History of the Liszt Society (1) The   history   of   the   Hungarian   Ferenc   Liszt   Society   up   to   1948   is   the   history   of   six   different   associations.   Between   1870   and   1902   there   were continuous   efforts   to   express   esteem   for   the   maestro,   both   in   his   lifetime   and   after   his   death   in   1886,   by   preserving   his   memory   and   spirit. After   1902   came   a   30-year   break   until   the   foundation   of   the   National   Ferenc   Liszt   Society   in   1932.   Of   the   six   associations   just   mentioned, two   were   not   set   up   with   the   express   aim   of   fostering   the   spirit   of   the   composer,   but   that   is   what   they   accomplished   in   the   end.   With   the exception   of   the   last,   they   were   all   established   in   Hungary   during   the   period   after   the   1867   Ausgleich,   the   political   compromise   with   the Habsburgs,   when   there   was   a   period   of   rapid   capitalist   development,   and   they   bear   the   marks   of   that   period   and   its   conflicts   and inconsistencies. In   1870,   barely   three   years   after   the   Ausgleich,   a   group   of   women   with   musical   training   and   inclinations   initiated   the   idea   of   founding   a music   society   named   after   the   great   Hungarian   musician.   The   initiator   was   the   wife   of   Matyas   Engeszer,   who   paid   a   visit   to   Liszt   on December   13   1870,   taking   along   the   other   11   members   of   the   new   society   and   asking   his   permission   to   use   his   name.   Their   aim,   she explained,   was   to   take   up   music   and   singing   on   a   serious   basis   and   only   admit   lady   members   with   a   musical   training.   Liszt   approved   of   the plan   and   gave   permission   for   the   use   of   his   name.   The   society   spent   a   year   preparing   for   their   debut,   and   Liszt   himself   attended   the   full rehearsals.3   The   first   concert   took   place   on   January   28   1872   and   received   a   glowing   review   from   the   Zeneszeti   Lapok   (Musical   Papers): "The   programme   consisted   of   four   extremely   interesting   women's   choruses   of   select   artistic   merit.   The   first   was   the   children's   chorus   from Liszt's   Elizabeth   oratorio   [Die   Legende   von   der   heiligen   Elisabeth],   after   which   came   a   chorus   by   Volkmann   which   he   had   composed   for   the occasion,   followed   by   Liszt's   chorus   O   salutaris   hostia,   and   finally   by   the   Spinning   Chorus   from   Wagner's   opera,   The   Flying   Dutchman." At the   very   end,   Liszt   played   as   well.   "The   performance   of   the   choruses   was   always   precise,   rich   in   nuances   and   artistic   [...]   Only   those   familiar with   the   difficulties   involved   in   organizing   and   training   such   a   society,   and   raising   it   to   an   artistic   level,   can   truly   appreciate   the   eagerness, self-sacrificing   effort   and   competence   that   the   Engeszer   couple   have   displayed   to   so   great   an   extent   with   this   society.   [...] The   forces   behind its organization and the hands guiding it predestine the society to play a leading role in this field here in the capital. Another   matinee   performance   by   the   Liszt   Society   was   reported   in   the   Leneszeti   Lapok   on   March   10   1872   (p.   383),   and   reviewed   in   the same   paper   on   March   17   (pp.   394-95).   The   account   suggests   it   was   an   even   greater   success:   "This   time   the   programme   was   interesting and   varied   to   an   extent   rarely   encountered.   It   consisted   of   works   by   Palestrina,   Liszt,   Schubert,   Schumann   and   Volkmann   […]   Liszt   himself played   a   piece,   besides   accompanying   all   the   works   on   the   piano   […]   We   cannot   reiterate   often   enough   the   worthy   recognition   that   is   due   to the   Engeszer   couple,   who   have   managed   to   produce   such   a   splendid   success   in   only   a   year." The   other   music   paper, Apollo,   also   had   warm comments   to   make   on   the   concert   6   and   in   its   March   1   issue   it   carried   the   news   that   "the   Liszt   Society   (a   women's   choral   society)   has donated   100   Forints   from   the   takings   from   its   latest   matinée   to   the   Benefit   Society   for   Hungarian   writers."   Three   years   later,   in   1873,   the women's choir became a mixed choir, and the men's Liszt Society held its first rehearsal on March 4 1863. The   liszt   Society   gave   many   successful   concerts   as   a   mixed   choir,   but   it   was   unfortunately   affected   by   the   general   mood   of   antagonism towards   Liszt   at   the   time.   The   last   public   appearance   by   the   society   took   place   on   April   27   1879,   at   the   consecration   of   the   new   church   in Bakács tér, Budapest. No evidence has survived of any subsequent activity. There   followed   a   twelve-year   break   in   the   cult   of   Liszt.   Only   in   1893   was   the   idea   raised   at   the   annual   general   meeting   of   the   National Society   of   Music Teachers,   which   had   formed   a   decade   earlier,   of   adopting   the   Liszt   Society   as   its   name. This   in   fact   marked   the   birth   of   the present Ferenc Liszt Society, which celebrates its centenary in 1993. József   Ságh   (1852-1922),   a   teacher   and   writer   on   music,   called   on   the   Hungarian   music   teachers   to   join   forces   in   the   February   1882   issue of Zenészeti Közlöny (Music Review), and the National Society of Music Teachers was formed in the same month. The   new   society   invited   Cardinal   Lajos   Haynald   to   be   its   patron,   and   he   complied.   József   Ságh   became   the   chairman;   the   society   already had about 100 members when it was founded. The   new   society   was   welcomed   by   the   Zenészeti   Közlöny,   which   considered   "the   moral   elevation   and   strengthening   of   the   whole   class   of Hungarian music teachers" as the most important of its stated objectives. No   information   about   what   prompted   the   society   to   turn   itself   into   the   Ferenc   Liszt   Society   has   been   found   apart   from   the   fact   that   all   the surviving   reports   on   the   society   pay   tribute   to   Liszt   as   "one   of   the   greatest   sons   of   our   country".   The   Zenelap   carried   a   straightforward report:   "The   National   Society   of   Music   Teachers   held   its   annual   general   meeting   on   January   6.   The   agenda   was   as   follows:   1.   Chairman's opening   speech.   2.   Report   on   the   operation   of   the   society   in   the   year   1892.   3.   Reorganization   of   the   society.   4. Amendment   of   the   statutes. 5. Discussion of motions. "Following   a   resolution   passed   by   the   general   assembly,   the   society   abandons   its   present   title   and   takes   the   name   Liszt   Society.   After   the discussion   of   the   programme   of   the   general   assembly,   elections   were   held."   The   daily   papers   commented   on   the   formation   of   the   Ferenc Liszt   Society   as   an   event   giving   a   welcome   boost   to   musical   life   in   the   capital,   and   reported   on   the   very   next   day   that   "with   the   participation of   many   notabilities   of   the   musical   and   social   scene,   the   Ferenc   Liszt   Society   was   founded   [...]   on   the   premises   of   the   National   Society   of Music   Teachers."   On   March   22   a   concert   was   held   "in   the   small   auditorium   of   the   Vigadó   [...]   Most   of   the   performers   paid   tribute   to   the   spirit of   FERENC   LISZT."   Kálmán   Chován   played   Schumann's   fantasia An   Franz   Liszt,   and   Árpád   Szendy   performed   Liszt's   Hungarian   Rhapsody No.   12.   The   programme   ended   with   Liszt's   Concerto   pathétique,   rendered   by   István   Thomán   and   Árpád   Szendy   on   two   pianos.   "Those familiar   with   this   extremely   difficult   and   complex   work   will   know   what   a   difficult   task   they   accomplished   in   their   eminent   performance   of   the work."   The   Zenelap   wrote:   "The   Ferenc   Liszt   Society   celebrated   the   anniversary   of   Ferenc   Liszt's   birth   on   October   22   in   a   worthy   manner, as   behoves   the   great   name   it   bears   L..)   They   marched   out   together   to   the   statue   of   Ferenc   Liszt   that   adorns   the   entrance   of   the   Opera House,   and   there   laid   a   wreath   with   a   ribbon   in   the   national   colours   at   the   plinth   of   the   statue,   accompanied   by   an   elevated   speech,   paying their   tribute   of   respect."   The   same   paper   caried   an   article   on   the   society's   annual   general   meeting   on   the   afternoon   of   March   4   1894, chaired   by   Elemér   Szentirmay.   After   the   chairman's   opening   speech,   the   annual   report   was   read,   in   which   special   emphasis   was   given   to the   fine   moral   successes   the   society   had   achieved   by   its   public   appearances,   and   it   was   stated   that   there   had   been   a   welcome   growth   in the society's membership." This   Ferenc   Liszt   Society,   however,   remained   in   existence   for   two   years   (1893-1895),   and   then   gave   way   to   yet   another   formation:   the Budapest   Musicians'   Circle,   established   in   1892. According   to   its   Statutes   dated   July   21   1892,   the   circle's   aim   was   "the   cultivation   of   music in   general,   but   in   particular   Hungarian   music,   along   with   the   preservation   and   furthering   of   the   intellectual   and   financial   interests   of musicians   in   Hungary".   The   circle's   activities   in   1892-1894   were   confined,   apart   from   holding   a   few   minor   concerts,   to   a   humorous   benefit concert   for   the   Budapest   Voluntary   First-Aid   Society.   This   took   place   on   March   9   1894   at   the   Pest   vigadó,   and   on   the   same   day   the   Pesti Hírlap (Pest News) carried a report saying that the concert "has aroused the attention of the Viennese.
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