CSÁTH – The Magician’s Death

An Exhibition Marking the Centenary of Géza Csáth’s Death

It is impossible to talk about motifs, melodies or rhythms, about these so-called musical shapes or forms. We must open our ears and hearts, and adjust our spiritual reflective system such that with their help we can first observe the impressions, then secondly ourselves at the moment of artistic enjoyment, and thirdly our contemplating self. Thus nothing else will interest us but who Richard Strauss is, who we ourselves are and whether what we feel is pleasing or unpleasant during that time.”

Géza Csáth always searched the depth of the human soul. He did so when he wrote Matricide and when in a long study he tried to comprehend the “madwoman”, Gizella Kohn’s paranoid hysteria. Yet of all his endeavours, the diary he wrote from the age of ten to the end of his life represented the most merciless vivisection. All throughout, his greatest desire was to experience life to the full.

Csáth prepared to become a composer, a painter and a physician at the same time. However, posterity regards him primarily as a writer. Yet this Gesamkunstwerk can hardly be separated from his writing, which is also true for his comprehensive, synthesis-like sensation of the world, through which he thought in terms of fragrances and colours, and felt with music. At one of the endpoints of the exhibition the leading role is taken by sensibility and

Art Nouveau atmospheres, while at the other end it is taken by the irreversibly bared psyche that is deprived of all that, as well as the ability to create. The childhood fairy world which often appears in the short stories is evoked by the Brenners’ family album of photographs, and as a certain counterpoint the internal solitude of the final years unfolds on the hand-written, morphine-dotted pages of his increasingly fragmentary diary.

At the Petőfi Literary Museum’s exhibition based on its uniquely rich and so far never seen Csáth collection we can adjust our “spiritual reflective system”, which opens to various ways of reception. In his diaries we can observe Csáth as he is observing himself. With his music compositions and short stories, his only surviving painting and numerous drawings, let’s first note the impressions they evoke in us, secondly our own selves at the moment of artistic enjoyment, and thirdly our contemplating self. Then nothing else will interest us but who Géza Csáth is, who we ourselves are and whether what we feel is pleasing or unpleasant during that time.

The exhibition is open 
Petőfi Literary Museum
April 30, 2019 to May 31, 2020