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  • Print publication year: 2013
  • Online publication date: January 2014

Chapter 9 - Editio Musica Budapest

from Part Two - A Memoir


László Sarlós's offer was irresistible. He explained that he had succeeded in persuading the Ministry of Culture and Education that a music publisher needed someone to promote its products. The idea that a commercial enterprise should by definition aim at making a profit was wholly alien to his superiors: for ideological reasons, the notions of profit and socialism were mutually exclusive. After all, organizations like the music publisher or theaters could count on state subsidies, they did not need to worry about profits. Editio Musica Budapest (EMB) was therefore in a position to publish anything it considered of value (such as Eric Walter White's book on Stravinsky) regardless of the number of copies it was likely to sell. In return for state subsidies, cultural organizations were dependent on prior ministerial approval of whatever they wished to present to the public.

In his dealings with the ministry, Sarlós argued that in promoting contemporary Hungarian music in the world, the firm would serve a laudable purpose that was very well compatible with the idea(l)s of socialism, for it would demonstrate the cultural viability of our system. That rang a bell and Sarlós was free to look for a promoter.

Eventually, he found me. It sounded like an ideal job: it had to do with music, I could put my English to good advantage, and it involved traveling—a rare luxury for Hungarians.