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In 1844, following on the heels of his triumph in the competition to set Ferenc Kölcsey's Himnusz – today the national anthem of Hungary – to music, Ferenc Erkel set about looking at the possibilities for using József Katona's much-attacked drama Bánk bán as the subject for an opera. History made the period of composition a lengthy one: first came the Hungarian War of Independence of 1848/49, and censorship by the dictatorship that followed meant that the audience would have to wait until 9 March 1861 before the work could be performed in its entirety at Pest's National Theatre. As a result of, or in spite of, the high-level additions and revisions, the remarkable aspect of the following performances of the ever-acclaimed Bánk bán is the fact that the text and musical material were created using both the work's original version and the 1939 revision – the one best know to the wider audience – credited to Kálmán Nádasdy. The storyline thus most closely mirrors the thinking of original playwright József Katona, without forcing us to dispense with the now-timeless grand aria "Hazám, hazám" ("My homeland, my homeland").

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