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The Salon as the Scene of Music and Social Life in Jacques Offenbach’s Operetta M. Choufleuri restera chez lui le…
The study explores the ways, in which the salon is represented as the scene of contemporary Parisian music and social life in Jacques Offenbach’s 1861 M. Choufleuri restera chez lui le…(Mr. Cauliflower Will Be at Home). Since Siegfried Dörffeldt’s definitive work, the important role of opera parodies in early French operetta has become something of a truism. Opera parody as a genre looks back on a long-standing written tradition originating in the mid-seventeenth century. It is, however, important to examine what types of opera this particular Offenbach work parodies and how the parody works. Tercet No. 4 begins with verbatim quotes from Giacomo Meyerbeer’s Robert le diable, the most frequently played French grand opera of the nineteenth century (première: Académie Impériale de Musique, Paris, 1831), and Adrien Boïeldieu’s popular opéra-comique, La dame blanche (première: Théâtre de l’Opéra-Comique, Paris, 1825). Later, Tercet No 6, entitled Trio italien de la malédiction, is a more aristocratic example of musical parody. In this, the lyrics, the plot and the music spoof Italian Risorgimento operas, particularly Vincenzo Bellini’s works. By analysing these two types of musical parody, the study offers a brief summary of the genre, as well as a discussion of the institutional context of the creation of the piece and the social context of the parodied opera types. In M. Choufleuri restera chez lui le, the petit bourgeois M. Choufleuri chooses to stage Italian opera in his salon. His motive was that Italian opera was considered more aristocratic in Paris at that time than the bourgeois French grand opera quoted at the entrance of the young composer courting M. Choufleuri’s daughter. Besides references to the music scene at the time of the plot (1833), the ‘Italian Tercet’ performed in M. Choufleuri’s salon owes its contemporary relevance to recent events of musical and public life at the time of the première: the scandalous Paris performance of Wagner’s Tannhäuser, Jean Poniatowski’s Paris premières, and the increasing popularity of Verdi operas in France.
Damsel at the Piano: Music in the Private Life of the Middle Classes in the Nineteenth Century
During the nineteenth century, music became an important accessory in the spheres of private life for the middle classes. The bourgeoisie borrowed the modes of representative music consumption of the upper classes in a more modest form: instead of hired music professionals, a guest or the girls of the house performed music at social functions. While the aim of the bourgeois salon music was supposed to provide a kind of ‚secular sacral’ experience, the ritual of playing and enjoying music was also an accessory of social representation for most people. As there were more and more people who assumed the lifestyle and behaviour norms of the educated middle class, an increasing number of them also considered listening to classical music boring and tedious. Due to the fashion of musical entertainment at home, the small upright piano quickly became an indispensable part of the furniture of urban upper and middle classes. The key to the success of this expensive instrument was that it was capable of representing two important sources of prestige at once: wealth and education. Learning to sing and play the piano became a must for well-bred daughters. A finely trained singing voice and piano skills raised the social prestige of the individual and their family, and such skills also significantly increased the chances of middle class girls in the marriage market. At the same time, in the discourses about women’s education, piano skills were often considered as the synonym for fake splendour, the opposite of real erudition and moral education. Piano training, almost exclusively for women, came to be the compulsory norm regardless of personal talent and interest. Moreover, it also became one of the spheres of socialisation, where women could be taught obedience. The study uses music history, contemporary media, and egodocuments to trace a process whereby piano ownership and musical education became middle class convention. By presenting general European trends, it also explores the ritual function of music in social life with a particular focus on Hungarian developments.
Empire Triumphant: Johann Strauss and Der Zigeunerbaron in the Budapest Opera House in 1905
The Hungarian reception of Johann Strauss’s exceptionally successful Zigeunerbaron is an interesting issue not only because of various earlier events in the history of the genre and the composer’s life, but also due to its symbolic significance for the Hungarian public. Most of the previous scholarship on Hungarian music and Budapest musical theatre tends to ignore the question of reception, therefore this article looks at the series of events that led to the belated, but nevertheless successful première in 1905, with a special emphasis on audience attitudes. Zigeunerbaron was first performed in the Budapest Opera House, an institution struggling to redefine itself in the early twentieth century as a professional musical stage. Strauss’s work belonged neither to the pantheon of Hungarian national music, nor to ‘high culture’. However, it was immensely popular and stirred a heated press debate about the character of the Opera House, its former leaders, such as Intendant István Keglevich, and, ultimately, the character of Hungarian culture altogether. Keglevich’s death in the aftermath of the successful première further accentuated the local sentiment towards ‘old Hungary’, which was often portrayed to be on the verge of final demise. This, in turn, contributed to a positive reception of Strauss’s work in the Opera House, which was Hungary’s principal cultural institution at the time.
‘When the Brass Band Begins to Play, Now That’s Something...’: Brass Bands in the Hungarian Villages of the Carpathian Basin
The study examines the role of brass bands in the musical life of Hungarian villages, based on field collection of band music. The sources comprise of records of living folk music traditions, as well as archival material, both written sources and sound recordings. The author first reviews the state of scholarship on brass bands, emphasising the scarcity of such recordings compared to other types of music in various collections. The study then moves on to contextualise the bands and explore their social situation within their village. This is followed by a discussion about the foundation of the bands, with special emphasis on the determinative role of their funders. As they made decisions about performance bookings, performing costumes, repertoire, and, to some extent, the remuneration of band members, the study addresses the importance of legal contracts between bands and their funders.
Further questions touched upon by the study include training difficulties in the bands, their relationship with conductors, and the discrepancies between music played by ear and performing from sheet music. The author also examines the relationship of bands playing different styles of music within a community and the communities’ strategies to choose between them. The conclusion suggests that the public image of brass bands is far from homogeneous and the scholarship has thus far made but a few inroads into this field. Even though the discontinuation of many of these bands means that their performances are no longer possible to record, interviews, repertoire analyses and sociological studies continue to be valuable sources to study the history of past brass bands.
The Thick Description of a Private Music Catalogue Compiled in the Summer of 1937 at Temesvár
Zoltán Inokai Tóth (1911–1956) was a historian and professor at the Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest. His father originally came from a Calvinist family of landed peasants from the Bánság region. He later rose to the position of a high-ranking financial civil servant and strove to provide his son with the best education available for the urban bourgeoisie, which included musical tuition too. Young Zoltán Tóth became a good violinist, and hoped to become a professional musician during his university years studying history and theology. Even after becoming a secondary school teacher in the 1930s, he continued to dream of a musical career. He compiled the catalogue of the family’s musical library in the summer of 1937 at Temesvár (Timişoara, Romania). German-influenced Central European art music as cultural consumer goods for the educated middle class was fundamentally shaped by sheet music publishing and musical education. The study of the 228 titles in this catalogue reveals how these characteristics became integrated into the view of society prevalent among middle class intellectuals at the time.
The Crisis of ‘Educational Entertainment’ in 1954
This study explores the failure of attempts to transform ‘consumer attitudes’ towards the musical theatre both by the Establishment and ambitions of the intelligentsia. Before 1945, the Budapest theatre scene was mostly in private hands and the most important genres were typical popular culture productions, such as operetta and musical comedy. In addition, they also constituted an integral part of the cosmopolitan theatre industry of the time. Following the nationalization of theatres in 1949, throughout a succession of different socio-cultural periods, the new centralized cultural policy applied various strategies to uproot these long-standing traditions, ranging from elimination and substitution to appropriation and adoption. The ideologically and aesthetically motivated ambition to transform consumer attitudes affected all levels of the performance model. In spite of these efforts, the musical theatre traditions, including the choice of plays and acting style harkening back to the age of the Austro- Hungarian Monarchy and the inter-war years, almost immediately re-emerged when Imre Nagy’s reform politics gained ground after 1953. The study first outlines how the artists and the audience adapted to the new aesthetics and theatre practice imported from the USSR between 1950 and 1953. Following this, it charts the looming crisis of the theory and practice of educational entertainment through the example of two Budapest musical theatres, Fővárosi Operettszínház and Fővárosi Víg Színház. The growing demand for ‘bourgeois culture-junk’, to use a contemporary expression, was often portrayed as a threat in public and official discourse in 1954. The study explores the crisis management methods, which were employed to address this threat on ministerial and party levels (Hungarian Workers’ Party). The paper also examines financial restrictions, such as measures of ‚rationalization’, restructuring the Budapest theatre scene, and cutting the number of theatre staff employed by the state; and explains how these measures were used to restore the monopoly of socialist realist musical theatre. The paper also provides a statistical comparison of audience reception figures of the new re-politicized musical theatre performances and traditional ‘bourgeois culture-junk’. Based on a wide range of archival documents, libretti and the close analysis of contemporary public discourse, the study suggests that the changing tactics of managing the crisis of ‚educational entertainment’ also reflects the story of political struggle within the communist party elite.
Income and Emigration of Hungarian Musicians during the 1956 Crisis and after the Restoration of State Socialism
Performing musicians emigrated in higher numbers in the Hungarian mass emigration of 1956 than composers for various different reasons. As revealed by this study, on one hand, this is explained by the fact that their motivation to emigrate was different. On the other hand, there was also a significant difference in the attainable income of various musical professions. Based on archival sources, this study explores the structure and size of fees and royalties in the music industry in the context of the cultural politics and centrally planned economy of Hungarian state socialism. The study provides insight into the social prestige of various musical professions and the decision-making processes in the industry. Contemporary Hungarian musical life is explained through case studies of Zoltán Kodály and László Lajtha, which shed new light on the political and professional situation of these composers in this period.
Re-Annexed Markets: The Commercial Ties of the Herend Porcelain Factory in Northern Transylvania between 1940 and 1944
In October 1940, the director if the Herend Porcelain Factory Ltd. travelled to the northern Transylvanian territories, which had been re-annexed to Hungary only a couple of weeks earlier. The purpose of his trip was to gather information about sales opportunities in person. As the time-honoured company had several distributors in the region between 1920 and 1940, their renowned products were far from unfamiliar in the Romanian market at the time. In 1940, by the decrees of the Second Vienna Resolution this territory became domestic market again. The study discusses the company’s strategies to restructure or restore business connections. Business correspondence and commission records found in the company archives helps tracing in which towns Herend products were popular, and what patterns were the most coveted by the customers. Depending on the local situation, the sales of porcelain items did not fail to achieve the expected results, sometimes did even better until the last trimester of 1943. Even though these businesses did not significantly improve the financial indicators of the Herend Porcelain Factory on the whole, Northern Transylvania came to be a small, but predictable domestic market for the company during these years of the so-called ‘small Hungarian world’.
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