Since the first decade of the twentieth century, B. Bartók (1881-1945) and Z. Kodály (1882-1967), the two greatest representatives of Hungarian music of the 20th century, had laid the foundations for the creation of a national school, to which most of the composers of the following generations then referred. To their own generation belongs E. Dohnányi (1887-1960), author above all of piano and chamber music, almost completely foreign to the national school, although he later devoted much of his activity as conductor to the execution of the works of its greatest representatives.
According to smber, the first group of pupils of Kodály and Bartók, born around 1900 and attracting international attention in the mid-1920s, include G. Kosa (1897-1984) and P. Kadosa (1903-1983), both of whom are affected by ‘work by Bartók in the compositions of the 1920s and 1930s, which later arrived at the study of dodecaphony and serialism, and F. Szabó (1902-1969), who pursued the synthesis of Hungarian folk music and European cultured music in his compositions of the 1920s, later remaining faithful, during the exile to the Soviet Union in the 1930s, to the aesthetics of socialist realism.
We also remember H. Kelen (1888-1956), I. Kardos (1891-1975), J. Kennessey (1905-1976), R. Kokai (1906-1962), J. Adam (b. 1896); and again, L. Bardos (b. 1899), teacher between 1928 and 1967 at the Higher School of Music in Budapest, particularly engaged, in the period between the two wars, in research on national folklore; F. Farkas (b.1905), a pupil of O. Respighi in Rome between 1930 and 1931, professor of composition at the Higher School of Music in Budapest between 1949 and 1975, where he had as students Z. Durkó and G. Ligeti; Z. Gardonyi (b. 1906), who studied with P. Hindemith at the Berlin Conservatory, and moved to Federal Germany in the early seventies; S. Veress (b.1907), author during the thirties and forties of works that are strongly influenced by the teaching of Bartók and Kodály,
Of the students of Kodály forced to leave the Hungary after the fall of the popular government of B. Kun, we remember T. Harsany (1898-1954), who moved to Paris in 1923, where he founded the ” School of Paris ” together with other musicians from Eastern Europe; G. Frid (b.1904), settled in Amsterdam in 1929, M. Seiber (1905-1960), first residing in Frankfurt am Main, then, in the mid-thirties, in London, where he could study, in addition to jazz music, the twelve-sound composition technique; and finally M. Rozsa (b. 1907), who moved after a stay in Leipzig in the United States, where since 1945 he has taught composition at the University of California.
With the second post-war period and the establishment of the new socialist state, the participation of composers in the musical life of the country became more intense, as their activity was generally oriented towards the development and dissemination of the musical message in a popular and democratic sense. Composers of the previous generation collaborated in the renewal of the musical life of those years, such as I. Szelenyi (1904-1972), a pupil of Kodály, director of the Rivista Musicale between 1951 and 1956., and particularly linked to popular tradition according to the master’s lesson; and J. Viski (1906-1961), also a pupil of Kodály, teacher since 1942 at the Franz Lizst Academy in Budapest, where he taught some of the most important Hungarian composers of the new generation. The greatest contribution, however, was that of the younger composers engaged in the academic life of the country starting from the 1940s: remember E. Szervansky (1911-1977), R. Maros (1917-1982), T. Sarai (b.1919)), R. Sugar (b.1919) and I. Sarkozy (b.1920); and again P. Jardanyi (1920-1966), who in the immediate post-war period collaborated in the editing of Corpus Musicae Popularis Hungaricae, and A. Mihaly (b. 1917), who in 1968 gave birth to the Hungarian Chamber Ensemble, with the aim of making known and enhancing the repertoire of the new Hungarian avant-garde.
In the new cultural climate were formed A. Szollosy (b.1921), I. Patachich (b.1922), G. Ligeti (b.1923) and G. Kurtág (b.1926), who can be considered the major representatives of Hungarian music since the 1950s.
Szollosy, a pupil of Kodály and Viski, and later of G. Petrassi in Rome, produced some compositions for chamber music during the seventies, including Prelude, adagio and fugue (1973) and Concerto for harpsichord and strings (1978) ; he presented in 1987, during the Hungarian Music Days in Budapest, the Autumn Song for orchestra. Patachich, student (first half of the 1940s) of Viski and Farkas, founded in 1971 an electronic music studio, the Experimentum Auditorii Studi(Exastud), also collaborating with some of the most important electronic music centers in the world; among his electronic music compositions we mention in particular Ludus sinteticus (1977), Calling Sounds (1977) and Hommage à l’électronique(1978). Ligeti, a pupil of Farkas and Kadosa at the Cluj Conservatory, later specialized in Budapest with Veress and Jardanyi; some works in which Bartók’s influence are still evident belong to the strictly Hungarian period of his activity (in the mid-fifties he settled in Vienna, establishing himself as one of the most prominent personalities of the European music scene in recent decades) in which Bartók’s influence is still evident: thus Refined music, 11 pieces for piano (1951-1953), and the first quartet Metamorphoses Nocturnes (1953-1954). Kurtág, also a student of Veress and Farkas at the Budapest Conservatory, studied in Paris in the second half of the 1950s, with D. Milhaud and O. Messiaen; in 1984 he received the Béla Bartók – Ditta Pasztory award.
During the first half of the 1960s, younger composers, such as I. Lang (b.1933), Z. Durkó (b.1934), S. Balassa (b.1935) and A. Bozay (b.1939).
Di Lang, a pupil of Viski and Szabó, in addition to the plays Il grande dramaturgo (1960) and I cowards (1968), we recall some later compositions, such as Constellations for oboe, violin, viola and cello (1975), 2 preludes for a postlude for bassoon, viola, violin and cello (1977), Percussion Music (1978). Of the compositions by Durkó, a pupil of Farkas, who perfected in Rome with G. Petrassi in the early 1960s, we recall Dartmouth concert for soprano and orchestra (1966), and works from the 1970s, such as Chamber music for 2 pianos and 11 instruments, Andromeda for organ (1980) and Suite I for solo cello (1980), Microstructures (1973) and Rubato cantabile (1973), both for piano. Balassa is the author of many pages for chamber music, to which he has dedicated himself since the late 1950s, with Bagatelle and Sequenze for piano (1957-1969), and again with the Quintet for wind instruments (1966) and the Quartet for percussions. (1969); in the seventies he composed, among other things, the play Man estraneo (1977). Bozay, a pupil of Szelenyi and Farkas, has composed chamber music, including Silhouette for soprano, clarinet and cello (1962), and Grida for tenor and chamber orchestra (1963); of his compositions for orchestra there are Symphonic Pieces n. 1 (1967) and no. 2 (1975-76). The same generation also includes L. Kalmar (b.1931), P. Karolyi (b.1934), M. Kocsar (b.1933), K. Lendvay (b.1928), J. Soproni (b.1930), L. Papp (b. 1935).
Among the composers of the second post-war period we remember Z. Jeney (b.1943), a pupil of Farkas and Petrassi, in 1970 one of the founders of the New music studio in Budapest, and author of Something lost for prepared piano (1975), Arthur Rimbaud in the desert for an instrument of your choice (1976), The average of one hundred years for quintet and two generators (1977) and IMPHO 102/6 for 6 percussions (1978); L. Vidovszky (b.1944), a pupil of Farkas and Messiaen in Paris (1971), also a member of Studio Nova Musica and author, among other things, of Elegy for strings (1980), 3 voiced inventions for 3 electric organs (1980) and Narcisse et Echo, comic opera (1981), as well as, in collaboration with Jeney and others, Hommage à Kurtag (1975) and Hommage à Dohnányi for 12 performers (1977); P. Eotvos (b. 1944), pupil of K. Stockhausen in Cologne, author of Elektrochronik for 2 electric organs and tape, and Interludes-Interieurs for tape (1981).
Among the most significant works of Hungarian music of the Eighties, presented during the last editions of the Days of Contemporary Music in Budapest, to be remembered among other things A piece for piano by I. Kiraly, One hundred small pieces for piano by I. Martha, Still life by M. Hollos, Three pieces for chamber orchestra by M. Sugar, Conversation for clarinet, viola and piano by F. Vary, Six duos for violin and drums by L. Dubrovay, In the night for string orchestra by I Vantus, 15 lieder by R. Dalos.