Swiss composer of Hungarian descent born 1 September 1907 in Cluj, Romania (then in Hungary); died 4 March 1992 in Bern.
Born in 1907 in Kolozsvàr, Transylvania, Sàndor Veress studied composition with Zoltàn Kodàly and piano with Béla Bartók at the Budapest Academy of Music. He went on to become the assistant of Làszló Lajtha, director of the Ethnomusicology Department at the National Ethnographical Museum, a position that led to field trips in Hungary, Transylvania, and Moldova. He was also the assistant of Bartók at the Budapest Institute of Ethnomusicology. It was Veress (and only Veress) that Bartók publicly praised as the greatest Hungarian talent of his day. Veress later took over the class of Zoltàn Kodàly at the Budapest Academy of Music; notable students of his included György Ligeti and György Kurtàg.
He obtained political asylum in Switzerland 1949, where he quickly found work teaching solfège, music theory, and pedagogy in Bern. “Many Swiss composers were his students, including Jürg Wyttenbach, Gerhard Holzer, Urs Peter Schneider, Roland Moser, Heinz Marti, Hans Wütrich, Theo Hilsbrunner, etc. Retrospectively, it is clear that each of these musicians went on to develop his own style; this is proof of the quality of Veress’ teaching. He did not produce any imitators!” -Heinz Holliger
Like Bartók, Veress developed a musical language that was deeply rooted in Hungarian musical traditions, but which surpassed them, becoming transnational and independent. Veress was a deeply cultivated composer and displayed exceptional humanity and open-mindedness regarding the traditions of other cultures, traits which nuanced his early chamber music, but also the works he composed later in life in Switzerland.
© Ircam-Centre Pompidou, 2001
Daniel Andres, Heinz Holliger, entretiens, textes, écrits sur son œuvre, éditions Contrechamps, 1996.
- Chamber music
- Sonatine for oboe, clarinet and bassoon (1931), 9 mn, Suvini Zerboni
- Sonatine for oboe, clarinet and bassoon, 9 mn, Suvini Zerboni