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History of the Liszt Society (2) After   this   successful   concert,   the   officers   and   members   of   the   two   music   societes   functioning   at   the   time   decided   to   merge   as   the   "Ferenc Liszt   Musicians'   Circle".   Tne   Zenelap   reported   on   February   21   1895   on   the   inaugural   general   meeting.   The   aim,   according   to   the   statutes, was: [...]   To   cultivate   music   in   general   and   particularly   Hungarian   music,   and   to   preserve   and   further   the   intellectual   and   financial   interests   of musicians in Hungary, and grant them occasional support [...] The means therefore: 1. Publication of new works of music, with special attention to Hungarian products. 2. Organization of community gatherings to discuss musical matters in a professional way and to develop a community spirit [...] 3. Concerts, scholarly performances and lectures. 4. Award of prizes. It   took   barely   three   months   for   the   Ferenc   Liszt   Musicians'   Circle   to   gain   the   distinction   of   being   described   as   "an   elegant   factor   in   our   music life",   and   it   won   the   privilege   of   "presenting   the   musical   works   that   have   received   awards   in   the   royal   prize   competition,   at   its   gala   concert", since   "the   Minister   of   Culture   has   charged   the   music   circle   in   question   with   offering   eight   prizes,   and   a   five-member   jury   with   adjudication   of them".   Yet   after   this   fine   beginning,   the   circle's   activity   soon   began   to   wane,   as   the   musical   periodicals   pointed   out.   In   June   1902   it announced its dissolution. The   resurrection   had   to   wait   for   thirty   years,   when   a   National   Ferenc   Liszt   Society   was   formed   in   1932   on   the   initiative   of   the   wife   to   Count János   Zichy.   A   few   letters   on   the   subject   have   been   preserved   in   the   archives   of   the   National   Széchényi   Library   in   Budapest.   On   July   28 1932,   the   society   wrote   to   Jenő   Hubay,   informing   him   of   its   plans   for   a   forthcoming   Liszt   festival.   On   September   4,   they   invited   the   composer to   a   committee   meeting,   and   later   they   thanked   him   for   taking   part   in   two   concerts   (one   on   the   radio   on   October   5,   and   a   gala   concert   on October   22).   Finally,   it   welcomed   him   as   a   founder   member   of   the   National   Ferenc   Liszt   Society.   Árpád   Szendy   also   wrote   to   Hubay   about Liszt: "You bear the picture of one of the greatest musical geniuses, Ferenc Liszt the Hungarian, in your heart." The   National   Ferenc   Liszt   Society   considered   as   its   main   task   the   organization   of   the   Liszt   jubilee   year   in   1936,   and   it   made   a   splendid   job of   it.   The   Liszt   year   opened   on   October   21   1935,   to   celebrate   the   125th   anniversary   of   the   composer's   birth   and   the   50th   anniversary   of   his death. A   festive   mass   was   celebrated   in   the   morning   in   the   Coronation   Church   in   Buda   by   the   Bishop   of   Csanád,   with   the   church   choir   and orchestra   performing   the   Gran   Mass,   conducted   by   Viktor   Sugár.   In   the   great   hall   of   the Academy   of   Music   the   National   Ferenc   Liszt   Society held    a    gala    meeting    in    the    afternoon,    attended    by    many    members    of    the    government    and    the    diplomatic    corps,    leading    musical personalities,   and   representatives   of   musical   institutions.   The   meeting   was   opened   by   the   society's   president,   Countess   János   Zichy.   She was   followed   by   State   Secretary András   Tasnádi   Nagy,   who   paid   tribute   to   Liszt   on   behalf   of   the   Minister   of   Religion   and   Public   Education. The   main   speaker   at   the   meeting,   Peter   Raabe,   spoke   of   Liszt   as   a   man   and   a   composer,   pointing   out   that   "Liszt   always   declared   himself   a   I Hungarian,   and   this   he   also   proved   with   his   deeds".   The   evening   gala   concert   in   the   Opera   House   included   the   composer's   symphonic poem   Hungaria,   his   malevoice   chorus   An   die   Künstler   (To   Artists)   and   excerpts   from   Die   Legende   von   der   heiligen   Elisabeth   and   the Hungaria cantata. After   the   opening   celebrations,   "there   was   scarcely   a   day   without   a   Liszt   concert   or   Liszt   celebration   in   the   capital   or   the   provinces".   On August   2   "a   Ferenc   Liszt   train   will   run   to   Sopron,   where   a   festivity   will   be   held   in   the   morning,   and   in   the   afternoon   a   visit   to   Doborján" (Raiding), as the Executive Committee of the Liszt Memorial Year notified Jenő Hubay, when asking him to take part in the event. A   Zene   (Music)   reported   on   other   activities   by   the   National   Ferenc   Liszt   Society,   for   example   the   setting   up   of   "the   Ferenc   Liszt   Society Department   of   Musicians",   which   sought   to   bring   together   "the   eminent   Hungarian   composers   and   performers,   music   teachers   and   writers on   music   who   wish   to   further   the   development   and   dissemination   of   our   national   musical   culture   by   active   participation   in   the   various branches of Hungarian musical culture, in the interests of nurturing and expanding the spirit and artistic heritage of Ferenc Liszt". But   the   Society   was   not   given   the   chance   of   doing   so   for   much   longer. After   the   destruction   of   the   Second   World   War,   it   never   managed   to resume   its   activities,   and   after   the   communist   takeover   in   1948-1949   it   was   banned,   like   many   other   such   societies.   For   the   totalitarian   state that   called   itself   socialist   strictly   forbade   all   forms   of   institutional   intercourse   between   its   citizens   that   were   not   instated   and   controlled   by   the party-state. Favourable   conditions   did   not   arise   during   the   liberation   struggles   in   the   weeks   of   the   1956   revolution,   or   in   the   period   of   bloody   retribution that   followed.   Moves   to   restart   the   society   had   to   wait   until   the   Kádár   dictatorship   had   consolidated   and   began   to   relax   its   grip.   Even desperate   efforts   were   needed   to   gain   a   permit   to   form   an   apolitical   society,   an   act   that   the   regime   feared   might   set   a   "dangerous" precedent. The   following   account   of   how   the   revived   society   was   launched   was   written   by   Miklós   Forrai,   a   Kossuth   prizewinning   choirmaster   and emeritus   professor   at   the   Ferenc   Liszt Academy   of   Music,   who   reorganized   the   society   and   remained   its   general   secretary   until   1992,   when he   was   elected   its   co-president:   "After   the   disbanding   of   the   Budapest   Choir,   since   the   Choir   too   counted   as   a   society,   I   was   appointed choirmaster   of   the Art   Ensemble   of   the   Hungarian   People's Army.   I   was   fairly   reluctant   to   undertake   this   task   and   only   did   so   after   my   wife, Mária   Gyurkovics,   advised   me   to   accept   it   for   a   short   while   and   meanwhile   teach   the   task   to   some   suitable   person.   And   that   is   what happened.   But   the   political   instructor   at   the Art   Ensemble   was   Pál   Ilku,   who   later   became   Minister   of   Culture,   and   I   built   up   a   good   personal relationship with him. The   following   account   of   how   the   revived   society   was   launched   was   written   by   Miklós   Forrai,   a   Kossuth   prizewinning   choirmaster   and emeritus   professor   at   the   Ferenc   Liszt Academy   of   Music,   who   reorganized   the   society   and   remained   its   general   secretary   until   1992,   when he   was   elected   its   co-president:   "After   the   disbanding   of   the   Budapest   Choir,   since   the   Choir   too   counted   as   a   society,   I   was   appointed choirmaster   of   the Art   Ensemble   of   the   Hungarian   People's Army.   I   was   fairly   reluctant   to   undertake   this   task   and   only   did   so   after   my   wife, Mária   Gyurkovics,   advised   me   to   accept   it   for   a   short   while   and   meanwhile   teach   the   task   to   some   suitable   person.   And   that   is   what happened.   But   the   political   instructor   at   the Art   Ensemble   was   Pál   Ilku,   who   later   became   Minister   of   Culture,   and   I   built   up   a   good   personal relationship with him. "We   were   aware   of   the   fact,"   Forrai   went   on,   "that   we   had   to   reorganize   the   Liszt   Society   in   order   to   foster   a   still   flourishing   Hungarian tradition,   and   because   Liszt   societies   had   already   been   established   abroad,   so   that   only   Liszt's   native   land   remained   silent.   I   received   a   lot of   help   and   encouragement   from   Dr   Margit   Prahács,   the   librarian   of   the   Ferenc   Liszt   Academy   of   Music,   and   from   Professor   Bence Szabolcsi who kept repeating with his well known, gentle persuasiveness, 'It is your task to bring the Hungarian Liszt Society into being'." The   task   required   tenacious   work.   By   September   1973,   the   petition   to   the   Minister   of   Culture   had   been   completed   at   long   last;   this   was   the first   occasion   since   the   dissolution   of   voluntary   societies   that   permission   had   been   requested   for   the   functioning   of   an   institution   not established by some arm of the party-state. The   international   and   domestic   achievements   of   Hungarian   music   have   suggested   to   us   the   idea   of   submitting   a   proposal   to   establish   a rallying point for the widest stratum of practitioners of music, and particularly of those interested in music, a FERENC LISZT SOCIETY. We   feel   there   is   a   steadily   more   compelling   force   to   do   so   appearing   from   the   many   music   societies   abroad   (e.   g.   the   Bach   Gesellschaft   in Leipzig,   the   Schütz   Gesellschaft   in   Kassel,   the   Gesellschaft   der   Musikfreunde   in   Vienna   or   the   European   Liszt   Centre   in   London)   and   from the obligation to foster the intellectual heritage of the great Hungarian geniuses.
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