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UMZF 2009 Composition Competition - Promotional CD
Seven composers, eight works, the programme of the finals of the New Hungarian Music Forum 2009 composers' competition: a snapshot of the youngest creators of contemporary Hungarian music. This picture has only as many preconceived details as were defined by the competition rules, and as entailed by the rigorous criteria for selection by the jury of the semifinal.

The competition called for works for symphony orchestras and chamber ensembles, and the works played were selected from amongst 38 entries. All the composers graduated from the Liszt University of Music in Budapest, they are all in their 20s or 30s, and already have many successes and professional experience behind them. In spite of the solidarity of the generation and the common cultural background, their styles are markedly different, yet we can still find a general commonality in their music: their works reflect the basic need for proportion, organization and internal order, and everything that seems rash or experimental happens within rules set up voluntarily.

The other common feature of these eight compositions (and this is not imputable to any school of Hungarian composition, but is one of the typical creative methods of our postmodern times) is the frequent presence of intertextuality, in both the melodic and structural senses. Almost every work contains reflection and selfreflection, the borrowing and (re)-use of its own and foreign musical ideas. The 'foreign' material, though, does not form the basis of variation technique, but is a structural element. For the most part its role is central until it gives rise to a new compositional idea (a new sound quality, a new form of motion, a newly created texture).
Behind the structure and scale of Marcell Dargay's An(a)them(a) lies a short excerpt from James Joyce's Ulysses, and in his piece Chuang Tzu's Dream Máté Bella uses as a starting point a six-note chord from Pierre Boulez's Dérive, while the basic idea of Dániel Dinyés's L'aria si rinnova is a re-writing and protraction, an orchestral reinterpretation, of a Bach prelude. Balázs Horváth's trumpet concerto Borrowed Ideas is built upon the characteristic tone-colours and melodic turns of Miles Davis's playing, while the basic ideas for Bánk Sáry's chamber piece Mégis [And yet] derive from incidental music for poems composed when he was a teenager. Judit Varga's orchestral piece Le Temps retrouvé is based on the sketches of an earlier unrealized Proust plan (a working of A la recherche du temps perdu), but more importantly, there are eclectic effects deriving from a sample of twentieth-century classics, and Péter Zombola's Symphony No. 1/b uses the characteristic turns of phrase of essentially the Romantic/Late Romantic symphonic ideals.

We cannot yet know whether the works played here represent stages on a consistentlyfollowed individual path, or moments that are yet to be followed by important changes of direction in the composers' careers. But for sure, these compositions hold the germ of possibility of significant oeuvres. The jury at the final ranked them (that's what competitions are like) but their true value ranking (if at all necessary) is to be found today in the listener's ear and heart, and later in the judgement of music history, from a realistic perspective.

Tünde Szitha
musicologist, music critic

Results of the 2009 UMZF Composition Competition:

Chamber music category
1st prize: Máté Bella (Chuang Tzu's Dream)
2nd prize: Dániel Dinyés (Games for Advanced Players - 9-99)
3rd prize: Bánk Sáry (Mégis [And Yet...])

Large orchestra category
1st prize: Judit Varga (Le Temps retrouvé)
2nd prize: Balázs Horváth (Borrowed Ideas)
3rd prize: Péter Zombola (Symphony No. 1/b)


CD 1

Chamber music category
 Dániel Dinyés: Games for Advanced Players - 9-99
  - Step by Step
2.  - TandemDragon0:54 
  - In Search of the Lost Chorale1:46 
  - Father Painting
  - An old-fashioned Game - collectors' Game
Marcell Dargay:An(a)them(a)
7.Bánk Sáry:
Mégis [And Yet...]
Máté Bella:
Chuang Tzu's Dream


Large orchestra category
1.Balázs Horváth:
Borrowed ideas
 Judit Varga:
Le Temps retrouvé
2. - Calme, fluente
 - Non presto, molto ritmico con allegria e stancio
 - Allegro con eleganza
 - Molto vivace, vigoso, molto ritmico
Dániel Dinyés:L'aria si rinnova
Péter Zombola:
Symphony No. 1/b

Máté Bella: Chuang Tzu's Dream

"My composition Chang Tzu's Dream is a hommage to the Chinese philosopher Chuang Tzu (4th century B.C.), who is one of the first important figures in Taoism. His work also influenced Chinese poetry and landscape painting. One of the earliest Chinese stories related to dreams tells of Chuang Tzu: in a dream he saw himself as a butterfly, then on awakening he could not decide if it was really he, Chuang Tzu, who had dreamt he was a butterfly, or whether now the butterfly was dreaming of being Chuang Tzu.

Ever since I have been involved in music, I have always been fascinated by the variety of the world that can be created with sound. Is its true existence different from the material world? Can one be transformed into the other? These were precisely the questions I discovered in Chuang Tzu's dream. I wrote the piece as an entry for the "New Hungarian Music Forum 2009" composer's competition in 2008.

The work is for 13 instruments (4 winds, 5 strings, 2 percussion, 2 stringed percussion), and the solo cello is given a prominent role. The scale used in the work was formed of six different transpositions of a six-note chord. The chords are closely related to Pierre Boulez's piece Dérive 1. (1984) for six instruments. I used the shadow/inverse chord structure of the chords in the Boulez piece, which also uses six of the twelve available pitch-classes. In the structural articulation of my piece the chords can be heard both vertically and horizontally. These units are linked by the cello solo, which is by turns lyrical and dramatic.
" (Máté Bella)

Marcell Dargay: An(a)them(a)

"The title An(a)them(a) is created from the words anthem (from English) and anathema (from Latin, originally meaning an excommunicating indictment): I found it interesting that the two words, with their similar phonetic forms, cover two completely opposite meanings. The basic musical idea for the piece was taken from James Joyce's cult novel Ulysses. In the book, there is a sung ballad ("canticula") in which "Little Harry Hughes and his schoolfellows all: Went out for to play ball". The composition sets out from the scale and structure of this song, but does not convey (or only partly) the poetic content of the text." (Marcell Dargay)

Dániel Dinyés: Games for Advanced Players - 9-99

"I've always found a composer's description of his piece in a programme note to be dispiriting. It robs the music of the secret it offers, a secret which cannot be told in any other way. To verbalize the why's is not the composer's job. Allow me, however, to use this quote from the poet Kassák as a foreword, or motto, for the piece:

'Let us too play -
all the little kids in nappies from Dead End Street.
Oh, this poor old street
It's poorer than we ourselves.
No use harping on about it,
we'll never get out.'
Unless we climb over the walls
"   (Dániel Dinyés)    

Bánk Sáry: Mégis [And Yet...]

"I wrote my composition Mégis for chamber ensemble in 2007 for 13 performers. It is dedicated to György Ligeti. The title of the work was inspired by one of my favourite poems by János Pilinszky, The Waltz. As a motto for my piece I have chosen a sentence from the poem:

'And still, still without interruption
opposite the setting sun
everything that is gone, immortal.'

Long would be the list of connections this sentence awakens in me in regard to the piece. Naturally I thought of the work of György Ligeti, one of the composers I most admire, and of its influence on my work, but also of the musical ideas I have used in this work. I am thinking here of a compilation of poems for radio theatre I made when 17-18 years old, which at the time I thoroughly enjoyed composing. Thus this work occupies a special place in my compositions, because the material for the seven movements, some long, some short, and differing in character, is taken from the beginning of my musical career, just as the musical ideas, problems and solutions that currently occupy my thoughts are present." (Bánk Sáry)

Balázs Horváth: Borrowed Ideas
"The main source of inspiration for Borrowed Ideas is the trumpet playing of Miles Davis, primarily a concert in Carnegie Hall in 1961. Some parts of Davis's solos appear in the trumpet part of Borrowed Ideas, but these are broken into such tiny fragments that they are unrecognizable, just as the shredded jazz elements played by the orchestra or the slowed-down plucking on the bass. The layout of the orchestra on the concert platform differs from the customary. The soloist is surrounded by brass instruments. The woodwinds form another semicircle, and around them are the strings and percussion, thus defining the nature of the tone colour and acoustics of the piece.." (Balázs Horváth)
Dániel Dinyés: L'aria si rinnova

"The Italian title has two layers of meaning for me. In everyday language it means: a change of air. But for a musician it can also mean: a rejuvenating aria/notes. An important contribution to the experiential material for the piece was made by a guache painting of my father's, entitled: Sinsariskun designates the horizon. One of the most important experiences of musical works is the way we experience the timeline which makes the musical process perceivable. The composer puts pencil to paper, but the notes change the line he draws into time. This time becomes the horizon of music, a horizon on which, if we look right to the end, we see the landscape." (Dániel Dinyés)

Judit Varga: Le Temps retrouvé

"I don't often compose for competitions: the impersonality of being anonymous sometimes bothers me so much that it blocks the formation of any creative idea. In actual fact, a small chance coincidence is the reason I did, after all, start to write a piece for the UMZF competition, and that was the fact that the final was on my 30th birthday.
When I read this I just smiled about it, then I couldn't get it out of my head, and finally I decided I had to write a piece for this competition. My birthday was the narrow path I set out upon with my thoughts. I wondered what my composing self had been doing one, two, five or ten years ago.
Two years ago, for example, I ordered Marcel Proust's cycle of novels - la recherche du temps perdu, because I wanted to write a large-scale piece on it. Though nothing came of it, I had many sketches and ideas related to the book. More verbal instructions, very few musical notes. Although I didn't remember exactly everything I wanted to compose then, I tried to pick up the threads of the creative thought on the basis of my notes, and to write the piece I might have written then. As to whether I have remembered anything exactly, we can never know for sure." (Judit Varga)

Péter Zombola: Symphony No. 1/b.

"My Symphony No. 1/b is partly a summary of the stylistic trends I favour from earlier eras that live on in me, and partly it opens new doors in the countless, hitherto little-used opportunities hidden in the symphony orchestra. The piece, consisting of nine movements, both short and long, was named Symphony, which has nothing to do with the traditional classical/romantic genre, but much rather with the weight, length, complexity, and emotional and intellectual richness of the work. The dynamic movements alternate with static musical sections, which I hope will lead in future to a new approach to dramaturgy." (Péter Zombola)

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