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This website shows the context, the antecedents, the background, and stylistic features of the popular musical style of the 19th century, the style hongrois. The book, The Style Hongrois in the Music of Western Europe  by Jonathan Bellman was published in 1993. [A Short Review of Bellman’s The Style Hongrois in the Music of Western Europe.]

It is about the nature, the origin, and the use of the style hongrois in the 18–19th century music of Western Europe. Bellman’s work is the only, and the first sustained study on this topic, and is well-known, often cited in the English language literature. After a thorough investigation it may be concluded that Bellman’s monograph was inadequate for a complex and professional analysis of style hongrois even at the time of its publication and its being a standard work on the subject for musicologists internationally, is totally unacceptable. A study of style hongrois must be based on an extended study of the field which includes the latest results of research and publications.

The starting point of any discussion of this subject must be an exploration of the musical material and performances composers might have been exposed to during this particular era, that is, between the middle of the 18th century and the end of the 19th century or early 20th century. It must be examined how musical style and the repertoire developed, regardless of time and location. There are two ways to do this. First, one can look into contemporary manuscripts and reports on performances – most of which are available in printed form. Second, one can study the instrumental folk tradition. A musical cataloguing of the latter with respect to melody, style and simultaneous play in Hungarian folk dance music is almost complete.

In the narrow sense of the word folk dance music or the dance music of the country, including both the old and new layers and the stylized Hungarian style dance music repertoire in the second half of the 18th century called verbunkos make up the musical foundation or generative core of style hongrois. This was expanded from the first decade of the 19th century by the Hungarian style dance music verbunkos, an abundant number of pairs of slow and fast (lassú-friss) dances, and an increasing amount of folk style (folk-like) vocal art music – the genre of the nóta songs – and closely associated with it, Gypsy music which gradually became the music of the cities. The musicians of that age, among others the young Ferenc Liszt, met this kind of musical world. Style hongrois became undoubtedly the first instance of an apparently popular Hungarian musical style appealing to the masses, which everyone recognizes to be Hungarian even today.