Notes 59.2 (2002) 449-453
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Antiphonen. Herausgegeben von László Dobszay und Janka Szendrei, Institut für Musikwissenschaft der Ungarischen Akademie der Wissenschaften. (Monumenta monodica medii aevi, 5.) Kassel: Bärenreiter, 1999. [1. Teilband: Antiphonen im 1. Modus. Series pref. (in Ger., Eng.), 2 p.; introd. (in Eng.), p. 13*-41* (the published material; classification of the antiphons; the edition); commentaries (order of antiphons, modes 1-8; Psalm differences [i.e., differentiae]), p. 43*-123*; indexes, p. 124*-225*; the antiphons, p. 1-329. 2. Teilband: Antiphonen im 2.-6. Modus. The antiphons, p. 331-850. 3. Teilband: Antiphonen im 7. und 8. Modus. The antiphons, p. 851-1348. Cloth. ISBN 3-7618-1483-6 (set). €670 (set).]
Occasionally I like to reflect upon moments in the history of music that might well have inspired a cry of "Eureka!" I imagine, for example, Mozart's astonishment upon discovering the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, and the consequences of that encounter. Another example that particularly ignites my fancy is the discovery of Eastern European folk music by Zoltán Kodály and Béla Bartók almost a hundred years ago—and the lifelong journeys of exploration it engendered. They had not only discovered a series of fascinating pieces but had uncovered an entire culture of monophonic music outside the influence of Western traditions and their harmonically conceived logics. Eureka! These two giants of Hungarian music also saw the writing on the wall—the spread of other musics and an encroaching modern, urban culture was about to compromise and overwhelm the "pure" state of this music. Kodály's and Bartók's work of preserving as much of this music culture as possible through recording and transcription took on the urgency of a spiritual quest, and the success and magnitude of their achievements are well known.
This process of discovery, preservation, and study of folk music has shaped Hungarian musicology for decades. Transcription and classification became a central project, and folk music actually provided a key to the study of other music, particularly Gregorian chant. During the socialist period in Eastern Europe, research on the music of church and synagogue was neither encouraged nor supported throughout the Eastern Bloc. In Hungary, however, scholars convinced government officials that studying chant was necessary for understanding the roots of the "people's music." Hence, the study of chant in Hungary during the second half of the twentieth century was intimately tied to the study of folk music. Not only did this connection allow serious investigation of monophonic church music, it also influenced the ways Hungarian musicologists would perceive and study sacred music. It is this marriage between folk song and sacred chant that gave birth to the three-volume compilation Antiphonen (published by Bärenreiter as the fifth volume of the series Monumenta monodica medii aevi) prepared by László Dobszay and Janka Szendrei, and it helps explain the unusual and uniquely Hungarian form of this edition.
Antiphonen is the culmination of an enormous project begun some forty years ago by Benjámin Rajeczky, who envisaged a complete edition of all the antiphons for the [End Page 449] Divine Office extant in Hungarian medieval manuscripts. These antiphons are those connected with psalms and canticles, but do not include those from other categories, such as processional or Marian antiphons. A team of researchers under Rajeczky's direction transcribed thousands of pieces; in 1970, however, the work was suspended and not resumed until four years after Rajeczky's death in 1989. Dobszay and Szendrei, who were members of the original team, became the new co- directors of the edition. They are responsible for its final form, which, given the huge number of antiphons in Hungarian manuscripts alone, was forced to become selective. But even with "only" 2,179 antiphons, this edition represents a significant achievement that makes a major contribution to medieval chant scholarship.
Any edition of antiphons must involve difficult choices concerning which pieces to include and how to organize the material. The most practical approach to editing the Roman antiphoner is to focus on an individual repertory from...