László Eősze at 90

 

In 2013 we celebrated the 90th birthday of Dr. László Eősze, one of the original guiding lights of the IKS, and, its first Executive Secretary.On September 30 there was a Musicological Conference Organized in Honour of the 90th Birthday of Dr. László Eősze, co-sponsored by the Hungarian Academy of Arts and the Hungarian Kodály Society. We add our hearty congratulations for Dr. Eősze to those of IKS President Michalis Patseas and the IKS Board of Directors.

 

Laudatio for Musicologist László Eősze

by Katalin Szerző Szőnyi

Musicologist, Head of Music Collection, National Széchényi Library, Budapest (retired)
Regular Member of the Hungarian Academy of Arts

Speech on the occasion of the Hungarian Heritage Award presentation
in the Ceremonial Hall of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences on September 21, 2013

This is a day to celebrate in Hungarian musicology. This is the first time that a colleague from our discipline in receiving the Hungarian Heritage Award while still living. It is the musicologist Dr. László Eõsze, regular member of the Hungarian Academy of Arts, who is celebrating his 90th birthday in November. The nominators wish to reward his professional career spanning over nearly seven decades, in which he has made outstanding contributions to the preservation and worthy transmission of the musical treasures of Hungarian tradition through the scientific exploration of the lifework of Ferenc Liszt and Zoltán Kodály, and through his 32 years of outstanding activity in music publishing.

In reviewing his career we can say with certainty that László Eõsze – who was born on November 17, 1923, two days before the premiere of Kodály’s Psalmus Hungaricus – is God’s beloved. Although his life, like that of his contemporaries’, was not spared from the turmoils of Hungarian history, László Eõsze, with his kind personality and hugely productive lifework, is an exemplary representative of eternal human values and Hungarian integrity.

His music education began at age 8, then in parallel with his 10 years of middleand upper-level musical studies with Kodály’s disciple Zoltán Horusitzky, he enrolled in the Faculty of German, Italian and Aesthetics of the Péter Pázmány University in 1941. Combining music and the liberal arts made him a truly adept musicologist for when he defended his German language PhD thesis in 1945, in which he explored a musicological topic entitled “Franz Liszt und die deutsche Romantik”. In summer 1943, during a masterclass in Wiesbaden with Walter Gieseking, even a promising pianist’s career was predicted for him. But the final days of the war, and afterwards the resumption from 1945 to 1955, put his expected artistic and scientific career on hold for a good ten years.

He rejoined his fate again in 1953: as a result of his excellent musicological study written about Kodály’s children’s choruses, the master himself invited László Eõsze to be his biographer. This gesture gave him a task and mission for life. In Eősze’s long line of primary source-quality books, essays, articles about Kodály in Hungarian and foreign languages, and in the public activity he pursued in the spirit of Kodály, he always saw and made visible a synthesis of Kodály’s spiritual heritage as a composer, music pedagogue and educator for the nation, and his message, which is adaptable for the whole world.

Sister Mary Alice Hein and Dr. László Eősze

When the Italian government gave him scientific research grants, he reverted back to the Liszt heritage of his student years. He examined 34 Italian private and public collections for Liszt references and wrote the handbook “119 Liszt documents in Rome”, thus contributing a fundamental opus to Hungarian Liszt research. But from his position as a music publisher from 1955 to 1987, he did even more to represent Liszt in Hungary. As Artistic Director he initiated the publication of the New Liszt Edition Series, then set up and managed a Liszt research workshop for this huge scientific venture, which by publishing the piano works of Liszt, has become one of the most important musicological bodies of Hungarian musical life to appear in print since 1970. These days we already look forward to the publication of Volume 52. From among the Hungarian musicologist-composer editors we should mention here the devoted decades-long work of Imre Mezõ and Imre Sulyok, and musicologist Adrienne Kaczmarczyk from the new generation.

If we want to draw a portrait of László Eõsze, the Liszt and Kodály researcher, we must also mention his audience-oriented works about the history of opera, his books about Verdi and Wagner, and his beautiful essays on music, which only add color to but basically do not modify our respectful opinion about his oeuvre: “László Eõsze’s musicological exploration of the lifework of Ferenc Liszt and Zoltán Kodály is Hungarian heritage.” It is high-level musical nationbuilding for which we wholeheartedly congratulate him! Dr. Eõsze’s foreign-language essays, conference presentations, and work as the first Executive Secretary of the International Kodály Society constitute an organic part of universal musical culture as well.

The Board of the IKS in the Kodály Archives (1995)
(sitting: Mrs. Sarolta Kodály and Mrs. Eősze)

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The Hungarian Heritage Award was established by the Curatorium of the Foundation for Hungary in 1995. The Hungarian Heritage and Europe Association has handled the granting of the award since 2003. The award may be assigned to Hungarian institutions, groups or individual lifeworks and achievements which or who, by their activities, have contributed to the moral and spiritual enhancement of Hungarian culture, economy, sports, science, therefore of Hungarian society. All these together constitute the “Intangible Spiritual Museum” of Hungarians. The election of the recipients is based on democratic principles and practice: any citizen may nominate a person, ensemble or institution they consider worthy. The Reading Committee of the Hungarian Heritage Award chooses the recipients solely from the nominations submitted in this way. The award is presented four times a year, seven awards each time.

Dr. László Eõsze and Michalis Patseas, President of IKS, in Kecskemét,
during the International Kodály Symposium 2013