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Wed, 20 Apr 2011 13:02:38 EDT by admin, 127125 views
University of New Hampshire
History paper by Eshbach, Robert W. (all papers)
The Violinist and the Exiles of 1849: The Case of Ede Reményi
In 1849, after the Hungarian military surrender to the combined forces of Russia and Austria, a small group of exiles from Komárom under the leadership of Count Lajos Ujházy arrived in the United States. They were accompanied by a gifted young Hungarian-Jewish violinist named Ede Reményi, who, prior to the surrender at Világos, had been an aide-de-camp to General Görgey. The Americans greeted the exiles with extraordinary warmth as their country’s equivalent of America’s founding fathers. New Yorkers greeted them at the boats, and took them into their homes. As Lajos Kossuth’s representative, Ujházy passionately argued the Hungarian cause to the large throngs that greeted the exiles wherever they went, and he met with President Zachary Taylor in the White House to try to secure Kossuth’s release from detainment in Turkey. Throughout their sojourn, the exiles were aided by Reményi, who raised significant sums of money with a series of high-profile benefit concerts in New York, Philadelphia and elsewhere. The following year, Kossuth was released from detention and journeyed to America. Ujházy and his fellow exiles remained in the US, eventually founding the settlement of New Buda in Decatur County, Iowa. Reményi returned to Europe, where he remained active in the Hungarian resistance, perhaps as a spy.
Ede Reményi has peen poorly treated by history. Once a famous concert violinist, he is now known principally for his discovery of a young Hamburg piano teacher named Johannes Brahms. Reményi’s concert tour with Brahms in 1853 paved the way for Brahms’s subsequent “discovery” by Joseph Joachim, Franz Liszt, and, most famously, by Robert Schumann. Reményi’s relationship with Brahms ended badly, with mutual recriminations. As a result, Brahms’s biographers have almost universally dismissed Reményi as being unreliable, of poor character, and a musical charlatan. But is this a true picture? Some of the most respected Brahms biographers continue to write that Reményi never traveled to the United States in 1849, despite easily obtainable proof to the contrary. Slanders of Reményi’s character have been repeated uncritically for more than a century. Reményi was a colorful, flamboyant figure, an enthusiastic Magyar, who spent his entire life and career promoting Hungarian culture in the most far-flung corners of the world. Through his embrace of Hungarian folk and national music, he can be considered an early example of the “crossover artist.” Who was the real Ede Reményi, and what was his true contribution to the cause of Hungarian nationalism? This paper will attempt to establish some of the facts of his early life.
Brief Professional Bio:
Violinist, conductor, and historian Robert Whitehouse Eshbach is an honors graduate of Yale University (BA), where he majored in music history and minored in German literature. He studied violin at the Vienna Conservatory (now the Konservatorium Wien Privatuniversität) with Walter Barylli, concertmaster of the Vienna Philharmonic and State Opera Orchestras, and earned a Master of Music degree in violin at New England Conservatory, studying with Eric Rosenblith. His recent publications and invited papers have focused on nineteenth-century musicians: Joachim, Brahms, Schumann, Reinecke, and Wilhelmine Norman-Neruda (Lady Hallé). His most recent article, “Joachim’s Youth — Joachim’s Jewishness,” is published in the current (Winter 2011) issue of The Musical Quarterly. Eshbach is an associate professor of music at the University of New Hampshire.