Ferenc Erkel


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Erkel, Ferenc

 

Born Nov. 7, 1810, in Gyula; died June 15, 1893, in Budapest. Hungarian composer, conductor, teacher, and figure in the music world.

Erkel studied under H. Klein in Pozsony (now Bratislava). From 1828 to 1835 he was in Kolozsvár (now Cluj), where he taught and, in 1830, was a bandmaster. In 1835 he took up residence in Budapest, where from 1838 to 1890 he served as the principal conductor and music director of the National Theater. He was appointed music director of the Philharmonic Society in 1853 and of the National Hungarian Association of Choral Singers in 1868. From 1875 to 1889 he served as principal and professor of piano at the National Academy of Music in Budapest; F. Liszt was the academy’s president.

Erkel was the founder of the Hungarian national opera. Most of his operatic works are based on tragic episodes in the struggle to liberate Hungary from its conquerers, the most important being the heroic lyric operas Hunyadi László (1844) and Bánk ban (1852; staged: Pest, 1861; Moscow, 1957; Novosibirsk, 1958), which gained great popularity among the composer’s contemporaries. Several melodies from these operas, some set to new lyrics, became mass songs that were sung during the revolutionary popular demonstrations of 1848–49 and 1918–19.

Erkel achieved a synthesis of contemporary Western European opera and traditional Hungarian music, making use of the verbunkos (dance) style and Hungarian folk melodies. Among his other operas—he composed a total of nine—are Báton Mária (1840), Dósza György (1867), and two comic operas. Erkel also composed the Festival Overture (1887), works for the piano, incidental music for “popular plays” (népszinmü), and choral works, notably “Hymnusz,” the Hungarian national anthem (1844).

REFERENCES

Szabolcsi, B. Istoriia vengerskoi muzyki. Budapest, 1964. Pages 71–74. (Translated from Hungarian.)
Maróthy, J. “Put’ Erkelia ot geroiko-liricheskoi opery k kriticheskomu realizmu.” In Muzyka Vengrii. Moscow, 1968. (Translated from Hungarian.)
Abrányi, K. Erkel Ferenc élete és müködése. Budapest, 1895.
Legány, D. Erkel Ferenc miüvei és korabeli történetük. Budapest, 1972.

P. F. VEIS

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The Magyar Nemzeti Bank will issue an especially large silver collector coin named Musical Setting to the Anthem in the Ferenc Erkel Memorial House in Gyula on 2 July 2019, on the 175th anniversary of the Anthems first public performance.
She covers opera and national consciousness, national opera as a political force, the struggle for a national theater, taking the stage: opera in the Hungarian theater, and Ferenc Erkel's operas Hunyadi Laszl (1844) and Bank Ban (1861).
Between February 8 and 13, in six performances in three venues, it will play national gems: the Laszlo Hunyadi opera by Ferenc Erkel, and the ballet version of famous operetta by Franz Lehar, The Merry Widow (Vesela vdova).
The Department of Hungarian Music History of the Institute of Musicology has two central projects at the moment: to complete the five-volume series Music History of Hungary (18) and to prepare the edition of Ferenc Erkel's Complete Operas.
The most significant operatic composer in Hungary in the nineteenth century was the principal conductor of the new National Theatre, Ferenc Erkel, whose Bank ban (based on a banned play about a thirteenth century revolt against the queen's court) has survived as the most famous Hungarian opera from that century.
Two particular sources of inspiration for Bartok act as threads connecting several of the chapters: the verbunkos, or recruiting dance, as the foundation of nineteenth-century Hungarian national style; and art music compositions that drew on that style in various ways that Bartok was likely to know (with particular attention paid to Ferenc Erkel's opera Bank ban [1861]).
Screenplay, Gabor Meszoly, based on the opera by Ferenc Erkel, libretto by Beni Egressy, play by Jozsef Katona.
A more ambitious project was launched in 2010 for the Ferenc Erkel bicentenary: a complex website (erkel.oszk.hu) provided in-depth information for both laymen and researchers about the composer of the Hungarian national anthem and two of our most popular historical operas, Bank ban and Hunyadi Laszlo.
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Opposition MP Andras Toth went to court last week to stop the flow of state money into the production of "Bank Ban," a feature film version of the Ferenc Erkel opera, after Toth obtained a leaked document that alleges producers are skimming off the top of the $2.6 million movie.
Inspired by the 200th anniversary of the death of Ferenc Erkel, founder of the Hungarian national opera, the Institute for Musicology and the National Szechenyi Library will co-organize another large-scale exhibition this autumn titled Opera and Nation.