János Maróthy (1925–2001) was an internationally acknowledged Hungarian Marxist musicologist and one of the key figures of academic research on popular music in socialist Hungary.
He started his career in the late 1940s and found employment in many important musical institutions. He was the head of the Mass Musical Department of the Association of Hungarian Musicians (established in 1949), and an active member of the Association’s Popular Musical Department. He also became the editor of the leading musicological journal Új Zenei Szemle ([New Musical Review]; founded in 1950), in which he published the very first Hungarian socialist realist music reviews that tried to be an example for the ideal music reviews of the future. And in his early scientific work, he tried to popularize the findings of Soviet musicology.
From the late 1950s on, due to the changes occurring in both national and international policy, Maróthy gradually reconsidered the cultural and ideological legacy of the early 1950s and developed his own music historical model, in which musical genres excluded from the traditional music history canon gained particular attention. At that time, he became a research fellow at the Budapest Bartók Archives, a forerunner of the Institute of Musicology of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. At the end of the 1960s, he was a founding member and leader of the Department of Sociology of Music at the Institute of Musicology.
As one of the first Hungarian propagators of the genre of protest song and pol-beat and an ardent supporter of bottom-up initiatives, Maróthy launched a systematic collection of documents and audio recordings related to these types of music. This collection, along with the partly overlapping workers’ song research, is a good indicator of Maróthy’s role and the directions of his research at the very start of Hungarian popular music studies (in the early 1970s).His bequest is today part of the Archives for Twentieth and Twenty-first-Century Hungarian Music, Institute of Musicology, RCH HAS. He died August 10, 2001 in Érd.
- Budapest, Hungary
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- Vámos, Gabriella