JenÅ‘ Takács

The composer, pianist, teacher and ethnomusicologist Jenö Takács was both Hungarian and Austrian, the duality of his place of birth later reflected in the political vicissitudes which affected his life. He was born in the little village of Siegendorf, south of Vienna, in the rolling wine country of Burgenland, which was Hungarian until 1921. From 1921 to 1926, he studied at the Academy of Music and the Dramatic Arts in Vienna - composition with Joseph Marx and piano with Paul Weingarten - and at the University of Vienna - counterpoint with Hans Gál and musicology with the revered Guido Adler, founder of the discipline.

Jenö Takács’ first concert tours - in his late teens and early twenties - took him around Germany, Hungary and Yugoslavia. And he was already composing, initially in a style which blended his Hungarian roots with the colours of French impressionism; his Viennese teachers added a respect for contrapuntal and thematic clarity.

But it was his first meeting with Béla Bartók in 1926 that was decisive, reinforcing Takács' awareness of the Hungarian folk idiom, expanding his use of tonality and the resourcefulness of his rhythms and his phrase-construction. In 1982 he published a book of his memories of B. Bartók, Erinnerungen an Bela Bartók. Alban Berg and Paul Hindemith were other early friends.