Kadosa project

He learnt the piano‭ ‬with‭ ‬Székely‭ ‬and‭ ‬composition with‭ ‬Kodaly.‭ ‬He‭ wa‬s‭ ‬not‭ ‬only‭ ‬a renowned interpreter of Bartók‭’‬s‭ ‬music but also‭ ‬a‭ ‬contemporary music‭ ‬champion of his time.‭ ‬He‭ ‬taught‭ ‬his art‭ ‬to‭ ‬many‭ ‬a musician‭ ‬:‭ ‬well known pianists,‭ ‬such as‭ ‬Zoltan Kocsis and András Schiff,‭ ‬as well as‭ ‬numerous Hungarian composers‭ (‬Ligeti and Kurtag‭ ‬to‭ ‬name only‭ ‬two‭)‬.‭ ‬He was a leading figure‭ ‬of the‭ ‬Hungarian musical life‭ (‬Kossuth prize in‭ ‬1950‭)‬ and was made honorary member of the Royal Academy of Music in‭ ‬London.‭ ‬He composed nine symphonies,‭ ‬several concertos,‭ ‬a large amount of chamber music.‭ ‬Who‭ ‬can‭ ‬that man be‭?
His name‭’‬s‭ ‬Pál Kadosa‭ (‬1903-1983‭)‬.‭ ‬Almost forgotten today in‭ ‬Europe‭ ‬and abroad,‭ ‬this key figure‭ ‬of‭ ‬20th century‭’‬s music deserves more attention.‭ ‬His importance‭ ‬ in‭ ‬the‭ ‬contemporary repertoire should‭ ‬definitely‭ ‬be reinstated.‭
He was largely‭ ‬influenced by Bartók and by the neoclassical style in vogue at the beginning of the century.‭ ‬However,‭ ‬he fused‭ ‬those‭ ‬influences,‭ ‬in‭ ‬a most‭ ‬“anti-intellectual‭”‬ way‭ ‬with the popular Hungarian moods.‭ ‬Kadosa thought‭ ‬popular music‭ ‬was an active engine‭ ‬shaping and giving force to the compositional activity.‭ ‬It gave birth to a form of spontaneity‭ ‬in the music,‭ ‬as can be heard‭ ‬in‭ ‬his little aphorisms‭ ‬for piano but also‭ ‬in‭ ‬his larger musical structures‭ ‬which‭ ‬subtly‭ ‬blend‭ ‬a hard linear counterpoint‭ ‬with meditative moments,‭ ‬sudden fits of anger or desperate gestures.
Kadosa’s music‭ ‬is much more a product of a crisis than a celebration of reality.‭ ‬The‭ ‬composer‭’‬s‭ ‬quest for a true new music with Hungarian accents led him to experiment with all the cultural trends of his time‭ ‬:‭ ‬from neoclassicism to free twelve-tones technique,‭ ‬from‭ ‬“barbarism‭”‬ to late expressionism,‭ ‬from‭ ‬“educational works‭”‬ for young pianists to fine large-scale compositions for highly professional musicians.‭ ‬Music critics‭ ‬have‭ ‬identified five periods in Kadosa’s creative life:‭

  • 1920s – early 1930s : youth compositions, beginning of public concerts of his music in Hungary and abroad (Venice Biennale in 1934, Strasbourg and Berlin)
  • early 1930s – early 1940s : composition of important works (Partita for orchestra [1943], First Symphony [1941-42], Concertino for piano [1938], 2nd violin concerto [1940]), worldwide acclaim, forced war interruption
  • ‏ ‎

  • 1945‏ ‎– 1949‏ ‎:‏ ‎post-war recovery,‭ ‬important positions in‭ ‬the‭ ‬Hungarian musical life‭ (‬chair of‭ ‬piano‭ ‬teacher‭ ‬at the‭ ‬Budapest‭ ‬Academy,‭ ‬vice-president of the Hungarian Arts Council‭)
  • mid 1950s : intense participation in the Hungarian musical life (cantatas, more accessible large-scale works, Kossuth prize [1950])
  • mid 1950s – death : intense didactic life (piano and composition), return to his complex compositional writing of the beginning

To some,‭ ‬this‭ ‬subdivision of Kadosa’s life can be highly questionable.‭ ‬However,‭ ‬the composer‭’‬s lifeline is undoubtedly‭ ‬related to the history of‭ ‬Hungary and‭ ‬the whole of‭ ‬Eastern Europe.‭ ‬A promising young pianist and composer gains an international‭ ‬reputation‭ ‬in the‭ ‬1930s‭ ‬and is‭ ‬then‭ ‬banned‭ ‬by the Nazis.‭ ‬After the war,‭ ‬he‭ ‬comes back‭ ‬to his home country,‭ ‬recovers a new‭ ‬popularity with‭ ‬“engaged‭”‬ works and ends his life‭ ‬transmitting‭ ‬his enormous knowledge to‭ ‬numerous pupils.‭ ‬Kadosa is the classic case of‭ ‬a‭ ‬composer born‭ ‬“between‭”‬ other better known generations of composers‭ (‬such as‭ ‬Günter Bialas in‭ ‬Germany or Luigi Dallapiccola in‭ ‬Italy,‭ ‬with due distinction,‭ ‬of course‭)‬.‭ ‬His importance lies not only in his historical role‭ in Hungarian musical life but also for ‬the‭ ‬high level of output he produced.‭ ‬He was the ideal bridge from Liszt‭ ‬-‭ ‬Bartók to Ligeti‭ ‬– Kurtag.‭ ‬A role that‭ ‬cannot‭ ‬and must not‭ ‬be‭ ‬forgotten.

Selected Bibliography

Ferenc Bónis,‭ ‬Kadosa Pál Mai magyar zeneszerzik,‭ ‬Zenemükiadó Budapest‭ ‬1965

János Breuer,‭ ‬Tizenhárom‭ ‬óra Kadosa Pállal‭ ‬[Thirteen hours with Pál Kadosa‭]‬,‭ ‬Budapest,‭ ‬Editio Musica,‭ ‬1978

Ilona Lucz,‭ ‬Pál Kadosa the Composer,‭ ‬the Pianist,‭ ‬the Teacher,‭ ‬DLA dissertation,‭ ‬Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music,‭ ‬Doctoral School No.‭ ‬28,‭ ‬Department of Sciences of Art and Cultural History,‭ ‬Budapest,‭ ‬2009‭ [‬in Hungarian only‭]‬.‭
Former Kadosa’s student,‭ ‬Ilona Lucz divides her thesis into three parts‭ (‬see the title‭)‬.‭ ‬The text contains analysis of some Kadosa’s works and re-discuss the segmentation into periods of his artistic activity.‭ ‬Some interviews with other former Kadosa’s students‭ (‬J.‭ ‬Jandó,‭ ‬Z.‭ ‬Kocis,‭ ‬etc.‭) ‬end the volume.

Zoltán Szabó,‭ ‬Kadosa Pál,‭ ‬Muzsika,‭ ‬1983.‭ ‬Number‭ ‬6.

Sándor Veress,‭ ‬Kadosa Pál‭ ‬(Közreadja:‭ ‬Breuer János‭) ‬Muzsika XXVI/11‭ (‬1983.‭ ‬november‭)

András Wilheim,‭ ‬Kadosa Pál müveinek jegyzéke‭ (‬manuscript‭)

Rachel Beckles Willson,‭ ‬Ligeti,‭ ‬Kurtág,‭ ‬and Hungarian Music during the Cold War,‭ ‬Cambridge‭ ‬University Press,‭ ‬Cambridge‭ ‬2007.‭
This book mainly focuses on Ligeti and Kurtag.‭ ‬Kadosa‭ ‬only‭ ‬is‭ ‬a side character.‭ ‬However,‭ ‬it is‭ ‬interesting‭ ‬in its description and‭ ‬reconstruction of Hungarian musical life during the Cold War.‭