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category: Music
published: Aug 2012

Centre and Periphery, Roots and Exile

Interpreting the Music of István Anhalt, György Kurtág, and Sándor Veress

edited by Friedemann Sallis; Robin Elliott & Kenneth DeLong

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also available: Paperback Hardcover
category: Music
published: Aug 2012

This book examines the impact place and displacement can have on the composition and interpretation of Western art music, using as its primary objects of study the work of István Anhalt (1919–2012), György Kurtág (1926–), and Sándor Veress (1907–92). 

Although all three composers are of Hungarian origin, their careers followed radically different paths. Whereas, Kurtág remained in Budapest for most of his career, Anhalt and Veress left: the former in 1946 and immigrated to Canada and the latter in 1948 and settled in Switzerland. All three composers have had an extraordinary impact in the cultural environments within which their work took place.

In the first section, “Place and Displacement,” contributors examine what happens when composers and their music migrate in the culturally complex world of the late twentieth century. The past one hundred years produced record numbers of refugees, and this fact is now beginning to resonate in the study of music. As Anhalt himself forcefully asserts, however, not all composers who emigrate should be understood as exiles. The first chapters of this book explore some of the problems and questions surrounding this issue.

Essays in the second section, “Perspectives on Reception, Analysis, and Interpretation,” look at how performing acts of interpretation on music implies bringing the time, place, and identity of the musician, the analyst, and the teacher to bear on the object of study. Like Kodály, Kurtág considers his work to be “naturally” embedded in Hungarian culture, but he is also a quintessentially European artist. Much of his production—he is one of the twentieth century’s most prolific composers of vocal music—involves the setting of Hungarian texts, but in the late 1970s his cultural horizons expanded to include texts in Russian, German, French, English, and ancient Greek. The book explores how musicologists’ divergent cultural perspectives impinge on the interpretation of this work.

The final section, “The Presence of the Past and Memory in Contemporary Music,” examines the impact time and memory can have on notions of place and identity in music. All living art taps into the personal and collective past in one way or another. The final four chapters look at various aspects of this relationship.

About the Authors

Friedemann Sallis obtained his PhD in musicology under the direction of the late Carl Dahlhaus at the Technische Universitt Berlin. His writings include a book on the early works of György Ligeti and numerous articles. He is the co-editor of A Handbook to Twentieth-Century Musical Sketches (2004).

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Robin Elliott holds the Jean A. Chalmers Chair in Canadian Music at the Faculty of Music, University of Toronto. He recently co-edited two books for WLU Press, Music Traditions, Cultures, and Contexts (with Gordon E. Smith, 2010) and Centre and Periphery, Roots and Exile: Interpreting the Music of István Anhalt, György Kurtág, and Sándor Veress (with Friedemann Sallis and Kenneth DeLong, 2011).

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Kenneth DeLong is a professor of music history at the University of Calgary, Alberta. He has published extensively on Romantic Czech music. He is also a music critic for the Calgary Herald and Opera Canada. Recent publications include chapters in The Unknown Schubert, edited by Barbara M. Reul and Lorraine Byrne Bodley (2008), and Henry Irving: a Re-Evaluation of the Pre-Eminent Victorian Actor-Manager, edited by Richard Foulkes (2008).

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Contributor Notes


István Anhalt, the dedicatee of this volume, was born in Budapest in 1919 and emigrated to Canada in 1949 to become a faculty member at McGill University. He moved to Kingston in 1971, served as the head of the Department of Music at Queen’s University for ten years, and retired in 1984. A highly respected composer, theorist, and educator, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2003 and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 2007. He has produced a substantial body of scholarly and creative work that speaks with force and eloquence about the contemporary human condition. His list of compositions includes electrocoustic, vocal, choral, instrumental, chamber, and orchestral music, and four large-scale operatic works: La Tourangelle (1975), Winthrop (1986), Traces (Tikkun) (1996), and Millennial Mall (1999). His life and music are the subject of the book István Anhalt: Pathways and Memory (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2001).

John Beckwith—composer, writer, and music educator—was associated from 1952 to 1990 with the Faculty of Music, University of Toronto, including periods as its dean and as founding director of its Institute for Canadian Music. Some of his later compositions appear on the Centrediscs CDs entitled Avowals and Jalsaghar. He is the author of Music Papers: Articles and Talks by a Canadian Composer 1961–1994 (1997) and Unheard-Of: Memoirs of a Canadian Composer (Wilfrid Laurier University Press, forthcoming).

Rachel Beckles Willson is associate professor of music at Royal Holloway, University of London. Her research on Eastern Europe and the sociology of Western classical music has been published in two monographs and over twenty book chapters and journal articles and has been presented at conferences worldwide. Recently she has been based at the Humboldt University in Berlin, supported by a Fellowship for Experienced Researchers from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and writing her forthcoming monograph, Orientalism and Musical Mission: The Case of Palestine.

A music theorist and composer, William Benjamin received a PhD in music from Princeton and has taught at the University of British Columbia since 1978. He has published in leading theory journals and collective volumes since the 1970s, with studies of works by several nineteenth- and twentieth-century composers, critiques of present-day analytical method, and contributions to the theories of harmony and meter. More recently, his scholarly work has shifted to the intersection of music theory, cognition, and aesthetics. At present, he is completing a book entitled Music in Our Heads: Imagined Music as a Determinant of Musical Behaviour, Musical Values, and Musical Culture.

Rachelle Chiasson-Taylor détient des doctorats en interprétation musicale et en musicologie de l’Université McGill. Elle poursuit une carrière internationale comme interprète et a enregistré trois CDs de musique ancienne pour clavier chez ATMA. Elle enseigne l’histoire et la littérature musicales à l’Université McGill et sa recherche est publiée au Canada, en Belgique et au Royaume-Uni. Depuis 2002, elle travaille aussi comme historienne et archiviste à Bibliothèque et Archives Canada.

Austin Clarkson, professor of music emeritus, York University, previously held positions at the University of Saskatchewan, Columbia University (where he was founding editor of Current Musicology), and Yale University. As general editor of the music and writings of Stefan Wolpe, he has produced many critical editions as well as On the Music of Stefan Wolpe: Essays and Recollections (Pendragon) and special Wolpe issues for Contemporary Music Review and Musik-Konzepte. He recently completed a report on a program that he directs for schoolchildren.www.austinclarkson.ca.

Kenneth DeLong is professor of music history at the University of Calgary. His research interests principally concern nineteenth-century Czech and English music, opera, and Liszt’s piano music. Recent research activities include a conference paper on Liszt’s Il Penseroso for the Vienna conference of the Word and Music Association, and articles on Schubert and Vorísek for The Unknown Schubert and on Sullivan for Henry Irving, both published by Ashgate Press. He is a correspondent and reviewer for Opera Canada magazine and for thirty years has been the principal music critic for The Calgary Herald.

Robin Elliott studied with István Anhalt at Queen’s University in Kingston, where he completed a B.Mus. degree in 1978. At the University of Toronto he earned his PhD in musicology in 1990. From 1996 to 2002 he was a faculty member at University College Dublin. He returned to the University of Toronto as the Jean A. Chalmers Chair in Canadian Music in 2002 and was appointed associate dean of the Faculty of Music in 2008.

Julia Galieva-Szokolay obtained her doctoral degree in musicology in 1995 at the Russian State Institute for Art Studies, Moscow. After moving to Canada in 1996 she became a faculty member of the Royal Conservatory’s Glenn Gould School, in Toronto. Mrs. Galieva-Szokolay combines a teaching career with academic research, specializing in music of Eastern and East-Central Europe. She has published several articles on the works of contemporary composers of Hungary and Russia.

Alan M. Gillmor was educated at the University of Michigan (B.Mus., MA) and the University of Toronto (PhD). He taught at McGill University and Carleton University, from which he retired in 2003 as professor emeritus. Dr. Gillmor’s scholarly publications have appeared in professional journals both in North America and Europe, and his monograph on the French composer Erik Satie (1988; 1990) was shortlisted in 1990 for the Ottawa- Carleton Book Award for non-fiction. His most recent publications are Eagle Minds: Selected Correspondence of István Anhalt & George Rochberg, 1961–2005 (Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2007) and (with James K. Wright) Schoenberg’s Chamber Music, Schoenberg’s World (Pendragon Press, 2009).

A native of St. Petersburg, Russia, Dina Lentsner received her PhD in music theory from Ohio State University with dissertation on György Kurtág’s Scenes from a Novel, Op. 19. She is an associate professor of music history, music theory, and composition at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio. Dr. Lentsner’s current research focuses on the interpretation of music with text with the emphasis on contemporary music, “spirituality” in music, and music history pedagogy.

Stefano Melis graduated in piano performance at the Conservatorio di Musica of Sassari (1988) and in musicology at the Bologna University (1998). As a pianist, he has recorded numerous CDs of contemporary music, notably of works by Sardinian composers Franco Oppo and Antonio Doro. As a musicologist, his research focuses on György Kurtág’s music and music pedagogy. Recent publications include “Játékok di György Kurtág. Il primo apprendimento strumentale tra esplorazione, gioco e comprensione musicale” (Il Saggiatore Musicale, 2005/1) and “Processus compositionnels et compréhension musicale enfantine dans Játékok,” in Gestes, fragments, timbres: la musique de György Kurtág (L’Harmattan, 2008). He teaches music theory at the Conservatorio di Musica “L. Canepa” of Sassari.

Ulrich Mosch studied music and German literature in Hannover and musicology at the Technische Universität in Berlin (with Carl Dahlhaus). In 1991 he graduated with a thesis on the aural perception of total serialism and in 2004 was appointed university lecturer (Habilitation) at the Paris Lodron Universität in Salzburg, Austria. Since 1990 he has been a musicologist and curator for music manuscripts at the Paul Sacher Foundation in Basel, Switzerland, and is at present responsible for twenty-five collections of manuscripts, among them documents from Igor Stravinsky, Luciano Berio, Hans Werner Henze, Brian Ferneyhough, and György Kurtág.

Jean-Paul Olive est professeur au département de musicologie de l’Université Paris 8 Vincennes-Saint-Denis où il enseigne l’analyse et l’esthétique musicales et dirige le laboratoire “Esthétique, musicologie et créations musicales”. Il a écrit un ouvrage sur l’oeuvre d’Alban Berg (Le tissage et le sens), un essai sur le montage en musique (Musique et montage. Essai sur le matériau musical au début du XXe siècle) et plus récemment un ouvrage sur les écrits musicaux d’Adorno (Un son désenchanté). Il dirige la collection “Arts 8” et est cofondateur de la revue de musicologie Filigrane.

Né à Córdoba, Argentine, Alvaro Oviedo termine son doctorat, portant sur le geste dans la musique de György Kurtág et de Helmut Lachenmann, à l’Université Paris 8 Vincennes-Saint-Denis. Il a publié des articles sur l’oeuvre de ces deux compositeurs et collabore à la revue mexicaine La Tempestad. Il donne actuellement des cours à l’Université Paris 8 Vincennes- Saint- Denis sur la musique vocale du XXe siècle.

Friedemann Sallis is professor at the University of Calgary. He obtained his PhD in musicology under the direction of the late Carl Dahlhaus at the Technische Universität Berlin. His writings include a book on the early works of György Ligeti, the co-edition of A Handbook to Twentieth-Century Musical Sketches (Cambridge University Press, 2004), and numerous articles on twentieth-century music. He has received Fellowship Grants from the Paul Sacher Foundation (Basel) and since 1997 he has been awarded five consecutive research grants by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Florian Scheding is lecturer in music at the University of Southampton. He has published articles on the composer Mátyás Seiber, film music, and composers in exile during World War II. A collection of essays, Music and Displacement: Diasporas, Mobilities and Dislocations in Europe and Beyond, coedited with Erik Levi, was published in spring 2010 by Scarecrow Press in the Europea series, edited by Martin Stokes and Philip V. Bohlman.

Gordon E. Smith is professor of ethnomusicology at Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario. Formerly director of the School of Music, he is associate dean in the Faculty of Arts and Science. Co-editor of Marius Barbeau: Modelling Twentieth-Century Culture (2008), and Music Traditions, Cultures, and Contexts (Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2010), he is the editor of MUSICultures, the Journal of the Canadian Society for Traditional Music / La Société canadienne pour les traditions musicales. His current research includes fieldwork in the Mi’kmaw community of Eskasoni, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia.

Hungarian-born pianist Gergely Szokolay has performed both as a soloist and chamber musician in Europe, North America, and Japan. Currently living in Toronto, he balances a busy schedule of teaching and performing. Equally at home in the vocal and instrumental repertoire, Mr. Szokolay has been collaborative pianist for major festivals and master classes, working with renowned pedagogues like Josef Gingold, Marcel Moyse, Aurèle Nicolet, János Starker, Zoltán Székely, Paul Tortelier, and David Zafer.

Claudio Veress studied philosophy and German literature at Bern University and teaches philosophy at a cantonal college. At the same time he is a passionate chamber musician. Since 1992 he has been involved in the scientific and editorial side of the legacy of Sándor Veress, whose chamber music for strings forms one of his specific matters of concern as a violinist and as a viola player.

Editorial Reviews

"Centre and Periphery contains a wide variety of approaches that collectively provide valuable insights into the three composers and their work. Since over half the book is devoted to Anhalt, it is especially important as a contribution to the growing body of Anhalt research.... The editorial work is top notch, with beautifully typeset musical examples and reproductions of manuscript pages.... Rounding out the presentation are biographies of all the contributors as well as a first-rate index."

— CAML (Canadian Assoc. of Music Libraries) Review, 40, No. 1, April 2012

"The book's editors ... have shaped this diverse collection of approaches and perspectives into a wide-ranging but coherent whole, bringing together ‘essays that examine how ideas of place and identity impinge on the creation, analysis, and interpretation of twentieth-century art music.’.... While Centre and Periphery is likely to be read primarily by those interested in the music of Veress, Kurtág, and Anhalt, it is a substantial contribution to the broader literature on identity and migration. With is emphasis on Anhalt, the book is a major contribution to the study of musical lie in post-WWII Canada.... The Wilfrid Laurier University Press deserves much praise for taking on this very worthy project and presenting it in this richly illustrated and finely edited form. This relatively small university press has rapidly carved out a niche with a number of titles on music in postwar Canada, among them In Search of Alberto Guerrero (2006), Music Traditions, Cultures, and Contexts (2010), Weinzweig (2011), and Beckwith's memoirs, Unheard Of (2012). The WLU Press has just issued Out of Time (2013), the biography of another Nazi-era refugee, the conductor, Georg Tintner. These twenty-first century assessments of recent history come not a moment too soon and have much to say about music and imagination in twentieth-century Canada. Both Centre and Periphery, Roots and Exile and Mapping Canada's Music tell the stories of individuals uprooted and forced to find new beginnings in a country that was accepting of their talents and that was enriched by their contributions."

— Fontes Artis Musicae, 61/1

"This volume of essays elegantly weaves together personal accounts, documentary studies, musical analyses, and reflections on performance and aesthetics, providing a vivid picture of how Anhalt, Kurtág, and Veress (re)defined their identities—musical, political, and personal—in the context of the places where they chose or resigned themselves to live. Readers both familiar and less familiar with this repertory will enjoy the wide range of new perspectives and sources presented. A most inspiring read."

— Christoph Neidhöfer

"The strength of this probing collection lies in the way the various approaches to place and displacement offer insights into interpreting key works by these three composers."

— The WholeNote, February 1–Marcj 7, 2012

"The value of Centre and Periphery, Roots and Exile is threefold: this superbly edited collection of essays overcomes narrow specialization in demonstrating the key importance to contemporary music of Anhalt, Kurtág, and Veress. Fresh new sources are explored; the tensional relation of music and nationality is probed. Above all, the authors succeed in drawing us into the fascinating world of these composers, whose rich cross-cultural perspectives and ingenious re-engagement with music of the past assume enhanced relevance for us today."

— William Kinderman

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