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Wed, 14 Oct 2015 18:59:32 EDT by webmaster, 21605 views
Music/Folklore paper by Leafstedt, Carl (all papers)
High Stakes Cultural Politics: The Cold War and the New York Bartók Estate in the 1950s
Béla Bartók lived in the New York City area for the last five years of his life. His American estate dates its origins to 1943, when he entrusted his music manuscript collection to the care of two fellow Hungarian émigrés, Gyula Báron and Victor Bator, both then living in the United States. After his death, in September 1945, the estate devolved into their care. By 1960, thanks to Bator’s astute management, the Bartók estate had become one of the largest collections of unique autograph materials anywhere in the world devoted to a single artistic figure – a cultural treasure of intense interest for Hungarians and for the Hungarian Communist government.
The onset of Cold War politics in the late 1940s presented numerous challenges to the estate, particularly when its beneficiaries – Bartók’s two sons and wife -- became separated by the Iron Curtain. Documents and letters recently located in Massachusetts allow us to reconstruct the inner workings of the Bartók estate for the first time. Victor Bator emerges as a fierce defender of democratic ideals, recognized by President Harry Truman as an important ally in the American foreign relations battle against Communism. As I’ll demonstrate, Bator neatly parried attempts by the Communist party to gain control over the estate and its royalty stream in international courts. The New York Bartók Estate emerges as another important arena for Cold War cultural battles in the 1950s and 60s.
Brief Professional Bio:
Carl Leafstedt is a music historian on the faculty of the Music Department of Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. He received his Ph.D. in music from Harvard University. He has taught at Southwestern University, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and Duke University. He’s been on the faculty at Trinity University since 2001. His book on Bartók’s opera Duke Bluebeard’s Castle was published by Oxford University Press. From 2005-7 he served as President of the Southwest Chapter of the American Musicological Society.