The intellectual boom at the turn of the 19th century


During recent years it has become fashionable to discover the legacy of the turn of the century. Vienna has become particularly fashionable for art nouveau, psychoanalysis, Viennese music, and its delightful decline as the capital of the dual monarchy. It is not generally known, however, that Budapest also had an intellectual boom at the turn of the century. The young Bartók and Gustav Mahler were teaching at the Academy of Music at the same time, and the magnificent buildings of the Hungarian art nouveau were completed in quick succession. In Vienna, decay could be felt in its intellectual life: the imperial city was rooted in the political power of the monarchy, but this power had been already weakened. In Budapest, however, there was no sense of decay. The city was feeding upon the growth of the Hungarian economy which still had great élan. Rapid development suppressed the sense of danger. Budapest was a dynamic, extremely optimistic city right until the final collapse.