There is a pedigreed narrative about the emergence of canonic composers in the eastern half of Europe in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Like social modernisation, cultural renewal during the nineteenth century was supposedly a response to ideas and practices from the charismatic cultural capitals of Western Europe: an appropriation and then a transformation of modalities developed elsewhere.
And because of this response mode, so it is argued, there was initially an element of ‘forms without substance’ about the process. Then, as this response slowly fused with a developing nationalist commitment, music in these regions found its ‘historical moment’, initially in the Czech lands, and then in Hungary, Poland and Romania. When the conditions were right, significant composers, including Béla Bartók, Karol Szymanowski and George Enescu, appeared on cue.