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  4. Recomposing National Identity: Four Transcultural Readings of Liszt’s Marche hongroise d’après Schubert




Recomposing National Identity: Four Transcultural Readings of Liszt’s Marche hongroise d’après Schubert




Speaker: Dr Shay Loya, City University, London

Liszt’s Mélodies hongroises d’après Schubert, a solo-piano transcription of Schubert’s Divertissement à l’hongroise, provides an interesting case of the complex relationship between centres and peripheries, and between personal patriotism and public nationalism. The first transcription (S. 425, 1838–39) stands at the very beginning of Liszt’s role as a 'national composer', and the most significant aspect of this rather overlooked fact is Liszt’s transformation of the second movement—a naïve, dance-like march—into ‘republican' heroic music, driven toward an apotheosis à la Beethoven. This march heralded a new type of national genre, and Liszt deemed it important enough to be published on its own in numerous versions between 1838 and 1883. Yet the Marche hongroise also relates to non-Hungarian identities, most notably French and Austrian. Later versions (from 1859 onwards) allowed Liszt to express a progressive, liberal Hungarian identity against a rising tide of chauvinism. Four transcultural readings of this work, both complementary and conflicting, follow Liszt’s revisions in a roughly chronological line, in order to interpret the work, in turn, as (1) a nationalist reclamation of Hungarian music, (2) a (‘French’) republican response to the political status quo, (3) the construction of an Austro-Hungarian identity, and (4) a discontinuous text where new modernist ideas often merge or conflict with older ones, forcing a fresh renegotiation of national identity.

Dr Shay Loya taught at the University of Durham before joining City University London in September 2012. He received his BA (2000) and MA (2001) from Tel Aviv University and his PhD (2006) from King's College London where he completed a thesis entitled 'The Verbunkos Idiom in Liszt's Music of the Future'. The PhD thesis was about the modernist and crossover aspects of Liszt's Hungarian-Gypsy musical style (verbunkos idiom), as well as its problematic reception history. Several articles and reviews followed, culminating in the monograph Liszt's Transcultural Modernism and the Hungarian-Gypsy Tradition (Rochester: University of Rochester Press, 2011), which won the Alan Walker Prize (2014). Apart from Liszt, Dr Loya is more generally interested in Hungarian music, exoticism, nationalism, modernism, transculturation and its application to music analysis, and bridging the knowledge gaps between the musicological disciplines.

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When and where

5.30pm - 7.30pmWednesday 6th April 2016

AG09 College Building City, University of London St John Street London EC1V 4PB United Kingdom