The 'Question of Nationalism' and the Hungarian Musicology during the State Socialist Period

Péteri, Lóránt (2015) The 'Question of Nationalism' and the Hungarian Musicology during the State Socialist Period. In: Nationality vs Universality: Musical Historiographies in Central and Eastern Europe. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. (In Press)

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In my paper, I wish to raise questions pertinent to the changing conceptualization of ‘national music history’ in the post-Stalinist period of Hungarian state socialism. I wish to argue that the political power’s strengthening cautiousness about nationalism was accompanied by an emerging tolerance towards thematic and methodological diversity in the field of musicology. From 1948 onwards, the Hungarian reception of Zhdanovschina promoted the institutionalization of the study of folk music and research in the ‘national musical traditions’. In 1953 the Hungarian Academy of Sciences set up a Folk Music Research Group under Zoltán Kodály’s leadership. After the repression of the anti-Stalinist revolution of 1956 whose representatives often applied the rhetoric of national independence, the so-called ‘progressive’ nationalism encouraged by Stalinism was no longer in high demand as was clearly shown in the 1959 theses of the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party titled ‘On bourgeois nationalism and socialist patriotism’. The theses forcefully provoked a public debate on the ‘nationalistic trends’ of Hungarian musicology. Around 1960, on a number of occasions, the Folk Music Research Group became the target of the new cultural-political managements for its ‘reactionary nationalism’. However, the outcome of these proceedings cannot be merely described as a communist ideological purge. This time, on the contrary, the shift in ideology created an opportunity to promote the cultivation of general musicological themes, the emergence and consolidation of Bartók- and Haydn-scholarship, and a broader understanding of historical, multi-ethnic Hungary’s musical culture set in its regional and European, or even Western European contexts. In 1959, an international Haydn conference was held in Budapest. The Budapest Bartók Archives was launched in 1961. Its director, musicologist Bence Szabolcsi then saw to it that the Archives gradually metamorphosed into a many-sided centre for musicological research. The research of the medieval musical culture of Hungary began to flourish also in the 1960s. Its leading initiator, the former Prior of the Cistercian Order, Bence Rajeczky focused on the traditions plainchant and on the early polyphony in Hungary, as well as on the Western and Mediterranean connections of Hungarian folk music. After the death of Kodály, Rajeczky’s appointment as the succeeding leader of the Folk Music Group was, at least, tolerated by communist cultural policy makers, while it was received unfavourably by some researchers of folk music preoccupied with ethno-national specificities.

Item Type: Book Section
Subjects: D History General and Old World / történelem > DN Middle Europe / Közép-Európa > DN1 Hungary / Magyarország
M Music and Books on Music / zene, szövegkönyvek, kották > M1 Music / zene > M10 Theory and philosophy of music / zeneelmélet, muzikológia
Depositing User: Dr Péteri Lóránt
Date Deposited: 26 Sep 2015 05:14
Last Modified: 26 Sep 2018 23:15

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