Ernst von Dohnányi's proverbially brilliant orchestration skills were already recognized by his contemporaries. His first monographer Bálint Vázsonyi published an anecdote, typical of these opinions, according to which Béla Bartók regarded the orchestral version of Ruralia hungarica (op. 32) as the first truly “orchestrated” Hungarian symphonic work.1 Nevertheless, neither Dohnányi's own orchestration practices nor the symphonic arrangements he made from the works of other composers have been comprehensively investigated. The present study examines two orchestrations Dohnányi made in 1928, on the occasion of the Schubert Centenary. Both being virtually unknown to today's public, these are the orchestral transcriptions of Franz Schubert's Fantasy in F Minor for piano duet and the piano cycle Moments musicaux. Dohnányi had previously made arrangements for piano; however, these were the first compositions he orchestrated. His interest in orchestral sound may also have played a role in his decision to prepare both orchestrations: at that time, he had already been conductor of the Budapest Philharmonic Society for almost a decade.
In the first part of my study, I shall outline the context, in which both orchestrations were premiered, i.e. the Budapest events of the 1928 Schubert Centenary. This presentation will also touch upon the question of how Dohnányi's instrumentations were received as well as Dohnányi's reception of Schubert as pianist and conductor. The presence of Schubert's symphonic works in the Hungarian capital will be reviewed from a broader perspective in the second part of my study where, in addition to the Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra led by Dohnányi, I will address the repertoire of other Budapest orchestras. In the third part, I will deal with further nineteenth- and twentieth-century composers who made orchestrations of the Fantasy in F Minor and the piano cycle Moments musicaux in addition to Dohnányi. Finally, in the fourth part of my article, I will examine the most important features of both of Dohnányi's orchestrations with the aid of musical examples.
The present study was supported by a project of the Hungarian National Research, Development and Innovation Office (K 123 819).
Bálint VÁZSONYI, Dohnányi Ernő (Budapest: Nap Kiadó, 2002), 343. The anecdote in question was reiterated by József Ujfalussy in a documentary on Dohnányi. Ujfalussy himself heard the story from his former composition teacher Emil Szabó (1898–1970), a former disciple of Bartók's. The 1993 documentary, entitled Dohnányi Ernő emlékére [In Memory of Ernst von Dohnányi], was directed by Anna Mérei and hosted by András Batta. See: https://port.hu/adatlap/film/tv/dohnanyi-erno-emlekere/movie-61827 (accessed November 23, 2020).
Dohnányi was present at all of these five concerts – either personally or through one of his transcriptions.
The program of the concerts was released by the organizing committee in a booklet which also lists the patrons and the members of the organizing committee. N. N., Schubert ‒ Zeneünnepély halálának századik évfordulója alkalmából [Schubert: Music festival on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of his death] (Budapest: A Schubert-centenárium rendező bizottsága kiadása, 1928).
The storyline written for the ballet The Kiss of the Muse by Elsa Galafrés was published in a joint volume with the libretto of Schubert's one-act Singspiel Die Verschworenen, in a series of volumes dedicated to the libretti of the pieces presented by the Budapest Opera House. N. N., Schubert: Cselre-cselt (J. F. Castelli)/A múzsa csókja (Dohnányi-Galafrés Elsa). Operaházi szövegkönyvek 7. (Debrecen–Budapest: Csáthy Ferenc Egyetemi Könyvkereskedés és Irodalmi Vállalat Rt, 1928), 68–79.
N. N., Schubert ‒ Zeneünnepély, 3–12.
According to the “Budapest Concerts database” (henceforth referred to as “BCD”), operated by the Archives for 20th–21st-Century Hungarian Music of the Institute for Musicology RCH, between 1900 and 1928 Schubert's Fantasy was performed only three times in Budapest. Cf. <http://db.zti.hu/koncert/koncert_Kereses.asp> (accessed on January 19, 2021).
According to BCD, the piano cycle, or one of its pieces, was performed a total of twelve times between 1900 and 1928. Although the brief description of the Dohnányi orchestration, published without signature in the October 15, 1930 issue of the review A Zene, described the Moments musicaux as “one of the most popular pieces in the piano literature,” the data regarding concert hall performances do not necessarily confirm this. N. N., “Hangversenyműsoraink ismertetése” [Our concert programs], A Zene 12/2 (October 5, 1930), 22.
The popularity of the operetta is confirmed by the fact that in 1919, i.e. three years after the Budapest premiere, the 200th performance was celebrated. N. N., “A Három a kisleány jubileuma” [The anniversary of Das Dreimäderlhaus], Budapesti Hírlap 39/103 (November 2, 1919), 6.
Ágnes BORECZKY, “Más művészet – új közönség. A mozdulatművészet és a korabeli társadalom” [Other art – new audience. Movement art and contemporary society],” in Mozdulat – magyar mozdulatművészet a korabeli társadalom és művészet tükrében [Movement – Hungarian free dance in the light of contemporary society and art], ed. by László BEKE, András NÉMETH and Gabriella VINCZE (Budapest: Gondolat Kiadó, 2013), 59 and 69. The same study mentions, for example, Valéria Dienes's choreography based on Margit Bethlen's fairy tale Fehér királyleány [White princess], which also used, among others, Schubert's Wanderer Fantasy. BORECZKY, “Más művészet – új közönség,” 89. The legacies preserved at the Dance Archives of the Hungarian Theater Museum and Institute (e.g. Margit Riedl, Lili Kállai, Mária Mirkovszky, Andor Tiszay) contain a number of programs and playbills also testifying to the very same preference for Schubert's piano music. I hereby express my gratitude to Tamás Halász, staff member of the Dance Archives, for this information.
Rebecca HARRIS-WARRICK, Noël GOODWIN and John PERCIVAL, “Ballet,” in Oxford Music Online <https://doi.org/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.46700> (accessed on March 2, 2021).
“Cs. A.” [CSERNA, Andor], “Az orosz balett a Városi Színházban” [The Ballets Russes at the City Theater], Pesti Napló 78/272 (November 30, 1927), 15. On the appearances of the Ballets Russes in Budapest, 1927, see also Francisco J. GIMÉNEZ-RODRÍGUEZ, “De Falla's Hungarian Success: A háromszögletű kalap (1928),” Studia Musicologica 59/3–4 (December, 2018), 314–315.
Ilona KOVÁCS, “Dohnányi Ernő zongoraművészi pályája. I. rész: 1897–1921” [Ernst von Dohnányi's career as a pianist. Part I: 1897–1921], in Dohnányi Évkönyv 2005, ed. by Márta SZ. FARKAS (Budapest: MTA Zenetudományi Intézet, 2006), 85.
The repertoire of the Philharmonic Society was published by Ferenc Bónis in a CD-ROM attached to his volume released in 2005. Ferenc BÓNIS, A Budapesti Filharmóniai Társaság százötven esztendeje, 1853–2003 [One hundred and fifty years of the Budapest Philharmonic Society, 1853–2003] (Budapest: Balassi Kiadó, 2005).
I am grateful to István Mali for providing the digital list, prepared for internal use, with the repertoire of the Orchestra of the Capital.
Anna LASKAI, “Ernő Dohnányi's Library and Music Collection,” Studia Musicologica 69/1–2 (June 2018), 97–206.
Viktor PAPP, “Schubert: ‘Cselre-cselt,’ ‘A múzsa csókja.’ Főpróba az Operaházban” [Schubert: “Die Verschworenen,” “The Kiss of the Muse.” Dress rehearsal at the Opera House], Új Nemzedék 10/263 (November 20, 1928), 8.
Viktor PAPP was a personal acquaintance and a friend of Dohnányi who also published a number of writings about the composer. See, for instance, id., “Dohnányi az operaíró” [Dohnányi, the composer of operas], Zenei Szemle 6/3 (July 1922), 36–38.; id., Arcképek a magyar zenevilágból [Portraits from Hungarian musical life] (Budapest: Stádium, 1925); id., Dohnányi Ernő. (Arckép) [E. von D. (A portrait)] (Budapest: Stádium Sajtóvállalat, 1927); id., “Dohnányi Ernő, az ember” [E. D., the man], Zenei Szemle 11/9–10 (October‒November 1927), 215–218.; id., Dohnányi Ernő és Szegedi miséje: Missa in dedicatione Ecclesiae [Ernst von Dohnányi and his Szeged Mass: Missa in dedicatione ecclesiae] (Debrecen, Budapest: Csáthy, ).
Ilona KOVÁCS, “Dohnányi Ernő zongoraművészi pályája. II. rész: 1921–1944” [Ernst von Dohnányi's career as a pianist. Part II: 1921–1944], in Dohnányi Évkönyv 2006/7, ed. by Márta SZ. FARKAS and László GOMBOS (Budapest: MTA Zenetudományi Intézet, 2006), 349.
Veronika KUSZ, A Wayfaring Stranger. Ernst von Dohnányi's American Years, 1949–1960 (Oakland, California: University of California Press), 37.
There are two press marks on the score. According to the inventory of the Music Collection made by Béla Csuka, the number “D24” may refer to an earlier cataloging, while the other reference number (640) might have been given to the score during a later revision.
VÁZSONYI, Dohnányi, 213. In this case, too, the idea may arise that the eurhythmical performances with piano accompaniment mentioned above may have had an influence on Galafrés' creation of the ballet.
N. N., “Hangversenyműsoraink ismertetése” [Our concert programs], A Zene 12/2 (October 5, 1930), 22.
Ampico-recording number 61063 H has not been reissued on any modern data carrier. See, Imre PODHRADSZKY, “The Works of Ernő Dohnányi,” Studia Musicologica 6 (1964), 368. I owe Ferenc János Szabó a debt of gratitude for the information concerning the recording.
“(T–th)” [Aladár TÓTH], “A Schubert-ünnep” [Celebrating Schubert], Pesti Napló 79/269 (November 27, 1928), 14.
“P. V.” [Viktor PAPP], “Schubert centenárium” [Schubert centenary], Új Nemzedék 10/269 (November 27, 1928), 8.
Viktor LÁNYI, “A Filharmóniai Társaság Schubert-ünnepe” [The Schubert festival of the Philharmonic Society], Pesti Hírlap 50/269 (November 27, 1928), 14.
The letter is preserved in the Vázsonyi Collection of the Archives for 20th–21st-Century Hungarian Music of the Institute for Musicology RCH. Its shelfmark, given by Vázsonyi, is H00-060.
Michael H. KATER, The Twisted Muse: Musicians and Their Music in the Third Reich (New York–Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997), 79–80.
Bartók's Piano Concerto No. 2 was first performed in Budapest by Lajos Kentner and the Budapest Concert Orchestra, conducted by Klemperer, on June 2, 1933. Attila BOROS, Klemperer Magyarországon [Klemperer in Hungary] (Budapest: Zeneműkiadó, 1984), 14. See also, Lóránt LADÁNYI, “Otto Klemperer Budapesten tudta meg, hogy elbocsátották a berlini Operától” [Otto Klemperer learned in Budapest that he had been fired from the Berlin Opera], Újság 9/125 (June 3, 1933), 3.
The Symphony in E major (D729), listed as [No. 7], is an exception among Schubert's symphonies, for the composer, unusually, prescribed there four horns and three trombones, respectively. However, this symphony survived in a draft, so it could not be part of the concert repertoire of the period in question. According to BCD, this Schubert symphony was first performed in the Hungarian capital only in the 1970s. Cf.: MZA BHA ID_16086, ID_16087.
See, Benjamin ORY, “Mysterious Attributions: Reception of Die Zauberharfe,” blog entry (May 13, 2016) available at <https://library.stanford.edu/blogs/stanford-libraries-blog/2016/05/mysterious-attributions-reception-die-zauberharfe> (accessed on November 23, 2020).
BÓNIS, A Budapesti Filharmóniai Társaság, attachment.
VÁZSONYI, Dohnányi, 110.
The score of Rudorff's orchestration was published by Simrock in 1870. A digital version is accessible at the Leon Levy Digital Archives of the New York Philharmonic, under <https://archives.nyphil.org/index.php/artifact/a379d810-8252-4004-b21a-5b6b80779a7f-0.1/fullview#page/66/mode/2up> (accessed on October 20, 2020).
The Petrucci Music Library lists a total of fifty-four arrangements of the Moments musicaux. See, <https://imslp.org/wiki/Moments_musicaux,_D.780_(Schubert,_Franz)> (accessed on November 18, 2020).
The Air russe was arranged by Ferdinand Thieriot (1838–1919) for string orchestra (n.d.), by L. Girard for symphonic orchestra (1876), by Richard E. Hildreth (1867–1941) for theater orchestra (1910), by Leopold Stokowski (1882–1977) for symphonic orchestra (a sound recording was made in 1922) and by Béla Bánfalvi (1954–) for string orchestra (n.d.).
The Petrucci Music Library lists a total of twenty-one arrangements of the Fantasy in F Minor. See, <https://imslp.org/wiki/Fantasie_in_F_minor%2C_D.940_(Schubert%2C_Franz)> (accessed on November 18, 2020). Here are the arrangements for symphony orchestra, in chronological order: 1870: Ernst Rudorff (1840–1916); 1897: Felix Mottl (1856–1911); 1928: Ernst von Dohnányi (1877–1960); 1940: Willem van Otterloo (1907–1978); 1961: Dmitry Borisovich Kabalevsky (1904–1987); 1984: Roman Pawloswski (1965–); 2016: Kevin Vincent Halpin; 2019: Benjamin Yusopov (1962–).
See, for instance, Christopher H. GIBBS, “About Schubert's Arrangers: Mottl, Liszt, Brahms, Joachim” at <https://americansymphony.org/concert-notes/about-schuberts-arrangers-mottl-liszt-brahms-joachim/> (accessed on November 10, 2020), or Klaus ZEHNDER-TISCHENDORF's “Preface” to Ernst Rudorff's orchestration, reproduced at the website of Musikproduktion Jürgen Höflich, which does mention some of the other orchestrators, too. <https://repertoire-explorer.musikmph.de/wp-content/uploads/vorworte_prefaces/373.html> (accessed on November 10, 2020).
Kabalevsky made this arrangement for pianist Emil Gilels. See Jean-Yves DUPERRON's brief text, presenting the recording of Kabalevsky's Complete Piano Concertos (CPO 777658–2, August 2012), reproduced at <http://www.classicalmusicsentinel.com/KEEP/keep-kabalevsky-concertos.html> (accessed on November 24, 2020).
Elsa GALAFRÉS, Lives… Loves… Losses (Vancouver: Versatile, 1973), 339.
“He labelled as a pernicious mistake this intervention in the work of an immortal, to which he would not lend a hand.” – (Versatile, 1973). The competition mentioned by Elsa Galafrés, brought to life in order to motivate the completion of Schubert's symphony, was in fact organized by the Anglo-American Columbia Record Company and the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Wien. For more about the competition, see Malcolm MACDONALD, “Czesław Marek and his Sinfonia,” in Musik im Exil: Die Schweiz und das Ausland 1918–45, ed. by Chris WALTON and Antonio BALDASSARE (Bern: Peter Lang, 2005), 212–215. Also in 1928, on the occasion of the Schubert centenary, another initiative of a similar nature was announced by the Santa Cecilia Academy in Rome and the American Schubert Memorial Commission, looking for orchestral works in Schubert's style or using Schubert's themes. N. N., “A Schubert-centenárium,” Literatura 3/3 (March, 1928), 108.
The return of the first piece, during which the Princess first appears on stage, in the coda of the sixth movement may actually symbolize the disappearance of the Princess at the end of the ballet.
Ilona KOVÁCS, Alkotói folyamat Dohnányi Ernő zeneszerzői műhelyében. A kamarazene-vázlatok vizsgálata [Compositional process in Ernst von Dohnányi's workshop. Studies of sketches for chamber music] (PhD thesis, Budapest: Liszt Ferenc Zeneművészeti Egyetem, 2009), 84–88.
The shelfmark of the score is Ms. mus. 6062.
The shelfmark of the piano version is Ms. mus. 8101.
“(T–th)” [Aladár TÓTH], “A Schubert-ünnep,” 14.
Analysts also often highlight the structural similarity to the Wanderer Fantasy. Arthur GODEL, “Zum Eigensgesetz der Schubertschen Fantasien,” in Schubert-Kongress Wien 1978, ed. by Otto BRUSATTI (Graz: Akademische Druck-und Veranstaltung, 1979), 199; Barbara STRAHAN, (De)Constructing Paradigms of Genre: Aesthetics, Identity and Form in Franz Schubert's Four-Hand Fantasias (PhD thesis, Maynooth, Kildare: Department of Music, National University of Ireland Maynooth, 2013), 240–287. <http://mural.maynoothuniversity.ie/7743/1/BARBARA%20STRAHAN%20NUI%20MAYNOOTH%20PHD%20THESIS%2020%20AUG%202014%20PDF%20FOR%20THESIS%20CENTRE.pdf> (accessed on January 19, 2021).
The music examples of the Fantasy in F Minor are based on Dohnányi's autograph, kept in the Music Collection of the Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra.
The ensemble's oboists at the time were Hugó Heinz, Artúr Kotraschek, Walter Kruyswyk, Antal Juhász, and Peregrin Turry. BÓNIS, A Budapesti Filharmóniai Társaság, 200–201.
The music examples of Moments musicaux are based on the fair copy Ms. mus. 6062, Dohnányi Collection, Music Collection of the National Széchényi Library.
Veronika KUSZ, “Dohnányi variációs stílusa Szimfonikus percek (op. 36) című zenekari művének IV. tételében, »Tema con variazioni«” [Dohnányi's variation style in the fourth movement of his orchestral work Symphonic Minutes (op. 36): »Tema con variazioni«], in Dohnányi Évkönyv 2003, ed. by Márta SZ. FARKAS and Deborah KISZELY PAPP (Budapest: MTA Zenetudományi Intézet, 2004), 99–100.
This key change could have been motivated by the winds' easier intonation in C minor as compared to the tonality of C-sharp minor.