1 February. Sándor Veress born in Kolozsvár / Cluj-Napoca / Klausenburg (formerly Austria-Hungary, nowadays Romania),
to parents Endre Veress, historian (1868 – 1953), and Mária Veress-Méhely, singer (contralto) (1880 – 1957).
A younger brother, Pál, born in 1908, dies early in 1909. Sándor grows up together with his second brother Endre / 'Bandi'
(born 24 June 1913).
The family moves to Budapest, where father Endre has been appointed to the Ministry of Religion and Education – from where he will later change to the Foreign Ministry – as counsellor in matters of the Romanian nationality in Transylvania.
On the occasion of family holidays at Lake Balaton, young Sándor develops an extraordinary talent for drawing and painting.
Many sheets, mostly in aquarelle technique, show landscapes and water scenes (among others are sinking battleships –
Likewise linked to Balaton holidays are the brothers' daily exercises on the garden swing together with their locally born nanny, from whom they make their first acquaintance with Hungarian folk tunes.
Gets cost-free piano lessons from Mária Dömény, his music teacher at Szalag street Elementary School.
21 March – 1 August: Hungarian Republic of Councils under Béla Kun. Sándor’s maternal uncle, the economist and secretary of state Kálmán Méhely (1882 – 1923), is imprisoned, 'escap[ing] execution only by sheer good luck' (Veress in an autobiographical paper of 1955).
1 March: Admiral Miklós Horthy, last commander-in-chief of the Austro-Hungarian Adriatic Navy, is elected Regent of the 'Kingdom of Hungary with vacant throne', which he will represent as head of state until his forced resignation on 16 October 1944.
4 June: Peace Treaty of Trianon, in which Hungary has to accept a loss of two thirds of its pre-war territory – especially all of Transylvania –
and one third of its Hungarian population. As a result of this, Horthy’s foreign policy throughout the twenties and thirties will follow a basically revisionist agenda at increasing risk.
Summer: Young Sándor spends – probably because of a pulmonary problem – a vacation as a so-called 'Ferienkind' (holiday child) at the Näf-Weber family’s place in Wittenbach near St. Gallen (Switzerland). – One of his pencil drawings of that time shows a map of Hungary torn into pieces by the adjacent nations profiting from the Treaty of Trianon (see Gallery).
Supported by his mother, undertakes his first ambitious attempts to compose pieces in a late romantic style:
for piano solo, vocal, chamber groups and even orchestra: two piano concertos in 1922 and 1925.
Studies piano with Emánuel Hegyi and – from 1930 on – with Béla Bartók at the Royal National Hungarian Ferenc Liszt Music Academy.
Graduates in June 1932 with a diploma in teaching music, piano being the main subject.
Visits Hans Koessler, Bartók’s and Kodály’s former teacher, at his home in Buda and plays for him his recently finished Piano Trio in B flat minor. Koessler’s comment: 'Sie haben Talent!' (You are talented!).
Studies composition with Zoltán Kodály at the Liszt Academy, graduating in June 1929, after which he completes an additional voluntary year in Kodály’s class.
Takes part in workshop concerts of the 'MoMaMu' (Modern Magyar Muzsikosok: Modern Hungarian Musicians), a group of young composers such as Ferenc Farkas, Pál Kadosa, György Kósa, Ferenc Szabó, and István Szelényi.
Breaks off his education at the Budapesti II. ker.kir. egyetemi kath. Reálgimnázium (Imperial Royal Academic Katholic High School of Budapest II), which he will continue and finish in 1933 with a maturity certificate at the Állami Verbóczy István Reálgimnázium (National István Verbócy High School).
Passes a graduation year at the Scuole Italiane in Ungheria (Italian Schools in Hungary), which he finishes with a 'Diploma di primo grado'.
Composes his first and only piano sonata, which is explicitly praised by Bartók.
Works as a volunteer with László Lajtha at the Budapest National Museum, studying methods of ethnomusicological research.
Does ethnomusicological field work in several villages of the Csángó-Magyar community in Romanian Moldavia. The collection will be published as late as 1989 under the title Moldvai Gyűjtés by Melinda Berlász and Olga Szalay (Budapest: Múzsák Kiadó).
January: Composes his first string quartet, which he will consider in later years as his opus 1.
'Sonatina period' (Veress in later conversations), in which the young composer develops characteristic traits of an individual style.
Composes seven sonatinas – 4 for piano (3 of them for children), 1 for violin and piano, 1 for cello and piano and 1 for wind trio.
Most of them will be published only after his emigration.
2 May: The First String Quartet premièred in the great hall of the Liszt Academy by the later New Hungarian String Quartet
(Sándor Végh, Péter Szervánszky, Dénes Koromzay, Vilmós Palotay).
Travels to Berlin in order to study new methods of music pedagogy, inspired by (originally Weimarian) initiatives such as Fritz Jöde’s Singbewegung (Singing movement). Sums up his conclusions in a memorandum for the attention of the Hungarian Ministry of Religion and Education.
Becomes involved in issues of musical pedagogy in the capital: works as a teacher at the Music School of the National Post and as assistant editor of the periodicals Énekszó (Sung Word) and A Hangszer (The Musical Instrument).
Publishes works for piano solo and for choir in collaboration with the publishing houses Magyar Kórus and Rózsavölgyi.
April: The Sonata for Solo Violin, dedicated to Ödön Pártos, is accomplished and premièred on 14 May.
9 September: The First String Quartet is performed by the New Hungarian String Quartet at the ISCM Festival in Prague.
Composes a Divertimento for chamber orchestra, his first score for a larger cast in his ’sonatina style' (premièred on 20 December 1936).
Works as Bartók’s – and, after Bartók’s emigration to the USA in 1940, as Kodály’s – assistant at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, collaborating in Bartók’s research project concerning the collection and scientific systematisation of Hungarian 'peasants' music'.
24 June: The Second String Quartet premièred by the New Hungarian String Quartet at the ISCM Festival in Paris.
Does ethnomusicological field work at Dudar (West Hungary) as a contribution to an extensive 'village exploring' project conducted by members of the College of Arts of the Szeged Youth in collaboration with, among others, members of the London Institute of Sociology.
2 November: First Vienna Award, by which Hungary regains, under the protection of Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, territories of Southern Slovakia and Carpatho-Ukraine.
December 1938 – November 1939: spends the year in London together with his fiancée, the Indian-born British pianist Enid Blake (born 24 November 1912), whom he met as a postgraduate student in Budapest. The sojourn, the purpose of which is – similar to the 1934 Berlin journey – mainly to study new methods of music teaching, is interrupted in January/February 1939 by a concert tour together with the violinist Sándor Végh, with performances in Amsterdam, Utrecht, and The Haag of the new Violin Concerto in a version for violin and piano and of the Húsz zongoradarab (Twenty Piano Pieces), based on Hungarian folk tunes.
13 January 1939: Hungary joins the Anti Comintern Pact.
17 April: performs together with the violinist Marianne Liedtke (Maria Lidka) at a 'Studio Meeting' of the London Contemporary Music Centre his Sonatinas for piano and for violin and piano, as well as a selection from his Húsz zongoradarab.
Bartók reflects in a pessimistic letter, sent on 3 June from Budapest to Veress in London, on the political situation in and outside of Hungary, in which he comes to the conclusion: 'At present I am completely at a loss, although my intuition tells me, that, whoever is able to, should leave [the country].'
20 July: the BBC Orchestra under Constant Lambert performs the Divertimento at the BBC.
Veress gets in touch with the publisher Ralph Hawkes from Boosey & Hawkes, who offers him a general contract, which he eventually decides not to sign.
Return to Hungary shortly after the outbreak of World War II. Veress comments to Andreas Traub, 1986: 'My development as a musician, my state of mind still needed the homeland, the fertile soil; maybe one could also say the atmosphere of the folk song.'
Composes a first Szimfónia (January-February), which he subsequently sends in answer to a call by the Japanese government to celebrate the 2600th anniversary of the Japanese imperial dynasty. The score is published in Tokyo and the symphony premièred at the Tokyo Kabukiza Theatre on 7 December.
30 August: Second Vienna Award, by which Hungary regains, again under Hitler’s and Mussolini’s protection, territories of northern and central Transylvania.
20 November: Hungary joins the Tripartite Pact between Germany, Italy, and Japan.
Gets in touch with Alfred Schlee from Universal Edition, Vienna; Veress’s Verbunkos (Recruiting Dance) for violin and piano as well as his first ballet A csodafurulya (The Magic Flute) will later be published by this house (in 1943 and 1947). A further project, the printing of a European edition of the 'Japanese Symphony', comes to nothing.
Is granted two consecutive state scholarships for ethnomusicological research at the Regia Accademia d'Ungheria di Roma (Collegium Hungaricum) for the academic years 1940/41 and 1941/42.
February 1941: Performs together with Végh in Venice, Bergamo, Bolzano, and Rome.
27 June 1941: Hungary enters into war on the side of Nazi Germany against Soviet Russia.
Budapest, 12 July 1941: marriage to Enid Blake.
12 December 1941: Britain declares war on Hungary.
March-November: Collaboration with Aurél von Milloss on the ballet Térszili Katicza (Cathie from Térszil) in Rome.
June: Gets in touch with Paolo Giordani from Edizioni Suvini Zerboni, his future main publisher in Milan, with whom he will collaborate regularly from 1950 on.
8 September: Performs his Seconda Sonata (1939) for violin and piano together with Végh at the Biennale di Venezia.
November: Attends all rehearsals and performances of a production of Alban Berg’s Wozzeck by Milloss and Tullio Serafin at the Teatro dell'Opera di Roma, which he will judge later as a crucial experience for his further development as a composer. In a letter to Alfred Schlee, dated 6 December, he writes: 'I still hear this marvellous music, which seized me like only few of the modern pieces I've got in touch with in the past years. Artistic style and the way how Berg conveys his thoughts to his listeners in this score – to say nothing of his outstanding technical capacity – seem to me coming together in a harmony so perfect as it can only occur in the greatest geniuses.'
Autumn: Travels to his birthplace Kolozsvár, since 1940 once more – as a result of Horthy’s revisionist foreign policy – under Hungarian rule, whence he undertakes ethnomusicological field work in the Borsa valley and where he performs together with Végh again the Seconda Sonata. On 17 November, he is portrayed in chalk and pencil by Béla Szabó and Gyula László. Both sheets are co-signed by the composer with quotes of the Seconda Sonata (see Gallery).
Composes three (I, II, and IV) of the future Quattro danze transilvane for strings for a transylvanian tour of a newly founded chamber orchestra, conducted by Géza Kresz. No. III (Lejtős) will be composed in 1949 and the whole cycle of four dances premièred by Paul Sacher and the Basel Chamber Orchestra on 27 January 1950. The four dances are not explicitly based on original folk tunes, but 'hit the tone' perfectly and over the decades have become one of Veress’s most popular works.
On 31 December succeeds Kodály as professor of composition at the Liszt Academy. Among his future students (after September 1945) will be György Ligeti and György Kurtág.
Composes his first major vocal score with full orchestra: Sancti Augustini Psalmus contra partem Donati, the text of which can be read as a statement against the excess of sins ('abundantia peccatorum') in war times. The piece will be premièred only in October 1948, on the occasion of a Budapest Bartók festival.
19 March 1944: The German Wehrmacht occupies Hungary. Between May and July, nearly half a million Jewish people are deported by SS, Wehrmacht, Gestapo, and Hungarian Gendarmery to Auschwitz-Birkenau under Adolf Eichmann’s personal direction. On 9 May Horthy stops the deportations, at least from the Budapest area – but his attempt of a separate peace with the Soviets fails on 16 October, the day on which the Nazis disempower him. The Hungarian Fascists (Arrow Cross) under Ferenc Szálasi establish a terrorist regime, which costs another tens of thousands of Jewish lives until the breakdown of the German garrison of Buda.
25 December 1944 – 13 February 1945: The siege and taking of Budapest by the Red Army. Veress’s apartment block at Hunfalvy street (Buda) gets an artillary hit. The family has to survive in an interim dwelling.
May: Veress joins the Hungarian Communist Party MKP (Magyar Kommunista Párt) and gets involved in its Musical Committee, as well as in the new Hungarian Musicians' Union.
Summer: Composes in the peace of a Franciscan monastery near Buda Five Songs upon texts by Attila József (1905 – 1937), Hungary’s communist poet par excellence, and nine Cseremisz Songs, based on a collection by Kodály.
26 September: Bartók dies in New York. October: First performance of Threnos ('in memoriam Béla Bartók'). Becomes a member of the Hungarian Arts Council, presided over by Kodály.
1 February: Hungary is proclamed a Republic.
10 February: Hungary’s Peace Treaty signed in Paris. All territorial acquisitions of the Horthy era are formally cancelled. During the following months, the country moves in the direction of a Stalinist one-party-monopoly under the surface of a formally still working, however bogus coalition regime. Crucial landmarks in this process are: a series of show trials, inspired by the 'Moskwite' (i.e. formerly Russian exile) wing of the MKP under the leadership of Mátyás Rákosi, 'Stalin’s best pupil', against exponents of the former Hungarian independence movement and the Smallholders' (i.e. small landowners') Party in early 1947; the party congress in June 1948, which seals the forced unification of all leftwing parties to the new MDP (Magyar Dolgozók Pártja: Hungarian Workers' Party); the show trial against cardinal József Mindszenty in early 1949; the founding of the Hungarian People’s Republic in August 1949; and, finally, the show trial against László Rajk, former Minister of the Interior and Foreign Minister and one of the leading figures of the Communist Party itself, in September/October 1949.
February-October: Veress follows an invitation to London by the British Council, which he prolongs in order to find a post in the UK after having failed in an attempt to convince Gyula Ortutay, the new Minister of Religion and Education since March, to appoint him, Veress, as musical attaché at the Hungarian Embassy in London. None of these attempts succeed: by the end of October he is back in Budapest.
Billegetőmuzsika / Fingerlarks (quasi: Finger Jokes): 70 (later 88) pianistic exercises for children, is published at Cserépfalvi, Budapest. His expansive Introductory Words, dated 'London, July, 1947', a key text on music pedagogy, outlines his view of a socio-cultural ideal, the 'homo spiritualis', diagnosed as being presently in acute danger: 'Everything depends on the success of education', he writes – an education in which the creative playing of music (not its dull repetitive exercise) must play a substantial role.
Still in London, most of the score is written for a new production of Imre Madách’s 1861 drama Az ember tragédiája (The Tragedy of Man), which will premièr at the Budapest National Theatre on 26 September, directed by Béla Both.
July: Is invited as a member of the jury at the International Eisteddfod in Llangollen (North Wales), a festival in which choirs as well as groups of dancers and instrumentalists compete with each other every year during the second week of July, an event in which he will take part regularly until 1984.
September: Is an official delegate at the International Folk Music Council in Basel, where he gets in touch with Paul Sacher. Mediated by ex-diplomat-turned-writer István Borsody, who teaches Russian and East European history at the Pennsylvania College for Women in Pittsburgh (now Chatham University), Veress is offered a professorship at that institution, a post that he will fail to accept.
Veress’s last Hungarian scores come into being: Respublica nyitány (Respublica Ouverture) after a poem by Sándor Petőfi, in which the composer protests in a 'formalistic' fugue against the anti-formalistic Zhdanov resolution of early 1948, by which Stalin’s leading cultural politician sought to discipline Soviet music along the ideals of socialist realism (narodnost‘, klassovost‘, partiinost‘: 'peopleness', 'classness', 'partyness'), and an unfinished soundtrack for the social realist film Talpalatnyi föld (A Foot Wide Piece of Land) based on a novel by Pál Szabó. This will be completed by his Academy colleague Ferenc Farkas.
Year of emigration. 6 February: Veress leaves Hungary alone, heading to Stockholm via Prague, knowing that he will probably not return. His visa allows him a three months' stay abroad and Ortutay’s Ministry of Religion and Education grants him a sabbatical till the end of April.
Premières of Térszili Katicza at the Stockholm Royal Opera (16 February) and the Teatro dell'Opera, Rome (19 March),
both choreographed by Milloss. In the meantime, Veress is awarded the Kossuth Prize for composition in absentia.
Travels to Basel and Zürich, where his Second String Quartet (27 February) and the Three Transylvanian Dances (4 March) are performed by the Végh Quartet and Paul Sacher. Substantial support from Oskar and Anna Müller-Widmann as well as Paul and Maja Sacher-Stehlin enables Enid Veress to leave Hungary by mid-March in order to undergo extensive medical treatment in Zürich, which can be completed in Basel. The couple is reunited at Milan, where Veress is able to successfully renew association with his former contacts at Edizioni Suvini Zerboni.
April-May: The British composer and critic Colin Mason, a friend of Veress who is studying at the Liszt Academy, organises the dissolution of Veress’s Budapest apartment and the shipment of his manuscripts and most important library stock to Rome.
All of this must happen in strict secrecy, mostly by diplomatic mail: 'Do please be careful and don't anymore send anything through Vienna! And at home deny the rumours about us not coming back – for the time being. If those terrible and most frightening instances of Romania and Bulgaria (and first of all Russia), where individual freedom is being more and more curtailed, wouldn't be there, I never would think of leaving Hungary. But they are there!' (Veress to Mason, 13 May.)
From late April onwards the correspondence between Paul Anderson at the Pennsylvania College for Women and Rome is intensifying in the hope of Veress’s lectures in Pennsylvania beginning in September, but at the same time it becomes clear that the obstacles against a smooth visa process are insurmountable because of his party membership and the rigorous policy of the US Department of Justice towards Eastern European immigrants.
May: Veress applies to both Italian and Hungarian authorities for a prolongation of his stay in Rome. 'How I should ever manage to calm down my conscience towards my parents, I don't know. Already now, signs of reprisals are noticeable, although I am not yet considered as a 'dissident'. And these things produce always new crises and set me back and let me again and again doubt, whether one is allowed to exceed this threshold and ever can be excused [in doing so].' (24 August). – At the same time he knows: 'It is clear as well, that we will not be able to leave the country anymore, if we [now] go back to Hungary.' (1 August – both of these letters to Anna Müller-Widmann).
Late September: Invitation for lectures in ethnomusicology during a guest semester in the vacant Ernst Kurth chair at the University of Berne (Switzerland) on recommendation of Ottó Gombosi, former visiting professor at the same institution. At the same time, in Budapest the show trial against László Rajk – with whose brother Veress is familiar – is going on. As he will report decades later, the broadcast transmission of Rajk’s coerced confession forms the very last element in his decision not to return to his homeland.
12 October: In a letter József Révai, Hungarian Minister of Culture, recalls 'comrade Veress' urgently to return home.
Veress accepts the Swiss offer and arrives together with his wife on 26 November in Berne. The Swiss authorities recognize him as a political refugee 'without papers' – up to his eventual naturalisation in 1991. Enid Veress remains a British citizen.
After having finished his guest semester at the University, Veress gets a call from the Conservatory of Berne to come and teach musical pedagogy, theoretical subjects, and – later on – composition.
Over the years, most important members of a whole generation of Swiss theoreticians and composers like Theo Hirsbrunner, Heinz Marti, Jürg Wyttenbach, János Tamás, Daniel Andres, Urs Peter Schneider, Heinz Holliger, and Roland Moser will be his students.
Already early in 1950 he gets to know Paul Klee’s painting through his Basel friends Oskar and Anna Müller-Widmann.
The composition of Hommage à Paul Klee for two pianos and string orchestra, commissioned by Hermann Müller, conductor of the Bernese Chamber Orchestra, and premièred with Sándor and Enid Veress-Blake at the pianos on 22 January 1952, will document this crucial aesthetic experience.
Basel, 20, 22 and 23 February 1950: Veress comments publicly at a performance of Bartók’s six String Quartets by the Végh Quartet ('Einführung in die Streichquartette von Béla Bartók').
On the occasion of a concert in Munich, Veress makes the acquaintance of the German composer Fritz Büchtger, since 1948 head of the local Studio for New Music, with whom he discusses theoretical problems about dodecaphony.
The first twelve-note-compositions of Veress’s Swiss period, which have been composed mainly during summer vacations in the early fifties, when Veress was offered the Müller-Widmanns' house at Basel Fringeli street while they were away, are premièred:
the Concerto per pianoforte, archi e percussione, commissioned and conducted by Paul Sacher, with Veress himself as soloist (Baden-Baden, 19 January); the Sinfonia Minneapolitana, commissioned by the Frederick Mann Foundation and conducted by Antal Doráti, a former colleague in the Kodály class (Minneapolis, 12 March); the Trio per archi, written for and performed by the Trio Redditi (Venice, 19 September).
After several contracts for specific scores, a 'Contratto di esclusiva' is signed by Veress and Ladislao Sugar at Edizioni Suvini Zerboni in Milan on 1 June.
The Austria-born pianist Ilse von Alpenheim (born 11 February 1927), Veress’s partner in these years, performs much of his piano repertory – the Piano Sonatina, the Sette danze ungheresi, the Seconda Sonata, Hommage à Paul Klee, the Concerto – throughout the fifties and sixties in Switzerland, Germany, the UK, and even Hungary: At least fifteen performances of the Concerto alone are documented, two of them with the Berlin Philharmonic under Rudolf Kempe (4 and 5 January 1959). On 4 February 1965 she plays the Concerto in the great hall of the Budapest Liszt Academy together with György Lehel conducting the National Concert Orchestra. It is the first time after sixteen years that a major work by Veress is performed in Hungary.
29 September: A son, Claudio, is born to Veress and Ilse von Alpenheim.
Hungary, 23 October – 16 November: Popular uprising against the one-party dictatorship of the MDP. The striving for profound change is bloodily knocked down by Soviet troops after reinstalling a pro-Soviet government. Two of the communist leaders of the revolution, Prime Minister Imre Nagy and Defense Minister Pál Maléter, both sentenced to death in a secret trial in 1958, will be honoured 'in memory of their martyrdom' by Veress’s late duo for viola and double bass titled Memento (1983).
6 December: Veress performs together with the contralto Katharina Marti his Cseremisz Songs (composed in 1945) on the occasion of a ceremony at Berne’s concert hall under the patronage of the University of Berne: Help for Hungary. The Végh Quartet frames the concert with the Adagio of Beethoven’s quartet op. 59, no. 2, and the Lento of Bartók’s quartet no. 1.
Centenary of the Conservatory of Berne. Veress writes a festive cantata upon a text by Valentin Rathgeber: Laudatio Musicae. Ein 'Ohren-vergnügendes und Gemüth-ergötzendes Tafelconfect' (Praise of Music. An Ear-enjoyable and Mind-delightful Table Confectionary). The piece is performed on 10 June at the great hall of the Conservatory by many of Veress’s students, such as the violinists Alexander van Wijnkoop and Eva Zurbrügg and the oboist Heinz Holliger.
First performances of the Passacaglia concertante and the Concerto per quartetto d'archi e orchestra by their respective commissioners, Heinz Holliger (Lucerne, 31 August 1961, together with the Festival Strings under Rudolf Baumgartner), and Paul Sacher (Basel, 25 January 1962, together with the Végh Quartet and the Basel Chamber Orchestra).
On the occasion of Kodály’s 80th birthday, Antal Doráti invites four of his former colleages in the Kodály class – Géza Frid, Ödön Pártos, Tibor Serly, and Veress – to contribute to a musical birthday gift, to which he himself offers an Introduction and a Finale:
Variations on a Theme of Zoltán Kodály, Composed and Dedicated to Their Master on his 80th Birthday. Veress contributes variation IV (Andante). The piece is premièred on 1 December by the Radio Philharmonic Orchestra of Hilversum (Holland) conducted by Jean Fournet.
Writes Elegie, based on Walther von der Vogelweide’s famous Middle High German poem Owê war sint verswunden alliu mîniu jâr! (Alas! Where Have All my Years Gone?), commissioned by and dedicated to Hermann Müller and the Bernese Chamber Orchestra (premièred Berne, 2 March 1965, with Arthur Loosli as soloist).
February-April: Lecture tour to the USA, taking him to various universities and colleges (New York, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Washington D.C., Houston, New Brunswick, Notre Dame, Hartford).
Guest professor at the Peabody Institute, Baltimore (Maryland, USA).
Guest professor at the Goucher College, Towson (Maryland, USA).
Writes Musica concertante for the Camerata Bern (premièred Berne, 28 October 1966)
and the Sonata per violoncello solo for Mihály Virizlay (premièred Baltimore, 18 April 1967).
Visiting professor at the University of Adelaide (Australia). Composes Songs of the Seasons, based on seven madrigals by the Australian poet Christopher Brennan, commissioned by the Australian Broadcasting Company, and the Diptych, written for the University of Adelaide Wind Quintet.
March: In addition to his teaching at the conservatory, Veress is appointed 'vollamtlicher Extraordinarius ad personam' in musicology (especially ethnomusicology and music of the 20th century) at the University of Berne.
October: Refuses a competing offer by the University of Maryland (USA), dated 25 July: a full-time professorship leaving enough spare time for creative work at an attractive starting salary.
Favourite lecture subjects at Berne University: Debussy, Bartók, Stravinsky and the Second Viennese School; focuses on diverse ethnomusicological issues.
Spends two long summer vacations at Cadro near Lugano (Ticino) in a countryside that he adores. Works on a Kennedy Requiem project in view of a possible première by Antal Doráti and the National Symphony, Washington D.C., on the occasion of the ten years' commemoration of the President’s assassination. The project remains unfinished.
1 October: Is appointed Ordinarius for ethnomusicology and music of the 20th century at the University of Berne.
Summer: The violinist Sergiu Luca invites Veress to Portland State University (Oregon, USA) as visiting professor and composer-in-residence and to the Summer Concerts in Portland. Veress begins to compose a trio for violin, clarinet and cello, which is premièred as a two-movements torso on 17 August and in later years acknowledged as fully valid score under the title Introduzione e coda.
Is made a member of the Swiss Musicians’ Society (Schweizerischer Tonkünstlerverein).
Receives Music Award of the Canton of Berne.
2 February: Various Bernese institutions celebrate the composer’s 70th birthday in a festive concert at Radio DRS, Studio Bern:
The Second String Quartet, the Five Songs and the Musica concertante are performed. Music pedagogue Erich Doflein, who has had been in regular communication with the composer since the fifties, gives a speech honouring Veress.
March: Made Professor Emeritus at the Institute for Musicology of the University of Berne and honoured with a farewell concert.
Failure of a first attempt to obtain Swiss citizenship because of the refusal of the Swiss authorities to acknowledge exceptional reasons in the background of Enid Veress-Blake’s wish to keep her British citizenship.
After a creative pause, resulting from academic concentration, the late works come into being, showing a characteristic tendency to retrospection:
Das Glasklängespiel, based on poems by Hermann Hesse (1978, premièred Berne, 14 March 1987, by Daniel Glaus and the Ensemble AD HOC); Concerto per clarinetto e orchestra (1982, premièred Berne, 11 May 1982, by Thomas Friedli and the Bernese Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Jean-Pierre Moeckli); Memento per viola e contrabbasso in memoriam martyrii Emericus Nagy et Paulus Maléter (1983, premièred Geneva, 17 June 1983, by Zoltán Kacsóh and Gábor Demke); Baryton Trio (1985, premièred Berne, 1 February 1992, by the Geringas Trio); Orbis tonorum (1986, premièred Berne, 9 November 1986, by the Ensemble Modern, conducted by Heinz Holliger); Geschichten und Märchen for two percussionists (1988, premièred Davos, 30 July 1988, by Eric Charlston and Gordon Gottlieb); Tromboniade per due tromboni e orchestra (1990, premièred Berne, 14 March 1991, by Branimir Slokar, Pia Bucher, and the Bernese Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Zdenek Kosler); Concertotílinkó for flute and strings (1991, premièred Kassel, 7 July 1993, by István-Zsolt Nagy and the Österreichisch-Ungarische Haydnphilharmonie, conducted by Adam Fischer).
Retires from teaching at the Conservatory of Berne.
75th birthday. The Budapest publishing house Zeneműkiadó launches an anthology (Veress Sándor. Tanulmányok ) with contributions by Melinda Berlász, János Demény, and Ede Terényi, in which Demény (one of Veress’s closest correspondents since the early forties) writes of the remarkable motive behind this publication: 'why we have never lost Sándor Veress' (though he has been away from Hungary now for more than three decades).
Clytus Gottwald from the German broadcast channel SWF gives an extensive interview with the composer titled 'Einzelgänger und Weggefährte'.
The Schweizerische Musikzeitung dedicates its August issue to Veress, with major contributions by Melinda Berlász, Aurél M. Milloss, Ede Terényi, Andreas Traub, and Veress himself ('Der Homo ornans in der Musik').
29 December: Brother Endre dies in Pécs (South Hungary).
Receives the Bartók-Pásztory Award from the Budapest Liszt Academy.
Hungarian musicologist Ferenc Bónis meets Veress in Berne between 10 and 12 June and records a detailed conversation on the composer’s life path, the substance of which will be published in Hungarian by Kortárs (1987) and in English by The New Hungarian Quarterly (1987/88) under the titles 'Három nap Veress Sándorral' and 'Three Days with Sándor Veress'.
April: Receives Composer’s Award of the Swiss Musicians' Society.
September: Is confronted with a cancer diagnosis and has to undergo surgery and radiation therapy.
Andreas Traub publishes a Festschrift zum 80. Geburtstag (Berlin: Haseloff) with major contributions by Kjell Keller, Ferenc László, Wolfgang Rathert, Max Uwe Stieren, and Susanne Ziegler. Traub’s own article, 'Sándor Veress. Lebensweg – Schaffensweg', based on an extensive interview, is the first comprehensive text to integrate a biographical with an analytical approach to many of the composer’s key works and their position within his artistic development (see Bibliography).
February-March: Festivities, organized on the initiative of Daniel Glaus, Heinz Holliger and Gabriella Márffy, to celebrate his 80th birthday:
Five concerts (two chamber, one vocal, two orchestral, including a première) in Berne, one (orchestral) in Basel give a broad retrospective over 55 years of composing.
Given the Music Award of the City of Berne.
October: Last trip to the USA (Houston, Baltimore, Washington D.C.) and the UK (London). In Houston, Veress is honoured in a concert series by the Da Camera Society (directed by Sergiu Luca): '55 Years of Music by Sándor Veress', comprising the First String Quartet, the Wind Trio, the Sonata for Violin Solo, the Five Songs, the Cseremisz Songs, the Sei Csárdás, and the Piano Trio. Flight back from Washington D.C. to London by Concorde in three hours – an experience that fascinates him.
27 June: Hungary’s Foreign Minister Gyula Horn and his Austrian colleague Alois Mock cut through the border fence between Hungary and Austria near Sopron, a symbol of a political process which will lead subsequently to the fall of the Iron Curtain in Europe.
Made Honorary Professor of the Liszt Academy Budapest.
Awarded the Banner Order of the Hungarian Republic.
December: Swiss citizenship.
1 February: The Bernese Ensemble La Strimpellata, conducted by Heinz Holliger, performs Orbis tonorum, and the Geringas Trio premières the Baryton Trio in the great hall of the Conservatory of Berne in honour of the composer’s 85th birthday. György Kurtág sends by fax from Budapest his birthday gift, the manuscript score of Életút (Life Path) for 2 basset horns and 2 pianos tuned in quarter tone distance from one another, which is printed in the programme booklet without being performed. (The première will take place in Witten on 26 April of the same year.)
4 March: Sándor Veress dies in Berne.
His legacy is taken over by the Paul Sacher Foundation, Basel (musical manuscripts, documents of ethnomusical research, correspondence, audio documents, photographs, printed scores, books) and the Institute for Musicology of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest (lecture scripts, pedagogical materials, Hungarian books).
Edizioni Suvini Zerboni publishes the first volumes of an edizione critica of Veress’s late, still unprinted scores, edited by Andreas Traub.
Heinz Holliger, already much involved in performing Veress throughout the seventies and eighties, takes over a veritable ambassadorship for his first teacher: as composer of numerous pieces 'in memoriam' (such as (S)irat(ó), 1993), as oboist, conductor and stimulator of the younger generations, bridge builder between Switzerland and Hungary, and last but not least, as knowledgeable adviser in publishing editions. Especially during his artistic directorship together with András Schiff at the Ittinger Pfingskonzerte between 1995 and 2013, he has brought Veress’s music in always new and astonishing contexts. Lots of recordings on CD, many of them with the label ECM, give evidence of his steady and artistically outstanding commitment.
16 January: Enid Veress dies in Berne.
On the initiative of István Csicsery-Rónay, close correspondent of Veress over decades, librarian, editor and formerly active exponent of the Hungarian expat scene in the USA, a Hungarian Veress Sándor Társaság (Sándor Veress Society) is founded in Budapest.
Berne-based institutions, such as the Academy of the Arts (in collaboration with the Music Academy of Cluj-Napoca), the Institute for Musicology of the University (in collaboration with the Paul Sacher Foundation, Basel), the Paul Klee Centre, the Bernese Music Society, the ISCM, celebrate the centenary of the composer, teacher and researcher Sándor Veress with numerous concerts and a symposium. BMC (Budapest Music Centre) and the Institute for Musicology of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences organise special concerts in honour of the composer.
The Hungarian house Editio Musica Budapest publishes a complete edition of Veress’s choruses a cappella, edited by Melinda Berlász (Choral Works, Volumes I (2007) and II (2010)).
Doris Lanz and Anselm Gerhard launch a centenary anthology titled Sándor Veress. Komponist – Lehrer – Forscher (Kassel: Bärenreiter) gathering contributions by Rachel Beckles Willson, Melinda Berlász, Bodo Bischoff, Simone Hohmaier, Heinz Holliger, Michael Kunkel, Péter Laki, Doris Lanz, Roland Moser, Friedemann Sallis, Andreas Traub, and Claudio Veress.
Critical editions by Andreas Traub and Bodo Bischoff of hitherto unpublished scores, mainly dating back to the 1930s and '40s, are published by the Bernese house Müller & Schade. – At the same time, Edizioni Suvini Zerboni realizes the first complete edition of Veress’s early cycle of ethnomusicologically inspired piano pieces: Húsz zongora darab / Venti pezzi per pianoforte – critically edited by Giada Viviani and Jakub Tchorzewski.
26 November: On the initiative of Andreas Traub and Thomas Schipperges, the Institute for Musicology at the Eberhard Karls University Tübingen launches a Veress symposium titled: '25 Jahre Edition seiner Werke': Bodo Bischoff, Thomas Gerlich, Dagmar Schmidt-Wehinger, Andreas Traub, Claudio Veress, Giada Viviani, and Heidy Zimmermann are contributors. The symposium is completed by outstanding performances of the Piano Sonata (by Jakub Tchorzewski), the Seconda Sonata (by Dejan Bogdanovich and Jakub Tchorzewski) and the String Trio (by Mary Ellen Woodside, Alessandro d'Amico, and Rafael Rosenfeld).
The National Széchényi Library in Budapest (OSZK) acquires a series of important papers documenting Veress’s educational and professional path between 1913 and 1946 from the legacy of his younger brother Endre.