Ferenc Farkas: Early Hungarian Dances from the 17th century
The composer wrote of his work
In the music of Hungary, folk songs are manifestly of great importance, on the other hand our ancient airs and dances play a modest role. For this work I have been influenced by dances of the 17th century, written by unknown amateurs in a relatively simple style. Most of these dances were recorded between the 14th and 18th centuries under the usual form of tablature notation. My interest in this music was first captured in the 1940s. I was so fascinated that I decided to give these melodies new life.
Two Centuries Military Music in Hungary
The purpose of this book is to describe the function of military music in the musical life of Hungary in a historical context. With this historical account, it can contribute to the general wind music history revealing the details of band music in that culture. The study analyzes the music of the Hungarian Permanent Army from the early eighteenth century until the middle of the twentieth century. The musical development from the instruments of tunesters is described from the oboists, harmonie, and the seminal appearance of wind band as we know it today. Through the biographical sketches of conductors, descriptions of instruments used in various instrumentations, the role of the uniform unique to each band, and programs of the performed music, the study also describes the function of band music in the cultural life of Hungarian cities during this particular period. This descriptive study is an account of 200 years of Hungarian military music.
László Marosi was born in Sárvár, Hungary. He studied conducting at the Liszt Academy of Music, Budapest, with Tamás Breitner. From 1982 to 1997 he was conductor of the Hungarian Central Army Wind Orchestra and recorded several works by Franz Liszt and contemporary Hungarian composers such as Kamilló Lendvay, Frigyes Hidas, László Dubrovay, Iván Patachich, János Decsényi, István Láng, and György Ránki. He also widely toured with the Orchestra throughout Europe. Besides, he taught conduction at the Teacher Training Faculty of the Liszt Academy, conducted the Academy’s Wind Band, and, from 1993 he became conductor of the professional Budapest Symphonic Band. Between 1989 and 1994, Marosi conducted more than fifty performances annually with the Budapest State Operetta Theater Orchestra. He was invited as a guest conductor by the Matáv Symphony Orchestra in Budapest, and toured Europe with the Strauss Symphony Orchestra in 1996 and 1998.
Following his professional career in Hungary, he earned a MM in conducting and a PhD in music education at Florida State University with James Croft and Philip Spurgeon. He frequently conducted the University Symphony Orchestra, including acclaimed performances of the music of Ellen Taaffe Zwilich and Shulamit Ran. As Visiting Professor, Dr. Marosi served as Associate Conductor of the FSU Wind Orchestra during the 2002/2003 academic year.
As guest conductor, lecturer and adjudicator he has appeared throughout Europe, England, Israel, South Africa, Namibia, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Honduras, Colombia, Peru, Japan, Kazakhstan, Mexico and in the United States.
For his contributions to Hungarian contemporary music, he was twice awarded the Artisjus prize by the Hungarian Composers’ Union. In 1997 he was awarded the FAME prize for his international conducting activities and won the RIA award for his international research activities at University of Central Florida in 2012.
Just published: Ungaresca by Győrffy
Hungarian or Hungarian-style dance music which flourished in the 16th and17th centuries - generally referred to as ungaresca - represents a valuable part of European musical tradition. István Győrffy’s work with its characteristically Hungarian tone, composed between 2007 and 2010, is a late successor of this tradition.
Music with Chequered Ears
Television viewers of nearly a hundred countries have experienced Árpád Balázs's touching melodies. The series of cartoons
have neither dialogue nor text: the music presents the amiable and entertaining adventures of the rabbit with chequered ears and its friends. Balázs has rephrased and developed the well-known melodies and as a result a ''children's story symphony''
of seven movements has been created in which, in contrast with Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf, there is no narrator but the instruments themselves represent the story-tellers. The composer has again associated the groups of instruments with one another in a colourful and varied manner, skilfully alternating the modes of solo, chamber orchestra and orchestra. Movements I, II, IV and VII represent a ''short suite'' that can be independently performed, thus due to its duration of four minutes and easier level, ensembles with more modest opportunities can also perform it. The most well-known parts of the cartoon series music - the main title and the ending - are included in both versions.
Spring, 2013: Three new pieces
The second half of the 18th century, for the people of East Central Europe, was the time of the awakening of national consciousness. The leading force in the Hungarian enlightenment, the lesser nobility, also regarded as important the national character of the country's culture. A valuable kind of national music was the Hungarian dance music that flourished in the 18th century. The greater part of the repertoire naturally perpetuates the "Hungarian-style" pieces from the previous centuries (appearing in foreign collections too described as hungaricus, ungaresca, saltus hungaricus or Ungarischer Tanz), but beside these we can encounter contemporary European dances and entertaining instrumental pieces in almost every style.
The majority of the sources are collections compiled by non-professional musicians and intendedfor private music-making. In this work the composer uses melodies from the 18th-century Linus dance collection, in trioform, with harmonies and bass appropriate to that period. The musical fabric is rich in counterparts, the sound is mademore colourful with many kinds of percussion instruments. The register and rhythmic simplicity of the parts make the pieces easily playable even by music school pupils.
At the turn of the 19th-20th century every town in Europe and overseas with any pretensions to style created in its centre a promenade, a street or square where people could stroll and meet. At a prominent spot on each promenade a music pavilion was erected, and nowadays nostalgia is causing these to be found again in more and more communities. There in the afternoons military, firemen's and student bands played music by Lehár, Fučik and Sousa. Waltzes, marches and pleasant, bittersweet melodies reminiscent of what are seen as the happy, peaceful days before the First World War and the worldwide Great Depression.
Árpád Balázs's work entitled Promenade evokes that period with undeniable sympathy and pays tribute to it, but in such a way that it becomes clear to everyone that this series of variations represents a 21st-century composer's reminiscences... The instrumentation itself shows that the composer is very familiar with the period he is referring to, and the possibilities of that time: in the relatively small pavilions there was room only for "double brass". The essentially complete woodwind section reveals that similarly to the works for wind band by the above-mentioned composers, this composition by Balázs is open-air music to be played sitting down. Music intended not for marching to, but for a promenade pavilion or rather a concert hall.Wherever Promenade is performed, its great wealth of melodies and extremely colourful instrumentation will ensure its success.
István Bogár's series of movements intended for youngsters is colourfully instrumented, evocative music, rich in melodic invention, in character it is most closely akin to Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker ballet music. In the opening movement (Little march), which is in trio form, little boys wearing paper shakos on their heads and carrying wooden swords play at soldiers. The following movement, Humming, is the only movement in the suite that is calm and in odd-numbered rhythm; in it the children gather flowers in their little baskets, and meanwhile hum pleasant tunes. The third movement (Funny game) is an exciting little three-part form including variations. It is a funny game, with its tempo sometimes speeding up, sometimes slowing down, but by the end really going wild. The title of the finale is Game of tag. The tiny formal sections and interludes in this lively, cheerful music are linked together by a recurring rondo theme, and the chase ends with a brief coda.
The Hungarian Rondo by Árpád Balázs is cheerful, good-humoured music, a finely formed work crafted withgreat professional skill.
Its structure is clear: the double recurrence of the rondo theme results in a five-part form. The two episodes differ in character. The first consists of increasingly densely woven imitations that chase eachother playfully; the second evokes the mood of bagpipe tunes. In the latter, above the melody moving evenly incrotchets in the middle parts a pastel-tinted cloud of woodwind notes floats upwards, while the sound is extended downwards by the deep-toned brass stepping lower by semitones. A brilliant device by the composer! In thecourse of its repeats the rondo theme appears more and more richly garbed; particularly the sparkling semiquavers of the woodwind make it ever more decorative.
The Hungarian Rondo is the kind of music that drives your cares away.
Zempléni: European Journey. Grade: 2. Duration: 7 min.
The author arranged European folk songs from Germany, Ireland, France, Norway, Albania, Italy and Hungary, for young band. The pieces can be performed as a coherent series or separately, and conductors can select from them to form 2-, 3- or 4-movement groups.
Balázs: Early Hungarian Dances from Gömör. Grade: 3. Duration: 4:20.
The composer has breathed new life into the 18th-century melodies, as Zoltán Kodály did with the Galanta and Marosszék dances, Antonin Dvořák with Slav dances, and Johannes Brahms with those of Hungary. The chief virtues of the work are its colourful, varied instrumentation, the tasteful combination of its archaic style with the musical language of our day, and not least the fact that its every bar is enjoyable to play and easy to listen to.
New concert band publications
We have pleasure in introducing the new volumes of the EMB Concert Band Series, featuring works by István Bogár, László Dubrovay, Antal Farkas and Kamilló Lendvay, among others.