Béla Bartók and Turn-of-the-Century Budapest (Google eBook)

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University of California Press, Feb 21, 1998 - Biography & Autobiography - 367 pages
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Bart k's music is greatly prized by concertgoers, yet we know little about the intellectual milieu that gave rise to his artistry. Bart k is often seen as a lonely genius emerging from a gray background of an "underdeveloped country." Now Judit Frigyesi offers a broader perspective on Bart k's art by grounding it in the social and cultural life of turn-of-the-century Hungary and the intense creativity of its modernist movement. Bart k spent most of his life in Budapest, an exceptional man living in a remarkable milieu. Frigyesi argues that Hungarian modernism in general and Bart k's aesthetic in particular should be understood in terms of a collective search for wholeness in life and art and for a definition of identity in a rapidly changing world. Is it still possible, Bart k's generation of artists asked, to create coherent art in a world that is no longer whole? Bart k and others were preoccupied with this question and developed their aesthetics in response to it. In a discussion of Bart k and of Endre Ady, the most influential Hungarian poet of the time, Frigyesi demonstrates how different branches of art and different personalities responded to the same set of problems, creating oeuvres that appear as reflections of one another. She also examines Bart k's "Bluebeard's Castle," exploring philosophical and poetic ideas of Hungarian modernism and linking Bart k's stylistic innovations to these concepts.
  

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Contents

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XXXVIII
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XXXIX
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Page 34 - That life no longer dwells in the whole. The word becomes sovereign and leaps out of the sentence, the sentence reaches out and obscures the meaning of the page, the page gains life at the expense of the whole - the whole is no longer a whole. But this is the simile of every style of decadence: every time, the anarchy of atoms, disgregation of the will, 'freedom of the individual,' to use moral terms-expanded into a political theory, 'equal rights for all.
Page 34 - What is the sign of every literary decadence? That life no longer dwells in the whole. The word becomes sovereign and leaps out of the sentence, the sentence reaches out and obscures the meaning of the page, the page gains life at the expense of the whole — the whole is no longer a whole.2 But this is the simile of every style of decadence: every time, the anarchy of atoms, disgregation of the will, "freedom of the individual...
Page 31 - A real composer does not compose merely one or more themes, but a whole piece. In an apple tree's blossoms, even in the bud, the whole future apple is present in all its details — they have only to mature, to grow, to become the apple, the apple tree, and its power of reproduction. Similarly, a real composer's musical conception, like the physical, is one single act, comprising the totality of the product. The form in its outline, characteristics of tempo, dynamics...
Page 24 - A composer — a real creator — composes only if he has something to say which has not yet been said and which he feels must be said: a musical message to music-lovers. Under what circumstances can he feel the urge to write something that has already been said, as it has in the case of the static treatment of folksongs?
Page 31 - ... expresses C major or G major, or even F major or E minor; and the addition of other tones may or may not clarify this problem. In this manner there is produced a state of unrest, of imbalance which grows throughout most of the piece, and is enforced further by similar functions of the rhythm. The method by which balance is restored seems to me the real idea of the composition.
Page 25 - These masterpieces of man were brought forth in obedience to the same laws as the masterpieces of Nature. Before them, all that is arbitrary and imaginary collapses: there is Necessity, there is God

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About the author (1998)

Judit Frigyesi is Associate Professor at Bar-Ilan University.

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