Your cart is empty.

Centre and Periphery, Roots and Exile

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

Edited by Friedemann Sallis, Robin Elliott, and Kenneth DeLong
Subjects Music, Biography & Autobiography, History, Cultural Studies
Hide Details
Hardcover : 9781554581481, 480 pages, September 2011
Ebook (EPUB) : 9781554582969, 480 pages, August 2012

Table of contents

Table of Contents for Centre and Periphery, Roots and Exile: Interpreting the Music of István, György Kurtág, and Sándor Veress, edited by Friedemann Sallis, Robin Elliott, and Kenneth DeLong

List of Examples

List of Plates and Figures

List of Tables


Introduction | Friedemann Sallis

First Word

1 István Anhalt: A Character Sketch | John Beckwith (University of Toronto)

2 Kurtág, as I Know Him | Gergely Szokolay

3 “A Kind of Musical Autobiography”: Reading Traces in Sándor Veress’s Orbis tonorum | Claudio Veress

Place and Displacement

4 Of the Centre, Periphery; Exile, Liberation; Home and the Self | István Anhalt (Queen’s University)

5 István Anhalt’s Kingston Triptych | Robin Elliott (University of Toronto)

6 István Anhalt’s The Tents Of Abraham: Where Music Cannot Heal, Let It Be Restored | William Benjamin (University of British Columbia)

7 Which Displacement? Tracing Exile in the Postwar Compositions of István Anhalt and Mátyás Seiber | Florian Scheding (University of Southampton)

8 Letters to America | Rachel Beckles Willson (Royal Holloway, University of London)

9 Roots and Routes: Travel and Translation in István Anhalt’s Operas | Gordon Smith (Queen’s University)

10 Le fonds István Anhalt (MUS 164) à Bibliothéque et Archives Canada : auto-construction du compositeur et rôle du lieu dans son oeuvre | Rachelle Chiasson-Taylor (Bibliothéque et archives Canada)

Perspectives on Reception, Analysis, and Interpretation

11 Sewing Earth to Sky: István Anhalt and the Pedagogy of Transformation | Austin Clarkson (York University)

12 György Kurtág’s Játékok: A “Voyage” into the Child’s Musical Mind | Stefano Melis (Conservatorio di musica “L. Canepa” di Sassari)

13 Arracher la figure au figuratif: la musique vocale de György Kurtág | Alvaro Oviedo (Université Paris 8, Vincennes Saint-Dénis)

14 Dirges and Ditties: György Kurtág’s Latest Settings of Poetry by Anna Akhmatova | Julia Galieva-Szokolay (Royal Conservatory of Music, Toronto)

15 Interpreting György Kurtág and George Crumb: Through the Looking Glass | Dina Lentsner (Capital University, Columbus, Ohio)

The Presence of the Past and Memory in Contemporary Music

16 György Kurtág et Walter Benjamin : considérations sur l’aura dans la musique | Jean-Paul Olive (Université Paris 8, Vincennes Saint-Dénis)

17 What Presence of the Past? Artistic Autobiography in György Kurtág’s Music | Ulrich Mosch (Paul Sacher Foundation)

18 “Listening to inner voices”: István Anhalt’s Sonance•Resonance (Welche Töne?) | Alan Gillmor (Carleton University)

19 Music Written from Memory in the Late Work of István Anhalt | Friedemann Sallis (University of Calgary)

Final Word

20 On Doubleness and Life in Canada: An Interview with István Anhalt

The Contributors



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.


"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, Schulich School of Music, McGill University

"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. "

- Pamela Margles, The WholeNote, February 1–Marcj 7, 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. "

- Brian C. Thompson, Fontes Artis Musicae, 61/1

"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, School of Music, University of Illinois

"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. "

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