Welcome to the website of the book Liszt’s Transcultural Modernism and the Hungarian-Gypsy Tradition published by the University of Rochester Press.

It contains 129 music examples and 12 other figures and tables spread across seven chapters. In the book, the symbol  indicates these illustrations are to be found on this website. The few music examples reproduced in the book are also here, but a few other figures and tables are only to be found in the book. To make sense of the content you would need the book itself, which has been published in December 2011 by the University of Rochester Press: check availability in your library or alternatively purchase from the publisher (click here) or from other retailers. Both book and website are generously supported by the American Musicological Society 75 PAYS Endowment.

Liszt’s Transcultural Modernism looks closely at the relationship between the composer’s musical modernism and his “verbunkos idiom,” a musical idiom derived from the Hungarian-Gypsy tradition. This is not a new issue, but certainly one that had been prematurely abandoned. It was taken up with some seriousness around the middle of the twentieth century by Hungarian musicologists, but was also circumscribed by analytical limitations and ideologies that were met with skepticism outside Hungary. The question itself fizzled out in the last four decades, and the verbunkos idiom’s default image as a token stylistic detail, an exoticist fetish, or a nationalist symbol continued to obscure its musical richness and interesting role in Liszt’s musical modernism. This book therefore aims to start afresh with new music-analytical and critical methods. It examines the verbunkos idiom principally from a transcultural perspective, and points to some little-known aspects of it that have shaped Liszt’s complex identity and innovative compositional thinking.

Transculturation, first theorized by Fernando Ortiz in 1940 in a Cuban context, and its relevance to Liszt in Central-European nineteenth-century context, are explained in the introduction to the book. The other chapters are entitled:

1 Transcultural Modernism

2 Verbunkos [on Liszt’s debt to and rejection of his predecessors]

3 Identity, Nationalism, and Modernism

4 Modernism and Authenticity [on Bartók’s problematic legacy]

5 Listening to Transcultural Tonal Practices

6 The Verbunkos Idiom in the Music of the Future

7 Idiomatic Lateness

To access a particular example, choose first the relevant chapter. Once there, you will see at the top of the page a table of contents with links to individual illustrations. An abstract of the chapter can be found in the green right-hand panel.

The website will be occasionally updated. For example, the Finale-generated audio files that give an immediate if not ideal impression of the music should be replaced eventually with human performances.  In the meantime, I have added performance decisions to a few of of the audio files, e.g., slight rallentandos, in line with the musical sense. As for score reductions, depending on each case, these may lack a play option altogether, otherwise their audio file can be either literal (e.g. ex. 6.4) or more detailed (e.g. ex. 1.1a, where we hear the full score). Finally, you may find that some audio examples start a bit earlier or extend a bit further than the corresponding graphic (score).

I hope you find the book interesting and look forward to your feedback!

Shay Loya