Endre Szervánszky

The Hungarian composer and teacher, Endre Szervánszky, studied the clarinet at the Budapest Academy of Music between 1922—27). He played in various orchestras before returning to the academy to study composition with Albert Siklós, 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 from this period 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 characterizes much Hungarian music of the twentieth century.

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.