MusingMuso Posted February 7, 2011 Share Posted February 7, 2011 A VIRTUAL TOUR TO HUNGARY - The organ history, music and organists. (PARTS 1 - 4 CONSOLIDATED & CORRECTED) Step aboard the virtual tour-bus once again; this time to Hungary Ask almost anyone about Hungarian organ-music, and they would probably be able to mention Feranc Liszt and little else, but as I am constantly discovering, there is a rich tradition of Hungarian organ-music, in addition to a substantial number of sparkling contemporary works; of which I was largely unaware. So far as I am know, only Italy could claim to have a longer span of “organ culture” than Hungary. Why? Well, among the remains of the Roman city of Aquincum, (now Budapest), archaeologists discovered the remains of a Roman Hydraulus, which formed the basis for a replicated instrument.Both can be seen in the Fire Museum in Budapest; presumably because someone thought that it was some sort of fire-fighting device when it was dug up. http://orgona.hu/orgonaink/tuzolto_orgona_e.html That apart, the later, Christian culture of Hungary saw the early development of pipe-organs in the country, and presumably a school of performance and composition to go with them. It is recorded that there was an organ in the town of Pecs as early as the 14th century. Unfortunately, the 140 or so years of Turkish/Ottoman Muslim occupation, which started in the 1514, put paid to that particularly early and promising start; both church and organ destroyed by the Turkish Pasha,Gázi Kaszim, during a particularly bloody massacre . By the mid-16th century, Hungary was divided into three parts, and the country was plundered and financially ruined. With the sacking of the Ottoman Turks and the return of Christianity, organs are reported to have been built in the 16th and 17th centuries. These later instruments were inspired by the knowledge carried by the Dominican Fathers, from Vienna, Bologna and Innsbruck; no doubt of an Italianate character, but broadly speaking, church music and organs only flowered again properly during the 19th century. For those who would like a concise history of Hungary, and the endless battles and political struggles, the following gives the main details:- http://impulzus.sch.bme.hu/info/hunhist.html The organ culture of Hungary stems from the co-existence of Catholic and Lutheran churches, as well as the reform style of Judaism, which permitted organs in the synagogues. Naturally, bordering Germany, a great deal of German influence is evident in Hungary, both in terms of organs and music, but was and is the added richness of other musical cultures such as traditional and ancient Hungarian folk-music, gypsy-music and influences from Poland, Slovakia/Moravia (to the North), as well as Romania and Austria. Like all great empires, the Austro-Hungarian Empire which flourished, enjoyed a diversity of cultural influences, from Vienna to Prague to Budapest and all stations in between. A further important addition to the organ-culture of Hungary is to be found among the Jewish community, and especially in Budapest, where 80,000 Jews live, and where the huge synagogue contains a large pipe-organ built by Jemlich, featured in many concerts and recitals. The following YouTube video, from the large synagogue in Budapest, demonstrates Xaver Varnus's ability to let his hair down and stir the souls of 7,000 people in the one building! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I4u2GFwr5Xk...der&list=UL Then the audience let their hair down:- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CQVxBywJpL4...re=more_related It is easy to think that Hungarian organs might be closely related to German/Austrian or Czech instruments, but actually, there was an interesting diversity; largely down to the most successful of all Hungarian domiciled organ-builders. The son of a simple German serf family living in current day Croatia, Josef Angster was certainly unusual; leading almost a life of vagrancy over extended periods, and tramping around Europe on foot. In spite of his curious obsession with travel and the highways and byways of Europe, he somehow learned the craft of organ-building by working with some of the most famous organ-builders of the day. For five year he worked with the organ-builder Peter Titz in Vienna; in the process filling in the gaps in his education and learning the craft thoroughly. Then he was off on foot again; turning up in various major cities and working with organ-builders over a period of ten years. His travels took him as far afield as Prague, Dresden, Leipzig, Berlin, Cologne, Lucerne and finally Paris. It was in Paris (1863-6) that he came under the spell of Cavaille-Coll, and assisted him in the building of organs, including those at Notre Dame and the church of La Trinite, Paris. Finally returning and settling in Hungary, Joszef Angster brought back a depth and breadth of knowledge concerning organ-building, which elicited great admiration, and he was awarded the honour of building, in 1869, the new organ for the synagogue of Pecs. This was obviously a success, and it enabled him to establish an organ-building factory in that town, which still exists to-day as the premises of Pécsi Orgonaépíto Manufaktúra . Amother organ was built for the Cathedral of Kolasca in 1881, and an organ for the Basilica of Pecs in 1889, which was not installed until 1891, due to extensive building work. The Angster firm flourished, building many, many organs in Hungary and elsewhere. The somewhat French character of the early organs gave way to full-blown romanticism, and in 1930, the "magnum opus" of the firm was built at Szeged Dom, with 5 manuals and 134 stops. Here is the Franco-Hungarian sound (in Serbia), as produced by Josef Angster:- The following is the organ at Szeged Cathedral:- http://il.youtube.com/watch?v=WlhmxEgGth8&...feature=related The German-romantic style of organ-building also found its way to Hungary with the work of Rieger, but the movements, ownership and even nationality of the company changed a number of times due to two world wars and changes to national borders. Originally established by Franz Rieger, (Born, Zossen, (Germany) 1812), the company eventually moved to Jägerndorf (now Krnov in the N.E.Czech Republic, close to the border with Poland), where Franz Rieger died in 1896. After his death, the company was handed over to is two sons, Otto Rieger ( 1847 - 1903) and Gustav Rieger ( 1848 - 1905), and eventually re-named 'Gebrüder Rieger.' A branch of the company was opened in Budapest, Hungary, in 1890. In 1900, the firm employed approximately 200 people, and at the end of their lives, the two brothers had built 1072 organs; largely (but not exclusively) within the borders of Austria and Hungary: the firm enjoying a fine reputation. With the death of the two brothers, ownership of the firm passed to yet another Otto Rieger, (1880 - 1920), and under his ownership, a further 1000 organs left the Jägerndorf (Krnov) factory. Importantly, in the last ten years of his life, Otto Rieger moved away from romantic organ-building, pneumatic-action and cone-chests; adopting the classical style then being championed by Albert Schweitzer, including mechanical action and slider-chests. http://il.youtube.com/watch?v=ZVv7zSZbDW8 (Rieger organ, Budapest) http://il.youtube.com/watch?v=I2t7dLqv9n8 (Rieger organ at Trnava, Slovakia) With the death of Otto Rieger in only his 40th year, and with no natural successor, the company was operated by the former works-manager, Josef von Glatter-Götz. After the end of the First World War, the company found itself in the newly re-drawn Czechoslovakia, when Jägerndorf became Krnov All this came to an end in 1943, when the factory was turned over to the making of munitians-crates as part of the growing war-effort by the Reich, following the German occupation. With the geographical and political lines re-drawn once again at the end of the Second World War, the company founded by Franz Rieger more or less ceased to exist, when the communist authorities requisitioned "German" owned firms and nationalised them; the staff of Rieger sent packing to Germany, but leaving behind everything. The company which then incorporated the Rieger name was that of Rieger-Kloss of Krnov: the new management coming from the former Kloss organ firm. Of course, the rest is history, as both Rieger-Kloss and Rieger-Orgelbau,Austria, (as two quite separate concerns), established their own reputations: Rieger-Kloss especially active within the communist sphere of influence, with new organs supplied to Hungary, Czechoslovakia (as was), China, Russia, and elsewhere. Details of the Rieger-Kloss firm are contained in the following Wikipedia article:- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rieger-Kloss The strictly classical style, by way of contrast, as developed by Glatter-Gotz, is splendidly represented by the modern Rieger (Austria) organ of Clifton Cathedral, Bristol. (I think we know the performer!) http://il.youtube.com/watch?v=LW3q2SpFKxo As time goes on, it may be possible to add to the sum of knowledge concerning the history of the organ in Hungary, but it would seem that the promising early start in the 15th century was virtually brought to an end by Ottoman occupation; many churches being converted into Mosques as the indigenous population fled to the more remote areas. This partly explains why the organ appears not to have regained a prominent place in Hungarian musical life until the 19th century. The Turkish/Ottoman forces did not occupy the whole of the Hungarian region, but the country was split into three, and it was in Transylvania and present-day Romania that traditional Hungarian culture survived. Even after the overthrow of Ottoman/Turkish rule, political stability still evaded Hungary, and it was really only in the mid-19th century that a degree of full autonomy was regained. This explains why the rich history of folk-music has played such an important part in Hungarian (Magyar) identity and, which features so strongly in the much later music of Kodaly and especially that of Bartok. In these more remote areas, not only did Folk Music flourish, so too did Gypsy Music, which was to play such an important part in that wild, free-spirited, Magyar quality associated with Franz Liszt. However, one very old organ, built by Johann Woeckerl, may be heard at Sopron, situated in the far NW corner of Hungary. The organ is dated 1633, but includes a single rank of pipes from 1580. Exactly how this organ survived is something of a mystery, because the city was first devastated by the invading turks, then suffered a disastrous fire. For some reason, the Ottoman Turks did not occupy the city; presumably happy to have sacked and plundered it. Consequently, due to the relatively remote position of the city, many ethnic Hungarians fled to Sopron and took up residence there. In the course of time, it became a very fashionable city and something of a holiday retreat for the upper-class; the city having been re-built in the 17th century, with many beautiful baroque buildings. It also had a number of important musical residents at various times; among them, Franz Liszt, Béla Bartók, Franz Lehár and Franz von Suppé. First we hear the single 8ft Flute (1580), in a very appropriate performance of J S Bach's Chorale Prelude, "Wer nur den lieben Gott lasst walten." It is appropriate, because Bach's great, great grandfather, Vitus Bach, lived in Sopron, where he worked as a miller. He is known to have been a regular worshipper in this small cathedral church dedicated to St.George. The attractively bright, presumably Italianate sound of the full chorus, is perfect for this perfromance of a Versetto by Domenico Zipoli; again played by Xaver Varnus. Other early instruments certainly exist in present-day Hungary, and possibly in small towns and villages rather than in the major centres of population. At the time of writing, there are no details of the organ to hand, but the Romanesque 13th C monastery church at Ócsa is very beautiful, and the small organ certainly looks and sounds very old. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NLibovj2mKM...feature=related Another obviously very old instrument is the following at Mencshely, which looks to be in a poor state of repair. The squeaking sound is more than likely coming from a rusty hinge on the blowing handle/pedal. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y7hVN0KX6Uk...feature=related And a few more:- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MVpeO4ongh4...feature=related The fact that these organs appear to be much the same as the day they were built, tends to suggest that organs have been fairly well down the list of priorities in the smaller, country parishes, and that money simply has not been available. It is against this back-drop that the fully mature organ-building work of Joszef Angster is all the more remarkable, and it is not insignificant that the first organ of the firm went to the Jewish Synagogue in Pecs, rather than to a Christian church. However, with the growing pride and nationalism of Hungary, a watershed year occurred in 1848, when various conflicts ensued and the ruling Habsburgs saw power slipping away to ethnic Magyar (Hungarian) interests. The rebels didn't count on the strength and resolve of the new Emperor Franz Joseph, and order was restored after bloody reprisals and various executions in Budapest. (Actually two cities, Buda & Pest, which faced each other across the River Danube, but which were united with the building of the first chain-bridge). To the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Hungary was a prize too valuable to lose, and Hungary's greatest asset was also its biggest problem, in so much as it was and is one of the great bread-baskets of Europe, with well irrigated land and long, hot summers. Rebuilding and unifying a whole country takes time, and from an organ perspective, Hungary missed out on the spectacular developments had occurred in the near neighbours of Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia and Poland; all of which escaped the aggressive onslaught of the Ottomans, and enjoyed some degree of political, economic and religious stability. So in investigating the organ tradition of Hungary, we find ourselves largely skipping the golden years of the baroque period, and the elegant classicism of Vienna. Instead, we turn to the full blown romantic style of the mid-19th century, which just happened to coincide with that growth in Hungarian nationalism, the growth of a definite Hungarian identity and a country which looked towards national heroes. Nowadays, we assume that the spirit of Hungarian music was that of Franz Liszt, but in reality, Liszt left Hungary as very young man, and only visited the country of his birth periodically. Liszt never learned the Hungarian language. As mentioned previously, he was born near Sopron, but the family were as much German as they were Hungarian. His very musical father taught him from an early age; the young Liszt demonstrating a prodigious early talent, and it wasn't long before Franz Liszt ended up in Vienna, before moving to Paris. More critically, the boy Liszt had listened to and absorbed the Roma music of the Hungarian Gypsies, which enjoyed an unbroken tradition and which has had such a profound influence on Hungary's music; not just in terms of impulsive rhythms and tender lyricism, but also in displays of wild virtuosity, for which Liszt became famous across the whole of Europe. http://il.youtube.com/watch?v=5BC62iJGhpM Notice how the Hungarian Gypsy style of slow introduction, tender lyricism and absolute virtuosity combine in this marvellous performance of Liszt's 2nd Hungarian Rhapsody, by the pianist Alfred Brendel:- http://il.youtube.com/watch?v=HlNLJ_EghEA&...feature=related When Liszt visited his home country as a performer, it was as the first musical megastar the world had ever known; courted by royalty, honoured and toasted by high-society, as a phenomenon who totally revolutionised all aspects of keyboard technique, and brought a new meaning to the word virtuosity. Even the title "Transcendental" (as in the meditations), was as much a comment on the almost super-human technique of their creator, but organists were fortunate, in that the technique required of the organ-works does not reach the same dizzy heights. So let's turn our attention to Liszt the performer and showman, and marvel at the technique of a young Hungarian virtuoso of to-day, who plays both piano and organ with equal brilliance. If we let our imagination wander a little, it is not difficult to imagine Franz List seated at the large Angster organ of Kolocsa Kathedral, or playing the piano to a thunderstruck audience. In the following link to the genius of Kiraly Csaba, first listen to the Mephisto Waltz to get some idea of his pianistic virtuosity. Scrolling down to the bottom of web-page, then listen to part of Liszt's B-A-C-H in the organ section (Almost certainly played on the organ of Kolocsa Cathedral). http://www.kiralycsaba.com/audio.htm How many organists can play piano like this and then play the organ with such conviction? This is a very extraordinary, world-class performer, and there is much to enjoy on this splendid web-site, including some marvellous improvisations. The hundred year history of Hungary between 1848 and 1948 is nothing if not complex, with revolution, counter-revolution. wartime occupation, the break-up of an empire, the establishment of a communist-socialist state and conflict all around, it is a miracle that anyone found time to write or play music at all.....but they did. The towering figure of Franz Liszt was never surpassed in Hungarian music, but the growth of Hungarian nationalism after the mid-19th century, unleashed a certain interest in true Hungarian music, which was not restricted to the music of the Roma, but also included folk-songs with a very lengthy history. Concurrent to this were various academic and artistic drives to model Hungarian music on German and French styles. As noted previously, that same dichotomy is reflected in the French-style of the organ-builder Joszef Angster, and in the purely German-style of Rieger; the two pre-eminent figures in Hungarian organ history. Let's hear a bigger, later Angster instrument, which clearly demonstrates the French connection played by Ágnes Sztahura on the organ in the Dzsámi of Pécs, (a former Mosque built by the Turks). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-UqeNSLZ-YQ...feature=related Musically, in a country which tolerated, (and still accommodates), both Catholic and Protestant denominations, as well as a thriving Jewish community, the catholic churches had their plainsong, the Lutheran churches their Lutheran hymnody , the Jews their own musical culture, the ethnic Hungarians their choir-songs and folk- songs and the Roma their gypsy heritage. In other words, musicians in Hungary were facing south, north, east and west simultaneously, but there was no distinctly Hungarian art-music character to fill the void after the death of Franz Liszt . Perhaps this amusing transcription sums up the musical plight of Hungary well into the 20th century:- Unfortunately, by the end of the 19th century, Hungarian music seems to have lost direction, and although music flourished, the quality of composition fell, and nothing approached the fire and passion of Liszt. Even the promising use of ethnic, historic Hungarian melody had degenerated into salon music, and many musical academics turned towards the music of Austria, Germany and France. During the 20th century, in spite of one political and social upheaval after another, Hungarian music appears to have made a huge turn-around in quality and style, and music enjoyed high status in Hungarian teaching, as it does to this day. The towering figures to emerge in the 20th century were Zoltan Kodaly and Bela Bartok; the latter eventually taking up residence in America as a protest against the rise of fascism. What these composers achieved was remarkable, for in their extensive studies of ethnic folk-music around the world, they re-discovered the older folk-songs of Hungary; some of which dated back over a thousand years. This was different to the traditional Roma music of the gypsies, which many outside Hungary regarded as ethnic Hungarian, and which caused a number of Hungarian themed restaurants in America to have musicians parading around, playing Gypsy music, dressed like Bela Lagosi. In so far as organ-music was concerned, the composer Feranc Kutor (1888-1970) perhaps typifies Hungarian music around the turn of the century and beyond. Perhaps not great music, but certainly worthy music for the most part, there is little to suggest a particular Hungarian spirit in the mp3 examples. (Click on the first left-hand link marked "Zenemuvei" and then on the mp3 tabs as required). http://www.artisjus.hu/kutorferenc/ The 20th century history of Hungary is nothing of not complicated, with two world wars, the end of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918, the deportation and endless misery of Hungarian Jews and, by no means least, the growing influence of the socialists. In 1949, the communist party took power and Hungary fell under the influence of the Soviet State, and into the grip of an iron-fisted communist dictator to rival Josef Stalin. Both Hungary and the former Czechoslovakia suffered particularly harsh communist regimes, and it was a brave comrade indeed who went against the dictates of the authorities. None of us have experienced the artistic constraints of vetting committees, which required that music comply to a set of formulaic values, and then searched for “subversive” elements in music and art. None of us have ever been obliged to make our music “the music of the people,” yet this is precisely what occurred in the quite recent history of many former communist states. Consequently, the use of folk-song, which had started as a musical and intellectual quest by Bartok and Kodaly, became a formal blueprint for what was really “state approved music.” Fortunately, within those constraints, composers of real genius managed to turn out some compelling music; much of it unknown to the wider world. (The best example with which we will all be familiar, is the Ukrainian/Russian composer Georgi Mushel, who worked in deepest Tashkent in Central Asia, and who was sent there as part of the effort to win over the Uzbek people by using Uzbek folk-tunes in music. It gave us a splendid Toccata at the very least, but whether it furthered the cause of Soviet Communist consolidation and stability is a matter of conjecture). Let’s hear a little Kodaly in the form of three of the nine “Epigrams” for unspecified instruments, here played on an Angster organ by Katalin Mali:- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xB13WbJ3wo8...der&list=UL Just as Bartok and Kodaly were re-discovering the folk-song heritage of the Magyar, another organist and composer was doing remarkable things. His name was Dezső Antalffy-Zsiross ( 1885 - 1945) wh had studied with Max Reger, Karl Straube and Enrico Bossi. In addition to being the organist of St.Stephen's Basilica, Budapest, he was also an organ tutor at the Franz Liszt Academy. In his later years, he moved to America, where he took up the appointment as organist at the Radio City Music Hall; home to the gigantic Wurlitzer theatre organ. He was also the official organist the the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. http://www.atos.org/Pages/Journal/RadioCity/RadioCity.html His compositions are utterly remarkable, and quite unlike anything else in the repertoire, and as an arranger, he arranged the "Wedge" Prelude & Fugue by Bach(BWV548) as an orchestral transcription; perhaps with an eye on what Stokowski was doing elsewhere. Under the excellent fingers and feet of Dénes Kapitány, we can hear four of these remarkable works played on the organ of Zirc Abbey:- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LW508GV7I6k...der&list=UL Kapitány Dénes organ: Antalffy-Zsiross Dezső Ünnepi ének (Chant solennel) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMv3dWRIAQw...relatedKapitány Dénes organ:Antalffy-Zsíross Dezső Felhők vándorlása (Drifting Clouds) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kI-Jt8XBCRo...ynext=1Kapitány Dénes organ: Antalffy-Zsiross Dezső Virágének (Minnesang) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qV4qjD3Dg7c...feature=related[/url ] "Sportive Fauns" Dénes organ: Antalffy-Zsiross Dezső Sketches on Negro Spiritual Songs, Szilárd Kovács - Organ Finally, "Christmas Chimes" by the same composer, played by Xaver Varnus on the organ of Canterbury Cathedral:- For anyone who wishes to explore this wonderful world of harmony and lyricism, there is a pdf. file download available of his Pastorale (in canonic form) for Organ on the following link:- http://imslp.org/wiki/Sc%C3%A8ne-Pastorale...C_Dezs%C5%91%29 The story of Hungarian organ-music would not exist but for what is clearly a remarkable education-system, which values music as a subject on a par with all other subjects and areas of studies. If the "official" style of the communist years created a certain sterility, then the younger geenration of composers and performers have achieved nothing short of a miracle; once more free to pursue all avenues of study. This is all the more remarkable when we consider that there are probably no professional church-musicians in Hungary; the money simply not being there. Organists have to make a living elsewhere, by way of teaching or performing other music on different instruments. Take, for instance, the very gifted organist Istvan Ruppert, who originally studied mechanical engineering and spent some time as a professional football-player. Although he had learned to play the piano, he did not approach the organ until the age of 24, when he was persuaded to play the organ for a family wedding. Instantly falling in love with the instrument, he started serious musical study; realising that his true vacation was as an organist. In only four years, he graduated in music performance at the Franz Liszt Academy, Budapest, and was immediately offered the position of organ-tutor there. He follows in the footsteps of Kodaly, Bartok and Eugene Ormandy; all of whom studied there. In addition, he is director of the Department of Music, Szechenyi University in Gyor, as well as the organist of St.Stephen's Basilica, Budapest. The following demonstrates the power of his performing ability, in a performance of Buxtehude's Toccata in D minor (BuxWV 155) played on the organ of the Benedictine Abbey,Tihany, Hungary. Does it get any better than this? From Gyor, we may also hear the Sonata in G minor (2nd, 3rd 4th movements), by J.B. Loillet de Gant, with Dr Ruppert at the organ, and Simon Zsolt playing trumpet. Next, we will look at Hungarian contributions to 20th century organ-literature, some remarkable improvisations and some of the more spectacular instruments to be found in Hungary to-day, but before that, we can listen to something wonderfully creative and original. Take a Trio Sonata (no.6 in G major), an organ (Liszt Academy, Great Hall, Budapest), and a grand piano, and put them together, with a freely improvised, additional piano part. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y9QkWepQNoE...feature=related I think I would like to have been at that performance. If 19th century Hungary produced only Liszt as a major composer for organ, and others were completely overshadowed by his fiery brilliance, it would be easy to assume that the 20th century would be no better. However, nothing could be further from the truth; largely due to the remarkable scholarship of both Bela Bartok and Zoltan Kodaly. In their careful studies of folk-music, Hungarian musicians were able to discover a native Magyar musical identity going back in excess of 1,000 years, (possibly as much as 2,000 years with links to China and Mongolia), in addition to the hymnody of the Lutheran church, the long association with catholic plainsong. the gypsy music tradition (largely unaccompanied) and the songs associated with the large Jewish community in and around what is now Budapest. (Originally two cities, Buda and Pest; facing each other across the River Danube, and now linked by bridges). One of the strongest elements in Hungarian folk-music is the use of Pentatonic scales; both major and minor. (Known as the "Blues" scale and familiar to any jazz musician) A further characteristic is the way in which the melody is often repeated a 5th lower. In terms of rhythm, there are clear distinctions between those songs based on speech-rhythm and those using a strict rhythm. (The latter possibly associated with folk dances). With the historic and practical work of Bartok and Kodaly, the true potential of Hungarian music was unleashed; bringing folk-song, pentatonic harmony and vibrant rhythms to life. It might also be far to suggest that Kodaly was not only a great composer, he was also a remarkable educationist; placing emphasis on practical music-teaching rather than initial theory, which to-day is know as the "Kodaly Method." It should be noted that during the years of Hungarian communism, (a particularly harsh regime), "folk music" was "the music of the people," and as such, art-music should serve the people as well as the state by actively including it. Whatever the constraints of the communist artistic-approval system, some composers were eager to explore different avenues; among them the composer of this:- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y7xw-0xArcY...B7E899634C4F622 This work, known as "Atmospheres" was written by Gyorgy Ligeti, a composer actually born in Romania, but to a Hungarian family who spoke only Hungarian. He went on to study in Budapest, and then taught there before fleeing to Vienna after Soviet tanks rolled into Hungary. His interest in avante garde music was mainly inspired by composers such as Stockhausen, which would not have found approval had he remained in Hungary .This work was used as the final part of the score to Kubrick's still amazing film,"2001... A space odyssey." This sort of music may not find much favour among organists, but perhaps we should be aware of the fact that his work entitled "Volumina" enjoys a certain notoriety, because when it was first performed in the UK, at the Royal Festival Hall, the fuses of the organ blew and the instrument fell silent! In terms of technique, "Volumina" is nothing if not interesting, as the following video demonstrates. Clearly, "mad monks" are not restricted to Russia, and the techniques required must have taken years to acquire.....or none at all....... depending upon one's critical faculties. What I do know, is that when "Volumina" was later performed in a recital in Leeds Parish Church, 26 people walked out and those who remained (myself included) almost drowned in their own silent tears. Not even Liszt's "Weinen, Klagen" has that effect on people. If twelve-tone, serial technique and music concrete interested a rash of western european composers, the effect on Hungarian composers was less marked, and if Kodaly and Bartok between them failed to provide much in the way of organ-repertoire, others have filled the void, using a distinctly Hungarian musical language. Ite Missa est - Kodaly (from Organ Mass) Overdue lament for Zoltan Kodaly (possibly a transcription) - László Bojtár A remarkable composer, who studied with Zoltan Kodaly (Budapest) and Paul Hindemith (Berlin), was Zoltán Gárdonyi (1906-1986). He composed a great deal of church and organ-music, and had worked at the Franz Liszt Conservatory in Budapest, (the city of his birth), where he headed the Department of Protestant Church Music. This department was closed in 1949; presumably as a result of anti-religious, communist party policy. Thereafter, he succeeded in moving to Germany, where he continued to produce works of high quality. Equally important is his son, Zsolt Gárdonyi, who studied in his native city of Budapest before moving to Germany with his father. He is Professor of Music Theory at the State Conservatory in Würzburg, Bavaria, as well as being a renowned organist. To lighten the mood a little, here is an amusing work from Zsolt Gárdonyi, entitled "Mozart changes." Make of it what you will, but it is great fun. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cHGWjLjqAmc...feature=related In the following videos, we hear some of the works, both by father and son Gárdonyi, played live in concert. Unfortunately, I have not been able to work out where the concert took place, but the description is written in Hungarian; suggesting that all the musicians are of that country. It is remarkable that the concert is performed almost exclusively by children and students, who clearly play extremely well; some at a quite young age. (If anyone can decipher the rubric, it would help a great deal). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FAvshtp1FYg...feature=related http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L8IungSEsVc...der&list=UL http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0U1XlVfkdVQ...der&list=UL http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m1m2Ey2xoRM...der&list=UL http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qsDFaSe1Zg4...der&list=UL http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y94s0Ay28Fw...feature=related An altogether more reflective work, by Zsolt Gárdonyi, are the "Krisztus hét szava a keresztfán" set of variations for organ, played by Szilárd Kovács:- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZlWzYirWihs...feature=related Another very commendable work is Zsolt Gardonyi's "Grande Choeur", of which there is a YouTube video played on one of the modern electronic wonders of our age. Another fine Hungarian composer was Frigyes Hidas (pronounced Freejiess Hidash), who among other things, wrote an organ concerto; the last movement of which is here played by Xaver Varnus on the organ of the Palace of Arts, Budapes, with the Danubia Symphonic Orchestra:- Perhaps the most Hungarian of all composers for the organ was Istvan Koloss, a pupil of Bela Bartok, who died last year. (1932-2010) He not only used Hungarian folk-song, but was not averse to the use of 12-tone harmony. In the following video, the organist is Sándor Balatoni, (Organist of Esztergom Basilica), and the registrand is the late Istvan Koloss himself. The work is entitled "Res severa verum gaudium" and the organist is Sándor Balatoni, (Organist of Esztergom Basilica). The organ, built by Rieger, is that in the Egyetemi templom, Budapest. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NIIqXfHyX9U...feature=related Another work by Koloss, played by Sándor Balatoni at the Basilica of Pecs, is the "Magyar karácsony" based on Hungarian songs:- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rtAdFj0n2fc...jQ4&index=2 Most attempts at pastiche composition are doomed to failure before they start, but in the hands of Hungarian organist/composer Szilárd Kovács , the end result is not just remarkable, it is quite outstanding. There's a special treat awaiting anyone who likes the Dupre "Noel Variations," because using the same structure and techniques as a tribute to Dupre, the Hungarian organist/composer Szilárd Kovács has written a set of variations, based not on a Noel, but on a Hungarian folk-hymn to great effect. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZgmcfgirHHc...feature=related As if this were not enough, the same composer wrote a Prelude & Fugue in D minor, in Baroque style, which is nothing short of brilliant. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g8T_e-Tk3m8...feature=related If the father and son Zoltan and Zsolt Gardoyni took residence in Germany, other Hungarian organists have moved elsewhere and established an enviable reputation. One of the most promising and creative of the younger generation is Balint Karosi. Not only a remarkable organist, he is an increasingly respected composer, brilliant at improvisation and no mean clarinettist. He is currently in Boston, where he is organist and director of music at the Lutheran Church there. In his own words, he says the following:- “I like improvisation the most, especially in baroque style. One should know a great deal of theory, harmony and counterpoint and be able to transpose any ideas on the spot. It is a lifelong task to master, a source of constant challenge and inspiration, and it is very rewarding on a nice instrument.” He appears to be getting there, judging by the following:- Improvisation on a Hungarian Christmas Carol Part I "Mennyböl az Angyal" (Angels from Heaven) Balint Karosi's web-site is a veritable treasure-store of fine playing and interesting music, including some of his own compositions. The web-site takes a little working out, but with persistence, it is possible to hear Balint Karosi play clarinet as well as organ. First go to the Audio/Video tab, and then select the required genre from the appropriate category tab. http://karosi.org/news.php In only a few, often very turbulent decades, the Hungarians seem to have made a remarkable leap forward, and the younger generation must take most of the credit for this. Not only has a very worthy school of composition emerged, so too have a number of quite outstanding performers. Whether this is due to the legacy of Liszt and the pianistic virtuosity associated with him, is a matter for conjecture, but quite clearly, the music teaching is of a very high order indeed. The following is a veritable "tour de force" of organ performance, and even if the sound quality is not perfect by any means, it demonstrates a certain expectation that the professional performer works without the score, just as concert pianists do. Perhaps it is practical conformation of the familiar conductor's maxim:- "Keep the score in your head: not your head in the score." But the whole of Reger's Symphonic Fantasy & Fugue Op.57 "The Inferno" is a massive undertaking, even with the pages on the music desk!!!!! Szabó Balázs demonstrates how to do it:- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XcA0D_tlhXU...feature=related (Fugue only) The whole Fantasy is on YouTube (in three parts) for those of a strong disposition. When it comes to improvisation, the best Hungarian organists can be impressive, as the following demonstrate:- Firstly, László Fassang imrpovises brilliantly on a popular Japanese folk-song, playing the organ of the Kitara Concert Hall, Sapporo, Japán, where he was organist for some time. This is surely the equal of any French improvisation? http://www.fassang.hu/music.php "Improvizáció egy japán gyermekdalra" Then there are those who share a console and live dangerously. The following is a four-handed improvisation, played on the 4-manual Angster organ of the Belvárosi Church, Baja.(Scroll down the link and click on the last tab). http://jsebestyen.org/audio.html NEW ORGANS IN HUNGARY There are a surprising number of organ-builders in Hungary, but not every organ-builder survived the harsh reality of the post-communist era and the more recent international, economic meltdown, which has had such a drastic effect on the fortunes of the newer EU member-states. I am grateful to the Discussion Board Member, Matej Podstenek, in Slovenia, who studied in Graz but has played some of the organs mentioned, and also met the organist/composer Istvan Koloss. He contacted me with a number of extra details, which made my search a little easier. Among numerous other things, he informed me that the "Aquincum" company had ceased to exist, which is a pity. They seem to have built some nice instruments:- There are, of course, some quite large instruments in Hungary, of which the most recent addition is the splendid instrument in the "Palace of Arts" Budapest, which we heard earlier, built jointly by the German firm of Mühleisen and the Hungarian firm of Pécsi Orgonaépíto Manufaktúra The specification can be found here:- http://orgelbau-muehleisen.de/de/15/Neue-P...nie.html?wid=70 Other notable instruments can be found in Budapest (St Matthias., St Anne's., The main synagogue., The Jewish cemetery, St Steven's Basilica and many other churches. There are also notable instruments at such places as Pecs Cathedral, (Angster organ), Kolocsa Cathedral, Szeged, Tyhany and Debrecen, but the biggest and most remarkable is the still incomplete instrument at Esztergom Cathedral; the 18th largest church in Christendom, with a staggeringly long (11 secs) reverberation. But for the total dedication of the organist Istvan Baroti, this instrument possibly wouldn't exist; not least down to a lack of funding over the years. When complete, the organ will have just short of 150 registers spread across 5-manuals; of which about 90 registers are currently installed. There is a full account of the organ and a downloadable stop-list on the following website:- http://esztergomorgan.synthasite.com/ Unfortunately, almost all the YouTube videos are either with very poor sound, or in the case of the Olivier Latry recording, way back in time when the organ was about half the size it is now. Much better are the audio samples on the above website. I hope this little tour, as well as the Czech one, will stimulate a little interest in two countries which are a little outside the usual interests of English organists, for it is very apparent that a very different and thriving organ-culture exists in the parts of Europe once cut off from us, and which, with the modern miracle of the internet, are now revealing their undoubted treasures. We'll end, not with a video of a Hungarian organ, but with a Hungarian organist, János Pálúr, playing the full Liszt B-A-C-H on the Mascioni (Italy) organ of St.Mary's Cathedral, Tokyo. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=at5u2bZuVSw...feature=related MM Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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