UI student receives Fulbright to undertake dissertation research in Hungary

Sarah Lucas

Sarah Lucas, a Ph.D. candidate in musicology at the UI, is the winner of a Fulbright Study/Research grant to Hungary for 2016-17.

Sarah Lucas, a Ph.D. candidate in musicology at the UI, is the winner of a Fulbright Study/Research grant to Hungary for 2016-17. Sarah plans to undertake dissertation research in Hungary on Bartók's First Piano Concerto. Using letters, manuscripts, scores, and newspapers at the Bartók Archive and Széchényi Library in Budapest, the Clinton, Missouri native will investigate Bartók's debut performances of the Concerto and other works in the U.S. in order to understand the patterns of cultural exchange between Hungary and the U.S. in the 1920s. Lucas also plans to assist with tours at the Budapest Museum of Music History and at concerts in Bartók Hall in the Institute for Musicology.

Hometown: Clinton, Missouri

Degree and field of study: Ph.D. candidate in musicology (University of Iowa)

What will be the focus of your research?

Through my dissertation research I will explore the details of the professional association between twentieth-century Hungarian composer Béla Bartók and Hungarian-born conductor Fritz Reiner. I will focus on three major Bartók works that Reiner promoted in the United States—The Miraculous Mandarin, Piano Concerto No. 1, and Concerto for Orchestra. While in Budapest I will study musical scores, correspondence, and other archival documents related to each of the three pieces at the Budapest Bartók Archive and the National Széchényi Library.

What drew you to this field of study?

My interest in Bartók studies began in an undergraduate music theory class, during which I analyzed music from Bartók’s piano collection For Children. I was fascinated by Bartók’s music and decided to complete my master’s thesis research on his first concert tour of the United States. In the summer of 2014 I traveled to Budapest with the support of a Stanley Graduate Award for International Research to study the piano concerto, and over the course of that research I became interested in Fritz Reiner’s role in Bartók’s American reception.

How do you see this Fulbright grant advancing your work?

The Fulbright grant will enable me to complete my dissertation research at one of the most important institutions related to Bartók studies. I look forward to networking with other Fulbrighters who study Hungarian topics in various fields and with Hungarian musicians and scholars. Expanding my Hungarian language proficiency over the course of my stay in Budapest will also help me with continued research on Hungarian topics throughout my career.

How do you envision this will change your life?

I hope to establish professional connections and friendships that extend well beyond the 2016-2017 academic year. Living in Hungary for an extended period of time will help me gain a new perspective on the country whose music I study.

Would you have any advice for future students interested in pursuing a Fulbright?

The application process is long and is difficult at times. Try not to be discouraged! If you have a well-crafted research plan and are determined to complete your project, you will find a way to carry out your research with a Fulbright or other means of support. Write as many drafts of your essays as possible, and rely on readers from varying perspectives for feedback. Ask Karen Wachsmuth, your advisor, your roommate, your grandmother, professors from outside your field, etc. to read your drafts and comment on them. All of these readers can give you valuable input that will strengthen and clarify your essays for general readers. 

The highly competitive Fulbright Program, created by U.S. Sen. J. William Fulbright in 1946 and sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, provides grants annually for international research and teaching in an effort to foster global partnership and cultural exchange. For more information on applying for a Fulbright through the University of Iowa, visit our Fulbright page.

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