Major, Gyula


Major, Gyula

Concerto symphonique for piano and orchestra, op. 12

Art.-Nr.: 1904 Kategorie:



J. Gyula Major
(b. Košice, 13 December 1858 – d. Budapest, 30 January 1925)

Concerto symphonique for piano and orchestra, op. 12

Little is known of the life, music, and career of the Hungarian composer, pianist, and teacher Jakab Gyula Major, aka Julius Gyula Major, Jules Jacques Major, Julius J. Mayer, and James Julius Mayer. (With the Magyarization of Hungary in the latter half of the nineteenth century, he changed his name from Mayer to Major.) He was born on 13 December 1858 in Kashau, now known as Košice in present-day Slovakia, but part of Hungary at the time. From 1877 to 1881 he studied composition with Robert Volkmann and piano with Ferenc Erkel und Franz Liszt at the Budapest Academy of Music. In December 1876, and thus even before he had begun his studies, Liszt wrote to his former pupil Johann Nepomuk Dunkl, “Yesterday your protégé, the young pianist Mayer, played a couple of pieces to me, presentably and with understanding. Indeed, he seems highly talented and worthy of further support” (Franz Liszt, Briefe aus ungarischen Sammlungen 1835-1886, ed. Margit Prahács, Kassel, 1966). Liszt was as good as his word: he later accepted Major into his close circle of associates. Major also appeared as a pianist at the Liszt memorial concert of the Philharmonic Society on 25 October 1886 (Prahács, op. cit.).

Major lived and worked mainly in Budapest, where he taught at local music schools and teacher training institutes and founded a women’s chorus that he headed for more than ten years. His fame as a pianist extended beyond the borders of Hungary. In 1904 and 1905 he was an active ethnomusicologist, conducting field research in Transylvania with the cultural anthropologist Béla Vikár. He died in Budapest at the age of sixty-seven.

Being a pupil of Volkmann, who cultivated the classical-romantic tradition alongside Schumann and Brahms, and Erkel, a founding father of Hungary’s national music (and the composer of its national anthem), Major combines the German symphony with stylistic elements from Hungarian and Slavonic folk music. But he was less radical and rigorous in his assimilation of Hungary’s folk music than Béla Bartók and Zoltán Kodály. This explains the comment that Bartók, a fiery patriot who opposed the hegemony of German music, made to the pianist István Thomán: “Not only do I grant my permission for the performance, I’m also delighted that you’ve chosen my humble ‘fledgling effort’ [the violin sonata], although in your own interest I would advise you to play something more ingratiating. The full chorus of critics and half of the audience look forward to ‘Major’, while ‘Bartók’ finds a friendly reception only from three or four of his adherents!” (Translated from Béla Bartók, Briefe, ed. János Demény, vol. 1, Budapest, 1973).

Major, in his rhapsodies, symphonic poems, and vernacular operas, cloaked Hungarian melodies in late-romantic garb. Music in the style hongrois – so-called “gypsy music” – was en vogue throughout Europe since the days of Liszt, the best examples being Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsodies and Brahms’s Hungarian Dances.

Read full preface / Komplettes Vorwort lesen > HERE

Score Data


Repertoire Explorer


Tasteninstrument & Orchester


210 x 297 mm





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