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From Boulanger to Stockhausen

From Boulanger to Stockhausen: Interviews and a Memoir

Volume: 104
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 408
  • Book Info
    From Boulanger to Stockhausen
    Book Description:

    Bálint András Varga makes available here twenty-one extended interviews with some of the most notable figures in music from the past fifty years, as well as lively "snippets" from interviews Varga conducted with thirteen other equally renowned musicians. The interviewees include singers Elisabeth Schwarzkopf and Cathy Berberian; pianists Alfred Brendel and Arthur Rubinstein, violinists Isaac Stern and Yehudi Menuhin; conductors Claudio Abbado and Sir Neville Marriner; composers György Ligeti, and Karlheinz Stockhausen; and legendary pedagogue Nadia Boulanger. Of special interest is an interview with the reclusive composer György Kurtág, here published for the first time in any language. From Boulanger to Stockhausen concludes with a touching memoir by Varga of his experiences growing up in a Jewish family in Hungary during World War II and the early years of Communist rule. Varga's recollections also include details about how he managed to interview so many remarkable musicians-thanks in large part to his employment at the Hungarian state radio station and then in the music-publishing industry, which brought him to, among other places, London and Vienna, where he now lives. Bálint András Varga has spent nearly forty years working for and with composers. His previous books for the University of Rochester Press are György Kurtág: Three Interviews and Ligeti Homages and Three Questions for Sixty-Five Composers.

    eISBN: 978-1-58046-817-6
    Subjects: Music

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    Arnold Whittall

    After I’d finished reading Bálint András Varga’s text, I dug out the copy of Schoenberg’s Sechs kleine Klavierstücke (Universal Edition, 1913) that I’d bought as a schoolboy in 1953. At that distant time, the bold capitals and wide spaces on the front cover and the seven challengingly complex yet startlingly economical pages of music within stood for just about everything that was not central to mid-century musical life and education in my part of the world. Sadly, I failed to make it as a composer of music worthy to follow on from Schoenberg (and therefore to be published by Universal...

    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Part One: Interviews

      (pp. 3-6)

      In a way, these interviews are a form of memoir. They are written records of oral documents. For documents they are: of the ideas and opinions of major figures of international musical life, committed to tape decades ago.

      Their own memories of conversations with significant personalities of a previous generation are for me particularly valuable. Stravinsky’s words to William Glock on a train in the 1930s, Richard Strauss talking to Neville Cardus and Hans Swarowsky, Béla Bartók to the child Tibor Varga, Alois Hába to Franz Schreker, Pierre Monteux’s comments to Neville Marriner—all of this would probably be lost...

    • Composers

      • GEORGES AURIC 1899–1983
        (pp. 9-13)
        Georges Auric

        The International Confederation of Authors and Composers Societies held its annual meeting in Budapest in 1971. France was represented by Georges Auric. I felt a tremendous thrill on hearing the news that a member of Les Six, that legendary group of French composers, was in Budapest. I remember I was beside myself with excitement, grabbed my tape recorder and dashed to the Hotel InterContinental, scene of the conference.

        “I am looking for Georges Auric,” I said, hardly believing what I was saying. “There he is, coming out of the hall.”

        I immediately felt affection and friendship toward the jovial elderly...

      • ALOIS HÁBA 1893–1973
        (pp. 14-18)
        Alois Hába

        As I look back, Alois Hába’s figure emerges through the mist of time, as he entered the room in Prague where I was waiting for him. He was seventy-nine but looked older. A pale, gray figure in a shabby coat, with a kindly, friendly, and shrewd look in his eyes. He rather looked like a village schoolmaster, which, as it turned out, he had been in his youth.

        Our interview had an ABA form: it began as a tale, turned into an impassioned tirade with his fist landing on the table to add emphasis to the point he was anxious...

      • GYÖRGY KURTÁG b. 1926
        (pp. 19-25)
        György Kurtág and Márta Kurtág

        The interview I did with György and Márta Kurtág, in November 2007, was our longest: we talked for some four hours. The text subsequently underwent corrections and additions and we got together again in April 2008, when I read out the text so that they could double- and triple-check every detail. The definitive version was published, together with our interviews of 1982–85 as well as 1996, in György Kurtág: Three Interviews and Ligeti Homages (2009) by the University of Rochester Press. It appeared in Hungarian and French in the same year as well as in German in 2010.


      • GYÖRGY LIGETI 1923–2006
        (pp. 26-57)
        György Ligeti

        Ligeti has left behind a sizable legacy for the reader as well as for the listener. His collected writings were published in two volumes running to 876 pages, one year after his death.¹ They comprise his program notes on his compositions—a wonderful source of information for the musicologist, the concertgoer, and the CD collector. Also included are his admirable analyses of works by other composers, such as Boulez’s Structures Ia, first published in 1958: an object lesson in erudition and clarity.²

        The innumerable interviews he gave over the decades have to be traced down elsewhere. He was an ideal...

        (pp. 58-64)
        Karlheinz Stockhausen

        I recorded two interviews with Karlheinz Stockhausen in Budapest, in October 1984: one for my three-questions book and one for Hungarian Television.¹ Both were included by the composer in volume 6 of his collections of writings, which goes to show, I believe, that he attributed some significance to them.²

        In deciding on the main thrust of the television interview, I was bearing in mind the kind of viewers our conversation was likely to address. Rather than discuss questions of a musicological nature, I wanted to sketch a portrait of Stockhausen, knowing full well, of course, that it would come across...

    • Conductors

      • ERNEST BOUR 1913–2001
        (pp. 67-75)
        Ernest Bour

        By the time I interviewed Ernest Bour in Warsaw in 1978, I had seen him conduct oft en enough to have conceived unstinting admiration for his advocacy of new music and the authority with which he led world premieres at the head of his symphony orchestra of Südwestfunk, the South West German radio station in Baden-Baden.¹ He was a worthy successor to Hans Rosbaud who had died in 1962 but whose legend as a supreme interpreter of contemporary music was still very much alive.²

        However, unlike the ascetic and monkish Rosbaud, Bour—a Frenchman with a remarkable mastery of the...

      • SIR NEVILLE MARRINER b. 1924
        (pp. 76-88)
        Neville Marriner

        If you are a regular listener to music broadcasts or recordings, you are bound to have developed a sort of Pavlovian reflex: the NBC Symphony Orchestra will call forth in your mind the name of Arturo Toscanini. You will associate the Cleveland Orchestra with George Szell, and the Berlin Philharmonic with Herbert von Karajan. In much the same way, the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields is linked with the name of Neville Marriner—the two are one, really. For years and years, I heard their recordings and became an admirer, so that when I took up interviewing, pretty...

      • EUGENE ORMANDY 1899–1985
        (pp. 89-98)
        Eugene Ormandy

        In 1973, I was seconded jointly by Editio Musica Budapest and Hungarian Radio to accompany the Budapest Symphony Orchestra on its tour of the United States. My job was to send back weekly reports, and to write a book. My tape recorder gave the trip its special purpose. It acted as a magnet, so to speak, or as a compass, drawing and directing me toward potential interviewees.

        In Philadelphia, where the orchestra appeared at the Academy, it led me backstage toward an old man of short stature with a familiar if rather masklike, immobile face. Eugene Ormandy was quite obviously...

      • HANS SWAROWSKY 1899–1975
        (pp. 99-106)
        Hans Swarowsky

        Legend has it that Hans Swarowsky was the illegitimate son of a Habsburg archduchess, who had gone to Budapest to deliver, in an attempt to avoid scandal back home. An attractive tabloid story, probably without a grain of truth. The fact is that Hans Swarowsky was born in the Hungarian capital.

        That was where I met and interviewed him in 1974. He was conducting a concert and I attended one of his rehearsals. I can vividly recall him standing in front of the orchestra, an elderly, stocky gentleman in shirtsleeves, wearing braces, moving his right arm with mechanical regularity up...

      • IVÁN FISCHER and ÁDÁM FISCHER b. 1951 b. 1949
        (pp. 107-116)
        Iván Fischer and Ádám Fischer

        The preceding interview with Hans Swarowsky was published in my book Muzsikusportrék (Musicians’ Portraits) by Editio Musica Budapest (EMB) in 1979. I was in loose contact at the time with his Hungarian pupils, the brothers Ádám and Iván Fischer; their father, the translator and conductor Sándor Fischer, had been my colleague in Hungarian Radio.

        One day, the three of them came to my office at EMB and I recorded a conversation with the younger Fischers, to draw a portrait of Swarowsky from their perspective. They were relentlessly frank in their opinions (I can still hear in my mind’s ear their...

    • Instrumentalists

      • ALFRED BRENDEL b. 1931
        (pp. 119-128)
        Alfred Brendel

        I do not mind admitting to a character trait of mine that has not left me with advancing age: a laming shyness in the face of genuine greatness.

        In the 1970s, when Alfred Brendel gave a number of solo recitals in Budapest, I did a radio interview and later on a television interview with him and he invited me to his hotel for lunch. I suppose he did not know anybody in the city and preferred my company to a lonely meal.

        Making conversation with the great artist whose recordings of Schubert sonatas (a thick album of LPs) was the...

      • YEHUDI MENUHIN 1916–99
        (pp. 129-134)
        Yehudi Menuhin

        I heard Yehudi Menuhin on two occasions: sometime in the 1960s, in Budapest, he played Bartók’s Violin Concerto, and in the mid-1970s Frank Martin’s Polyptyque. On both occasions, his music-making was a revelation.

        I had heard Bartók’s work a number of times with Hungarian violinists—Menuhin’s rendition was altogether on a different plane. For the first time, the music soared naturally, it never occurred to me to be impressed by the soloist’s achievement in playing a “modern” composition, as had previously been the case. Menuhin showed us that the concerto was firmly rooted in tradition, and it was a masterpiece...

      • ISAAC STERN 1920–2001
        (pp. 135-143)
        Isaac Stern

        Seated in a stall of the Tonhalle in Zurich on March 8, 1977, I did something very reprehensible indeed: I secretly recorded the first half of a rehearsal, with Isaac Stern playing two short compositions by Mozart for violin and orchestra—the Adagio in E Major KV 261 and the Rondo in C Major KV 373. The Tonhalle Orchestra was conducted by John Pritchard.¹

        Thanks to that misdemeanor, I have now been able to listen yet again to the unique aural phenomenon that was Isaac Stern’s violin playing. I closed my eyes, heard the introductory bars of the orchestra—and...

      • TIBOR VARGA 1921–2003
        (pp. 144-152)
        Tibor Varga

        “Are you related to Tibor Varga?” was a question invariably put to me on introducing myself wherever my travels as Editio Musica Budapest’s promotion manager took me. The answer was no. I was aware who Tibor Varga was, although I had never heard him play the violin. His was a name one simply knew; I could vaguely recall his association with new music. He seemed to be a figure of the past, even though he was in his early fifties at the time, since he appeared to have given up the life of a traveling virtuoso. His presence was due...

    • Singers and a Record Producer

      • CATHY BERBERIAN 1925–83
        (pp. 155-166)
        Cathy Berberian

        I first heard Cathy Berberian sing at the Warsaw Autumn Festival in 1974. I was bowled over, like everybody else in the hall: we had never heard and seen anybody like her on the concert stage. You had to see as well as hear her to fully appreciate the phenomenon that she was.

        Cathy was born to sing in public. That was obvious the moment she entered the stage. I can no longer recall whether her hair was dyed white or very light blond—in any case, it provided a curly frame for her face, which was dominated by her...

      • ELISABETH SCHWARZKOPF and WALTER LEGGE 1915–2006 1906–79
        (pp. 167-184)
        Elisabeth Schwarzkopf and Walter Legge

        That extract from my book-length interview with Luciano Berio (conducted in January 1981 at his house in Radicondoli in Tuscany and originally published in Hungarian that same year by Editio Musica Budapest) reflects my boundless admiration for Elisabeth Schwarzkopf. I had last heard her not long before in Budapest and the powerful impact of her singing was still very much with me as the reference to my blood circulation indicates.

        I have included the composer’s response in some detail to give an idea of his sober approach to his art: he did not delude himself that music was suited to...

    • A Teacher

      • NADIA BOULANGER 1887–1979
        (pp. 187-196)
        Nadia Boulanger

        I believe I first heard of Nadia Boulanger from Aaron Copland in Budapest in November 1969. In our interview, he remembered fondly the young woman he had studied with in 1921 at Fontainebleau; half a century on, she was still teaching in the very same rooms.

        I met Nadia Boulanger in 1974. I had written her a letter asking for an appointment and she replied by return post. That would be a particularly busy week, she wrote, so all she had time for would be a short interview on March 12, at 6:45 in the evening.

        I turned up punctually...

    • Music Administrators

      • SIR WILLIAM GLOCK 1908–2000
        (pp. 199-214)
        William Glock

        William Glock was one of the doers, the accomplishers. Also, one of those who sought to improve the world he had inherited, to make it better for others: in his case, for composers and their public. During his years with the BBC, between 1959 and 1972, he succeeded in bringing about enduring changes in British musical life, opening its doors and windows for the music of the twentieth century. The dimensions of his achievement are indicated by the fact that those years have come to be known as the Glock Era.¹

        We met in 1976, after William had retired from...

        (pp. 215-228)
        Wolfgang Stresemann

        Dr. Wolfgang Stresemann was intendant of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra from 1959 until 1978 and again between 1984 and 1986. In all those years, Herbert von Karajan was principal conductor.¹

        He was the son of Gustav Stresemann, one of Germany’s major politicians between the two world wars who was decorated for his services as foreign minister and chancellor with the Nobel Peace Prize (1926). Who knows what turn European history would have taken if he had not died in 1929. Could he have hindered Hitler’s rise to power?

        Gustav Stresemann married a Jewish woman; his son Wolfgang emigrated with his...

    • Snippets

      • CLAUDIO ABBADO b. 1933
        (pp. 231-232)
        Claudio Abbado

        I interviewed the conductor in Budapest in 1968. He was thirty-five, I was twenty-seven. We were both happy-go-lucky young men and chatted rather than did a serious interview. I mean it was certainly serious in its intent but the way Abbado talked to me, munching on an apple and speaking with his mouth full, was totally relaxed. We were to meet many more times over the years and I became his “official” interviewer: whenever he appeared in Budapest, I would turn up in his hotel room with my microphone.

        The subject of his nearsightedness—which he shared with Arturo Toscanini...

      • SIR NEVILLE CARDUS 1888–1975
        (pp. 233-235)
        Neville Cardus

        At the time we met in London in 1970, Sir Neville Cardus was the British music critic personified. At eighty-two, his reviews were still appearing regularly in the Guardian, a daily paper to which he had contributed articles since 1916. Sir Neville, however, was also noted for his writings on cricket. In both capacities, music critic and cricket critic, he had spent the years between 1939 and 1947 in Australia, writing for the Sydney Morning Herald.

        When I turned up for our interview, he was standing at the entrance to the building where he had an apartment in the basement....

      • AARON COPLAND 1900–1990
        (pp. 236-237)
        Aaron Copland

        I forget what took me to Leeds in October 1976, but I expect it had something to do with the promotion of Hungarian music. It may have been some sort of a festival, for Aaron Copland was also there, to hear a performance of his Nonet for three violins, three violas, and three cellos (1960). It goes without saying I had my tape recorder with me. I scribbled the date of our interview on the cassette: October 18. Four days later, I used the other track to record an interview with Witold Lutosławski in Amsterdam (also included in Snippets).


      • ANTAL DORÁTI 1906–88
        (pp. 238-240)
        Antal Doráti

        Antal Doráti was a regular visitor to Budapest. We first met in 1968, I believe, and from then on kept in touch either in the company of my microphone or through letters. He was a prolific letter writer, always by hand rather than typewriter.

        Interviewing Doráti was thrilling, for he enjoyed controversy and never shied away from acerbic remarks. His voice was rather high and hoarse, and the manner of his speaking made it sound rather as if he were irritated. His voice did not match his appearance, which, as the years went by, reminded me more and more of...

      • GÉZA FRID 1904–89
        (pp. 241-241)

        I met the Hungarian-born Dutch pianist and composer (a pupil of Bartók and Kodály) in Amsterdam. For once, I did not have a tape recorder with me. I happen to remember, however, a story Frid told me that I want to preserve for posterity, in case it has not come down through other channels.

        Frid related a night-long conversation with Ravel in Amsterdam’s Vondelpark. Ravel was an insomniac, Frid explained, and the two of them walked all night, with Ravel describing the way he imagined the ideal performance of his Bolero. It would be conducted by a robot, which would...

      • SYLVIA GOLDSTEIN 1919–2002
        (pp. 242-246)
        Sylvia Goldstein

        The music publisher Boosey and Hawkes represented Editio Musica Budapest in the United States as well as in several European countries, so their New York office was my base on the few occasions I flew overseas to promote our composers. My opposite number was David Huntley, but I also met the corporate vice president, Sylvia Goldstein. On realizing that she had been with the firm since 1940, I asked her if she had met Bartók. Her reply in the affirmative led logically to the question of whether she would be willing to give me an interview. That was in May...

      • RALPH KIRKPATRICK 1911–84
        (pp. 247-250)
        Ralph Kirkpatrick

        I was familiar with Ralph Kirkpatrick’s name from the music programs of Hungarian Radio. His recordings were broadcast about as frequently as those of Wanda Landowska, Zuzana Růžičková, and George Malcolm.¹ In those—years the late sixties and early seventies—I was addicted to the harpsichord and dreamed of buying an instrument so that I could play it at home.

        I was particularly taken with his renditions of Domenico Scarlatti’s sonatas, without knowing at the time that Kirkpatrick had written the composer’s biography and published a critical edition of his complete works. Kirkpatrick was Scarlatti’s Köchel, so to speak: his...

      • WITOLD LUTOSŁAWSKI 1913–94
        (pp. 251-252)
        Witold Lutosławski

        With the upcoming centenary of Witold Lutosławski’s birth, I want to pay tribute to this wonderful composer and wonderful human being by including an extract from our interview done prior to the world premiere of his Mi-parti in Amsterdam, on October 22, 1976. I have not heard the work since, but I can remember how impressed I was at the time by the sheer beauty of this music.

        It was written for the Concertgebouw Orchestra, an ensemble the composer admired for the musicianship of its soloists, especially of the clarinets, the horns, the oboes, and the bassoons, and tailored the...

      • VLADO PERLEMUTER 1904–2002
        (pp. 253-254)
        Vlado Perlemuter

        The French pianist—born to a Jewish family in Kowno, Lithuania—played Ravel, Debussy, and Chopin in Budapest in 1968 and 1970. He readily granted me an interview, even though he must have known that I would be asking him about his friend and mentor, Maurice Ravel. If he was tired of having to talk yet again about the composer, he gave no outward sign of it.

        I remember his china-blue eyes, the curiously swarthy tan of his skin, the incredibly straight parting in his snow-white hair, and his amazingly high voice. As I translated this interview, I realized I...

      • ARTHUR RUBINSTEIN 1887–1982
        (pp. 255-256)
        Arthur Rubinstein

        In my own private mythology, the date of my conversation with Arthur Rubinstein—October 19, 1966—has a particular significance, in that it marks the beginning of my career as an interviewer. I was not yet twenty-five at the time, so my impression of his recital in Budapest has to be taken with a grain of salt. For me, his playing was gray, devoid of any expression. I saw an old man toiling away at the keyboard; the sounds he produced simply failed to come across as music. I am sure I am being unjust, but that is what I...

      • GYÖRGY SÁNDOR 1912–2005
        (pp. 257-259)
        György Sándor

        The Hungarian pianist György Sándor was a pupil of Béla Bartók at the Budapest Academy of Music. They grew close after the composer’s emigration to the United States, where Sándor himself had settled in 1939.

        Beyond recording an interview with him in 1971 in Budapest, we spent some time together privately. He struck me as a man of the world of the old school: he wore his wavy hair rather long combed back; he was always impeccably dressed, with a silk necktie and a matching kerchief in his breast-pocket. He was a superb causeur; I could listen to his anecdotes...

      • WALTER SUSSKIND 1913–80
        (pp. 260-261)
        Walter Susskind

        Walter Susskind may be largely forgotten today, but he was a well-respected conductor, with positions as music director of the Scottish Orchestra, the Victoria Symphony Orchestra in Melbourne, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the St. Louis Symphony, and, toward the end of his life, he was principal guest conductor in Cincinnati. Born in Prague, he fled on March 13, 1939, two days before the German invasion, and made his way to Britain, becoming a naturalized British citizen after the war.

        I failed to write a date on the cassette of our interview; it took place in Budapest sometime in the 1970s....

      • JOSEPH SZIGETI 1892–1973
        (pp. 262-264)
        Joseph Szigeti

        In the Introduction to his autobiography My First 79 Years, Isaac Stern lists Joseph Szigeti among violinists who were of “immense importance” for him.¹ He adds: “He was one of the most profound musicians I have ever known, and a very good friend.” Describing Szigeti’s rendition in the mid-forties of Brahms’s G-Major Sonata for violin and piano (with Nikita Magaloff), Stern says: “It was one of the most ennobling performances I have ever heard. Nobody in the hall breathed. You were not listening to a performance of someone standing on the stage at Carnegie Hall; you were surrounded by a...

    • Part Two: A Memoir

        (pp. 267-268)

        We are all contemporaries and heirs. Also, ancestors. Born into the present, we bore our way into the future and let the minutes fall away to become the past. As we try to establish a niche for ourselves, we come into contact with people who arrived before us. We grow older together for a time; gradually they depart and we find ourselves in the midst of younger generations.

        In a memoir, you remember your own past and the men and women who formed it. You shed a shaft of light into the darkness, which deepens with the passage of time,...

        (pp. 269-273)

        The earliest date that can be established in my family’s history is 1492: together with some two hundred thousand Sephardic Jews, they were expelled by Ferdinand and Isabella from Spain.¹ Their trace was then lost for centuries. They must have wandered eastward, for they first emerged again in the eighteenth century at Dunaszerdahely in northwest Hungary.² All I know is that an ancestor of my father’s was a rabbi in that small town.

        My first forebear on my father’s side to be known by name is my great-grandfather Farkas (Wolf) Weisz, who lived in Székesfehérvár, a major city southwest of...

        (pp. 274-277)

        Questions with vague answers.

        The fact that my Jewish background is mentioned on the very first page of chapter 1 is the result of decades of coming to terms with my origins, a process still in progress.

        My parents were born in the Mosaic faith but were brought up in secular families. My father mentioned once that as a child he had heartily hated religious education at school. It was a casual remark, quickly passed over. In 1937, my parents and my one-year-old brother converted to Calvinism in the expectation that anti-Jewish legislation, which was making everyday life increasingly suffocating,...

        (pp. 278-286)

        My brother is sitting at our newly acquired, small upright piano and is going through the motions of practicing. He would have been eleven at the time, which makes me six and the year 1947.

        Our family had survived the war like other Jews in Budapest whose deportation to concentration camps had been stopped by Admiral Horthy under pressure from the Allied Powers. The ghetto was liberated by the Soviet army in February 1945 and we moved to my grandmother’s apartment in the city center, near the Danube. Miraculously enough, the house remained intact, even the chandelier was in place,...

        (pp. 287-292)

        I have given this chapter a name for a title. Margit used to watch me many times as I was typing away at my radio programs or whatever I happened to be busy with, marveling at my ability to transfer something from my head straight onto a sheet of paper, without copying it from some-where. She leaned back comfortably in the green velvet armchair that for so many years had been my mother’s preserve, with Margit standing in front of her. The idea that she, too, might take a seat, did not occur to any of us, probably least of...

        (pp. 293-297)

        Four years after the Hungarian Revolution and two years following the execution of its leader, Imre Nagy (1896–1958), I enrolled in Budapest University in September 1960, to study English and Russian. There ensued five rather uneventful years ending with my graduation in June 1965.

        Of course, the nine months in the factory had taught me to appreciate the luxury of having nothing to do but prepare for my classes and diligently take notes at lectures on Chaucer, Gower, or Turgenev. It was just the ideological subjects that gave me a headache: dialectical materialism, political economy and the rest with...

        (pp. 298-302)

        I cannot undertake to write an objective and exhaustive report on what we used to call, euphemistically, the “regrettable October events.” The Hungarian uprising that began on October 23, 1956, and was put down by Soviet troops on November 4 has been analyzed in a variety of ways, each according to the analyst’s political affiliation. There may not be any one canon acceptable to all. What I can offer is my own personal experience.

        On October 23, I went to school as usual and found the gate locked. Just one of my classmates turned up. The janitor heard us trying...

        (pp. 303-307)

        After an absence of several decades, in May 2011, I visited the wing of Budapest’s Broadcasting House, which used to be occupied by the Foreign Broadcasts Department. Not a soul was around. The door to what had been the secretariat of the English Section was locked. Another door, behind which hid the cubicle where I used to type away at my scripts, also refused entry. I felt like a ghost from the past.

        When I turned up for work on September 1, 1965, the Foreign Broadcasts Department represented an important branch of Hungarian Radio: it housed a number of “Sections”...

        (pp. 308-309)

        Charlie was of course well aware that music was my primary interest. It was thanks to his help, for instance, that on one of my visits to London I was received by some of the leading figures of the folk music revival in Britain in the 1950s and 1960s. I recorded a long interview with Ewan MacColl and his wife Peggy Seeger (and I heard them perform at a club). I also met A. L. Lloyd and Tom Paley.¹ They all gave me records to take home and, as a natural sequel to the program on the Yankee Whaling Songs,...

        (pp. 310-323)

        László Sarlós’s offer was irresistible. He explained that he had succeeded in persuading the Ministry of Culture and Education that a music publisher needed someone to promote its products. The idea that a commercial enterprise should by definition aim at making a profit was wholly alien to his superiors: for ideological reasons, the notions of profit and socialism were mutually exclusive. After all, organizations like the music publisher or theaters could count on state subsidies, they did not need to worry about profits. Editio Musica Budapest (EMB) was therefore in a position to publish anything it considered of value (such...

      • CHAPTER 10 INTERVIEWING: An Obsession
        (pp. 324-327)

        I wonder if parents realize that a remark they happen to drop at one point makes a mark on their children’s minds for life. My mother suggested that I should not talk too much about myself. Nobody will be really interested—people prefer to do the talking and want listeners. She was right. On the few occasions I have for some obscure reason misinterpreted signals coming from other people and launched into a subject that was occupying my mind, I soon noticed their eyes wandering as though looking for help. Their nods were automatic, though meant to signify agreement or...

        (pp. 328-335)

        John F. Kennedy declared himself to be a Berliner two years after the construction of the wall that had sealed off the only remaining open space between East and West Germany.¹ The Berlin Wall saved the German Democratic Republic from gradually losing its population and thus its very existence; it also turned West Berlin into an island within a Soviet-controlled communist German ocean. President Kennedy’s declaration of solidarity with the plight of West and East Berliners alike (on his own behalf as well as on behalf of the free world) met with tremendous enthusiasm by those attending the rally on...

        (pp. 336-341)

        The invitation from Vienna and my eager acceptance of it set a process in motion that was to introduce a new chapter in our lives: leaving Hungary behind, in other words emigrating, and settling permanently in Austria.

        Austria, like Hungary, had been an ally of Nazi Germany, with a large section of the population enthusiastically welcoming the Anschluss, the country’s takeover by Hitler in 1938. Like Hungary, it had lost World War II, but the State Treaty of 1955 ensured its independence, ending the occupation by Allied forces. Österreich ist frei! “Austria is free!” Foreign Minister Leopold Figl announced on...

        (pp. 342-363)

        The young man who had just arrived in Vienna from his native city, Karlsruhe, to take up his internship at UE in 1923, was Hans Heinsheimer (1900–1993). Shy as he was to begin with, only a year later he was entrusted with running the Opera Department. Until his emigration to the United States in 1938, he was to play an important part in the publisher’s affairs. The quotation above has been taken from his reminiscences recorded for the Austrian daily newspaper Die Presse in 1970.

        The well-worn stone steps were only replaced a few years ago and as I...

        (pp. 364-369)

        The catalogue of a music publisher is an important document of the state of musical creativity at any given time. It also reflects the wisdom or otherwise of the conclusions drawn from it by the firm’s decision makers.

        If you put yourself in the position of Emil Hertzka and his colleagues and successors, I think you cannot but approve of their artistic policy. Unblinkered by stylistic preferences, they cast their net wide within Europe (later also as far as the United States, Canada, Japan, China, and Australia) and invited to Universal Edition a great many composers who were established figures...

        (pp. 370-374)

        The psychology of promotion is closely linked to an aspect of the psychology of creativity, or rather, the psychology of creators. Creative artists, in whatever field, could not exist without their promoters (agents, managers, publishers, gallery owners): promoters are their link to the outside world, for which they create in the first place.

        I am sure that the relationship between Picasso and Ambrois Vollard or Braque and Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler was basically similar to that between Emil Hertzka and Arnold Schoenberg or the American writer Carson McCullers and the publisher Houghton Mifflin, which discovered her talent and continued to publish her...

        (pp. 375-378)

        It was all kept a secret until the last minute.

        In the autumn of 2007, I was looking forward to retirement. Daily work was becoming something of a strain; I was feeling exhausted and depleted. Early in November, I was casually asked if I would be free on the twenty-ninth. With no travels planned, I said yes. Some time toward the end of the month, I was told to show up at such and such a time in the afternoon and I noted it in my diary without the slightest idea what it was all about.

        My wife and I...

    (pp. 379-380)
  7. INDEX
    (pp. 381-394)
  8. Back Matter
    (pp. 395-399)