Bequest of Maróthy, János
The bequest of János Maróthy, which is held at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences Music Institute, offers insights into the heritage of a music aesthete and music researcher who was an essential figure of Hungarian music studies under socialism. The collection shows that the official infrastructure often generated spaces for critical, unofficial cultures. The Institute supported Maróthy in his efforts to collect the folk music, protest songs, and pol-beat trends, genres which helped young people criticize and rebel against official socialism.
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Name of collection
- Bequest of Maróthy, János at Music Institute
Provenance and cultural activities
The bequest of János Maróthy, which is held at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences Music Institute, offers insights into the heritage of a music aesthete and music researcher who was an essential figure of Hungarian music studies under socialism. The collection shows that Maróthy focused on the connections between music and social changes, so he defined popular music in a broader context. He supported folk music, the protest song, and pol-beat trends, genres which helped young people criticize and rebel against official socialism. The Department of Music Sociology at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences Music Institute collected documents and audio material concerning these genres. Maróthy also criticized official socialist cultural policy and complained about the socialist political system for not supporting grassroots initiatives.Maróthy’s criticism of the political system may seem surprising, since in 1954, in a written report he was called a Marxist, a young researcher, and a dedicated communist. Moreover, he supported József Révai’s cultural policy concepts, according to which “national form should contain socialist content,” and he agreed that socialist compositions presented the only way for real cultural change. Maróthy’s opinion was that popular music would be reformed by the revitalization of folk songs and peasant traditions. After Stalin’s death and the political turn in June 1953, Maróthy remained a supporter of the Stalinist cultural policy. However, after the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 and influenced by relatively integrationist cultural policy of the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party, Maróthy turned to more purely academic or, more precisely, sociological approaches. The collection represents these changes.
Description of content
János Maróthy’s role was complex during the scientific and cultural life of the socialist era. He was the founder of socialist music criticism and one of the most important researchers of Marxist socio-musicology in Hungary. In his bequest, there are many documents which show how he focused on the connections between music and social changes, so he defined popular music in a broader context. His research was influenced by Swedish, German, and Czech research, so foreign language journals and books are part of his bequest. Maróthy’s collection expanded on more topics: dealing with international popular music, workers’ songs, jazz, pol beat, and protest genres. There are many documents in connection with workers’ folklore. Maróthy was in connection with Pál Nemcsik and Dezső Nagy, who wrote a lot about workers’ songs. Maróthy wrote reviews about their books, so these demonstrate the changes in János Maróthy’s aesthetic and political attitudes towards folk music. Maróthy presented his ideas in Hungarian and national conferences, and the text of his lectures are available in his collection. Maróthy was also interested in the connection between the labor movement and music. Maróthy wrote many books about Ferenc Szabó, the famous Hungarian composer who also was an illegal communist in the 1920s. The bequest of Ferenc Szabó and the documentation of Maróthy’s book are also available. On the other hand, Maróthy had an active political life. He had several political ties, and we can find letters, reports, and notes in connection with this. The collection of János Maróthy shows how popular music, jazz, and pol-beat became part of academic research in socialist Hungary.
- manuscripts (ego-documents, diaries, notes, letters, drafts, etc.): 1000-
- publications (books, newspapers, articles, press clippings): 10-99
- voice recordings (including oral history recordings): 100-499
Geographical scope of recent operation
Date of founding
Place of founding
Budapest Táncsics Mihály utca 7, Hungary
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Creator(s) of content
Important events in the history of the collection
- completely open to the public
Maróthy János: Szabó Ferenc indulása. A "népi-lírai klasszicizmustól" az "expresszionizmusig". 1926-1928. Zeneműkiadó, Budapest, 1970.
Maróthy János: Zene, forradalom, szocializmus. Szabó Ferenc útja; Magvető, Budapest, 1975.
Maróthy János (szerk.): A zeneszerző Szabó. Emlékezések. Zeneműkiadó, Budapest, 1984.
Author(s) of this page
- Vámos, Gabriella
Ignácz Ádám: A populáris zene kutatásának kezdetei az államszocialista Magyarországon. Az első generáció. Korall 69. 2017. 169-196.
Ignácz Ádám (szerk.): Populáris zene és államhatalom. Rózsavölgyi és Társa, Budapest, 2017.
Ignácz Ádám - Ránki András: A modern zene marxista olvasatai. Maróthy János és Ujfalussy József koncepciója. Magyar Zene LV. évf 2. sz. (2017). 221-245.