Mosonyi, Mihály (real name, Michael Brand)

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Mosonyi, Mihály (real name, Michael Brand)

Mosonyi, Mihály (real name, Michael Brand), noted Hungarian composer; b. Boldogasszonyfalva, Sept. 4, 1814; d. Pest, Oct. 31, 1870. He learned to play wind instruments and theorgan in childhood, and went to Magyaróvár as a church officer when he was 15, and taught himself music by copying Hummel’s piano exercises. He proceeded to Pressburg (c. 1832), where he studied piano and theory with Károly Turányi. After serving as a piano teacher in the household of Count Péter Pejachevich in Rétfalu (1835–42), during which time he honed his compositional skills through diligent study of Reicha’s theoretical works, he settled in Pest as a teacher of piano and composition. He first attracted notice as a composer when his overture was premiered in April 1843. It was followed by his 1st Sym. and a Piano Concerto, the latter anticipating Liszt in the formulation of cyclic development. His first work to adopt Hungarian idioms was his 2nd Sym. (Pest, March 30,1856). Liszt became his friend in 1856 and encouraged him in his work, proposing to produce his German Romantic opera Kaiser Max auf der Martinswand (1856–57); the score was never performed. Mosonyi’s espousal of Hungarian nationalism led him to abandon his real name in 1859, adopting one that honored his birthplace, the county of Mosen. In his compositions, he gave increasing attention to Hungarian elements, producing his Hódolat Kazinczy Ferenc szellemenek (Homage to Kazinczy; 1860) for Piano (later orch.), a Hungarian rhapsody, and Gyász hangok Széche-nyi István halálára (Funeral Music for Szechenyi; 1860) for Piano (later orch.), which employs the so-called Hungarian ostinato. His second opera, Szép Ilonka (Pretty Helen), was premiered at the National Theater in Pest on Dec. 19, 1861, but made little impact. His last opera, Álmos (1862), was not performed in his lifetime; its first performance took place at Budapest’s Royal Hungarian Opera on Dec. 6, 1934.


K. Ábrányi, Mosonyi Mihály élet és jellemrajza (M. M., His Biography and Character; Pest, 1872); J. Káldor, Michael M.(Dresden, 1936); F. Bonis, Mosonyi Mihály (Budapest, 1960); idem, ed., Magyar zenetorténeti tanulmányok Mosonyi Mihály es Bartók Bela emlékér (Studies on the History of Hungarian Music, in Memory of M. M. and Bela Bartók; Budapest, 1973).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire