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Theodor Szántó (Composer, Arranger)

Born: June 3, 1877 – Vienna, Austria (then the capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire)
Died: January 7, 1934 - Budapest, Hungary

The Hungarian Jewish pianist and composer, Theodor (Tivadar) Szántó, was born in Vienna, then the capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. His family name was originally Smulevic, of Jewish and Slavic origin. His musical studies were in Vienna and Budapest, and with Ferruccio Busoni in Berlin from 1898 to 1901. He resided in Paris from 1905, Switzerland from 1914, and Budapest from 1921 until his death there in 1934.

Theodor Szántó contributed substantially to the rewriting of the piano part of the third and final version of Frederick Delius’s Piano Concerto in C minor, and he introduced this version at a Prom Concert in London on 22 October 1907 under Henry J. Wood. For these services, Delius dedicated the Concerto to Szántó. He also played the work at the Proms in 1912, 1913 and 1921. This final version has become the standard version, but Delius's original conception has also been recorded.

Theodor Szántó was an early champion of the music of Zoltán Kodály and Béla Bartók. It was his playing of B. Bartók's Romanian Dance in 1914 that introduced Arthur Hartmann to the music of that composer. For his part, however, B. Bartók had little respect for Szántó.

Theodor Szántó exhibited an interest in the music of Japan by writing at least three works using Japanese influences (an opera, an orchestral suite, and a piano suite). He also made some piano transcriptions of works by J.S. Bach and Igor Stravinsky, which reveal a virtuoso technique. He was considered an important piano teacher. His students included Berta Alves de Sousa in Paris. He was awarded the Legion of Honour.


Original works:
Violin Sonata (1906)
Land and Sea Symphony (1909)
Contrasts, piano suite (1912)
Variations on a Hungarian Folksong, piano (1915)
Symphonic Rhapsody (1917)
In Japan: Essays and Studies in Japanese Harmony based on Native Songs, piano (1918-1922; recorded by Noriko Ogawa)(
Taifun: A Japanese Tragedy in Three Acts, an opera on a Japanese subject, set to a libretto by Menyhert Lengyel based on his play Typhoon (premiered in Mannheim on November 19, 1924, and had later productions in Antwerp, Budapest and Vienna)
Japan Suite, orchestra (1926)
Magyarorszag: Concert Sonata in Hungarian style, violin and piano; dedicated to Eugène Ysaÿe

J.S. Bach: About a dozen transcriptions, including:
Fantasia & Fugue in G minor, BWV 542 (1904; recorded by Cyprien Katsaris and Marc-André Hamelin)
Prelude and Fugue in A minor, BWV 543 (1912)
Prelude & Fugue in C minor, BWV 546 (1914)
Passacaglia in C minor, BWV 582 (1932)
4 Organ Chorale Preludes (c1900)
- Aus der Tiefe rufe ich, BWV 745
- Ach bleib' bei uns, Herr Jesu Christ, BWV 649
- Jesu Leiden, Pein und Tod, BWV Anh 57
- Allein Gott in der Höh sei Ehr (III), BWV 663

Igor Stravinsky:
Suite of five pieces from Petrushka (1922): "Fète populaire de la semaine grasse", "Chez Petrouchka", "Chez le maure", "Danse de la ballerina", "Danse russe"
"Marche chinoise" from Le Rossignol

Source: Wikipedia Website (June 2013)
Contributed by
Aggelos Tsompanidis (February 2014)

Theodor Szántó: Short Biography | Piano Transcriptions: Works | Recordings

Links to other Sites

Theodor Szántó (Wikipedia)

Szanto, Theodor (Piano Rare Scores)



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