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Critical Reconstruction of Liszt’s Opera Sardanapalo Will Be Published

March 26, 2018

In 1845 Franz Liszt embarked on a project to compose an Italian opera based on Lord Byron’s tragedy, Sardanapalus (1821). It was central to his ambition to attain status as a great European composer. But he abandoned it half way through, and the music he completed has lain silently for 170 years. Editio Musica Budapest will shortly publish the first edition of this score, edited and critically reconstructed by David Trippett (University of Cambridge).

A page of Liszt's draft to Sardanapale. Klassik Stiftung Weimar, GSA 60 / N4

Liszt’s difficulty in obtaining a libretto meant that composition only began in February-March 1850. He completed virtually all the music for Act 1 in an annotated piano-vocal score of 111 pages, contained within his N4 music ‘sketch book’ that is catalogued and housed at the Goethe- und Schiller-Archiv, Weimar. The unnamed librettist was an Italian poet and refugee living in Paris under the protection of Cristina Belgiojoso. His libretto survives as underlay in the N4 sketchbook and has been critically reconstructed and translated by Francesca Vella (University of Cambridge) and David Rosen (Cornell University).

Sardanapalo is Liszt’s only mature opera. While he consistently referred to it in French, as Sardanapale, the published title of the Italian opera would almost certainly have used the Italian name, hence this forms the title of the first edition. There are three solo roles and a chorus of concubines. The manuscript was always thought to be fragmentary and partially illegible, but it was finally deciphered to international fanfare in March 2017. Liszt’s music offers an intensely melodic style, with elements from Bellini and Meyerbeer alongside glimmers of Wagner.

Eugene Delacroix, La Mort de Sardanapale (1827). Louvre, Paris.The opera sets Byron’s tragedy about war and peace in ancient Assyria: the last King, effeminate in his tastes, is drawn to wine, concubines and feasts more than politics and war; his subjects find him dishonourable (a ‘man queen’) and military rebels seek to overthrow him, but are pardoned, for the King rejects the ‘deceit of glory’ built on others’ suffering; this leads only to a larger uprising, the Euphrates floods its banks, destroying the castle’s main defensive wall, and defeat is inevitable; the King sends his family away and orders that he be burned alive with his lover, amid scents and spices in a grand inferno. As Byron put it: ‘not a mere pillar formed of cloud and flame, but a light to lessen ages.’ For his part, Liszt told a friend that his finale ‘will even aim to set fire to the entire audience!’

A research documentary on the critical reconstruction is here, and further background to the project is available here.

The piano-vocal score of Sardanapalo is planned to be published in the first half of 2019 by Editio Musica Budapest. The orchestral material will be available on hire at the same time at Universal Music Publishing Editio Musica Budapest.


September 20, 2017

Universal Music Publishing Group is pleased to announce that the printed music publishing and distribution business of its Hungarian affiliate Universal Music Publishing Editio Musica Budapest Zeneműkiadó Kft. has been transferred to a new entity, Editio Musica Budapest Zeneműkiadó Kft. EMBZ will be owned and managed by a group led by UMPEMB Director of Printed Music László Sigrai. Long-time UMPEMB Managing Director Antal Boronkay will also participate in the direction of EMBZ.

EMBZ will distribute all existing UMPEMB printed music products, and will work closely with UMPEMB to continue to develop new high-quality printed music products in both physical and digital form for the educational and performance markets. EMBZ will also continue to distribute sheet music products of other publishers.

For information, please contact:

For EMBZ: László Sigrai, sigrai­@­,

For UMPG: Tünde Szitha, szitha­@­,

Sing ‒ Oscar-winning Hungarian short film with music by Árpád Balázs, Lajos Bárdos and Leó Weiner

February 28, 2017
Director Kristóf Deák’s Sing (entitled Mindenki ‒ Everyone ‒ in Hungarian) has won the 2017 Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film. It covers in 25 minutes the personal relations, humiliations, rebellions and daily conflicts that must be resolved even in childhood, through a story involving a school choir and the teacher who heads it. Alongside the roles of a little girl, her friend, and the teacher, there is another leading part in the film, played by the music. The story gains life and credibility from the choral works Elderflower (Bodzavirág) by Árpád Balázs, Bullfight (Bikaviadal) by Lajos Bárdos, and Fox Dance (Rókatánc) by Leó Weiner.

EMBrace music

March 24, 2015

Embrace Music — That is the motto we have adopted this year. In other words, we want to help you to make music an integral part of your life.

Music is all around us these days; it stimulates us more intensely and prevalently than ever before. But do we relate to it passively or actively? Are we merely consumers or makers of music as well?

We at EMB know that making music brings joy. That joy is multiplied and shared by playing to others. What’s more, making music develops individual values, such as concentration, openness, sensitivity, collaboration, and concern for others.

Our aim is to allow as many people of all ages to experience the wonder and value of music.


April 11, 2011

Welcome to EMB Online, the internet home for Hungary's largest sheet music publisher. For over 60 years, we've been publishing and distributing educational publications and performance materials for classical instruments, ensembles, orchestras, voice(s) and choir.

You can buy printed and digital sheet music publications in our new online shop, and send requests for orchestral material for hire.

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