Prepared by János Kárpáti
Hungary’s first music journal, Zenészeti Lapok. Heti közlöny a zenemüvészet öszes ágai körébol [Musical Journal. Weekly gazette from all the branches of music] was published from October 1860 to August 1876 by its owner and editor-in-chief Kornél Ábrányi. Each issue contains eight large pages (33cm x 24cm). The first issue appeared on 3 October 1860, and was followed by regularly appearing weekly issues, first on Wednesday, and later on Thursday and on Sunday. The structure of the journal is, in the main, based on a series of successively appearing columns: editorials, leading articles, feuilletons, reviews of compositions, opera performances in the National Theatre, concerts, correspondence, news of artistic life, miscellaneous news and poems.
Kornél Ábrányi Sr. was a highly-educated and cultured musician. A friend of Liszt and Ferenc Erkel, Ábrányi studied piano in Paris with Chopin and Kalkbrenner and with Joseph Fischhof in Vienna. As a music critic, composer, and music educator, Ábrányi saw quite clearly that Hungarian musical life was in need of a central theoretical forum, regular criticism, and an educated audience. In responding to these needs Ábrányi successfully rallied support for the creation of a journal from the most outstanding musical experts of the time. These included the composer Mihály Mosonyi (1815-1870), the musicologists István Bartalus (1821-1899) and Gusztáv Szénfy (1819-1875), and the music publisher Gyula Rózsavölgyi (1822-1861).
The journal served as a witness to one of the most dynamic periods of Hungarian music history. The goal of Kornél Ábrányi and his colleagues was to help kindle both a Hungarian style of art music of European standards, and a refined concert culture for the general public. One of their most urgent initial tasks was to develop a Hungarian musical terminology, for at the time German musical terms were in use. From the beginning, important series of articles were devoted to theoretical subjects such as harmony and thorough-bass (Mosonyi), the general history of music (Rózsavölgyi), Hungarian musical idioms (Ábrányi), operatic performances at the National Theatre, and to important premieres (mainly written by Ábrányi) of works by Liszt, Erkel, Mosonyi and Mihalovich. In a continuing series on music theory, history, and aesthetics, they summarized in Hungarian the primarily German musicological literature of the period. These series served the dual purpose of circulating contemporary musical information and of laying the foundations for Hungarian musicological terminology. In addition to publicizing Wagner’s works, two of the most important aspects of the journal are its popularization of Franz Liszt’s work in Hungary, and feature columns devoted to music criticism and news about Hungarian music publications.