Thursday 3 March: Afterlife of Myth in Béla Bartók’s Cantata Profana


This week, Dr. Anita Klujber introduces a discussion of the afterlife of myth in Béla Bartók’s Cantata Profana.

Bartók’s Cantata Profana (1930), an intriguing piece of modern music, demonstrates the concept of afterlife both in its theme and in its own afterlife. Reflecting its own genesis, the piece is rooted in the “clear spring” of myth. Bartók based the libretto on Romanian and Hungarian mythic sources that can be traced to folk rituals performed at the winter solstice. The complex musical context of Cantata Profana contains echoes of canonic pieces of music, reaffirming their afterlife, while, at the same time, deconstructing basic elements of traditional musical grammar. Bartók’s work itself has a proliferating afterlife as it continues to evoke ekphrastic responses in poetry and visual art. In this session, we will discuss the libretto and some of the archetypal musical elements of the Cantata. In preparation for this session, a comparative perspective is encouraged to awaken resonances with images and ideas discussed in previous sessions including Pan, Merlin, and the San shaman.

Myth Reading Group: Thursday 3 March

12:00-1.30pm   Room 3.318

Poster and texts:

Bartók’s compilation of The Nine Enchanted Stags

Cantata Profana on youtube

Additional reading and references:

János Arany.The Legend of the Miraculous Hind



This entry was posted in Reading Group and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.