Course Date Expressive cultures: Sounds In this paper it is necessary to analyze one musical work and to make an extended discussion on its position in groups of musical works designated as ‘Exotic’ or ‘Orientalist’…
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Beginning the discussion of The Miraculous Mandarin (or as it is sometimes called The Wonderful Mandarin), we should mention that it is a one act pantomime ballet, which is based on the original story by Melchior Lengyel and was composed between 1918 – 1924. The Miraculous Mandarin is one of the most innovative works of Bela Bartok. Observing this pantomime ballet in the frames of ‘Orientalism,’ it is necessary to emphasize that a musical language of ballet is based on an intonation system inherent in musical folklore of Southeast Europe and significantly different from professional European music. The Miraclous Mandarin combines various kinds of music and it looks like a specific synthesis of Greek, Persian, Arab, Byzantine melodies, which, of course, caused a shock among the audience. Thinking about historical context of The Miraculous Mandarin’s appearance we should say that its premiere, held in November 1926 in Germany at the scene of the Cologne Opera, turned in such a big scandal that almost immediately has removed the show from the repertoire as offending public morals (Stevens, 1993). Describing the ballet and Bartok’s attempts to make it not only original, but also meaningful we can understand that Bartok was a fanatical seeker of truth. He acted with the utmost determination against injustice, hypocrisy and inhumanity in all his musical works. Comparing his prominent works, such as The Wooden Prince (Bartok’s first ballet) and The Miraculous Mandarin between each other it becomes obvious that both ballets are similar in their triumph of true human love over an external gloss, over evil, over everything that has a hostile life position. In this part of this paper we are going to talk about the biography of The Miraculous Mandarin’s creator, because it will help us to plunge into more details, examining his musical work, and it will help us to understand inner motives of his creative nature. First of all, it is necessary to mention that the name of Bela Bartok was surrounded by a big variety of legends already in his student days. He was born on March 25, 1881 at Nagyszentmiklos (Hungary) and now he is considered to be one of the greatest composers not only in his country, but he also became famous all over the world. For instance, America and Western Europe respect his creative genius musical works and like his original way to combine traditional techniques with the elements of folk music, making it more and more popular and influential. It is a well-known fact that Bela Bartok had a good musical education and he has been studied in Pressburg and also at the Budapest Academy of Music since 1899. Thus, the public knows the greatest composer as not only a terrific pianist, but also as a purposeful man. He did not recognize the trade-offs and was always a defender of truth in spite of everything. Being a man and a musician of exceptional originality, Bartok only in the years of apprenticeship has followed in the footsteps of his predecessors, while the rest of his life he bravely walked without looking at the traditions, rules and prohibitions, trusting only his artistic convictions. Thus, we can sum up that one of the most significant chapters of European music’s history of the XX century and the era of Hungarian musical culture is connected with Bartok’
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