Béla Bartók: Six Romanian Folk Dances, Pianist Zoltán Kozsis
Continuing with the text for the South Bank talk. This is the third of six. It is, needless to say, a personal view. I am neither a musicologist nor a historian.
On The Spot
Pe loc / topogó / On One Spot or In One Place
He wore a scarlet-lapelled jacket like a postman, but his collar was uncomfortably undone.
‘Good day, your excellency,’ he bellowed, loud enough for the whole house to hear. ‘May I have a word with your excellency?’
‘Oh, it’s you, comrade,’ responded Vízy.
‘Your humble servant, your excellency.’
‘Do come in, comrade Ficsor’
The exchange was conducted with remarkable politeness in the historical circumstances. Both men were uncertain of their status, both anxious the give the other the advantage....
....‘They’ve gone!’ enthused Ficsor, still at the top of his voice. ‘The rascals are done for. They’re packing up and leaving.’
‘Really,’ murmured Vizy, as if surprised at the news.
‘Yes, your excellency. The national flag has already been raised over the Vár. My brother-in-law raised it with his own hands.’
‘The important thing,’ pronounced Vizy, avoiding the subject, ‘is that there should be peace and security.’
‘The dear old red-white-and-green,’ gushed Ficsor in a fit of patriotic reverie, keeping a careful eye on Vizy’s immobile face. ‘Now there’ll be some scores to settle, your excellency. Yes, now they’ll have to dance to a new tune.’
The flag of the Bolshevik government was, naturally, red. When the caretaker praises the good old red-white-and-green he recapitulates the sash dance. After Trianon, Kodály and Bartók’s old research field was hostile foreign territory. The places that most writers wrote about, the scenes that painters painted, were amputated from the everyday imagination and relocated in despair and fury. Bartók’s Romanian folk songs meant something different now.