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Wed, 30 Jul 2014 06:44:53 EDT by admin, 86703 views
University of Alaska Anchorage
Music/Folklore paper by Milliman, Zachary (all papers)
The Opera Erkel Should Have Written: Revisionist History in Bánk bán
Throughout centuries of subjugation, Hungary retained a fierce pride in its national identity, a pride that was often bolstered by the arts. In 19th-century opera, composers transcended borders to amalgamate the normative forms and models of the West with indelible Hungarian features. They extracted subjects from Hungary’s autonomous past, employed musical monikers of the style hongrois, and—perhaps most importantly—set Hungarian-language librettos to music.
Ferenc Erkel’s 1861 opera Bánk Bán, based on the Katona play, manifests this fusion. The opera has become arguably the most influential work in the Hungarian operatic canon. It was pivotal in developing Hungarian music and was a powerful expression of Herder's notion of the Volkgeist. As ideas of national identity strengthened during the early 20th century, Kálmán Nádasdy and Nándor Rékai subjected it to large-scale revisions in 1940. These revisions followed Bartók’s polemics toward 19th-century Hungarian music, and responded to the ideals of Hegelian nationalist historiography that influenced the development and preservation of other marginalized musical repertories. The goal was to make Bánk Bán the ultimate expression of Magyarság (Hungarianess).
As was the case in the original composition, the revisionists sought models from beyond Hungary’s borders, even while they purged many of the Western formal elements they felt were antithetical to Magyarság. This endeavor thus brought the opera’s libretto closer to the original play and exemplifies the troublesome search for an autochthonous artistic voice during the turbulent interwar period. It stands as an example of opera’s social efficaciousness, as well as its capacity for cultural preservation in the face of domineering influences.
Brief Professional Bio:
Zachary Milliman received his M.M. from the University of Utah after completing his B.M. at Brigham Young University. His research has been featured in two conferences for the American Musicological Society, the Confutati Symposium, and the symposium he created, Opera Periphereia, and has been published in the Journal for the International Allegiance of Women in Music. His current research projects are centered on Hungarian opera, particularly of the mid-20th century. He resides in Anchorage, Alaska and is a lecturer and music instructor at the University of Alaska Anchorage, as well as private instructor, coach and clinician. Zachary is the Artistic Director for Bel Canto Alaska, and Music Director for First United Methodist Church. As a tenor, has has sung leading roles in several operas and concert works. He was recently heard in Anchorage Opera’s production of Amahl and the Night Visitors, as the tenor soloist in Bach’s St. John Passion, as well as on a recital tour of Alaska with guitarist Dr. Armin Abdihodzic, sponsored by the University of Alaska.