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Seiber, M?ty?s (György)

Seiber, Mάtyάs (György)

Seiber, Mâtyâs (György), significant Hungarian-born English composer; b. Budapest, May 4, 1905; d. in an automobile accident in Kruger National Park, Johannesburg, South Africa, Sept. 24, 1960. Of a musical family, he learned to play the cello at home; later entered the Budapest Academy of Music, where he studied composition with Kod´ly (1919–24). During the following years, he traveled as a member of a ship’s orch. on a transatlantic liner; visited Russia as a music journalist. From 1928 to 1933 he taught composition at the Frankfurt am Main Hoch Cons.; was the cellist in the Lenzewski Quartet, which specialized in modern music; then was again in Budapest. The catastrophic events in Germany and the growing Nazi influence in Hungary forced him to emigrate to England in 1935, where he quickly acquired a group of loyal disciples; was cofounder of the Society for the Promotion of New Music (1942) and founder-conductor of the Dorian Singers (1945); taught at Morely Coll. (from 1942). His early music followed the national trends of the Hungarian School; later he expanded his melodic resources to include oriental modes and also jazz, treated as folk music; by the time he arrived in England, he had added dodecaphony to his oeuvre, though he used it in a very personal, lyrical manner, as in his cantata Ulysses and his third String Quartet. He pubi, the books Schule für Jazz-Schlagzeug (Mainz, 1929) and The String Quartets of Bela Bartók (London, 1945).

Works

DRAMATIC : Eva spielt mit Puppen, opera (1934); 2 operettas; The Invitation, ballet (London, Dec. 30, 1960); over 25 film scores, including Orwell’s Animal Farm. orch.: Besardo Suite No. 1 (1940) and No. 2 for Strings (1941); Transylvanien Rhapsody (1941); Pastorale and Burlesque for Flute and Strings (1941–42); Fantasia concertante for Violin and String Orch. (1943–44; London, Dec. 3, 1945); Notturno for Horn and Strings (1944); Concertino for Violin and String (1951; London, May 11, 1954); Elegy for Viola and Small Orch. (1955); 3 Pieces for Cello and Orch. (1956); Improvisations for Jazz Band and Sym. Orch. (London, June 2, 1959; in collaboration with J. Dankworth). chamber: 3 string quartets (1924; 1934–35; Quartetto Lirico, 1948–51); Sarabande and Gigue for Cello and Piano (1924); Sonata da camera for Violin and Cello (1925); Serenade for 2 Clarinets, 2 Bassoons, and 2 Horns (1925); Divertimento for Clarinet and String Quartet (1928); 2 Jazzolettes for 2 Saxophones, Trumpet, Trombone, Piano, and Percussion (1929, 1933); 4 Hungarian Folksongs for 2 Violins (1931); Fantasy for Cello and Piano (1940); Fantasia for Flute, Horn, and String Quartet (1945); Andantino and Pastorale for Clarinet and Piano (1949); Concert Piece for Violin and Piano (1953–54); Improvisation for Oboe and Piano (1957); Permutazioni a cinque for Wind Quintet (1958); Violin Sonata (1960); piano pieces. vocal: Ulysses, cantata for Tenor, Chorus, and Orch., after James Joyce (1946–47; London, May 27, 1949); 4 French Folksongs for Soprano and Strings (1948); Faust for Soprano, Tenor, Chorus, and Orch. (1949); Cantata secularis for Chorus and Orch. (1949–51); 3 Fragments from “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man”,chamber cantata for Narrator, Wordless Chorus, and Instrumental Ensemble, after James Joyce (1957); More Nonsense for Baritone, Violin, Guitar, Clarinet, and Bass Clarinet, after E. Lear (1957); songs with orch. or instrumental accompaniment; folk song arrangements.

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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