György Orbán: AULOS

12. Fughetta in C minor – towards a double fugue ‘Pushiness’

25. Homeward Bound through the Forest – in the density of part-writing

30. Fughetta super ‘Nun Komm, der Heiden Heiland’ – J.(ohann) S.(ebastian), meine Freude

Listen to it online:

György Orbán: AULOS

“I realized that I could sneak the numerous techniques of the thousand-year old tradition of polyphony into the teaching repertoire through both easier and advanced pieces.”
György Orbán – the composer of Aulos


About Aulos

An ‘aulos’ is an ancient Greek double piped reed instrument. Through its twin pipes it’s player could produce two sounds at the same time, which meant he or she could, even if in a simple manner, play in two parts. Little information is available to us about the exact way the pipes sounded together. According to one hypothesis, one of the pipes held a drone, while the other one played a melody and subsequently the two parts changed places. Similar voice interchange is the core of polyphonic writing, therefore, Orbán’s chosen title Aulos is a perfectly fitting metaphor for the polyphonic character of these piano works.

The two volumes consist of thirty one piano pieces, and for two of them Orbán offers alternative versions, found in the appendices. In this series of preludes, fugues, fughettas, fantasies, capriccios, toccatas, chorales and hymns the composer explores the different genres, techniques and building blocks of polyphonic music in his uniquely eclectic musical language. He writes about his compositional aim and the birth of these pieces in the prefaces to the volumes. He also describes the techniques he uses in each movement in clever and often humorous explanations. To further aid the understanding of these technics, he illustrates each piece by a simple and highly artistic drawing of his own. Prelude in A minor, introducing two part writing, is preceded by the following text: ‘If we write music with a fixed number of parts or voices (in the Baroque this was standard), it seems obvious that the parts should share the thematic material. In the case of two-part writing this means that, whatever is introduced by the upper part will soon appear in the lower part and vice versa.’


György Orbán

György Orbán is one of the most noted, most prolific and most performed Hungarian composers today. He was born in Transylvania in 1947. He studied at the Cluj-Napoca Academy of Music where later he taught composition and counterpoint. He moved to Budapest in 1979 where he worked as music editor at the Budapest Music Publishing Company. In 1982 he became a professor of composition and music theory at the Liszt Academy of Music. His output is characterized by traditional concert genres, symphonic works, concertos and chamber music. Vast number of songs, oratorios and masses reflect his interest in vocal music.


Márta Erdei

Hungarian Márta Erdei began her studies at the Kodály Conservatory in Kecskemét before studying with Edit Hambalkó and Márta Gulyás at the Liszt Academy in Budapest. In 1995 she moved to the USA to continue her studies at Indiana University with Edmund Battersby, Shigeo Neriki, György Sebők and Leonard Hokanson, receiving a Doctor of Musical Arts in Piano Performance in 2003.
Márta enjoys an active performing career as both solo and chamber musician, having given recitals in Hungary, Ireland, Austria, The Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Romania, Switzerland, Greece, the United States and Taiwan. She has broadcast for Hungarian Radio, the BBC in the UK, NPO in the Netherlands and RTÉ in Ireland.


Volume 1

1. Prelude in A minor – two part writing ‘I’m not really sure, the title ‘Prelude’ is an old tradition. It covers many different things’
2. Fughetta in A major – imitation, fugue ‘Teenage-Fugue’
3. Prelude in D minor – syncopation ‘The Infanta Sitting on her Bed in the morning dangling her legs. Can’t decide whether to be good or bad today”
4. Fughetta in D minor – the stretto ‘The Court Dwarf has his suspicions’
5. Prelude in E major – inversions ‘For example: on Water’
6. Aria in E major – augmentation and diminution. ‘On the Ground and in the Sky’
7. Prelude in G minor – double counterpoint ‘The Horizon’
8. Geneva Psalm 150 – communal singing and polyphony. ‘On Lutes and Fiddles’
9. Prelude in B major – polyphonic ‘floating’ ‘Peace’
10. Chorale Fantasia in B minor – what the words imply ‘Protesting’
11. Toccatina – latent polyphony ‘Arabesque’
12. Fughetta in C minor – towards a double fugue ‘Pushiness’
13. Prelude in F-sharp major – the melody at the bottom (where else should it be?) ‘Flowering Bush’
14. Fugue in F-sharp major – double fugue ‘If we’ve got so Far, it was Worth It’
15. ‘An Angel from Heaven’ – polyphony is transparent ‘Christmas (with a beautiful poem by Sándor Márai)’

Volume 2

16. Prelude in D-flat major – regular and irregular
17. Fugue in D-flat major – proposta and riposta (or dialogue in the fugue)
18. Prelude in B-flat minor – complementary rhythm
19. Capriccio in B-flat major – complementary rhythm with a collision
20. A Walk (…when the bellissima Donna Cambiata… syncopation 2
21. …the Brief Biography of a River – flowing polyphony
22. Landscape Dreaming in the Sun
23. Landscape Shivering in Winter
24. …and as the Fog Lifts
25. Homeward Bound through the Forest – in the density of part-writing
26. Prelude in A-flat major – figurations: polyphony’s laborers
27. Fugue in A-flat major – ‘duel’ of subjects
28. Triple Fugue in B-flat major – triple counterpoint Chorale in Three Versions:
29. Etude ‘Harp’ – the ‘ancient hymn’
30. Fughetta super ‘Nun Komm, der Heiden Heiland’ – J.(ohann) S.(ebastian), meine Freude
31. Hymn at the Frontier – ‘Give us Peace, Lord’


Recorded on June 12 and 19, 2017 at the Royal Irish Academy of Music, Dublin
Piano: Steinway & Sons, technician: Feena Lynch
Recording engineer: Jonathan Nangle
Sound engineer: Péter Erdei
Mastering engineer: Bence Bükki
Cover design: Jenni Cooney
Publisher: Divisart Ltd