the young lad’s scene, including part of an extended first dance and the end of the scene.
Markings show that Bartók’s own copy of the published four-hand piano reduction (Source L) was used at this radio concert.
Cf. Géza KÖRTVÉLYES, “A Csodálatos mandarin az Operaházban” [The Miraculous Mandarin at the Opera House], in id., A modern táncművészet útján [On the road of the modern art of dance] (Budapest: Zeneműkiadó, 1970), 114-176. See especially the reproduction of régisseur László Márkus’s notes in a copy of the score he used during the 1931 rehearsals on pp. 128-134.
See Gyula HARANGOZÓ, “Mozaikok az operai balett és pályám történetéből” [Mosaics from the history of ballet at the Opera and from my career], Táncművészeti Értesítő 9/1 (1971), 64-79. The fragment from conductor Failoni’s copy appears not to have been known or identified yet at the time of Körtvélyes’s research.See Bartók’s unpublished draft letter of 4 April 1931 in the Bartók Archives (BA-N: 3898) and the copy of the letter in the Budapest Opera House. See, further, the news originally published on 29 March 1931, reprinted in KRISTÓF, Beszélgetések, 79.
See Bartók’s unpublished draft letter of 4 April 1931 in the Bartók Archives (BA-N: 3898) and the copy of the letter in the Budapest Opera House. See, further, the news originally published on 29 March 1931, reprinted in KRISTÓF, Beszélgetések, 79.
The final (third) ending in both the copy of the full score used in the Opera House (Source I) and in the orchestral parts are dated 1931.
See Bartók’s letter to Universal Edition, 29 January 1936, GOMBOCZ and VIKÁRIUS, Briefwechsel, 141.
A hand-written copy of the full score of the concert version published in 1927 and the engraver’s copy of the posthumously published complete Mandarin are kept at the Wienbibliothek im Rathaus (Sources M and O).
According to an as yet unidentified newspaper clipping in the Harangozó collection held at the Dance Archive of the Hungarian Theatre Museum and Institute: “Gyula Harangozó: Béla Bartók submitted his dance play The Miraculous Mandarin to the Opera House several years ago; it has not been performed at the Opera House yet. A few days ago we announced that the Bartók ballet will be performed at the Florence Opera House next season. At the same time the idea was raised that the famous ballet could be performed in Budapest, too. Gyula Harangozó, who, with his wife Ilona Vera, the excellent ballerina of the Opera House, left for summer vacation at Balatonújhely the day before yesterday, reported on the ballet plans next season in the Opera House in the following manner: ‘I am first of all occupied with the choreography of The Miraculous Mandarin,’ he mentioned; ‘I have discussed the complete ballet in detail with Béla Bartók and I am sure that there will be no obstacle to the performance any more’.” English translation my own.
Cf. contract no. 1587/1940 at the Budapest Opera House, which I accessed thanks to Mr. Gábor Vásárhelyi. Cf. BARTÓK, Jr., Apám életének krónikája, 437, entry for 11 September regarding renewed plans for performance in 1941 with an altered scenario. The premiere was advertised for 6 February 1941 according to a newspaper clipping in the Harangozó collection of the Hungarian Theatre Museum and Institute. See also the already printed bill reproduced in Bartók a színpadon [Bartók on stage], sel. and ed. by Zita BURDA and Domokos Dániel KIS (Budapest: Osiris, 2006), 127.
In the Harangozó collection unfortunately no early copy of The Miraculous Mandarin can be found, only a 1956 copy of the later revised Universal Edition piano reduction. See the list of cuts restored in Peter Bartók’s new edition in his “Notes,” dated 1999, to the Philharmonia miniature score.
According to Peter Bartók’s preface to the new edition, the four-hand piano reduction published in 1952 only contained the new ending, while a third (undifferentiated) printing of 1955 also carried out the minor abridgements in the music. Cf. Peter BARTÓK, “Preface,” in Béla BARTÓK, Der wunderbare Mandarin, op. 19. Klavierauszug für zwei Klaviere, Neuausgabe 2000, Revision: Peter Bartók (UE 31 432).
See Így láttuk Bartókot: Ötvennégy visszaemlékezés [Thus we saw Bartók: Fifty-four recollections], ed. by Ferenc BÓNIS (Budapest: Püski, 1995), 193. English translation my own. Ferencsik’s own copy of the published piano reduction (bound together with the two other stage works) survives, now held in a private collection. It contains markings of all cuts appearing in the copy of the Opera House and in the Universal Edition score. Although no documentary evidence has come to light, it is possible that Ferencsik was informed directly by Bartók regarding the cuts he entered into his piano reduction. Bartók’s marking in the score of Fe- rencsik’s copy of The Wooden Prince is evidence of their discussions of the earlier ballet. Cf. Ferenc BÓNIS, Tizenhárom találkozás Ferencsik Jánossal [Thirteen sessions with János Ferencsik] (Budapest: Zenemű- kiadó, 1984), 62-63 and the reproduction between pp. 56 and 57.
WANGENHEIM, Bartók “Der wunderbare Mandarin,” 104, quotes from Milloss’s recollection according to which he discussed questions of dance aesthetic with Bartók, who also attended some of his rehearsals. See, further, Alfio AGOSTINI, “Milloss, Milan 1942,” Bartók / Bournonville, LAvant-Scène Ballet / Danse 6 (Paris, 1981), 64-65. Cf. also the interview with Milloss published in BÓNIS (ed.), Így láttuk Bartókot, 209–212.
This unpublished letter is found amongst Bartók’s papers related to his activities at the League of Nations (BBA, BA-N: 3884). The letter reads as follows: “Igen tisztelt Mesterem! Rendkívül örültem Molnár Imre által küldött üzenetének és Ön által kijelölt vasárnap délután (e hó 5-én), még pedig - ha az így Önnek is megfelel – öt óra tájt, el jövök tiszteletemet tenni. Vagyok mindíg legőszintébb tisztelője Milloss Aurél Cím: Ápr. 24-ig Bpest - Nemzeti Színház Telefon reggel 9-ig 368-88. Állandó cím: Düsseldorf, Schäferstr. 4.” [My Dear Meastro, I was very glad to receive the message sent via Imre Molnár and I shall visit you on the appointed Sunday (on the 5th of this month) at five o’clock if that suits you. Most sincerely yours, Aurél Milloss, Address: until 24 April: Budapest, National Theatre, Telephone: until 9 in the morning 368-88. Permanent address: Düsseldorf, Schäferstr. 4.] English translation my own.
I was able to consult Milloss’s scores of The Miraculous Mandarin in June 2019 and I am most grateful to Gianmario Borio and Francisco Rocca for their assistance at the music collection of the Cini Foundation, and for generously providing the Bartók Archives with a complete digital copy of this most important source, the 1925 four-hand piano reduction with markings, which also includes a manuscript copy of the new (third) ending inserted in the score. A short description of this invaluable source is also included in the Appendix (Source P). As described there, a particular layer of cuts in this score shows remarkable similarity to a series of cuts in Bartók’s own copy (Source L).
On the context and significance of the Milan production of the Mandarin, see Nicolò PALAZZETTI, “‘Il musicista della libertà:’ L’influenza di Béla Bartók nella cultura musicale italiana degli anni Quaranta e Cinquanta del Novecento,” Rivista Italiana de Musicologia 50 (2015), 157-159; and id., “The Bartók Myth: Fascism, Modernism and Resistance in Italian Musical Culture,” International Review of the Aesthetics and Sociology of Music 47/2 (December 2016), 301-303.
According to Peter Bartók’s hypothesis the smaller cuts, whose music he restored in his new edition, were decided at, and exclusively for, the rehearsals for the planned 1931 Budapest rehearsals. Since, however, these cuts do not appear in the sources specifically linked to these rehearsals, I do not think that a clear link exists. It is more probable that Bartók finalized the last (third) ending in connection with the 1931 rehearsals, although the rehearsals themselves could well have begun with the earlier (actually second) ending. The new ending might even have been one of the reasons why the composer accepted the delay and eventual cancellation of the performance. Bartók finally sent the manuscript of the last (third) ending to his publisher five years later (see his letter of 12 April 1936), which might suggest that further cuts were not yet decided, rather than that cuts relevant only to the 1931 production were considered null and void. If the shorter cuts were only suggested during discussions with Harangozó or Milloss after 12 April 1936, then it is possible that any conclusion must be deduced from a comparison of sources, which might be inconclusive alone or separately, as, for example, Bartók’s Handexemplar of the piano reduction, which contains several layers of revisions. But taking into consideration the markings in seemingly secondary sources such as Ferencsik’s and Milloss’s copies, they might potentially be used as a basis for a reconstruction of a final version. However, even if this last version is restorable, it might only represent an authentic variant form based on discussions with one or more choreographer.
Although it is not clear why and how editors at Universal Edition decided to finalize the abridged and revised version of the work for their 1955 edition, it is possible that Ferencsik, who was also music director of the Vienna Staatsoper between 1948 and 1950, may have been involved. The version used at productions directed by Milloss in Milan and Harangozó in Budapest, both conducted by Ferencsik, could also have influenced the publisher’s final decision.
The early version of this scene was also reproduced in NIRSCHY, “Varianten,” 194, his single source being Márta Ziegler’s copy of the two-hand piano reduction. However, he could not reconstruct the complete text but rather an amalgamation of two different layers created whilst marking places of erasures. Somewhat similarly, Lebon, when discussing the possibility of analysing the music as concrete musical imitation ofspeech (musique parlante), he relies on an incomplete form of the early version. Thus he compares the threesyllables of the Girl’s words “Van pénzed?” [Got any money?] with the three chords and an inserted rest. See LEBON, Bartóks Handlungsballette, 287-289. In the fully reconstructed version it seems clear that Bartók wished to express the question with a motif, probably intended for woodwind rather than imitating the pronunciation of the actual words. (The rest inserted between the chords makes the comparison rather unlikely, anyway.)
Part of this scene and its dramaturgical significance is discussed in FRIGYESI, “Who is the Girl,” 266-273. Facsimile of the section from the four-hand piano reduction (Source B) is also included in her article, ibid., 248–249.
The dense motivic relationships are examined in György KROÓ, “Monothematik und Dramaturgie in Bartóks Bühnenwerken,” Studia Musicologica 5 (1963), 449-467.
There is a surprising analogy between the slow evolution of this passage with that of Bluebeard’s hymn-like farewell to Judith, “Szép vagy, szép vagy, százszorszép vagy — Te voltál a legszebb asszony” [Thou art lovely, passing lovely — Thou wert the fairest of my ladies] close to the end of the opera, which, incidentally, also had three successively developed endings, although the respective revisions in the two works are significantly different. See “Commentary” to Béla BARTÓK, Duke Bluebeard’s Castle, Opus 11, 1911, Autograph Draft, ed. by László VIKÁRIUS (Budapest: Balassi, 2006), 29–33.
This transformation is aptly characterized by Vinton, who concluded that “the one climactic point that Bartók retained described an experience more transcendental than physical.” See VINTON, “The Case of The Miraculous Mandarin,” 15.
Malcolm GILLIES, “A Conversation with Bartók: 1929,” The Musical Times 128/1736 (October 1987),556.
The starting point for generating a list of sources was Somfai’s entry in László SOMFAI, “List of Primary Sources,” in id., Béla Bartók: Compositions, Concepts, and Autograph Sources (Berkeley, CA etc.: University of California Press, 1996), 309. Apart from providing a somewhat more detailed characterization of the individual sources enumerated by Somfai, I have also added several new sources, most important amongst them is the relatively recently discovered autograph of the two-hand piano reduction (Source C). My own addition is the use of simple sigla (from A to P), which are used here for easy reference as well as the most accessible manner through which to demonstrate the chronological sequence of the sources. In this latter respect my list differs, again, from the list by Somfai who quite logically separated source types, full scores, two-hand and four-hand piano reductions. The aim of the alphabetical sigla in the present list is to show the chronology and the interdependence of the sources. In this respect, an exception is the final and the sole new addition to the last previously published form of the list: Milloss’s copy with markings of the four-hand piano reduction (Source P) recently examined at the Cini Foundation. My first attempt was published in VIKÁRIUS, “A ‘Bartók-pizzicato’-ról,” Part 2, 34-35. This was significantly enriched for the article, “A csod?latos mandarin átlényegülései,” which forms the basis of my present essay. Note that the useful discussion and stemma of sources in Crouch’s thesis have also been taken into consideration, although it is not always reliable as the author could not consult some of the most significant sources (Sources C, D and E). Moreover, one source, the autograph full score (Source F) is mistakenly identified as the full score copied by Márta Ziegler and Ditta Pásztory (Source G). See his Sources and Evolution, 19 and 41.