Born: September 21, 1912 - Budapest, Hungary
Died: December 9, 2005 - New York City, New York, USA
The admired Hungarian-born American pianist and teacher, György Sándor, studied at the Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest as a piano pupil of Béla Bartók and composition student of Zoltán Kodály.
György Sándor made his concert debut in Budapest in 1930 and toured widely through Europe until 1939. In that year Sándor left for the USA. He became a naturalized citizen of that country in 1943. In the competitive world of USA concert life at that time (when many great European artists escaped war-torn Europe), he began to reestablish his career. By the end of World War II he was positioned to begin a successful international touring career that took him to all the major musical centers of the West. In January 1945 he played the first performance of B. Bartók's piano transcription of his orchestra work Dance Suite, which was adapted for piano and revised by B. Bartók for this performance. In February 1946 made the premiere the composer's posthumous masterpiece, the Third Piano Concerto with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Eugene Ormandy. In 1975 he presented his piano version of Bartok's Sonata for Solo Violin as well as the Intermezzo Interrotto from the Concerto for Orchestra.
In 1956 György Sándor joined the faculty of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX, remaining there until 1961. In that year he moved to the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, as director of graduate studies in piano. In 1982 he left Ann Arbor to join the piano faculty of the Juilliard School of Music in New York. He toured widely and frequently served as a juror in major international piano competitions. In addition, he gave master-classes at institutions including the Paris Conservatory, Indiana University School of Music, the Jerusalem Music Center, the Assissi Festival, and the Mozarteum in Salzburg. Sándor cautioned young pianists that the style of B. Bartók piano playing that arose in the decades after the master's death is inauthentic; that the composer wished a lyrical, elastic tempo with an emphasis on the melodic line.
In the late 1950's György Sándor began making recordings, often for the Vox label. He produced noted Vox Boxes of the complete piano music of B. Bartók (wining the Grand Prix du Disque) and Prokofiev. For Vox's sister label Turnabout he produced the complete piano works of Z. Kodály. In 1995 CBS/Sony released Sandor's new recording of B. Bartók's own piano versions of his Concerto for Orchestra, the Dance Suite and his Petite Suite, as well as the entire solo piano repertory of B. Bartók. In the 1990's his activities in the recording studios increased, with recordings of B. Bartók's complete piano concertos joining his catalog of the Sergei Rachmaninov Second, and numerous works by J.S. Bach, L.v. Beethoven, Frédéric Chopin, Johannes Brahms, Debussy, de Falla, Franz Liszt, Robert Schumann, and the complete sets already noted. His later B. Bartók recordings are intended to exemplify the music as he learned it from B. Bartók himself.
In 1981 György Sándor published a book, On Piano Playing: Motion, Sound, and Expression, which has been translated into Italian, Polish and Chinese. His publications included bravura piano transcriptions of Dukas' The Sorcerer's Apprentice, J.S. Bach's Chaconne and Fugue, Dmitri Shostakovich's Danse russe, and selections of B. Bartók's 44 Violin Duos. In 1982 he was presented with Hungary's highest award for artistic achievement.