The 7th of January 2012, saw the Szervánszky Quartet perform the II String Quartet by Endre Szervánszky to a full house at the FészekMűvészklub in Budapest. The concert was given to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the composer’s birth. Other significant works by Szervánszky on the program were the Eight Petőfi songs, Three Religious Songs and the Sonatine, for solo piano.
(born Kistétény, December 27, 1911 – died Budapest, June 25, 1977)
The Hungarian composer and teacher, Endre Szervánszky, studied the clarinet at the Budapest Academy of Music (1922–7). He played in various orchestras before returning to the academy to study composition with Albert Siklós (1931–6). He then worked as an orchestrator for the Hungarian Radio and taught musical theory. He was appointed professor of composition at the Budapest Academy in 1948.
Szervánszky first came to public attention with his First String Quartet (1936–8) and his works of this period were influenced by his compatriots, Zoltán Kodály and Béla Bartók. Despite this, however, the musicologist András Wilheim regards his compositions as “some of the best examples of Hungarian music of the time”. Works for this time include the Clarinet Serenade (1950) and the Flute Concerto (1952–3 ) which is one of his best loved compositions, typical of the lyrical and rhythmical writing which characterises Hungarian music of the twentieth century.
From the early fifties Szervánszky embarked on a series of larger compositions, one of the longest being the Concerto for Orchestra in memory of Attila József. Each of the concerto’s five movements is based on a quotation from József. The fourth has folk music elements and the whole demonstrates the influence of Bartók.
Both the String Quartet no.2 (1956–7) and the Wind Quintet no.2 (1957) also demonstrate the composer’s increasing interest in serialism.
Szervánszky’s most important composition came in 1959 with Six Orchestral Pieces – one of the most important works in the development of Hungarian music. Szervánszky employed 12-note serialism and the piece is particularly noteworthy for its use of percussion.
Szervánszky did not compose another major work until 1963 – the oratorio “Requiem”, based on a text by János Pilinszky which takes the concentration camp of Auschwitz as its theme. Major works which followed include the Variations (1964) and the Clarinet Concerto (1965).
Endre Szervánszky was given the “Righteous among the Nations” award by the State of Israel to honour non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews from the Nazis.
He is the brother of artist, Jenö Szervánszky, violinst, Peter Szervánszky and the uncle of pianist, Valeria Szervánszky.
Stage and vocal works –
- Napkeleti mese – “Oriental Tale”, 1948–9
- Népdalszvit – “Folksong Suite”, 1949
- Honvédkantáta – “Soldier’s Cantata”, 1949
- Tavaszi Szél – “Spring Breeze” (cantata), 1950
- 8 Petőfi Songs, 1951
- 3 Petőfi Choruses, 1953
- 3 Songs, 1956–7
- 3 Male Choruses (ancient China), 1958
- Requiem – “Dark Heaven” to words by János Pilinszky (oratorio), 1963
- Az éj – “The Night” (cantata), 1974–5
Instrumental works –
- 3 divertimentos, 1939, 1942, 1943
- Serenade, strings, 1947–8
- Rhapsody, 1950
- Serenade for clarinet and orchestra, 1950
- Flute Concerts, 1952–3
- Concerts for Orchestra, 1954
- 6 Orchestral Pieces, 1959
- Variations, 1964
- Clarinet Concerto, 1965
- String Quartet no.1, 1936–8
- 20 Little Duos for 2 violins, 1941
- Sonata for violin and piano, 1945
- 25 Duos for 2 violins, 1946
- Trio for flute, violin and viola, 1951
- Sonatina for flute, and piano, 1952
- Wind Quintet no.1, 1953
- 5 Koncert etűd – “5 Concert Etudes” for flute, 1956
- Suite for 2 flutes, 1956
- String Quartet No.2, 1956–7
- Wind Quintet no.2, 1957
- 2 Duos for 2 flutes, 1972
- 7 Studies for flute, 1974–5
- Folksong Suite, 4 hands, 1935
- Little Suite, 1939
- Sonatina, 1941
- Sonatina, 4 hands, 1950