Veress: Memento

Program Note

Sándor Veress (1907-1992)
Memento (1983)

Sándor Veress is an important exponent of the second generation of the “Budapest School,” of which Béla Bartók and Zoltán Kodály were the founding fathers. He taught important third-generation composers such as György Ligeti and György Kurtág in Budapest. Similar to Bartók, Veress developed an entirely autonomous musical language that was as rooted in Hungarian music as it was universal. His comprehensive education was the bedrock for a humanism and cultural sensitivity that was already manifest in his early chamber music and allowed him, following his emigration to Switzerland, to take a very individual approach to twelve-note composition.

Born in Kolozsvár (then Austria-Hungary, now Romania), Sándor Veress began studying composition with Kodály and piano with Bartók at the Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest. After studying methodology and ethnomusicology he embarked on an independent expedition to the Moldova region of Rumania in 1930. In 1935, he became Bartók's assistant in the department of folk music at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, and succeeded Kodály as Professor for Composition at the Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest in 1943.

After he emigrated to Switzerland in 1949 he was soon appointed to the faculty of the Bern Conservatory, where he taught composition, general musical education and various theoretical subjects between the years 1950 and 1981. During this time he also taught ethnomusicology and the music of the 20th Century at the Bern University's Institute of Musicology. It was here and during this time that we csn count a whole generation of important Swiss composers among his students, including Heinz Marti, Jürg Wyttenbach, János Tamás, Daniel Andres, Urs Peter Schneider, Heinz Holliger and Roland Moser.