Mihály Mosonyi: Puszta Life, Piano Works


  • Artist(s): Marton Kiss
  • Composer(s): Mihály Mosonyi
  • EAN Code: 7.46160914329
  • Edition: Da Vinci Classics
  • Format: 1 Cd
  • Genre: Instrumental
  • Instrumentation: Piano
  • Period: Romantic
  • Publication year: 2022
SKU: C00600 Category:

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Besides Liszt and Erkel, Mihály Mosonyi was the most significant composer of the Hungarian Romantisicm. His native village can be found in the county of Moson of the former Kingdom of Hungary: Boldogasszony ( Frauenkirchen in German). This place of pilgrimage is known sincet he fourteenth century and has belonged to the Austrian Burgenland since 1921. Mosonyi was born and baptized Michael Brand after his German grandfather and father on 4 September 1815. As the fourth shild of a poor village furrier, he soon had to earn a living. At the age of fourteen he was already sacristan at the county town Magyaróvár. A few years later he went to the nearby Pozsony ( now Bratislava), and enrolled at the local teachers’ training college. At the age of twenty he obtained a job as tutor to the children of Count Péter Pejáchevich and his wife, Countess Franciska Esterházy at Rétfalu near Eszék ( Osijek, Croatia). There he saved money and worked hard on his own at acquiring skills as pianist and composer. In 1842 he moved to Pest where he lived for the rest of his life as a music teacher. He married Paulina Weber at the age of thirty-one. In 1848-49, like a lot of Germans in Hungary, he also took part in the Independence War as a member of the National Guard. He was widowed in 1851.
At the very beginning ( 1837-49) Mosonyi’s initial post-Schubertian idiom gradually matured under the influence of German Romanticism. His first surviving compositions already showed his extraordinary sense of proportion and formal skill which is the mark of a powerful personality. At this time he wrote three masses, two symphonies, an overture, a piano concerto, and several other pieces. After moving to Pest, his music showsoccasionally Hungarian features. In his second period ( 1853-57) his music became enriched by Schumannian features and it showed a more modern and individual voice. It was then that he created his fourth mass, several songs, and some of his transcriptions. Getting acquinted with Liszt, the remarkable success of his Hungarian fantasia, Puszta Life for piano, lead him to his next stylistic change.
„Hungarian” music of time was based on the verbunkos. It was a recruiting dance ( from the German – Werbung), a virtuoso solo male dance of peasant origin. The early masters of verbunkos das no formal training in music. There were brilliant violinists endowed with remarkable talentsd of shaping the melody, such as János Lavotta and János Bihari. After the death of the trained musicians Béni Egressy and Márk Rózsavölgyi there were no trained and educated practitioners of this musical language, who could carry our the necessary reforms – it was just in time for Mosonyi and his success in 1857 with Puszta Life.
Switching styles was a deliberate act. After a year’s preparation, in 1859, he appeared under a new name as Mihály Mosonyi, Hungarian composer and musical essayist. He composed two operas, four symphonic poems, numerous songs, sacred and secular choral music, piano pieces and transcriptions of lasting value. He died on October 31st, 1870, at the age of fifty-six.
Puszta Life
In 1857 the Emperor Franz Joseph and the Empress visited Pest-Buda. It was a very important event after the Independence War. The music publisher Rózsavölgyi issued a representative album entitled Erzsébet-Emlény ( named after the Empress Elisabeth, who was known for her sympathy for Hungarians). The album consisted of twelve works composed for this occasion, one of them was Pusztai élet ( Puszta Life) by Mosonyi. This fantasia which abounds in instrumental imitation and the devices of composed improvisation was the first piece in which Mosony applied exclusively Hungarian musical idoms. As a gesture befitting the occasion there appeared in bar 138 a section of the official imperial anthem Gott erhalte Franz den Kaisen ( Haydn). Mosonyi spoke: It was after the experiments in this album that I became convinced, that the Hungarian music was veritably destined for forming an independent, separate and original branch of the trunk of the tree of all musical arts. The choice of title may have been influenced also by the name of a baulk lying west of the composer’s village, which is still called Puszta way.
Zwey Perlen op.3 & Drey Klavierstücke op.2
This two cycles were written still in the composer’s Brand period. They were probably dedicated to the composer’s pupils. Op.2 Drey Klavierstücke ( Three Piano Pieces) are the composer’s frist surviving work for piano solo published in three booklets in 1855. They must have been composed as wedding-presents as the programme of the second and third movement suggests. Op. 3 Zwey Perlen ( Two Pearls) were printed in two booklets in 1856. The initial inspiration of their composition should have been received by the recitals of Clara Schumann in Pest in March the same year. Reports said the after her recital Clara got flowers from Mosonyi, with the boquet hiding a smaller laurel wreath inside, which was dedicated to the genius of Robert Schumann. Clara accepted the flowers of admiration with tears in her eyes, as Schumann himself was more dead than living in that time. the setting of Op.3 No.1 evokes Schumann’s piece entitled Erinnerung, in which Schumann commemorated Mendelssohn. In this first piece Mosonyi paid tribute to Schumann in much the same way. The title ( Dewy Rose – Die bethaute Rose) makes allusions to the bunch of flowers and Clara’s tears alike. The intimate duet of No. 2 ( Dewy Eyes – Die Thrän’ im Auge) appers to express the tragic love of Clara and Robert and probably also Mosonyi’s love to Paulina Weber, his early deceased wife. All five pieces display ternary form with a varied return and short coda. Their language and message show markedly new, original features compared to the Brand works written under the inspiration of Viennese Romanticism some years before.
Hungarian Musical Poem
Magyar zeneköltemény ( Hungarian Musical Poem, 1860) is dedicated to Ágnes Rosti, who was the wife of Baron József Eötvös, a writer, politician and minister of culture for a time. Eötvös himself was to receive immortal fame by being depicted in the second piece of Liszt’s cycle Magyar történelmi arcképek ( Historical Hungarian Portraits) a quarter of a century later. The compositions form is a variaton rondo in which the rondo theme returns with a different character each time. A pecularity of the notation of the piece is a graphic representation of the tempo changements without examples until the twentieth century. The diagram is meant to facilitate acquiring the Hungarian rubato manner of playing for non-Hungarian pianists as well.
Homage to the Genius of Ferenc Kazinczy
Hódolat Kazinczy Ferenc szellemének ( Homage to the Genius of Ferenc Kazinczy) was the first work that Michael Brand already published under his Hungarian name Mihály Mosonyi chosen after his place of birth. This was almost fateful coincidence because Mosonyi was to play in many respects a similar role in the Hungarian musical life to what Kazinczy had performed in the literary life in his own time. The composer made a striking portrait of the poet and language revivalist, who was at one time of his life an ardent supporter of the ideas of the enlightened Emperor Joseph II., later the political prisoner of the ill-famed dungeon of Kufstein, then the leading personality of the language revivalist movement and the literary life of his time. the work is a Hungarian Lamento e Trionfo written in verbunkos style. The middle section of the bridge form of the slow section evokes the mood of the slow main subject of Liszt’s symphonic poem Hungária. The original piano work, which was a remarkable success, was orchestrared by Mosonyi the year after. This was the first work in the symphonic literarure to use the Hungarian cimbalom: Mosonyi inserted long solo cadences for it in bars 2 and 66. In all other matters, the music of the symphonic poem agrees with that of the piano fantasy.
Funeral Music on the Death of István Széchenyi
Count István Széchenyi was a writer, politician and statesman who exerted a decisive influence on his time. He aimed at transforming Hungary to an economically strong and independent country. He was regarded and appreciated as The Greatest Hungarian by his contemporaries already. His death on April 8th, 1860 shook the whole nation. The music of Mosonyi’s piano work was already available at the beginning of May. In fact, the composer wrote this work in the mood of nation-wide mourning within a few days ( or, as the legend handed down, within two days). Mosonyi orchestrated the piece without carrying out changes in the music in the same year. Kornél Ábrányi remembered it thus: The Funeral Music expressed the nation’s grief of those days so impressively that it made Mosonyi the nation’s celebrated composer all of a sudden. The basso ostinato of the funeral march inspried Ferenc Liszt as well. In the fourth piece of his Historical Hungarian Portraits ont he same bass line, G-B flat- C sharp – F sharp.
Studies for piano for development in the performance of Hungarian Music Mosonyi’s Studies appeared by Rózsavölgyi & Co. Pest, in four volumes in 1860. Each one has a title which also serves as an instruction to performers. The pieces are arranged according to the order of keys determined by the circle of fifths, and are of a varied type of musical forms. All the studies were written for the purpose of technical and musical exercises, as the title suggests.
These works are only studies in the Romantic sense of the term. They are truly pieces meant for performance, at the same time useful preliminaries for major works based on the verbunkos, all the way from Liszt’s Rhapsodies to Bartók’s 3rd Piano Concerto.
Album notes based and quoted from Postscripts of István Kassai, published with the newest edition of Mosonyi’s piano works, by Akkor Music Publishers, in 1995 and 1997.


Marton Kiss
Born in 1992, Szombathely, Hungary as the first child of a musician family, he started to play the piano very early, at the age of 6. After early competition prizes and success at concerts he met with Lioudmilla Satz in Graz, Austria in 2003 and studied in her class for special young talents st Kunstuniversität Graz in the next 8 years. In 2010 he continued his studies as a regular student, in the class of Milana Chernyavska, Balázs Szokolay and Ayami Ikeba. After finishing the bachelor and master degree, as a postgradual education he got accepted to the Schola Cantorum in Paris, in the class of Maurizio Moretti. Since then, he is working together with the italian pianist.
He is working as a classical pianist, teacher and accompanist in Hungary and Austria, with invitations from all around Europe, including Germany, Italy, Spain, France and Poland. He performs regularly in Hungary and in the nearby countries at exhibition openings, youth concerts, benefit concerts and other public occasions.
His repertoire collects the biggest, most popular works, especially from Liszt, Rachmanyinov, Tscahikowsky, Chopin, Ravel, Bartók and Gershwin, solo and concert works.


Mihály [Brand, Michael] Mosonyi
(b Boldogasszonyfalva, Hungary [now Frauenkirchen, Austria], 4 Sept 1815; d Pest, 31 Oct 1870). Hungarian composer, teacher and writer on music. Like Liszt, he was born in the border region between Hungary and Austria at the meeting-point of several cultures. His name was originally Michael Brand, the same as his father and grandfather, and his first language was German. The fourth of 11 children in a family of furriers, he learnt the usual wind instruments of peasant life. Boldogasszonyfalva was a famous place of pilgrimage, and in its church, built by Prince Pál Esterházy, Mosonyi had the opportunity to practise the organ and, between the ages of 10 and 12, to deputize for the cantor. In 1829 he left home to work as a church officer in Magyaróvár, where he taught himself music by copying Hummel's manual of exercises for the piano. About 1832 he moved to Pozsony (now Bratislava), at that time the capital of the Hungarian kingdom. Its cultural life was dominated by the nearby imperial city of Vienna, and Mosonyi became acquainted with the great works of Viennese masters and resolved to devote himself to music. He earned a living by teaching calligraphy, copying music, and working as a newsboy, later and typesetter for a printing firm, while he studied the piano and music theory with Károly Turányi, who later became Kapellmeister in Aachen. Turányi and another patron, Count Károly Keglevich, obtained for Mosonyi a position as a piano teacher at the residence of Count Péter Pejachevich in the Slavonian village of Rétfalu. There he spent seven years (1835–42), becoming an accomplished pianist and, with the help of Reicha's theoretical works, a composer. The compositions he finished in Rétfalu – the Grand Duo for piano, the first four of his seven string quartets and an overture – reveal a diligent pupil of the Classical style.