MihályMosonyi, known for many years under his original name, Michael Brand, was bornin Boldogasszonyfalva, Hungary (now Frauenkirchen, Austria), on 2nd September 1815 and died on 31st October 1870 in Pest. He was the third mostimportant Hungarian composer of the nineteenth century. He did not enjoy aninternational reputation, like Liszt, or a European reputation, like Erkel,nevertheless he was famous enough in his own country. He studied at theTeachers' Training College in Pozsony (the modern Bratislava, capital of Slovakia) and for a time hadprivate lessons from the pianist, composer and conductor Károly Turányi, whilemaking diligent use of the four volumes of Anton Reicha's work on the art ofcomposition, as well as of Hummel's valuable instruction-book for the piano. Onthe recommendation of Turányi he became music-master to Count Péter Pejacsevichand accompanied the Count to the latter's castle in the village of Rétfalu, near the town of Eszék (the modern CroatianOsijek).
From1835 to 1842 Brand lived at Rétfalu, analysing carefully many importantexamples of Viennese classicism, mainly the work of Beethoven, as well as ofthe best early German romantic compositions. The results of these researcheswere his own compositions from that period. In 1842 he left for the Hungariancapital, where he remained until the end of his life, except for short periodsspent in the country and abroad. In these new circumstances it was veryimportant for him to be personally acquainted with as many musicians in thecity as possible, and to find enough students. For a long time his principalincome came from teaching the piano, although he continued to apply himselfdiligently to composition.
EssentiallyBrand's life and activities may be divided into two periods. The first of theselasted unti11858. Until then he retained the name of Michael Brand and composedGerman romantic music. In 1859 he changed his name to Mihály Mosonyi, after thecounty of Moson, where he was born, andaltered his style, to write Hungarian romantic music. During the first periodthe best work he wrote was the Piano Concerto in E minor, completed in 1844,but not performed until 1950. His other compositions from this period were, in1857, an opera with a German libretto, which remained unperformed, four Masses,between 1840 and 1842, the first performed in 1844, seven sacred choral works,between 1843 and 1856, with an Offertory and Gradual conducted by Liszt in thelatter year. Between 1844 and 1857 he wrote four secular choral works, in1853-54 thirteen songs, with one symphony in 1842-44 and a second in 1856, thefirst conducted by Schindelmeisser in 1844, the second by Ferenc Erkel in 1856.
Other compositions include an Overture, completed in 1842 and conducted bySchindelmeisser in 1843, a string sextet, composed in 1844, six string quartetsbetween 1842 and 1845, a Grand Nocturne in 1845 for piano, violin and cello, in1841 a Ballade for violin and piano, and between 1855and 1857 six works forsolo piano, with piano transcriptions and orchestrations of works by foreigncomposers.
Inthe second period of his creative life, after his change of name and style,Mosonyi wrote two operas with Hungarian libretti, the first, in 1861, Szép Ilonka(Pretty Helen), conducted in the year of its completion by Ferenc Erkel, andthe following year Álmos, first performed only in 1934. Other works from thisperiod include a Massin 1866, several choral works, three cantatas between 1859and 1870, twelve songs in the decade from 1860, four orchestral compositions,of which the last, Festival Music, was first conducted by Erkel in 1861 andagain by Liszt in 1865. 1861 also brought the Románc for violin and piano, apiano transcription of Festival Music, a piano duet Az égö szerelern hármasszine (Three Colours of Burning Love), thirty-two works for solo piano and manytranscriptions and orchestrations, among them a piano-duet version of Liszt'sMissa solemnis in 1860 and four years later a similar transcription of the ninesymphonies of Beethoven.
Thepresent recording includes works by Mosonyi and by his famous friend andcompatriot Ferenc (Franz) Liszt, the chosen compositions by the latter closelyconnected with Mosonyi personally and musically. The six works by Mosonyi werewritten between 1855 and 1860, while the compositions by Liszt come from alonger period, between 1867 and 1885. This means that the former show a greaterdegree of homogeneity.
Liszt'sHungarian Historical Portraits are important in the final period of his creativelife. The seven pieces are musical portraits of great Hungarian statesmen,diplomats, poets and musicians of the time. Liszt composed the pieces in pairs,two politicians, István Széchenyi and Ferenc Deák, two diplomats, Lászlo Telekiand József Eötvös, two poets, Mihály Vörösmarty and Sándor Petöfi, and finallyMihály Mosonyi, whose partner is Liszt himself. Some of these, notably theportraits of Teleki, Eötvös and Mosonyi, have a close connection with otherworks included in this recording.
Mosonyi'sDrey Klavierstücke (Three Piano Pieces) were possibly written as awedding-present in 1855 for Helene Mirosavlevits, perhaps a student of his. Thesecond and third of these suggest part of the wedding ceremony. The first,Prayer after Danger Endured, is built from two different musical elements andtheir variations. The other two pieces, Making the Bridal Garland and The Bride'sFarewell to the House of Her Parents have an air of retrospection.
ZweyPerlen (Two Pearls), written in 1856 were inspired by Clara Schumann. Duringthe second half of February 1856 she gave three recitals at the Hotel Europa inPest, with compositions ofChopin, Mendelssohn and Schumann. After her last recital Brand-Mosonyipresented her with a large bouquet, within it a smaller laurel wreath dedicatedto the genius and musical spirit of Robert Schumann. Clara Schumann at firstwanted to refuse the presentation, but was finally persuaded to do so by theenthusiastic audience, with tears in her eyes. Her husband was at the time verynear to his death in the asylum at Endenich. Mosonyi was inspired by thatevening to write his Two Pearls, the first representing the flowers and thesecond the tears of Clara Schumann. These two pieces can be seen as areflection of the love-story of the Schumanns, confession of love and tragicparting, the first like a solo aria, followed by a duet. In the second Mosonyiperhaps remembered also his own wife.
Theimprovisatory fantasy of Pusztai élet (Puzsta Life) was written in 1857, thefirst of Mosonyi's works to use only Hungarian elements. As the composition wasfirst published as part of a cultural collection dedicated to Queen Elisabeth,it includes fragments of the official Habsburg anthem, Gott erhalte.
HódolatKazinczy Ferenc szellemének (Homage to the Spirit of Ferenc Kazinczy), writtenin 1859, pays tribute to the distinguished Hungarian writer of that name(1759-1831), an important figure in the nationalist movement to purify thelanguage. Mosonyi wrote his Homage for the centenary of the birth of Kazinczy,whose personality and l