Buda and Pest feted in music by Bartok and Kodaly
Béla Bartók (1881-1945) Dance Suite Philharmonia Hungarica; Antal Dorati, cond. Mercury 432 017 Zoltán Kodály (1882-1967) Psalmus hungaricus, Op. 13 Lajos Kozma, tenor; Brighton Festival Chorus; London Symphony; István Kertész, cond. London 443 488
Composer's Datebook - 20221119
The modern Hungarian city we know as Budapest is really three older settlements merged into one: Buda, on the west bank of the Danube, was the royal seat of the medieval Hungarian kings; Obuda, just to the north, was an ancient Roman provincial capital; and Pest, is a newer city situated on the east bank of the Danube. These three became the modern-day city Budapest in 1873.
In 1923, to celebrate modern Budapest’s 50th anniversary, the Hungarian government commissioned two of its greatest composers, Béla Bartók and Zoltán Kodály, to compose orchestral pieces which both premiered on today’s date that year.
Bartók’s contribution was a lively “Dance Suite,” with themes reminiscent of Hungarian folk melodies, although no actual folksongs are quoted. It’s one of his most genial and upbeat orchestral scores.
Kodály’s contribution was his Psalmus Hungaricus for tenor, chorus and orchestra, a free setting of a 16th century Hungarian translation of Psalm 55, in which the Psalmist pleads for deliverance from his persecutors.
That Psalm had a special political resonance for Zoltán Kodály, who had fallen out of favor with the right-wing Hungarian regime then in power. Despite its melancholy tone, Psalmus Hungaricus was an instant hit in Hungary and elsewhere, and helped established Kodály’s international reputation as one of his country’s greatest composers.
Music Played in Today's Program
Béla Bartók (1881-1945) Dance Suite Philharmonia Hungarica; Antal Dorati, cond. Mercury 432 017
Zoltán Kodály (1882-1967) Psalmus hungaricus, Op. 13 Lajos Kozma, tenor; Brighton Festival Chorus; London Symphony; István Kertész, cond. London 443 488
On This Day
1859 - Russian composer Mikhail Ippolitov-Ivanov, in Gatchina, near St. Petersburg (see Julian date: Nov. 7);
1630 - German composer Johann Hermann Schein, age 44, in Leipzig;
1828 - Austrian composer Franz Schubert, age 31, in Vienna;
1825 - Bohemian composer Jan Vaclav Hugo Vorisek (or Worzischek), age 34, in Vienna;
1998 - American composer Earl Kim, age 78, in Cambridge, Mass.;
1724 - Bach: Sacred Cantata No. 26 ("Ach wie flüchtig, ach wie nichtig") performed on the 24th Sunday after Trinity as part of Bach's second annual Sacred Cantata cycle in Leipzig (1724/25);
1739 - Rameau: opera "Dardanus," in Paris;
1875 - Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 3, in Moscow (see Julian date: Nov. 7);
1923 - In Budapest, for the 50th Anniversary of the union of the cities Buda and Pest (on opposite sides of the Danube), a gala concert premieres Ernst von Dohnányi's "Festive Overture," Zoltán Kódaly's "Psalmus Hungaricus," and Béla Bartók's "Dance Suite";
1953 - Elliott Carter: Sonata for flute, oboe, cello and harpsichord, in New York City;
1984 - Christopher Rouse: “Gorgon” for orchestra, by the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, David Zinman, cond;
1994 - John Adams: "John's Book of Alleged Dances" for string quartet and foot-controlled sampler, at the California Center for the Arts, Escondido, by the Kronos Quartet;
2000 - Philip Glass: Double Concerto for Timpani and Orchestra, at Lincoln Center in New York, by the American Composers Orchestra;
2004 - Henry Brant: "Wind, Water, Clouds and Fire," for six spatial arranged performing groups and choirs including the Present Music Ensemble,the Bucks American Indian Drumming and Singing Group, and the Milwaukee Youth Symphony, at the Cathredral of St. John the Evagelist in Milwaukee, Wisc.
1863 - The U.S. Marine Corps Band accompanies President Lincoln to Gettysburg for the dedication of the National Cemetery on the occasion of his famous Gettysburg Address;
1937 - The RKO film "Damsel in Distress" is released, with music by George Gershwin; This film includes the classic Gershwin songs "A Foggy Day," and "Nice Work If You Can Get It";
1957 - Leonard Bernstein named Music Director of the New York Philharmonic, the first American-born and American-trained conductor to assume the post of a major American orchestra;