What is the best way for a composer to reap the full benefits of his studies in peasant music? It is to assimilate the idiom of peasant music so completely that he is able to forget all about it and use it as his musical mother tongue.
I. Budapest (1920)
The day Rumania fell
below the Hungarian border, he was called
a traitor for his work. His record needle
plowed through the gravel of white noise,
black vinyl, a peasant’s bagatelle.
Holding his ear to the phonograph bell,
he closed his eyes and listened through the hiss:
long black skirts spreading in the mountain fog.
II. The Bronx
Solos mainly. Ever since they sold the upright, he
and his wife boxed their music for four hands. Withdrawing
deep into the small hours, he slouched over a baby grand
waiting to play. As they watched movies from the homeland,
tanks rolled soundlessly from one reel to the next.
It was 1942. His letters unanswered,
the silence from Hungary curled into his mouth
like a mother tongue.