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Music

 

 

Introduction

 

Rita Gero

 

This section will feature individuals and groups of Hungarian origin, who contributed in many different ways to the Canadian music scene. As more resources will become available the section will be updated and expanded. A variety of music genres including classical, popular, folk music, and jazz will be presented. You will find captivating stories about musicians, including soloists, composers, choral musicians and conductors, whose artistic expression contributed to Canada’s cultural tapestry. Some of them are internationally acclaimed individuals; others have made a difference in their local communities.

 

Music plays an important role in all cultures. People turn to music to celebrate life events, find inspiration and express a wide range of emotions. Music has a magical, transformational impact on our lives. The universal language of music helped many immigrants make their home, and earn their livelihood, in this new country. They found friends and communities where they could share their musical traditions and preserve their cultural identity while, at the same time, contributing to Canadian culture.

 

Churches and community centres were instrumental in coordinating and supporting the birth of choirs, ensembles, symphonies and dance groups across Canada. Professional musicians who made their new home in Canada infused the musical heritage of Bartok and Kodaly into the rich mosaic of Canadian music. The Kodaly Ensemble in Toronto, founded by George Zaduban, exemplifies the preservation of Hungarian music tradition in Canada. This ensemble consisted of a choir, orchestra and dance group and was considered the largest Hungarian music group outside Hungary.

 

A large number of musicians, solo artists, conductors and composers who immigrated to Canada have become internationally acclaimed and have enriched Canadian cultural life. Several outstanding musicians were associated with the acclaimed Banff Centre for the Arts. Among the best known is Lorand Fenyves who taught master classes there for many years (see Hungarian language interview with him by Gabor Csepregi). Zoltan Szekely, another well-known Hungarian musician was appointed violinist in residence. Bartok dedicated several of his compositions to Szekely.

 

The Kodaly Society of Canada is playing an important role in fostering and advocating music education based on Kodaly-inspired philosophy and vision. The year 2007 marks the 125th anniversary of the birth of Zoltan Kodaly. The dramatic oratorio, Psalmus Hungaricus, composed in 1923 on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the creation of the city of Budapest, has been performed early April in Montreal (SEE poster here.). The conductor is one of Kodaly’s disciples, the acclaimed Hungarian Canadian artist Miklos Takacs who is director of the Société Philharmonique de Montréal and also conductor of the Choir of the University of Quebec in Montreal. Takacs, while still living in Budapest, was invited to the weekly gatherings hosted by Zoltan Kodaly in his home, a privilege reserved to a select few outstanding musicians. He is probably the only conductor in the world today who has such an intimate knowledge of the entire oeuvre of Kodály. At the same time his musicianship has brought international reputation to the choir, including a Carnegie Hall performance in New York. There will be a number of events marking this anniversary in Canada, Hungary and other parts of the world (watch our What’s New section for details).

 

Talented artists are also found in the domain of popular music. Alanis Morrissette, second generation Hungarian, and major rock artist, sings in one of Jonathan Elias’s musical compositions, The Prayer Cycle, a choral symphony in 9 movements in Hungarian and French that expresses intertwining traditions and influences in her life.

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